From teacher pay raises to abortion: Here are 9 bills to watch during the 86th Legislature

Katie Balevic

Since bill-filing began in November for the Texas Legislature’s 86th session, 1,471 bills have been filed to date, with more expected. In the 85th legislative session, 6,631 bills were filed and 1,211 passed.

From bills about LGBTQ rights to gun reform, we’ve collected some of the most closely watched bills for you to keep an eye on during this session. 

Senate Bill 3, filed by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would require schools to use $3.7 billion in funding from the Texas Senate to give full-time teachers $5,000 raises. At their inauguration last week, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said school finance reform and teacher salaries were their top priorities.

House Bill 357, nicknamed the Texas Constitutional Carry Act of 2019, would allow anyone 21 years or older to carry handguns concealed or openly in a holster. Filed by Rep. Jonathan Strickland, R-Bedford, the bill would allow Texans to legally own a handgun without first getting the License to Carry permit, which requires training and a fee payment. HB 357 would make this license an option rather than a requirement.

House Bill 797, filed by Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to use walk-through or handheld metal detectors on every campus.

House Bill 47, filed by Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, would outlaw abortion excluding three cases. Under HB 47, a woman may have an abortion if her complicated medical condition, other than a psychological condition, necessitates an abortion to avoid death or serious risk of substantial, irreversible physical impairment; the abortion is to remove an ectopic pregnancy; or if the woman is pregnant with multiple children and the abortion will ensure that at least one child is born healthy.

House Bill 209, filed by Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, would allow the use of medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions and licensing for dispensing organizations and testing facilities.

Senate Bill 63, filed by 25 senators from both sides of the aisle, would create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to deliver mental health services using the expertise of state universities.

House Bill 21, filed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, would exempt college textbooks from sales taxes for a week in January and August. 

Senate Bill 89, filed by Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would create the Texas Border Security and Support Service Ribbon to be awarded to members of the state military who served to secure the Texas border.

Senate Bill 55, filed by Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would allow people to vote in a primary election or runoff primary election if they are underage as long as they are 18 years old by the date of the general election.

Legislators have until March 8, the 60th day of the session, to file bills and joint resolutions, although local bills and emergency appropriations can still be filed after that date.

The last day of the 140-day session is May 27. June 16, 20 days later, is the last day the governor may sign or veto bills passed during the session.


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