House approves legalizing switchblades
Switchblades could soon be legal in Texas after a vote in the Texas House. Lawmakers approved the bill Monday without discussion and on a voice vote.
The measure’s author, Harold Dutton, D-Houston, originally said he wanted to start a debate on weapons laws, including gun control. The knives were outlawed as an anti-gang measure in the 1950s.
But knife collectors and conservative Republicans embraced the measure and it faced no opposition. The law must now pass a procedural vote and then will go to the Senate for consideration.
Some cigarette prices will climb under House bill
State taxes on chewing tobacco would drop by more than 30 percent, but the price of cigarettes would climb for some brands under a bill given tentative approval Monday in the Texas House.
The measure mandates that smaller cigarette brands not included in a 1998 settlement among big tobacco companies begin charging an extra $2.75 per pack like the major competitors.
State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, said the bill is about fairness. Tobacco manufacturers that are part of the settlement pay about $500 million annually to the state. Supporters say companies that weren’t around when the settlement was struck have increased their market share to around 8 percent.
Taxes on a can of chewing tobacco would drop from $1.22 to 80 cents under the proposal.
House OK’s ‘Chelsea’s Law’ for rape victims
Texas would adopt a version of California’s “Chelsea’s Law” mandating life in prison for certain sexual assault convictions under a bill given tentative approval in the House on Monday.
The law is named for San Diego teenager Chelsea King, who was killed in 2010. King was out for a run in a state park when she was raped and killed by a 31-year-old convicted child molester.
Then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Chelsea’s Law just seven months later. The Texas House gave swift preliminary approval to a Texas version without debate.
Under the Texas version, a “one strike” rule would be imposed for suspects 18 and older who are convicted of sexually assaulting a child while also binding, torturing or using a weapon against their victim.
House bill tweaks name of Perry’s tech fund
A signature program of Gov. Rick Perry might get a new name.
The Texas Emerging Technology Fund has doled out more than $184 million to private companies since 2005. The balance of taxpayer dollars in the program is dwindling and budget-writers so far have set aside Perry’s request to replenish the fund with more money.
The House on Monday gave tentative approval to a measure renaming the program the Texas Research Technology Fund. Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, said the new name would more accurately reflect the research that goes on between fund recipients and state universities.