AUSTIN - Public schools could get more money if legislation passed today in the Senate becomes law. Senate Bill (SB) 1320 would reduce the amount of money kept in the Texas Lottery reserve fund. Bill sponsor, Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, says the lottery does not need all of the $20 million now set aside to cover risk. The legislation reduces the reserve fund amount to $5 million and contributes the remaining $15 million to the foundation school fund.
SB 717, the legislation limiting lawsuits by local governments against gun makers, finally passed the Senate after weeks of debate. Bill sponsor Senator Jon Lindsay of Houston says it will not keep individuals from suing if there is a faulty piece of equipment. There was opposition to the end by senators who say local governments should decide when they file lawsuits, not the Legislature.
An attempt to re-refer a controversial bill from a subcommittee to a committee caused debate among members about the rules and the motives of such an action. Horseshoe Bay Senator Troy Fraser said they were trying to move the process forward one week by re-referring SB 614 from the Subcommittee on Technology and Business Growth to the Economic Development Committee, its parent committee. The bill addresses the assignment of fault in lawsuits. Fraser says that no matter where the bill goes, controversy will follow, "It's a controversial bill. It'll be a bill that will have opposition all the way through the process."
Waco Senator David Sibley sponsors the bill and chairs the Economic Development Committee. The bill would change the law so that a criminal could be held responsible in civil court for the consequences of a crime. Trial lawyers oppose the bill saying juries will put all the blame on criminals, and not hold others responsible for negligence. If the motion to re-refer had passed, Fraser had planned to suspend the rules to hear the bill today in the Economic Development Committee. There were concerns that such short notice would restrict the public from testifying on a controversial bill. Some senators charged that this was simply an attempt to re-refer the bill to a committee where it would get a more favorable vote. Fraser says the votes are there-- in both the subcommittee and committee. He withdrew the motion on the floor and the subcommittee will vote on the bill Thursday.
The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.