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First days of bill filing include Open Government measures

Bill filing began Monday for the 83rd Texas Legislature and will continue through early March.

Fewer than eight weeks remain till the legislative session begins on Jan. 8

More than 250 bills were filed on Monday alone and many were on familiar topics from previous sessions such as bans on texting while driving or options for expanding gambling in Texas.

On average, about 6,000 bills and resolutions will be filed during a legislative session, but only about 10 to 15 percent of those ever reach the governor’s desk for action.

TAB’s Newsroom Legislative Task Force began the arduous task of reviewing the thousands of bills filed each session for potential impact on the newsgathering process.

Among the Open Government measures filed thus far?

SB 107 Orders of Non-Disclosure by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas

Would prohibit courts from disclosing criminal history information contained in the records of judicial proceedings that are subject to an order of non-disclosure.

SB 121 Whistleblower Protection by Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso

Would create additional whistleblower protections against suspension, termination or another adverse personnel action against a public employee who in good faith reports a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee.

HB 31 Online Meetings of University Regents and Systems by Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas

Would allow university boards of regents and university systems to meet online per existing measures in the Texas Open Meetings Act. Agendas and board meeting materials must be posted online. However, written materials that the general counsel “or other appropriate attorney” for the institution or university system certifies deems confidential may be withheld from public disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act.

HB 74 TPIA Exception: Traffic Violation Records by Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Tomball

Would create an exception in the Texas Public Information Act for home address or personal telephone number information contained in traffic violation records.

HB 133 DWI Database by Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo

Would create a searchable online database of DWI offenses.

HB 160  State Travel Reimbursement by Rep. Lyle Larson, R- San Antonio

Would require the Texas State Ethics Commission to review travel by elected officials for purported state purposes, including security detachments. If the commission found that the travel did not serve a state purpose, it would require the elected official to reimburse the state.

HJR 42   State Office Term Limits by Rep. Lyle Larson, R- San Antonio

Would impose term limits of six legislatures for a member of the Texas House or Senate and 12 years for those holding a specific statewide office.

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