Texas House continues slow pace on session’s 11th day


The House met for less than an hour and gave final approval to three bills.

A House committee OK’d a property tax reform bill.

The Texas House met for less than an hour Friday, continuing its deliberate pace during the special legislative session called by Gov. Greg Abbott. The Senate, by contrast, set a blistering pace and all but finished work Wednesday, passing 18 of 20 items on the agenda.

The House gave final approval to two of those issues Friday, the 11th day of the 30-day session.

Funding state agencies

On a 137-0 vote, the chamber passed House Bill 2, by Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, which would fund the continuing operation of five state agencies: the Texas Medical Board, the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, and the State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

Failure to pass a bill extending the operation of these agencies during the regular session that ended in May necessitated the special session.

Abortion complications

HB 13, by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, would require abortion providers and health care facilities to report to the state within three business days any abortion complications. Under the proposal, doctors’ and patients’ names would be confidential. Doctors and facilities that don’t comply would risk losing their license to practice.

Supporters of the bill say they want to ensure that data on abortion complications is accurate. The House approved the bill 94-45.

Tree mitigation fees

House members passed HB 7, by Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, on a 130-9 vote. The bill would require cities that charge tree removal fees to allow homeowners to plant new trees to offset fees. The bill is similar to one Abbott vetoed in June. A bill that would eliminate local tree ordinances, which Abbott supports, stalled in committee, after dozens of Texans testified in opposition to it.

The Senate passed a bill that abolishes local tree ordinances, an approach that aligns with Abbott’s agenda.

READ: House passes tree bill decried as ‘a poke in the eye of the governor’

Property taxes

The House Ways and Means Committee on Friday approved an amended version of HB 4, by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, that would require voter approval for a property tax rate hike of 6 percent or higher. Currently residents can petition to force an election on tax increases of 8 percent or more by cities, counties and special purpose districts. Community colleges would be exempt under the bill.

The Senate went farther, requiring voter approval for property tax increases exceeding 4 percent.

Property tax reform is Abbott’s top special session priority.

Mail-in ballot fraud

The House Elections Committee heard testimony Friday on several bills aimed at preventing mail-in ballot fraud. HB 184, by Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, would require a signature verification process for early ballots, notification of rejected ones within a month after an election and a process for correcting errors. In some fraud cases, people would face 10 years in prison.

Supporters say it would deter fraud and protect seniors, while opponents say it could scare people away from civic engagement and openly discussing politics.

The panel also heard testimony on bills that would ease the process of updating voter addresses and further regulate voting at residential care facilities.

Meanwhile in the Senate

After a passing a passel of bills in the first nine days of the special session, the Senate met for less than a minute Friday with only two senators present. A similar pro forma session is scheduled for Monday afternoon, with senators expected to return to work later in the week.

Additional material from American-Statesman staff writer Chuck Lindell.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Source: Mugabe granted immunity; safety in Zimbabwe ensured
Source: Mugabe granted immunity; safety in Zimbabwe ensured

Former President Robert Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and was assured that his safety in Zimbabwe would be protected, Reuters reported. The announcement was part of a deal that led to the 93-year-old’s resignation, sources told Reuters. Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since its independence from Great Britain in 1980, resigned...
Poll: Americans wary about talking politics on Thanksgiving
Poll: Americans wary about talking politics on Thanksgiving

It’s OK to talk turkey during today’s Thanksgiving dinner, but a new poll reveals that more than a third of all Americans do not want to discuss politics. According to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, only two out of 10 people said they were eager to talk politics. Four out of 10 do not feel strongly...
Mississippi alderman charged with procuring prostitution
Mississippi alderman charged with procuring prostitution

An alderman from a north Mississippi county was arrested and charged Wednesday with procuring prostitution, police said. Ronald Wayne Hale was booked into the DeSoto County jail with a $1,000 bond, according to the sheriff's office. He was released Wednesday afternoon. Hale had no comment as he left the jail. Hale is the alderman of Ward 2 in Southaven...
California woman thwarts abduction of her children
California woman thwarts abduction of her children

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are searching for a man wanted in the attempted kidnapping of two children in California on Wednesday. Deputies said a mother was with her two children in a jogging stroller in Valencia around 11 a.m. Wednesday when the man suddenly approached her from behind, KCAL reported. Investigators said the man...
Watch: North Korean guard makes dramatic defection
Watch: North Korean guard makes dramatic defection

South Korea announced on Nov. 13 that an unnamed soldier defecting from the North was rescued and taken to a hospital after he was found shot in the shoulder and elbow in the border village of Panmunjom. A dramatic video of the 24-year-old, identified only by his last name, Oh, escaping North Korea, is fascinating to watch. Officials in South Korea...
More Stories