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PSN on May 31, 2007 - 8:40am
With a raucus session that ended with Texas state House legislators trying to depose the autocratic speaker, the legislature passed a range of bills, many reversing extreme laws passed in past sessions:
- Lawmakers reversed the massive 2003 cuts in the Children's Health Insurance Program, restoring 127,000 children to the state insurance program.
- The legislature largely abandoned the privatization of the foster care system they ordered in a previous legislative session.
- Legislators passed a two-year moratorium on privately-owned toll roads.
On the energy front, the session was a mixed bag. SB12 will expand financial subsidies to low- and moderate-income families to replace older, polluting vehicles and mandate more energy efficient appliances, but the legislature also approved corporate subsidies to nuclear power plant companies as well.
And legislators approved a range of other bills:
- Sent a major $3 billion bond issue to fund cancer research to the voters.
- Sent a constitutional amendment to voters to require recording individual lawmakers' votes on final passage of bills.
- Overturned the Governor's administrative action requiring cervical cancer vaccination of sixth-grade girls.
- Allowed high schools to offer elective Bible courses, added "under God" to the Texas pledge of allegiance, and added a $5 per visit tax on visits to strip clubs.
- Divested the state pension fund from Sudan.
Notably, the legislature refused to enact any major anti-immigrant bills or a voter ID bill that would have undermined voting rights in the state. This reflects trends in the state towards more progressive leadership, highlighted by the emerging leadership struggle in the House that will dominate politics going into the next session.