State Legislators File 500 Bills for 2017 Session; Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Lays Out Priorities

State lawmakers pre-filed more than 500 bills Monday, the first day to propose legislation before the 85th Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 10 for the 2017 session.

Among the frenzy of would-be laws submitted in both chambers on Monday were several high-profile abortion proposals.

One sure to spark heated debate would prohibit aborting fetuses with abnormalities after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Current Texas law suspends a post-20-week abortion ban when fetal abnormalities are detected, or if the mother's life is threatened.

Other bills sought to offer pre-kindergarten for all Texas 4-year-olds, cut the franchise tax paid by businesses and exempt the state from daylight saving time.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released his list of top 10 priorities for the session Monday, reserving a total of 30 low bill numbers for high-priority bills he is committed to fighting for, including reduction of the hand-gun licensing fee, ethics reform, CPS reforms, tuition reforms, continuing to reduce the state franchise tax and prohibiting the government collection of union dues, when the session begins.

“Starting in 2017, we will have a friend in the White House who was clearly elected because the people of this country believe in the conservative principles that have guided the way we govern in Texas -- life, liberty and lean government that promotes prosperity," Patrick said in a statement. "I remain committed to those principles and the legislative priorities I am announcing today all reflect that commitment."

Patrick's Top 10 list is below:

  • 1. 2017 Budget Proposal - the FY 18-19 Budget Estimate is not yet available, but we will pass a balanced budget that will strengthen the Texas economy and assure that it retains its global competitiveness.
  • 2. Property Tax Reform - Texans pay the sixth highest property taxes in the nation and the high rates are taxing people out of their homes and hampering business growth. This must change.
  • 3. School Choice - There is broad support for legislation to ensure that every parent has the option to send their child to the school they believe is best for them.
  • 4. Sanctuary Cities - No city in Texas should be allowed to ignore the law. We will end this practice once and for all this session.
  • 5. Photo Voter ID - Nothing is more critical to our democracy than the integrity of the voting process. Photo Voter ID is essential.
  • 6. Women’s Privacy Act - A majority of Texans in both political parties and in every ethnic and demographic group believe that women and girls should have privacy and safety in their restrooms, showers and locker rooms. Unfortunately, legislation is necessary to assure that they do.
  • 7. Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships - "Pass the Trash" - With the rapid increase in the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, legislation is needed to strengthen the reporting and training requirements, and establish appropriate penalties. Priority must be given to protecting our students at every level of the school system.
  • 8. Fetal Tissue/Partial Birth Abortion - We will continue to fight to protect the dignity and sanctity of life by increasing criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue, among other protections, and we will ban partial birth abortion in Texas.
  • 9. Spending Cap - We will continue to fight to strengthen the state spending limit so our government lives within its means.
  • 10. Hailstorm Lawsuit Reform - We will rein in the hailstorm lawsuit abuse that is damaging local economies around our state.

During the last session in 2015, state legislators filed more than 6,200 bills and approved 1,300-plus new laws. Some of the bills filed Monday are below.

The 2017 session begins Jan. 10, 2017 and ends May 29. Bills must be filed by March 10 to be considered; approved bills must be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott by June 18 and can not go into effect before Aug. 28.

Bills were filed Monday ahead of the 2017 session:

