Texas Legislature Ends 2015 Session | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Texas Legislature Ends 2015 Session

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    The final gavel has fallen on the Texas Legislature's 2015 session. (Published Monday, June 1, 2015)

    The final gavel has fallen on the Texas Legislature's 2015 session.

    House Speaker Joe Straus excused his chamber just before 1 p.m., shortly after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate, adjourned the upper chamber. Cheers, handshakes and hugs followed, as members took congratulatory photos on the floor.

    The Legislature meets every two years in 140-day sessions. Unless Gov. Greg Abbott calls lawmakers into a special session to tackle specific issues, it won't return until January 2017.

    Houston Democratic Rep. Sylvester Turner, who will run for mayor of his hometown instead of seeking another term after a quarter-century in the Legislature, made the motion to end the session.

    As his "last official act," Turner moved that the chamber "sine die," or adjourn for good so lawmakers can head home.

    If you didn't follow along the last 140 days, this is what you missed:

    1. YOU'LL VOTE ON GIVING YOURSELF A MODEST TAX BREAK

    But only if you're a homeowner. And the average of roughly $120 a year you'll save on property taxes if voters ratify the cuts in November that could be swallowed by fast-rising home appraisals.

    2. BORDER SECURITY SPENDING MORE THAN DOUBLED

    Republicans ran on border security in the 2014 elections and backed up those promises by ponying up a record $800 million for more state troopers, cameras and a spy plane to patrol the Mexico border. Democrats slammed it as overkill at a time when crime is falling and no crises are roiling the 1,200-mile Texas-Mexico border.

    3. HOLSTERED HANDGUNS NOW ALLOWED IN FULL VIEW

    Gun owners had spent the last 20 years needing to keep their handguns hidden. College campuses will also allow concealed handguns starting in 2016, but universities have leeway to carve out "gun-free zones" in a concession to chancellors who urged lawmakers to keep firearms out of classrooms.

    4. FEW NEW DOLLARS GOING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    Lawmakers mostly stood pat instead of throwing more money at a school finance system that the Texas Supreme Court could dismantle anyway later this year. If that happens, the Legislature might have to return before 2017 and figure out a more equitable way to pay for educating 5.2 million students.

    5. GOP DEFIANCE OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FIZZLES

    Texas didn't add any new anti-gay marriage laws to blunt the impact if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage this summer. Republicans settled for giving pastors the right to refuse officiating gay weddings, which was fine with gay rights groups.

    6. `TEXAS DREAM ACT' SURVIVES

    Abbott still opposes Texas' practice of giving the in-state tuition breaks to children brought into the U.S. illegally. But another session of get-tough immigration measures pushed by conservatives came to nothing.

    7. EPILEPSY PATIENTS GET ACCESS TO CANNABIS OIL

    The low levels prescribed under the law can't get anyone high. But backers of marijuana reform consider it a milestone in a state that has long refused to consider relaxing pot laws.

    8. MONEY LEFT ON THE TABLE

    Republicans didn't touch $12 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund and they granted a $3.8 billion package of tax cuts that could diminish revenues. Critics predict it'll come back to haunt lawmakers in 2017 and force tough decisions over already tight spending.

    9. TIGHTER RULES FOR TEENAGERS SEEKING ABORTIONS

    Girls under 18 can no longer use abuse as a reason to seek a judge's permission to get an abortion. About 300 teenagers in Texas each year get judicial approval to end a pregnancy.

    10. ETHICS REFORMS STALL

    But lawmakers did change the rules so that if they're charged with public corruption, they'll be prosecuted in the hometowns that elected them instead of Austin.

    AP Writer Paul J. Webercontributed to this report.

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