Before state lawmakers debate the issues of the 84th legislative session, our multimedia team traveled across the state to hear what Texans were talking about. Those community concerns are the focus of our eight-part State of Mind video series, which also includes a look back at issues raised during the 83rd session. Watch any or all of the videos here.
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Texas — Members of the 84th Legislature will take on a variety of issues that affect communities across Texas. Our multimedia team traveled the state — as it did ahead of the 83rd Legislature — to see what’s important where. As we prepare to look ahead at issues facing the current Legislature in our State of Mind series, here’s a look back at how some of last session’s priorities played out.
College Station, TX — For the fifth straight legislative session, Texas lawmakers will consider bills proposing a statewide ban on texting while driving. There’s more momentum than ever to get it passed, but a difference of opinions among the state’s new leadership could stand in its way.
San Antonio, TX — Texas hospitals want state lawmakers to figure out a way for the state to draw down billions in federal Affordable Care Act dollars to cover the uninsured and alleviate the burden on local taxpayers. Health officials hope the Legislature looks at a program in San Antonio that has the makings of a Texas solution.
Mansfield, TX — After Denton voters decided to ban fracking, state officials vowed more oversight of the oil and gas industry to put other Texas cities considering further regulations at ease. Now it’s causing some leaders and lawmakers to question exactly how "local control" should apply.
San Marcos, TX — For more than 80 years, veterans in Texas have received a free education through the Hazlewood Act. The state’s university systems bear the brunt of the costs, which have escalated since the program expanded five years ago to allow veterans to transfer unused credit hours to their children. While the program is well-regarded, there have been disputes connected to how it is applied.
Dallas, TX — This legislative session, lawmakers will consider ways to improve the state’s preparedness for public health emergencies. Dallas County leaders identified shortfalls in the system last fall when local health officials diagnosed the country’s first case of Ebola. Legislation is in the works to address those concerns and give the governor the power to declare a state of infectious disease emergency.
Beaumont, TX — State leaders are focused on cutting property taxes this legislative session. But the state doesn’t set property tax rates, or even collect the money. The talk in some small Texas counties is instead centered on making the property appraisal process more uniform. Some lawmakers see flaws in the system and an opportunity to consolidate oversight of the appraisal districts.
Austin, TX — Ensuring Texas kids get the best education tops Gov. Greg Abbott's list of priorities this session. He says that a top-notch education starts with quality pre-K, which could get added state funding. Many districts are already investing millions of dollars to support full-day pre-K programs.