By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
Although several highly-publicized bills like Constitutional Carry and paid sick leave may be headed for the Austin scrapheap, Hughes and Paddie bills are in the passing lane.
As the legislature nears its May 27 close of business date, however, quirky things can happen.This week Hughes voted against Senate Bill 11 to boost security at Texas schools. The bill passed 29-2, but Hughes told reporters that some supporters back in East Texas had reservations about local committees to evaluate threats posed by students.
Paddie, last week, found himself voting against amendments to a bill he sponsored. Paddie chairs the Sunset Committee in the House and had sponsored the bill to allow the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to continue to operate.
Amendments to extend Sunday alcohol sales hours and to allow craft breweries to sell beer to go were added to Paddie’s bill. The Marshall Republican voted against both amendments, which passed. He did vote for the final bill as it cleared the House.
Hughes’ key piece of legislation is Senate Bill 9, dealing with election security. Senate Bill 9 will require, among other provisions, all voting systems to have a verifiable paper audit trail, authorize audits to confirm the proper function of electronic voting systems, and allow law enforcement to test vulnerabilities in the electoral system.
The bill also will stiffen penalties for false statements on voter registration applications and unlawful assistance in voting.SB9 has passed the Senate and was referred, Monday, to the House Elections Committee.
Paddie’s House Bill 1000 has passed the House and now rests with the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. The Texas Rural and Opportunity Zone Jobs Act (HB1000) is expected to encourage job creation and local economic development, by facilitating access to private sector capital for small businesses in Texas, as well as those looking to relocate.
Paddie noted safeguards built into the bill help make the proposal more attractive. “This is quite a bit different from the Enterprise Fund,” Paddie said. “This is more about setting up a framework to incentivize the private sector.”
Following passage of the Rural Opportunity Zone, private lenders and equity firms can receive state tax credits for loaning money or taking an equity position in a firm expanding or locating in a rural area creating jobs.
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