Friday, February 25, 2011

Where do Legislators get ideas for laws?

The 82nd Texas Legislature is now in session and even though the State Budget will receive  overwhelming attention due to the estimated $15 to $27 billion budget deficit (see my posts on Public Education and Medicaid, these posts on Grits for Breakfast about Criminal Justice cuts and the higher ed cuts here), lawmakers still have other issues on their minds.

So how do they come up with ideas for bills? (If you've ever seen School House Rock, you know that a bill is a document, that if it makes it through all the hurdles in the legislature and then is signed by the Governor it becomes a law.)

Ideas for bills come from several sources:

So what bills have our elected representatives submitted for the 82nd Legislative Session?

I have listed all of the San Antonio/Bexar County State Representatives and Senators, a brief description of their district, constituency and bills they have authored.  If you want more detailed information click on the links I've provided.  The district link will show a map of the district. Bills authored will take you to a general information page that lists all of the bills authored by your legislator.  For more detailed info on bills, click on the HB (house bill) and SB (senate bill) links; there you will find a full history of the bill including the text, actions, amendments, authors, captions and stages.  If it's a bill you are really interested in you can have alerts sent to your email about it. (See the alerts link for each bill on the right side of the webpage.)


Texas State Representatives

Trey Martinez Fischer (D)  District 116
  • NW San Antonio on either side of Fredericksburg Rd from Zarzamora to De Zavala Rd, Balcones Hts
  • Pop 74% Hispanic (66%) and African American, mostly civilians, average employment (but higher among Hispanics and African Americans), 19% living in poverty, 25% didn't graduate high school, 24% with Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Drunk driving, Database of family abuse and date rape offenders, cell phone use while driving, Texas budget priority, human trafficking

John V Garza (R)  District 117
  • West Bexar County, part of NW San Antonio 1604 @ IH10, Part of southern San Antonio, including Lackland AFB, Helotes
  • Pop 69% Hispanic (64%) and African American, 8% military, average unemployment, 19% in living in poverty, 28% didn't graduate high school, 17% with Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
No bills authored, this guy doesn't even have an office in his district

Joe Farias (D)  District 118

  • East and South Bexar County, Live Oak, Selma, Universal City, St Hedwig, part of Southside of San Antonio
  • Pop 67% Hispanic (65%) and African American, mostly civilians, average unemployment over all, but unemployment for Hispanics higher than average, 18% living in poverty, 33% didn't graduate from high school, 11% have Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Health issues, sex education, taxation on disabled, consumer credit regulations

Roland Gutierrez (D)  District 119
  • East outside 410, part of East Side inside 410, southern downtown and part of West Side inside 410
  • Pop 72% either Hispanic (66.2%) or African American, mostly civilians, with higher than average unemployment, almost 20% living in poverty, 32% didn't graduate from high school, 10% have Bachelors or higher  
Bills Authored
Health issues (elder care, diabetes), sales taxes, eligibility for elections, military, teacher pension board

Ruth McClendon Jones (D) District 120
  • East Side of San Antonio, part of Northside, Kirby, East Bexar County between Crestway, I10 and FM 1516
  • Pop 72% Hispanic (42%) and African American (31%), mostly civilians, with higher than average unemployment, 21% living in poverty, 26% didn't graduate high school, 13% have a Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Wrongful convictions, Auto Insurance mile-based rating, Funding for Rail projects, taxation surviving spouses of disabled veterans,  In memoriams and congratulation resolutions

Joe Strauss (R)  District 121

  • Part of Northside, and North East San Antonio, part of Far North East Bexar County, Olmos Park, Terrill Hills, Alamo Heights, Windcrest
  • Pop 65% Anglo, mostly civilians, low unemployment (3%), 6% living in poverty, 7% didn't graduate high school, 39% have a Bachelors or higher
Speaker of the House, doesn't author bills, but assigns all members to committees and and presides over the House of Representatives, probably the most powerful non-elected position in Texas government.


