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.

PASSED, SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOV. RICK PERRY

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.

PASSED, BECOMING LAW WITHOUT GOVERNOR'S SIGNATURE

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.

PASSED, HEADING TO TEXAS VOTERS

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

PASSED, AWAITING ACTION BY GOVERNOR

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.

FAILED

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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