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Last-Minute Bills Filed In Texas Legislature
This morning, the bills are in: the deadline for Texas lawmakers to file bills now passed after this last Friday. With just a little over two months left in the legislative session, lawmakers will start ramping up the process to decide which bills become law, and which ones fall by the wayside.
Some of these last-minute bills looked at how to cover that growing health care need, others covering how to pay for the state's increasingly congested highways, and one of the most controversial: how to educate its kids.
Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston filed one of the school choice bills, SB 23, just before the weekend. It would create an "Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program". It would let kids at risk of dropping out or below a certain income level in public schools transfer to private schools, including some religious institutions. Any business that gives to one of the nonprofits giving out the scholarship money would get state tax credits. Governor Rick Perry released a statement applauding SB 23 and similar school choice reform bills.
Other bills aim to reform criminal justice. Wrongful convictions are now in the spotlight after Michael Morton's high profile exoneration. One of the last bills filed would require prosecutors to give the defense access to their evidence in files, with some exceptions. Another proposal would make it so law enforcement could only get your cell phone location information with a search warrant. They would need to prove to a judge that there was probably cause of illegal activity. If passed, the law would also lift the seals on the court orders after 180 days.
By Adam Bennett