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More than 600 bills already filed for 86th Legislative Session

Texas lawmakers are set to convene on January 8 for the state’s 86th Legislative Session. The 140 day biennial regular session will run through May 27, 2019. As of Tuesday, 662 bills have already been filed. Senator Robert Nichols represents District 3, which includes Liberty County plus 18 other counties in East Texas. He said those bills include one to legalize lemonade stands. While those stands dot neighborhoods throughout the state, Senator Nichols said they are illegal based on Texas Food Establishment Rules because of health concerns. Another bill includes the decriminalization of texting while driving and, instead, makes it punishable by a fine. Still other bills propose exempting Texas from daylight savings time and creating a sales tax holiday for college textbooks. House Bill 63 by Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, would make it a civil offense – not a crime – to posses less than one ounce of marijuana. Rep. Moody also filed House Bill 84 to repeal a section of the Texas penal code that lists ‘homosexual conduct’ as a crime. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban in 2003, but it remains on the books. Moving on, Fort Worth Republican Representative Matt Krause has filed House Bill 222. It would prohibit Texas cities from adopting or enforcing ordinances that would require employers to offer their employees paid sick leave. San Antonio and Austin have passed paid sick leave ordinances this year. One of the big items on the Texas Legislature’s agenda during the upcoming session will be school funding. In a related matter, Fort Worth Republican Representative Charlie Geren filed House Joint Resolution 24. It proposes a constitutional amendment requiring the state to cover at least half of the cost of funding public schools. If the amendment were approved by voters, local property tax collections would not apply to the state's share. Again, as of Tuesday, 662 bills have already been filed for the upcoming 86th Texas Legislative Session. Two years ago during the 85th session, a total of 10,672 bills and resolutions were filed in the Texas House and Senate. Of those, 4,960 passed and 51 were vetoed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

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