On May 31st, 2021, the 87th Texas Legislative Session officially came to an end. The last day of legislative session is commonly referred to as “Sine Die,” a Latin phrase which means “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing,” though it does not represent the final point for the bills to become law. During the twenty days following the end of a regular session, the Governor of Texas has the ability to sign bills into law, pass them into law indirectly by not signing them, or to veto them. It is during these twenty days those members of the Texas House and Texas Senate find out if the bills they worked on and passed during the session will become law or not. This year, the deadline for the Governor to act falls on Sunday, June 20th.
This session 6,927 bills were filed in both chambers of the Legislature, and only 1,073 bills were sent to the Governor. The Governor signed 947 and 20 bills were vetoed, while 105 bills were allowed without the Governor’s signature.
As a recap of the 87th Session, here are certain bills that came from the Coastal Bend, which were passed this session and have been signed by the Governor:
• Senate Bill 1448 is relating to the powers and duties of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and the windstorm insurance legislative oversight board and to certain studies by the board relating to the association and the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan. Included in the language for SB 1448 is a requirement that two-thirds of the TWIA Board of Directors must vote to approve any rate increase. Governor Abbott signed SB 1448 into law on May 26, making it effective on September 1st.
• House Bill 4074 is relating to the collection and use of suicide data by the statewide behavioral health coordinating council. This bill requires that the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to create a subcommittee to focus on statewide suicide prevention efforts using information collected by the council to include in its five-year statewide behavioral health strategic plan.
• House Bill 3821 regards employing and training mental health professionals for the mental health program for veterans. HB 3821 requires the Texas Veterans Commission and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to employ and train mental health professionals as part of the state’s mental health program for veterans.
• House Bill 3521 is relating to the definition of coercion for purposes of trafficking of persons. HB 3521 redefines coercion as it relates to human trafficking offenses to include the performance or provision of labor or services.
• Senate Bill 855 is relating to the electronic dissemination of commercial recordings or audiovisual works. SB 855 was passed to crack down on those who try to illegally sell music online without consent of the artists.
• House Bill 3807, the Je’Sani Smith Act, relating to the use of lifeguards and informational signs to improve safety on public beaches. The Je’Sani Smith Act requires cities, counties, and the Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to add signs and lifeguards in certain areas to improve the safety of public beaches during the summer months.
• House Concurrent Resolution 46, which designates April as Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness Month. The resolution intends to raise public awareness of the potential dangers of swimming in the ocean.
Other accomplishments were securing funding to continue the development of oyster mariculture, which was brought to Texas by legislation passed in 2019. There was also an effort to fund numerous Coastal Bend educational institutions and tourist attractions in the two-year budget, which include:
• $130.9 million in funding for Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
• $34.7 million for Del Mar College
• $8.9 million for the University of Texas – Marine Science Institute
• $6.65 million for Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi Unmanned Aircraft Systems
• $500,000 grant for the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center
These highlights from the 87th Legislative session are a success for residents in the Coastal Bend and continue to be a priority for our area. The help and input of the community contributed to the success of this session on these very important topics.
I invite you to follow the governor’s actions by going to Office of Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, or to see bills that have passed, vetoed, or filed without a signature, please visit Texas Legislature Online or by visiting TLO General Reports.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32
Rep. Hunter represents Nueces (Part) County. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 512-463-0672.