Lyle Larsen (R) District 122
  • North Bexar County, Hollywood Park, Hill Country Village, Shavano Park, Grey Forest, Castle Hills, part Fair Oaks, part of northern San Antonio between 281 and I10 to Loop 410
  • Pop 71% Anglo, mostly civilians, low unemployment (3%), 5% living in poverty, 5% didn't graduate high school, 50% Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Allow City County Merger, drug testing for financial assistance, automobile taxes, public nuisances

Mike Villareal (D) District 123
  • Downtown San Antonio, part of Westside off Commerce and Buena Vista, part of Northside inside 410 between Fredericksburg and McCullough, part of North San Antonio between IH 10 and Nacogdoches and south of Wurzbach Parkway
  • Pop 73% Hispanic (70%) and African American, mostly civilians, slightly above average unemployment, 21% living in poverty, 20% didn't graduate high school, 16% with Bachelor's or higher 
Bills Authored
Public education, Higher education, Sales and Franchise tax relief, Municipal record keeping

Joe Menendez (D) District 124
  • Westside of San Antonio between Loop 13 and Hwy 90/151, and West San Antonio between 410, 1604, 90 and Culebra/Tezel
  • Pop 71% Hispanic (63%) and African American, 4% military, slightly higher than average unemployment, 15% living in poverty, 9% didn't graduate high school, 16% with Bachelor's or higher
Bills Authored
Prostitution and graffiti punishment, Cell phone use in vehicles, Health services and issues, Investigation of and collective bargaining practices for Police and Fire officers, Release from property liens, dissolution of Bexar Met Water District, Bullying and Cyber bullying  


Joaquin Castro (D) District 125
  • Part of North West San Antonio inside 1604, including Leon Valley, part of Northside and Westside inside 410
  • Pop 68% Hispanic (64%) or African American, mostly civilians, average unemployment rate, 16% living in poverty, 25% didn't graduate from high school, 21% have Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Public Schools, school counselors and Community Colleges

Texas State Senators 

Carlos I Uresti (D) District 19
  • The largest district in Texas with 23 counties, including western and southern Bexar County, including San Antonio west, south and east of downtown, Helotes, Grey Forest, Lackland AFB, Sommerset, Elmendorf and Kirby, his roots are in San Antonio
  • Pop 75% Hispanic (70%) or African American, mostly civilians, above average unemployment rate, 24% living in poverty, 38% didn't graduate high school, 11% Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Low income assistance for Health, Property Tax and Utility usage, Date Violence, Cell Phone use in Motor Vehicles, Ground Water Conservation, Subdivision Plat Revision, Commendations


Judith Zaffirini (D) District 21
  • A 17 County district that includes East Bexar County, encompassing part of eastern San Antonio, Converse, Shertz, Universal City, southern half of Live Oak, Randolph AFB, Saint Hedwig and China Grove
  • Pop 76% Hispanic (71%) and African American, mostly civilians, higher than average unemployment rate, 25% living in poverty, 13% didn't graduate high school, 14% Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Health Services for the disabled and college students, Higher Education grants, loans and programs , Cell Phone use in Motor Vehicles, Public School discipline, immunizations and dual credit, Mineral rights, Employee rights, Customs brokerage, Juvenile offense caseworkers, practice of Veterinary Medicine, Commendations

Jeff Wentworth (R) District 25
  • A 6 County district including North Bexar County, the northern part of San Antonio between 1604 and 410 and part of Northside of San Antonio, Fair Oaks Ranch, Camp Bullis/Stanley, Shavano Park, Hollywood Park, Hill Country Village, northern half of Live Oak, Selma, Castle Hills, Olmos Park, Alamo Heights, and Terrill Hills
  • Pop 59% Anglo, mostly civilians, lower than average unemployment rate, 8% living in poverty, 8% didn't graduate high school, 37% Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Public land uses, Regulation of land use in counties, State Hwy fund, Cell Phone use in Motor Vehicles, Public Education student discipline, Juror rules in civil trials, Fair business practices, regulation of Solar Energy by property owner's associations, Withdrawals from annuities, etc, Fees for marriage ceremonies, Tax Liens, US Congress term limits, Commendations 
 
Leticia Van De Putte (D) District 26
  • Only the Western portion of the City of San Antonio from Downtown and bounded by I 10, Loop 1604 and Hwy 90, Leon Valley and Balcones Heights
  • Pop 75% Hispanic (70%) and African American, mostly civilian, average unemployment rate, 18% living in poverty, 27% didn't graduate high school, 19% Bachelors or higher
Bills Authored
Human Trafficking, Military issues, Health Services, Taxation policies for the disabled,  Public Education discipline, Commendations, Dating Site Criminal Background Checks

In case you are wondering about the huge variation in size of the State Senatorial districts, it has to do with population.  Senator Uresti's district while vast in land area, is small in population compared to Leticia Van De Putte's much smaller appearing district, which is only a portion of San Antonio, but has a much more concentrated population.

If you live outside of Bexar County you can find out who your Texas State Representative and State Senator are and the bills they have authored here.

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