Editors, Publishers and Broadcasters:
Sen. Uresti passed a total of 53 bills, including measures attached to other bills as amendments, in the 82nd Texas Legislature. Here is a brief synopsis of the major bills he authored or sponsored that passed.
Senate Bill 116 -- The Kristy Appleby Act allows third-party protective orders in dating violence situations. The measure fills a gap in the law that barred Appleby, who was slain by the ex-wife of a man she had dated, from getting a protective order against her killer because they were not involved in a personal relationship.
Senate Bill 341 -- Allows a dissolution vote on the Bexar Metropolitan Water District. The new law provides for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to monitor and evaluate BexarMet, and calls for a vote by the ratepayers on the next uniform election date after preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act.
Senate Bill 1154 -- Continues the work of the Statewide Blue Ribbon Task Force, which is developing new child abuse prevention strategies. The task force is scheduled to expire in August, but it will be extended until September 2013 under the new law, which will also provide some state resources to task force members who have been paying their own transportations costs and other expenses.
Senate Bill 1505 -- Reforms the way oil and gas properties are valued. The current method undervalues such mineral properties, costing school districts $1 billion over the last three years and threatening homeowners and businesses with higher property taxes. The new law seeks to restore certainty and stability to the valuation process. (Signed by the governor)
Senate Bill 201 -- Closes a loophole in the state law that grants a full property tax exemption to 100 percent disabled veterans. Some appraisal districts have misinterpreted the legislative intent, allowing the exemption to stay with the homestead when the house is sold. The new law will ensure that the exemption stays with the veteran.
Senate Bill 115 -- Provides liability protection to the private space flight industry in Texas by strengthening the waivers of liability signed by passengers who were made aware of the risks involved with sub-orbital flight. The measure will further the development of Blue Origin, which plans to offer private flights in a vertical take-off and landing vehicle designed at its space port in Van Horn.
Senate Bill 966 -- Authorizes school districts to issue high school diplomas to honorably discharged members of the United States armed forces who were scheduled to graduate from high school after 1940 and before 1975 but could not do so because they served in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. The measure also authorizes diplomas for honorably discharged veterans who were scheduled to graduate from high school after 1989 but left school to serve in specified wars or conflicts.
Senate Bill 1490 -- Makes it a felony to provide a Texas court with false statements regarding a child custody determination made in a foreign country. It is designed to prevent cases like that of Jean Paul Lacombe, an 11-year-old San Antonio boy who was taken from a school bus and handed over to his father based on false information provided to a state district judge.
House Bill 1788 -- Restores the right of collectors to capture reptiles and amphibians by non-lethal means from the sides of Texas roadways. The new law should spur economic development in rural communities across West Texas that have reported losses of $2.2 million in tourist-related activity since the practice was banned four years ago.
House Bill 2857 -- Aids the scientific mission of the McDonald Observatory in Jeff Davis County by regulating outdoor lighting in West Texas communities near the facility. The measure will provide the observatory with a better nighttime environment for viewing celestial objects.
Senate Bill 1493 -- Alters the board of directors of the City South Management Authority, which was created to regulate zoning in order to foster economic development in southern Bexar County. Responding to landowners' complaints that the authority's board was out of touch with their wishes, the law changes the number of directors appointed by the City Council and the county commissioners court from six each to four each, resulting in a total of 11 directors instead of 15. It also requires most of the directors to be residents or property owners in the authority's area.
House Bill 447 -- Permits Port San Antonio to charge for the use, lease, or sale of an open space, and for professional consultation or real estate development services, or the support or participation in acquisition of venture capital; and any other services provided by the authority that are related to a project.
House Bill 3727 -- Adjusts the tax liability for Boeing's Dreamliner aircraft being assembled at Port San Antonio. The new law was designed to keep Boeing jobs in San Antonio and encourage other aerospace companies to bring more commercial work to the Alamo City.
The following Senate bills authored or sponsored by Sen. Uresti were attached as amendments to other bills that passed both houses.
Senate Bill 269 -- Places into statute the Foster Children's Bill of Rights that was previously instituted by rule by the Department of Family and Protective Services. The bill enumerates all of the legal and social rights accorded to children who are placed in foster care. (House Bill 2170)
Senate Bill 270 -- Requires that birthing facilities perform a hearing screening on a newborn before the infant is discharged from the facility and sets up guidelines for follow-up care and intervention services when a newborn fails to pass a screening test. (House Bill 411)
Sen. Uresti also authored:
Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 -- Urges the United States Congress to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 and appropriate sufficient funds to carry out work related to that legislation. The resolution is part of an ongoing effort to address the growing salinity problem in the Pecos River.
Senator Uresti represents Senate District 19, a 55,000 square mile area extending from the city of San Antonio in Bexar County to the Lower Valley of El Paso Count. The largest legislative district in the nation, it spans two time zones and contains nine of the 14 border counties in Texas.