On Tuesday, the Texas Legislature wrapped up its Special Session. After 29 days, a total of 12 bills had been sent to the Governor's desk, all of which have now been signed into law. Here's a quick summary of those measures, and how Rep. Howard voted on them:
HB 7 - Trees - Similar to the compromise bill from the Regular Session that was vetoed by the Governor. Since this language was agreed-to by the main stakeholders, Rep. Howard voted in support.
HB 13, HB 214, and HB 215 - Unnecessary legislation further restricting access to abortion - Sadly, passage of such bills has become an all-too regular occurrence at the Texas State Capitol. Rep. Howard voted against all three, and you can see more about her opposition here.
HB 21 and HB 30 - "School Finance" - The House versions of these bills would have provided an additional $1.8 billion for our public schools. Unfortunately, the Senate dramatically reduced the amount of education dollars, and uses a funding source that could potentially limit access to vital health services for disabled Texans. Rep. Howard called the final bills "not even a band-aid...a pretend school finance fix." She voted against them.
SB 5 - Mail-In Ballots - This bill is purported to serve as a deterrent to elections fraud; however, its main provisions merely enhance penalties and repeal deterrence language which was just passed during the Regular Session. Furthermore, SB 5 could potentially result in someone getting a 2nd Degree Felony--a penalty normally reserved for violent offenses--for unintentionally marking a ballot. Rep. Howard voted in opposition.
SB 6 - Annexation - An unnecessary retooling of growth management, one of several bills challenging local control (though the only one that passed). Rep. Howard cast a "no" vote.
SB 11 - Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders - Legislative intrusion into the end-of-life decisions of patients. The bill was strongly opposed by the Texas Hospital Association, and Rep. Howard voted against it.
SB 17 - Maternal Health - One of the few bright spots of the Special Session, this legislation extends a task force which is examining our state's shockingly high rate of maternal mortality. Rep. Howard was a Co-Sponsor the the bill, and proudly voted in support.
SB 20 and SB 60 - Sunset Legislation - The only truly essential bills of the Special Session, these continue the Texas Medical Board, as well as the licensure boards for psychologists, marriage & family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers; each had been set to expire on September 1 of this year. Rep. Howard voted in support.
Looking for a summary of what didn't pass in the Special Session? We'll have that in a subsequent post.