AUSTIN, Texas - It is the sprint to the finish in the Texas Legislature, which wraps up its session Monday, May 31.
A number of bills related to February’s winter storm are headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The Texas House was back in session Sunday, largely to debate several Senate proposals in response to the disaster that led to massive power outages and 151 deaths, according to state officials.
Senate Bill 3 passed the House Sunday night. The oversight bill aims to improve communication among power companies and mandates winterization for producers, who would then face fines if they do not make the changes.
A bill requiring all ERCOT members to live in Texas has now easily passed both chambers. Also now awaiting Abbott’s signature is a bill to increase the Public Utility Commission from three commissioners to five.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 7, which would enact sweeping restrictions on voting, is awaiting final approval in the Texas Legislature, after passing both the House and Senate. Abbott is expected to sign it once that happens.
Senate Bill 8, also known as the "heartbeat bill", has already been signed by Gov. Abbott. It would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected in the womb. The bill is almost certain to face challenges in court.
Also set to be signed by Abbott is House Bill 1927, which h would allow the unlicensed carry of handguns in Texas. A House and Senate conference reached an agreement late Friday on the bill, which had already passed both chambers but was stalled over disagreements between the two sides.
Abbott also plans to sign a bill regarding protesters into law. The bill specifically targets protesters who block police and emergency vehicles from being able to move.