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Local News

This week’s Texas legislative wrap-up

todayApril 30, 2021

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A newly formed committee in the Texas Senate held its first-ever hearing, focusing solely on the proposed permitless carry legislation. The Senate Special Committee on Constitutional Issues heard more than 9 hours of testimony on House Bill 1927 on Thursday, which would remove permitting requirements to carry a firearm in the state.

HB 1927 passed out of the committee on a 5-2 vote. More than 170 people signed up to testify on the bill Thursday.

Supporters note it would allow responsible gun-owners access to firearms after costs to secure a license are removed.

Opponents argue the bill would remove safeguards like background checks and training currently required when Texans seek to obtain a license to carry.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Thursday he thought the bill was a few votes short of having enough support to pass but that he was working with Senators to rally more support. Should Senators approve any changes to the version of the bill that the House sent over, the lower chamber would need to sign off before the legislation heads to the Governor’s desk.

The Texas Senate passed a bipartisan bill nearly unanimously on Wednesday that would allow restaurants to sell alcohol along with pickup and delivery food orders as a way to help them through the economic downturn during the pandemic.

The bill includes safety provisions such as a requirement that all alcoholic beverages be sealed either in their original container from the manufacturer or in a tamper-proof container that is labeled with the business’s name and the words “alcoholic beverage.” Any beverage not in its original container will not be allowed to be transported in the passenger area of a car.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

A newly filed bill in the Texas State House would ban debt accrued from school lunches for students in Texas. On Wednesday, Texas state Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) filed House Bill 4112, which would allow students to receive regular lunches despite what their meal card balance may be.

Currently, children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are eligible for free meals, according to the School Nutrition Association. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% can receive reduced-price meals.

Currently, USDA regulations allow school districts to decide how to manage unpaid meal balances. Alternatives have included limiting the number of charges allowed and providing lower cost, typically cold, alternative meals. This concept has been widely criticized with detractors claiming it encourages “shaming.”

In 2019, U.S. Senator Tina Smith and Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced the No Shame at School Act, which would require schools to certify unpaid meal balances and forbid them from using debt collectors to receive payment.

The 87th Texas legislative session began January 12 and is scheduled to conclude May 31.


Written by: Michelle Layton

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