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Constitutional Amendments Proposed for November 2017 Ballot

Texas voters have approved 491 amendments to the state Constitution since its adoption in 1876, according to the Legislative Reference Library. Seven more proposed amendments will be submitted for voter approval at the general election on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

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CSSB 1: The House Appropriations Committee's Proposed Budget for Fiscal 2018-19

This report presents an overview of CSSB 1 by Nelson (Zerwas), the proposed state budget for fiscal 2018-19 as reported by the House Appropriations Committee. It highlights some of the significant budget issues, including different proposals for funding individual agencies and programs.

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How a Bill Becomes Law: 85th Legislature

The Texas Constitution and the rules of the House and the Senate govern the movement of bills through the Legislature. This report summarizes the key constitutional provisions and rules governing bills in the Legislature, with emphasis on the Texas House Rules. HR 4 by Smithee, adopted by the House on January 11, 2017, contains the House rules for the 85th Legislature.

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Writing the State Budget: 85th Legislature

Writing a two-year budget is one of the Texas Legislature's main tasks. During the 2017 regular session, the 85th Legislature will consider a budget for fiscal 2018-19, the two-year period ("biennium") from September 1, 2017, through August 31, 2019. The Texas budget is written and implemented in a two-year cycle that includes developing the budget, approving the general appropriations bill, acting on the bill after passage, and acting on the budget in the interim.

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Emerging issues in Texas telemedicine regulation

Growing use of telemedicine is raising questions for the Texas Legislature about how best to address medical services provided at a distance. In its earliest form, telemedicine was used mainly at a relatively small number of sites with the equipment and transmission capabilities needed to connect patients with health care providers. Now, faster internet connections, the prevalence of smartphones, and increased insurance coverage for telemedicine allow people to use it in more ways than ever before. This report focuses on emerging issues and debate in Texas on the regulation of telemedicine.

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Texas may consider how transportation network companies are regulated

Transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are businesses that provide platforms to connect paying riders to drivers. In Texas, TNCs are subject to regulation mostly by municipalities, with state regulation thus far focused on insurance requirements. Some say TNCs should be regulated locally to ensure public safety, accessibility, and accountability to passengers and the public. Others say state government is better suited to regulate TNCs because it would create uniform standards and reduce compliance costs. This report examines the TNC business model, current state and local laws governing TNCs, and policy proposals the 85th Legislature may consider during its regular session.

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Topics for the 85th Legislature

The Texas Legislature will consider a wide variety of topics when it convenes in regular session on January 10, 2017. Among other prominent issues, lawmakers are expected to consider proposals to to reduce property taxes, revise criminal offenses and penalties, reform Child Protective Services and the foster care system, address abortion issues, expand school choice, revise public school testing and accountability programs, address college affordability, review voter identification requirements, address water needs, and revise regulations and fees for those carrying handguns. This report highlights many, although by no means all, of the issues the 85th Legislature may consider during its 2017 regular session.

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Should Texas raise the age of adult criminal responsibility?

Texas is one of seven states in which 17-year-olds accused of committing crimes automatically enter the adult criminal justice system, rather than the juvenile system. Six states have raised this age to 18 in the past seven years, with two making the change this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old in Texas failed in the 2015 legislative session but could emerge again in 2017 during the 85th Legislature. Debate on raising the age in Texas centers on the effect it would have on public safety, the outcomes for youths in each system, and the cost of moving 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system.

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Texas school finance system survives latest Supreme Court review

The state's current public school finance system meets the minimum requirements set out by the Texas Constitution, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in May. The case was the latest in a series of legal challenges brought against the state by school districts in recent decades over Texas' method of funding its public schools. This report briefly outlines the recent history of school finance litigation, summarizes the Supreme Court's ruling in the most recent case, and reviews current interim committee charges related to public school finance.

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State examines ways to curb financial exploitation of older Texans

With the number of older Texans expected to increase substantially over the next few decades, state lawmakers during the 85th legislative session may consider further ways to prevent the financial exploitation of seniors. This report reviews current law and policy approaches aimed at preventing financial exploitation of the elderly in Texas and other states.

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Addressing water needs using aquifer storage and recovery

According to state water planners, large volumes of water storage will be needed to meet projected future demands for Texas. Water storage traditionally has involved building new surface water reservoirs, but policymakers increasingly are looking to another method known as aquifer storage and recovery (ASR). This report provides an introduction to ASR in Texas, including a brief history of ASR projects and a review of the regulatory structure that has evolved around the technology.

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Texas Budget Highlights: Fiscal 2016-17

This report highlights key provisions of HB 1 by Otto, the general appropriations act for fiscal 2016-17 and HB 2 by Otto, the supplemental appropriations and reductions act.

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