AUSTIN — It’s bill signing and vetoing time for Gov. Rick Perry. He suffered a broken collar bone in a June 9 bicycling accident near his residence, but exercised his pen with a pile of legislation awaiting his signature.
On June 11, he signed one of those bills, SB 643, enacting emergency reforms for Texas’ state-supported living centers, formerly referred to as “state schools.” The legislation increases oversight and protection for residents of centers and for those enrolled in community-based services.
The projected cost of the package of reforms is $32.7 million through Aug. 31, 2011, and another $40 million from Sept. 1, 2011 through the end of fiscal year 2014.
Among its many reforms, SB 643 increases penalties for employees who abuse or neglect residents, or fail to report abuse or neglect, Perry’s office said. And, it requires the Department of Aging and Disability Services to contract with an independent patient safety organization to conduct mortality assessments to determine if deaths could have been prevented.
Among the many people present for the signing ceremony were primary author Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Grapevine, and House sponsor Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs.
Looking ahead to November ballot
During the 81st regular session of the Texas Legislature, which ended June 1, the House and Senate passed eight joint resolutions that will appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot as 11 proposed amendments to the state constitution.
In the coming months, the Secretary of State’s office will publish analyses of the proposed amendments, including what supporters and opponents say about each.
Here are somewhat shortened captions of proposals on the ballot:
•To authorize the state to contribute money, property, and other resources for the establishment, maintenance and operation of veterans hospitals in this state.
•To prohibit the taking, damaging, or destroying of private property for public use unless the action is for the ownership, use, and enjoyment of the property by the State, a political subdivision of the State, the public at large or entities granted the power of eminent domain.
•To establish the national research university fund to enable emerging research universities in this state to achieve national prominence as major research universities and transferring the balance of the higher education fund to the national research university fund.
•To authorize the Legislature to provide for the ad valorem taxation of a residence homestead solely on the basis of the property’s value as a residence homestead.
•To set uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes.
•To authorize the Legislature to authorize a single board of equalization for two or more adjoining appraisal entities that elect to provide for consolidated equalizations.
•To provide that elected members of governing boards of emergency services districts may serve terms not to exceed four years.
•To protect the right of the public, individually and collectively, to access and use the public beaches bordering the seaward shore of the Gulf of Mexico.
•To authorize the Veterans’ Land Board to issue general obligation bonds in amounts equal to or less than amounts previously authorized.
•To allow an officer or enlisted member of the Texas State Guard or other state militia or military force to hold other civil offices.
•To authorize the financing, including through tax increment financing, of the acquisition by municipalities and counties of buffer areas or open spaces adjacent to a military installation for the prevention of encroachment or for the construction of roadways, utilities, or other infrastructure to protect or promote the mission of the military installation.
It’ll be back to Austin for lawmakers
Gov. Perry has warmed to the idea, but has not set a date for lawmakers to return to Austin to settle unfinished business in a 30-day special session.
The Senate, the House and Perry are under pressure to pass “sunset bills” that would allow the continuation of the Texas Department of Insurance, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Racing Commission and the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.
Without the Legislature’s approval, those agencies will clock out for good on Sept. 1, 2010.
AG chastizes reorganized GM
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on June 10 raised Cain with the “new General Motors” for putting thousands of Texas dealers, workers and their families at risk by modifying franchise agreements with take-it-or-leave-it stipulations.