The 2015 regular session of the Texas Legislature is (mostly) behind us.
Gov. Greg Abbott still has 20 days (until June 21) to sign or veto bills sent to him. Any that he’s not inclined to sign or veto, he can allow to become law without his signature.
Veto possibilities can be expected to draw a lot of attention until then.
Come Nov. 3, Texans will have the chance to exercise their own approval or veto of six legislative actions in the form of constitutional amendments.
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The amendments range from increasing homestead exemptions for school property taxes, the session’s key individual tax breaks, to charitable raffles at sporting events. There’s even one to guarantee Texans’ right to hunt and fish.
And the Legislature could be back in a special session late this year or early next year after the state Supreme Court rules on a package of lawsuits in which an Austin judge declared the public school finance system unconstitutional.
The point is, the 84th Legislature’s main work is over, but it’s not all done quite yet.
If the regular session were to be assigned a symbol, it would have to be a handgun — after high-profile approval of “open carry” and concealed “campus carry” legislation.
For those who aren’t gun enthusiasts, the good news there is that police can still ask someone who’s wearing a gun to show a state-issued permit, and private universities can opt out of allowing guns inside campus buildings.
For the first time since 2006, lawmakers approved funding for new university facilities. And they dedicated money to help recruit top-tier faculty members.
They passed a balanced, controlled-growth budget but left some money unspent that many legislators said should have gone to infrastructure and education needs.
They dedicated more than $800 million to spending on border security.
They bowed low to the oil and gas industry, curtailing cities’ ability to control drilling.
In the rear-view mirror, the session is also notable for things it didn’t do.
A plan to channel business tax revenue to private schools did not pass.
Unfortunately, neither did state regulation of payday lenders nor a ban on texting while driving.
There was a failed attempt to deny in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who graduate from Texas high schools.
The main ethics reform bill, a favorite topic from Gov. Greg Abbott, died in the session’s last days.
In the end, there’s an acceptable balance between what passed and what didn’t.