Notable Bills of the 2009 Legislature

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A look at some bills that made it, and some that didn't, in the regular session of the 81st Texas Legislature, which ends Monday.


Wrongful Convictions: Increases compensation for those who were convicted and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.

Texas Movies: Expands the ability of the state's movie and film office to grant financial incentives to lure productions to Texas.

Hurricanes-Electricity: Allows utilities to issue low-cost bonds to recover costs after hurricanes and other disasters, reducing the financial impact to electricity customers for rebuilding and restoration.

Journalist Shield Law: Provides limited immunity to journalists from having to testify and reveal confidential sources and documents in court.

Interior Designers: Prohibits someone not licensed or registered with the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners as an interior designer from using the title "licensed interior designer" or "registered interior designer."

Crossbow Hunting: Allows all hunters, not just disabled hunters, to use crossbows during bow hunting season. Crossbows already were allowed during open hunting season.

Military Kids: Makes it easier for children of transferring military members to enroll in new schools by allowing Texas to join an interstate compact on educational opportunities for military children.

University Expansion: Allows for the expansion of Texas A&M University-Central Texas, Texas A&M University-San Antonio and University of North Texas at Dallas campuses as stand-alone institutions; removes barriers to the use of tuition revenue bonds for expansion.


Booster Seats: Requires that children under age 8 be secured in a booster seat when riding in a passenger vehicle. Raises the current age limit from 4.


Eminent Domain: Allows Texas voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to place some limits on when governments can take private property.


State Budget: A $182 billion 2-year spending plan that includes $12 billion in federal economic stimulus money pays for scores of state services but covers mostly education and health care.

Supplemental Budget: A $2.4 billion package to cover unexpected costs in the current state budget, including money for the Hurricane Ike-ravaged University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Top 10%: Scales back the law allowing automatic college admissions for students in the top 10% of their high school graduating class.

Disabled Veterans: Provides homestead property tax exemptions for disabled veterans.

Human Trafficking Civil Penalties: Allows victims of human trafficking to sue their traffickers and seek punitive damages from the traffickers and the organizations involved.

Human Trafficking Prevention: Establishes a task force to come up with policies and procedures to prevent and prosecute human trafficking, sometimes referred to as modern-day slavery.

Teen Tanning Bill: Bans anyone under 16.5 years old from using a tanning bed.

Smokeless Tobacco Tax: Changes the tax on chewing tobacco to a weight-based system in order to fund a medical school loan repayment program for doctors who work in underserved areas. Includes tax break for small businesses.

Business Tax: Gives tax break to some 40,000 small businesses by raising the franchise tax exemption from $300,000 in revenue to $1 million.

State Schools: Increases oversight and security of the state's large institutions for people with mental disabilities.

Electronic Textbooks: Allows school districts to purchase approved electronic textbooks and materials.

Military Tuition: Expands tuition exemptions for Texas military veterans and their spouses.

UNT Law School: Allows the University of North Texas at Dallas to establish a new public law school.

School Accountability: Changes high school graduation and grade promotion requirements; requires students to pass standardized tests to be promoted to the next grade but reduces some of the high stakes currently connected to the testing.

School Supplies: Adds backpacks and school supplies to the annual August sales tax holiday weekend that already includes clothing purchases.

Juvenile Prisons Review: Continues the state juvenile prison system operations for at least another two years; keeps the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission separate agencies until another review in 2011.

Tier One Universities: Creates funding pools and incentives for emerging research universities to advance to nationally recognized Tier One schools.

Rodeo Kids: Requires children to wear a helmet and protective vest when bull riding in a rodeo.


Voter ID: Would have required Texas voters to present photo identification or two non-photo alternative forms of ID before casting a ballot.

Casino Gambling: Would have allowed Las Vegas-style casinos, slot machines at race tracks and casinos on American Indian reservations.

Smoking Ban: Would have imposed a statewide ban on smoking in most public indoor spaces, including bars and restaurants.

Smoking Age: Would have raised the legal age limit to buy tobacco products from 18 to 19.

Needle Exchange: Would have allowed public health officials to establish a needle exchange program, permitting people to hand in dirty needles in exchange for clean ones.

Abortions-Sonograms: Would have required doctors to offer an ultrasound to women seeking abortions and let them see the results if they wanted to.

Guns on Campus: Would have allowed concealed handgun license holders to bring their guns to college campuses.

Guns to Work: Would have allowed people to carry firearms to work and then store them in their parked vehicles outside.

Strip Club Fees: Would have imposed a new admissions tax on sexually oriented businesses and repealed a $5-per-person admission fee on strip clubs that a judge ruled unconstitutional.

Medical Marijuana: Would have permitted use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Government Employee Birth Dates: Would have exempted government employees' birth dates from release under open records law.

Sobriety Checkpoints: Would have allowed police to set up sobriety roadblocks in large counties and cities.

Mercury Warnings: Would have required fish markets and grocery stores to post signs warning pregnant women that certain fish could contain high levels of mercury that can cause birth defects.

Puppy Mills: Would have regulated dog and cat owners who keep and breed many animals, cracking down on poor conditions in so-called puppy mills.

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