Session Watch: Emergency Items Hit the Senate Floor

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March 1, 2017

As we complete the first month of the 85th Legislative Session, the Senate has passed several pieces of legislation relating to the Governor's emergency items. Bills that address those emergency items are the only bills that may be heard during the first 60 days of the legislative session.

This session, Governor Greg Abbot proclaimed 5 emergency items in his State of the State Address. A few items that were widely expected to be included, such as private school vouchers, were left off the list.  Items named include: banning “sanctuary cities”, overhauling Texas’ broken child welfare system, implementing ethics reform, and approving a resolution to support a convention of states to change the U.S. constitution.

Ethics reform was the first legislation to hit the Senate floor in the form of Senate Bill 14, which I co-authored. The Senate unanimously approved the ethics reform package which will curb conflicts of interest and take pensions away from politicians who are convicted of certain felonies, and a variety of other ethics improvements. SB14 is now headed to the Texas House.

I believe meaningful ethics reform will serve the public interest by making political activities increasingly transparent. My constituents deserve as much information as possible about elected officials, such as myself, who they send to the Capitol to represent their interests every two years. Disclosure laws provide voters with greater confidence that elected officials keep sight of who they really work for – Texans.

Other emergency items passed by the Senate include Senate Bill 11, relating to Child Protective Services and Foster Care reform, SJR 2, calling for a convention of states to change the US Constitution, and Sanctuary Cities legislation.