Submitted by Ken Paxton, State Senator
Immediately following the closing of the 83rd regular legislative session, Governor Rick Perry called a special legislative session to take up and consider matters related to redistricting, transportation, pro-life legislation, and juvenile justice. The special session runs for 30 days, and will come to an end early next week. Below is an update of where we stand on each of the special session issues:
Over the course of the special session, the Senate Redistricting Committee hosted several public hearings on the proposed Congressional, State Senate, and State House district maps. The redistricting plans under consideration are the ratification of plans the Federal District Court in San Antonio developed in response to court challenges to the legislature-approved plans in 2011. These redistricting plans will keep in place the existing districts we utilized for the 2012 election cycle for Congress, State Senate, and State Representatives. The Texas Senate approved the redistricting maps early this week and the Texas House approved the bills this afternoon.
Governor Perry also added transportation funding to the special session agenda as there is a need to provide additional funding for long-term public highway projects in this state. In response to this, the Senate voted on Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 2, which I co-authored. SJR 2 will dedicate a portion of the existing taxes from oil and gas production in Texas to the State Highway Fund by splitting the portion of the revenues currently dedicated to the Rainy Day Fund evenly between the Rainy Day Fund and the State Highway Fund. One important aspect of the Senate version of the legislation is that funding will only go to the Highway Fund if the balance in the Rainy Day Fund is above $6 Billion. This safeguards the Rainy Day Fund and also provides a good first step to address our state’s transportation funding needs.
Governor Perry also added issues relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities to the call for this special session. This past week the Senate began debating and voting on several pro-life bills and ultimately past SB 5 which I also co-sponsored. SB 5 will impose several regulations on abortion providers, including:
· Requiring abortion inducing drugs to be administered by a physician and only after an exam has been conducted.
· Requiring that the name and phone number of a physician who handles abortion related emergencies or complications be provided to anyone receiving an abortion.
· Requiring that a physician who performs an abortion have privileges to admit a patient to a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility in the event of a medical emergency.
· Requiring that abortion clinics maintain the minimum standards of an ambulatory surgical center.
The Senate also voted on and passed legislation that would amend Texas’ penal code to conform with the 2012 Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. Alabama. This decision mandates that the sentencing of a person convicted of a capital felony be life with the possibility of parole in 40 years if the defendant is under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.
My office is currently accepting applications for the Texas Armed Services Scholarship!If you know a student from District 8 who plans on attending a ROTC college and serving in the military upon graduation, encourage them to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to apply. The deadline for applications is June 28th.