WEEK IN REVIEW
(AUSTIN) — Texas would expand its renewable energy portfolio under a bill approved by the Senate Tuesday. SB 541 by Senator Kirk Watson of Austin seeks to add other renewable energy generation in addition to wind over the next decades. The measure would require 1500 additional megawatts of renewable capacity in solar, geothermal, and biomass generation by 2020. "Texas has the sun, the wind, the people, and the demand," said Watson. "This is where [the renewable energy industry] wants to be if there is a long term commitment."
Voters would get to choose whether or not to limit the ability of the government to exercise eminent domain if a measure passed by the Senate Monday becomes law. Under SJR 42, by Lubbock Senator Robert Duncan, a constitutional amendment would be put before the voters in the November election, one that would prohibit the taking of private land for economic development or tax revenue purposes. That bill now heads to the House.
Two measures that could affect many Texas drivers and their passengers passed the Senate this week. The first, SB 1317 by Senator Jeff Wentworth would require first time driver's license applicants aged 18-20 to take a driver's education course before they could be licensed. Current law requires a written and a driving test, but Wentworth says that people who haven't taken an education course are among the riskiest drivers. He added the course can be taken at one of 300 approved instruction sites, or online, and the course takes about 6 hours and costs less than $40.
The second measure would require everyone riding in a car to buckle up, not just the driver or front seat passengers. Current law requires that anyone aged under 15 that is in a seat with a seatbelt use it, but SB 1028 by Watson would extend that requirement to passengers of all ages. If the bill becomes law, Texas would join 35 other states in requiring all passengers to wear a seatbelt.
Other bills passed by the Senate this week include:
- SB 2573, by Ogden, would require all state entities currently engaged in biomedical research to report to the Legislature on any research involving stem cells or human cloning,
- HB 205, sponsored by Estes, would exempt farm guard dogs from leash laws,
- HB 1510, sponsored by Jackson, which seeks to educate new parents about the risks of sudden infant death syndrome.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, May 18 at 11 a.m.