Notable Issues in the 2005 Texas Legislature - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/30/05

Notable Issues in the 2005 Texas Legislature

Passed and Signed by Governor 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 and Headed to Texas Voters

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

Passed and 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.

Governor Perry now has until Sunday, June 19th to sign any passed legislation into law.

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