The 86th Texas Legislature and what it means for Houston

Image credit: Alex Thomson/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

June is finally here in Texas, and since this is an odd numbered year, that means the dust has finally settled on the doings of the 86th Texas Legislature. It has already become received wisdom amongst the grassroots of the Republican Party that the 86th Texas Legislature was nothing short of a disaster. Even David “the Big Man” Jennings is in a state of lament over what happened over the last five months up in Austin.

Yet, I’ve been trying to come around to seeing the sunnier side of things over the past few months of my life, and that goes for politics as well. As with most things in life, I don’t think the 86th Legislature was entirely a loss, and there were some bills that got passed that do have meaning for Houston, and for liberty and freedom. To wit:

  • HB 1631, a bill that bans red light cameras across the state of Texas, was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. The bill was the first real legislative victory for the fiery and controversial Jonathan Stickland in his political career. Red light cameras had previously been shut down in Houston after a city charter amendment was adopted in 2010.
  • HB 304, which is a reform bill for management districts in Texas, got through the Legislature and awaits Greg Abbott’s action. The bill tweaks governing of management districts, and bumps up the requirements for their formation to requiring a majority of the assessed land holders to sign off. The bill also lowers the level of signatures required for their dissolution. This was a positive development, especially after some of the nasty battles that have erupted over their existence, such as the war over the now dissolved Montrose Management District.
  • SB 30 is also on the way to Mr. Abbott’s desk. This excellent bill addresses a long time irritation of mine having to do with school districts, local governments, and bond elections. Namely, the bill requires that any school district that holds a bond election must now hold separate bond elections for the building of natatoriums, sports stadiums, recreational facilities, performing arts facilities, teacher housing, and technology purchases that don’t have to do with school building security. There is a separate section in the bill that spells out similar provisions for city and county governments and bond issues.
  • And finally, HB 477, which strengthens debt disclosure requirements in bond issue proposals.

I get it that many grassroots types are in the dumps over the fact that the Legislature voted to spend billions more in the state budget, that abortion didn’t get banned in Texas, or that constitutional carry of firearms was not passed. Yet there’s always a next time. I for one, however, am feeling pretty good to be living in Houston.

Until next time!