GALENA PARK – State Representative Ana Hernandez is holding a series of Town Hall meetings, to report to the public on the results of the 84th Legislative Session that finished its work in June.
Hernandez also had the help of State Representative Sylvia Garcia, Pct. 2 Constable Chris Diaz, and at times the help of her 5 year old son Gregory.
Her presentation was aided by very detailed and understandable slides, covering all the major points.
She explained the legislative process, the makeup of the House and Senate, and what their responsibilities are. They meet in odd numbered years for 140 days, she noted. This year they passed 1454 bills for the Governor’s consideration, of which he signed 1286, vetoed 42, and allowed 163 to pass without signing.
The Budget is the most important business, and the two-year budget was set at $209.4 billion, an increase of 3.6%. $41.2 billion of that was for public education, and $19.9 billion for higher education.
Transportation was funded at $23.1 billion, and for the first time all gas tax money will go to road.
Tax cuts were passed, but the Homestead Exemption increase requires voter approval in November.
Healthcare was a major issue, she said, and although an additional $1.7 billion was allocated for Medicaid, due to population growth, the state continues to refuse to accept $100 billion available from the federal government.
House Bill 18 and last session’s House Bill 5 provided high school graduation choices, and Hernandez worked to make sure it included multilingual information packets and information on these choices.
Open Carry of firearms was also an issue for this Legislature, and two bills resulted. They are known as Open Carry and Campus Carry. Open Carry will take effect January 1, 2016 and basically changes the “concealed” nature of today’s firearms carry bill, to an open arrangement. House Bill 910 requires the gun to be holstered.
At this point, Constable Chris Diaz and Deputy Lt. F. Taylor demonstrated various holster types, and discussed their advantages. Hernandez pointed out that businesses can post signs excluding Open Carry firearms on their premises.
Campus Carry will take effect August 2016 for 4 year colleges, and August 2017 for community colleges, and CHL licensed holders will be allowed to have guns on campus, but in a concealed only fashion.
Border Security was discussed, but Hernandez said no effective program accompanied the $800 million funding.
Hernandez passed a number of bills strengthening and simplifying law enforcement procedures.
She established a Texas Women Veterans Program to help these transition back into civilian life.
Sen. Garcia said that 37 of her bills passed, including a revenge pornography bill, a study of homeless veterans, a veterans court jurisdiction expansion, on-line training for deputy registrars for voting. She helped stop the repeal of the Dream Act.