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KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | News, Weather, Sports

79th Session: What Did and Did Not Pass

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

While the legislature failed to pass a school finance bill, lawmakers spent plenty of time talking about cell phones, drinking and even cheerleading routines.

The 79th legislative session is history.

Governor Perry says there were a handful of successes -- most notably, the $139 billion budget, and one glaring disappointment -- school finance.

Law makers are touting the budget as their biggest success during the session.

It's just a pen stroke away from being ready to go...but disappointments abound now that legislators are returning to their home towns.

Remember the bill that would have required drivers to use a hands free cell phone device? It failed.

So did legalizing video gambling, and a ban on overtly sexually suggestive routines by Texas cheerleaders.

But if you spank your children, that's still okay.

Legislators passed a clarification that a parent or legal guardian does have the right to use corporal punishment to discipline a child.

A bill to ease overcrowding in prisons has the go-ahead.

That means probation terms for felons can be reduced from 10 years to five.

And jurors will have the option of life without parole for defendants accused of capital murder, instead of an automatic death sentence.

Two important pieces of legislation will affect gay Texans.

The attempt to restrict a gay person from foster parenting failed.

Law makers voted to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would not recognize same-sex marriages...but voters will have the final say.

In reaction to the death of a Texas A&M junior five years ago, legislators and at least one mother, pushed for a law that would address the problem of binge drinking for kids celebrating their 21st birthday. That measure failed.

And the idea to require keg registration, complete with a form that vows minors will not drink from it -- also hit a brick wall.

A Child Protective Services reform bill was passed. And CHIP cuts were restored.

Of course some proposals got stuck in committee.

Like the plan to push Sudafed behind the counter to help curb meth production...and Brazos County Judge Rick Davis' idea to reform the way judges are reprimanded by the state.

You'll also have to wait to see what legislators think about buying lotto tickets online.

Here are more bills that did and did not pass:

PASSED, SIGNED BY GOV. RICK PERRY

-Asbestos lawsuits: Limits the number of lawsuits for asbestos-
and silica-related illnesses, allowing only those who have serious
illnesses to sue companies.

-FOI Education: Requires all elected and appointed public
officials to undergo open government training.

-Military spouse unemployment: Provides unemployment insurance
for soldiers' spouses who voluntarily give up their jobs because of
a military transfer.

-Hunting protection: Allows property owners to continue hunting
on their land or leasing it out to hunters even if the land is
annexed by a municipality that bans the discharge of firearms.

PASSED, HEADED TO TEXAS VOTERS

-Gay marriage: Would amend the state constitution to reflect
that same-sex marriages are not recognized in Texas.

PASSED, AWAITING ACTION BY GOVERNOR

-State budget: Appropriates $139 billion in state and federal
spending for Texas for the coming two years, representing a
19-percent increase over the previous state budget.

-Abortion: Requires a parent to provide written consent for
unmarried girls under 18 to get an abortion. The same bill also
restricts doctors from performing abortions on women who have
carried a child for more than 26 weeks unless having the baby would
jeopardize the woman's life or the baby has serious brain damage.

-Inmate AIDS: Requires that Texas prison inmates be tested for
the AIDS virus before they are released.

-Probation: Attempts to ease crowding at Texas prisons by
reducing probation terms for felons from 10 years to five. After a
probationer has served the five years, a judge would annually
review the case to determine whether to terminate the sentence.

-Teacher paperwork: Requires the Texas education commissioner to
reduce written reports and paperwork required of school districts,
principals and teachers.

-Corporal punishment: Clarifies that parents or other guardians
have the right to use corporal punishment to discipline a child.

-Obesity lawsuits: The so-called "cheeseburger bill" bans
Texans from suing restaurants or food manufacturers for
obesity-related health problems.

-Jury pay: Provides for paying jurors $40 a day, instead of the
current $6.

-Teacher retirement: Attempts to stabilize the $91 billion
Teacher Retirement System; raises the retirement age from 55 to 60
for future teachers; attempts to stop incentives for early teacher
retirement; changes the base of retirees' benefits to the highest
five years of their salary, instead of the highest of three.

-Consent searches: Requires that drivers must give consent
before police officers who do not have probable cause can search
their vehicle.

-Life without parole: Gives jurors the option of sentencing
capital murderers to life in prison without parole or the death
penalty.

-Steroids: Requires the University Interscholastic League to
study steroid use among Texas high school athletes and develop an
education program about the dangers of using performance enhancing
drugs.

-Workers' compensation: Revamps state workers' compensation
system, creating new doctor networks and increasing benefits to
injured workers.

-CPS Reform: Overhauls state Child Protective Services, allowing
the hiring of up to 2,500 new caseworkers and moving some agency
tasks to the private sector.

-Canadian drugs: Sets up a state-run Web site to help Texans buy
cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

-Student regent: Allows the governor to appoint a nonvoting
student regent to the governing board of each public university.

-Crime lab: Creates the Texas Forensic Science Commission to
investigate reports of problems at Texas crime labs.

-CHIP: Restores vision, dental and mental health benefits to the
Children's Health Insurance Program; the cuts in services were made
by the 2003 Legislature.

FAILED

-School finance: Would have overhauled the way Texas pays for
its public schools; would have reduced school property taxes for
homeowners.

-Private school vouchers: Would have provided taxpayer money for
some students living in urban school districts to attend private
school.

-Video gambling: Would have legalized and taxed video slot
machines in Texas.

-Gay Foster Parents: Would have restricted gays from becoming
foster parents.

-Lewd cheerleading: Would have banned "overtly sexually
suggestive" routines by cheerleaders at school-sponsored events.

-Medical marijuana: Would have created a defense to prosecution
for patients who are being treated by a licensed physician and who
use marijuana to relieve effects of a legitimate medical condition.

-Body mass index: Would have required school districts to
measure the body mass index of students and include the information
in regular report cards.

-Cell phones while driving: Would have banned adult motorists
from using a cell phone while driving unless it is used with a
handsfree device.

-Underage drinking: Would have made it illegal to serve alcohol
to 21-year-olds before 7 a.m. on their birthday in an effort to
prevent early-morning birthday binge drinking.

-Keg registration: Would have required that beer kegs be labeled
with a registration number and mandated that keg purchasers fill
out a form with their name, address and phone number and sign an
agreement not to allow minors to drink its contents.

-Death penalty moratorium: Would have abolished the death
penalty in Texas.

-Cable franchise: Would have made it easier for phone companies
to get into the cable business.

-Red light cameras: Would have banned cities from using cameras
to issue civil citations for red-light runners.

-Willie Nelson highway: Would have named part of State Highway
130 in Central Texas after the famous musician.

-Recorded votes: Would have asked Texas voters whether to amend
the state constitution to require the Legislature to record the
individual votes of legislators.

-Campaign finance: Would have prevented union and corporate
money from being used in attack ads launched within 60 days of a
general election and required the disclosure of people who
contribute to last-minute attacks.

-Racial profiling: Would have created a central repository at
the Department of Public Safety for race-related data collected
from Texas law enforcement and created a standardized method for
collecting the information.


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