The Texas Legislative session closed on Monday, and some bills progressed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk while others died in the chambers.
At least two of Rep. Phil King’s, R-Weatherford, bills have been signed by Abbott. House Bill 793, which was signed earlier this month, prevents Texas agencies from doing business with contractors that are boycotting Israel. HB 793 is effective immediately.
HB 347 ends forced annexation statewide and was signed last Friday. Forced annexation happens when municipalities annex property into the city limits without property owners’ consent. Last fall, Parker County voters passed a proposition to end forced annexation in the county. The bill is effective immediately.
Among the bills that are awaiting Abbott’s decision is HB 2 and 3, which aim to reform property tax and school finance respectively. HB 2 would require voters to decide whether municipalities can increase property tax revenues by more than 3.5 percent.
HB 3 provides more money for school districts for teacher and staff pay raises and full day pre-kindergarten. HB 3 also limits property tax revenue that can be collected by districts.
In previous interviews, superintendents praised lawmakers for focusing on school finance reform, but some were still unsure of how the bill can affect their districts.
Senate Bill 11, which would aim to increase mental health initiatives in schools, put communication devices in classrooms and establish of threat assessment teams to identify harmful behaviors in students, has also been sent to the governor.
SB 21 would increase the tobacco smoking age to 21, and it currently awaits Abbott’s decision.
The bill to expand uses of CBD oil, HB 3703, also progressed to the governor’s desk. Conditions eligible for CBD oil would include multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and spasticity, among other ailments.
Abbott will also have a chance to decide on SB 18, which aims to further free speech rights on college campuses and establish discipline for students who interfere in free speech and a process to address free speech violation complaints.
Although King’s bill on religious liberty never was considered in committee, a similar bill progressed to the governor. SB 1978 would prevent municipalities from taking adverse action on people based on religion. King’s bill would have prevented state agencies that issue licenses or regulates businesses or professions from adopting policies that limit a professional’s ability to be licensed based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”
King said in a previous interview that his bill would prevent religious-based discrimination. When asked about concerns that the bill could provoke LGBT discrimination, King said his bill had nothing to do with the LGBT community.
Bills on grandparents’ rights and ending the switch to daylight saving time failed to reach the governor’s desk. In addition, SB 15 that would have prevented municipalities from creating or adopting a rule related to private businesses offering paid leave, benefits or scheduling practices, did not progress.
Abbott has until June 16 to sign or veto bills.