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Notable bills of the 2009 Legislature, 2nd Ld-Writethru, TX

Sun, 05/31/2009 - 8:22pm
The Associated Press

A look at some bills that made it, and some that didn't, in the regular session of the 81st Texas Legislature, which ended Monday.

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PASSED, SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOV. RICK PERRY

—Wrongful Convictions: Increases compensation for those who were convicted and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.

—Texas Movies: Expands the ability of the state's movie and film office to grant financial incentives to lure productions to Texas.

—Hurricanes-Electricity: Allows utilities to issue low-cost bonds to recover costs after hurricanes and other disasters, reducing the financial impact to electricity customers for rebuilding and restoration.

—Journalist Shield Law: Provides limited immunity to journalists from having to testify and reveal confidential sources and documents in court.

—Interior Designers: Prohibits someone not licensed or registered with the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners as an interior designer from using the title "licensed interior designer" or "registered interior designer."

—Crossbow Hunting: Allows all hunters, not just disabled hunters, to use crossbows during bow hunting season. Crossbows already were allowed during open hunting season.

—Military Kids: Makes it easier for children of transferring military members to enroll in new schools by allowing Texas to join an interstate compact on educational opportunities for military children.

—University Expansion: Allows for the expansion of Texas A&M University-Central Texas, Texas A&M University-San Antonio and University of North Texas at Dallas campuses as stand-alone institutions; removes barriers to the use of tuition revenue bonds for expansion.

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PASSED, BECOMING LAW WITHOUT GOVERNOR'S SIGNATURE

—Booster Seats: Requires that children under age 8 be secured in a booster seat when riding in a passenger vehicle. Raises the current age limit from 4.

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PASSED, HEADING TO TEXAS VOTERS

—Eminent Domain: Allows Texas voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to place some limits on when governments can take private property.

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PASSED, AWAITING ACTION BY GOVERNOR

—State Budget: A $182 billion two-year spending plan that includes $12 billion in federal economic stimulus money pays for scores of state services but covers mostly education and health care.

—Supplemental Budget: A $2.4 billion package to cover unexpected costs in the current state budget, including money for the Hurricane Ike-ravaged University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

—Top 10 Percent: Scales back the law allowing automatic college admissions for students in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.

—Windstorm Insurance: Restructures the depleted Texas Windstorm Insurance Association that insures coastal property in case of a hurricane.

—Disabled Veterans: Provides homestead property tax exemptions for disabled veterans.

—Human Trafficking Civil Penalties: Allows victims of human trafficking to sue their traffickers and seek punitive damages from the traffickers and the organizations involved.

—Human Trafficking Prevention: Establishes a task force to come up with policies and procedures to prevent and prosecute human trafficking, sometimes referred to as modern-day slavery.

—Teen Tanning Bill: Bans anyone under 16.5 years old from using a tanning bed.

—Smokeless Tobacco Tax: Changes the tax on chewing tobacco to a weight-based system in order to fund a medical school loan repayment program for doctors who work in underserved areas. Includes tax break for small businesses.

—Business Tax: Gives tax break to some 40,000 small businesses by raising the franchise tax exemption from $300,000 in revenue to $1 million.

—State Schools: Increases oversight and security of the state's large institutions for people with mental disabilities.

—Electronic Textbooks: Allows school districts to purchase approved electronic textbooks and materials.

—Military Tuition: Expands tuition exemptions for Texas military veterans and their spouses.

—UNT Law School: Allows the University of North Texas at Dallas to establish a new public law school.

—School Accountability: Changes high school graduation and grade promotion requirements; requires students to pass standardized tests to be promoted to the next grade but reduces some of the high stakes currently connected to the testing.

—School Finance: Tweaks the state's school funding system, sending about $2 billion to school districts and giving teachers a one-time $800 pay raise.

—School Supplies: Adds backpacks and school supplies to the annual August sales tax holiday weekend that already includes clothing purchases.

—Juvenile Prisons Review: Continues the state juvenile prison system operations for at least another two years; keeps the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission separate agencies until another review in 2011.

—Tier One Universities: Creates funding pools and incentives for emerging research universities to advance to nationally recognized Tier One schools.

—Rodeo Kids: Requires children to wear a helmet and protective vest when bull riding in a rodeo.

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FAILED

—Voter ID: Would have required Texas voters to present photo identification or two non-photo alternative forms of ID before casting a ballot.

—Casino Gambling: Would have allowed Las Vegas-style casinos, slot machines at race tracks and casinos on American Indian reservations.

—Smoking Ban: Would have imposed a statewide ban on smoking in most public indoor spaces, including bars and restaurants.

—CHIP Expansion: Would have allowed some families who make too much to qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program to qualify for the joint state and federal program.

—Smoking Age: Would have raised the legal age limit to buy tobacco products from 18 to 19.

—Needle Exchange: Would have allowed public health officials to establish a needle exchange program, permitting people to hand in dirty needles in exchange for clean ones.

—Abortions-Sonograms: Would have required doctors to offer an ultrasound to women seeking abortions and let them see the results if they wanted to.

—Guns on Campus: Would have allowed concealed handgun license holders to bring their guns to college campuses.

—Guns to Work: Would have allowed people to carry firearms to work and then store them in their parked vehicles outside.

—Strip Club Fees: Would have imposed a new admissions tax on sexually oriented businesses and repealed a $5-per-person admission fee on strip clubs that a judge ruled unconstitutional.

—Medical Marijuana: Would have permitted use of marijuana for medical purposes.

—Government Employee Birth Dates: Would have exempted government employees' birth dates from release under open records law.

—Sobriety Checkpoints: Would have allowed police to set up sobriety roadblocks in large counties and cities.

—Mercury Warnings: Would have required fish markets and grocery stores to post signs warning pregnant women that certain fish could contain high levels of mercury that can cause birth defects.

—Puppy Mills: Would have regulated dog and cat owners who keep and breed many animals, cracking down on poor conditions in so-called puppy mills.

—Trans Fats: Would have banned restaurants from packaging, storing or using trans fats to prepare or serve food.

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