  • 1. HB 44 - Limits the maximum appraised value of real property for ad valorem tax purposes to 105 percent of the appraised value of the property for the preceding tax year. – Keough
  • 2. HB52 – Amends Code of Crim Procedure to instruct that police officers may not stop a motor vehicle or conduct a search of business or residence solely to enforce immigration laws, unless assisting an appropriate federal agent. – Melcalf
  • 3. HB57 - Relates to the regulation of raw milk and raw milk products… provides certain handling and transporting regulations can only be sold at producer’s place of biz, consumer’s residence or farmer’s market. – Flynn
  • 4. HB64 – Would abolish the death penalty in Texas. – Dutton
  • 5. HB70 – Instructs each Co Voter Registrar to automatically register any county resident who is eligible to vote who is issued or makes a change to his/her TX Driver license or TX ID card – Minjarez
  • 6. HB81 & HB82 – Makes minor possession of marijuana a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by fine or deferred adjudication – Moody and Dutton
  • 7. HB95 – Exempts Texas from the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (abolishing Daylight Saving Time). – Flynn
  • 8. HB103 – Instructs that Texas Peace Officers may not conduct a body cavity search without a search warrant, unless the person is confined or committed to a penal institution. (Eliminates roadside traffic stop cavity searches) – Dutton
  • 9. HB106 – Defines who can use cameras on drones and for what specific purposes. –Martinez
  • 10. HB121 – Instructs Co Tax Assessors/Collectors they may NOT refuse to register a vehicle alleged to have red light citation. – Keough
  • 11. HB124 – Instructs Law enforcement agencies to check a jailed person’s immigration status before release and requires them to hold for Officially issued Immigration Detainer. – Krause
  • 12. HB127 – Suspends the use of credit scoring when underwriting or rating an insurance policy. - White
  • 13. HB149 – Relates to the enforcement of immigration laws – Denies State funding if agency or City/County adopts policy that prohibits immigration enforcement. – Simmons
  • 14. HB158 – Requires a Grand Jury to record Grand Jury proceedings if the accused is a peace officer and offense alleged occurred in scope of duty. Requires public release if no-billed. – Dutton
  • 15. HB166 – Prohibits corporal punishment as discipline in schools. – Lucio
  • 16. HB170 – Exempts tax on school books for university and college students from Aug 17, to Aug 31 and Jan 1 to Jan 15. – Lucio
  • 17. HB178 – Instructs officers to impound the motor vehicle of a person who does not possess minimum liability insurance and is involved in an accident involving that vehicle. – Lucio
  • 18. HB192 – Prohibits housing discrimination based upon gender identity or expression or sexual orientation. – Bernal
  • 19. HB196 – Provides free pre-kindergarten for certain children. – Gonzalez
  • 20. HB221 – Eliminates sales tax for child and adult diapers. – Howard
  • 21. HB251 – Designates State Loop 12 in Dallas County as Governor Ann Richards Memorial Loop. – Anchia
  • 22. HB255 – Would prohibit carrying a handgun by a license holder at indoor or outdoor arenas, stadiums, golf courses, racetracks, theaters, zoos, museums, convention centers, etc.. – Anchia
  • 23. HB263 – Instructs state to create “Back the Blue” specialty license plates, with money raised to go to Employees Retirement System for survivors of peace officers. –Lozano
  • 24. HB269 – Expunges records for victims of trafficking or those victims who were compelled to prostitute. – Thompson
  • 25. HB275 – Instructs State to only issue one license plate instead of two for motor vehicles now requiring two. - Gonzales
  • 26. HB281 – Would establish a statewide electronic tracking system for sex assault evidence collection kits. – Howard
  • 27. HB282 – Would allow any institution of higher education to prohibit gun license holders from carrying handguns on their campus. – Anchia
  • 28. HB285 – Would raise the statewide minimum wage no less than $15.00 per hour or the federal minimum wage if greater. – Alonzo
  • 29. HJR23 – Would legalize and allow for regulation of eight-liners or similar devices if passed by majority vote in political subdivision. – Raymond
  • 30. SB73 – Instructs State agencies to create leave clear leave policies, includes prohibiting granting emergency leave with pay if employees not returning. - Nelson
  • 31. SB88 – Prohibits operation of red light camera systems, unless used for toll enforcement. – Hall
  • 32. SB91 – Regulates use of license plate readers. Law enforcement may use to investigate crim. offense or missing person report … must destroy all collected data within 7 days, unless used as evidence in case. – Hall
  • 33. SB108 – Increases punishment by one level upon conviction if actor was not lawfully in US at time of commission. If first degree felony, punishment is LIFE without parole. – Hall
  • 34. SB109- Establishes term limits for judges of 18 years. – Huffhines
  • 35. SB110 – Establishes term limits for local elected office of 12 years. – Huffhines
  • 36. SB144 – Allows use of a mobile phone to access information created before entering the polling place, but cannot record audio or video. – Garcia
  • 37. SB149 – Allows Texans to pre-register to vote (learner license) at age 15. – Garcia
  • 38. SB151 – Requires voter approval for obligations relating to public pension fund. – Bettencourt
  • 39. SB155 – Requires physical exam and cardiac assessment for school students who participate in extracurricular athletic activities. - Hinojosa
  • 40. SJR8 – Proposes a constitutional amendment denying bail to certain persons unlawfully present in the US who are arrested for a felony. – Hall
  • 41. SJR9 – Proposes a constitutional amendment guaranteeing right to life of unborn children and prohibiting abortion to the extent authorized by federal constitutional law. – Hall
  • 42. SJR10 – Proposing a constitutional amendment to limit time a person may serve in the Texas Legislature. – Huffhines
  • 43. SJR11 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to limit time a person may be elected or serve in certain State offices. – Huffhines
  • 44. SJR12 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms judges and justices may serve on courts in Texas. – Huffhines
  • 45. SJR13 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms for which a person may be elected to hold office of a political subdivision. – Huffhines
  • 46. SJR16 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage. – Rodriguez
  • 47. SJR17 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis. – Rodriguez
  • 48. SJR18 - Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use. Rodriguez
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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