AUSTIN, Texas — The 84th session of the Texas Legislature came to a close on Monday afternoon. Legislators spoke in the hallways about a successful session while some grassroots activists, conservatives and tea party leaders expressed wanting more.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) and House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) gaveled out their respective chambers Sine Die shortly after noon. Lt. Gov. Patrick told Breitbart Texas this was the earliest Sine Die in at least the past fifty years. Both Patrick and Speaker Straus told this writer they were pleased with the results of this session.
On the issues of the 2nd Amendment, it was a good session that could have been better. Open Carry for Concealed Handgun License holders passed, but what is known as Constitutional Carry, open carry without a license, never got out of the gate. This was largely in part to the behavior of certain extremist groups who harassed both lawmakers and police officers in their efforts to lobby for open carry passage.
Campus Carry also passed, at the last minute, but the bill was also not as strong as 2nd Amendment advocates would have liked.
“We made progress on these issues,” Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) told this writer. Estes was the Senate sponsor of the House Open Carry Bill (HB 910) that was authored by State Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman).
Sen. Brian Birdwell, author of the Campus Carry Bill, told Breitbart Texas he was glad they were able to get something passed and that he will work on more for the future.
“This was the most conservative Senate in Texas history,” Lt. Governor Patrick said in an interview with Breitbart Texas. He praised the Senate’s passage of many conservative pieces of legislation. He expressed sadness that the House allowed some of these bills to die.
On Education, individual schools will now get an A-F grade. Parents will now know exactly how their child’s individual school is performing.
Franchise Taxes were reduced and language was included that will lead to the eventual demise of the highly unpopular business tax. At the same time, homeowners will get an increase in their homestead exemption.
Homeowners will also be protected from a future implementation of a transfer tax on the sale of real property. And, under the provisions of SB 1760, local taxing authorities will have to take an affirmative vote to increase effective property taxes. If the tax valuation goes up, the tax rate will have to go down to avoid a tax increase unless the authority specifically votes to raise the effective tax rate.
In other liberty related issues, school children will no longer be charged with a crime for not going to school. Truancy will become a civil offense after Gov. Abbott signs that law.
The border will be more secure than ever before, Lt. Gov. Patrick told Breitbart Texas. The budget on securing the Texas/Mexico border went from $300 million in the last session to $800 million after this session. That money will go to new equipment, additional manpower, training and technology.
Social conservative issues did not fair as well this session. Many bills were passed in the House or the Senate but not passed out of the opposite chamber.
Transportation issues are being funded without increasing debt and the diversion of gas tax money to projects other than transportation will finally come to an end.
State Representative Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands) told this writer, “This is the coolest thing I have ever done.” He expressed his gratitude to his constituents for sending him to Austin. He said he learned a lot about how to get things done and is ready to come back in 2017. He was especially proud of a bill he passed that will provide for compensation to victims of non-violent crimes.
Grassroots leaders are planning a conference call for Tuesday, June 2nd, from 7-8:15 p.m. The call is being hosted by the leaders of the Texas Eagle Forum, Texas Right to Life, Texans United for Reform and Freedom, and other grassroots and Tea Party groups. To listen in or participate in the call, dial 1-302-202-1114. The passcode for the meeting is 420825.