November 2016 Legislative Up-Date

November 2016 Legislative Update
By: Mike Noll, Legislative Committee Chairman
From the “Dallas Morning News” and other sources

Texas State lawmakers have introduced more than 400 bills that they hope to pass into law during the 2017 Legislative Session, which begins on January 10, 2017. Here is a brief review of five proposed bills sure to receive much debate and media attention:

Repeal the Driver Responsibility Program  - The Driver Responsibility Program adds expensive surcharges to traffic law violations. Millions of Texans have lost their licenses for failing to pay the fees, which can amount to thousands of dollars. Critics say the program is ineffective, while proponents say the funds it collects are critical to keeping trauma centers up and running. In the past, proponents have successfully fought off repeal.

Abolish the death penalty - Death penalty opponents have tried for years to end executions in Texas, which has executed more criminals than any other state in the nation. They say that executions don't prevent crime and that a history of wrongful convictions in Texas and other states presents the possibility of putting an innocent person to death. Supporters of the death penalty argue that it deters crime and that it is a fitting punishment for the most egregious crime.

texting while driving - Lawmakers have proposed a ban on texting while driving in previous sessions without success. Proponents say banning the practice could save dozens of lives each year. Opponents say that existing laws prohibit distracted driving and that banning texting doesn't prevent people from doing it and could make it more dangerous.

Constitutional carry - State Rep. Jonathan Strickland (R Bedford) became the latest lawmaker to file a gun-related bill with his proposal to allow Constitutional Carry — letting gun owners carry weapons openly or concealed without first obtaining a license (LTC) in Texas. A half-dozen gun related bills have been pre-filed for the 85th Legislature. A similar initiated failed to pass last session as Legislators spent most of their energy and time debating Campus Carry.

Legalize Marijuana - Senate Joint Resolution 17, filed by Sen. Rodríguez, (D El Paso) proposes a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana use, possession, cultivation and retail sales in the state of Texas. The measure would appear on the Texas ballot in the Nov. 6, 2018 elections.

More updates to follow as the 85th Legislature gets underway. As always, contact your Senator and Representative to let them know your opinions and concerns. Your input is vital to keep our republic relevant.