SAN ANTONIO – The Texas legislature is dealing with numerous bills that could have a huge impact on our local community, your family and friends.
Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents District 19, joined Leading SA to break down his perspective of some of the bills we could see signed into law.
Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6 are two pieces of legislation that look to bring changes to the way Texans vote in the Lone Star State.
“We have a situation in Houston where they established these drives through massive voting sites. Here in San Antonio, we developed the AT&T Center. One of the big changes in this bill says that you can’t have super-voting sites, they have to equal the amount of ballot boxes in every other voting facility,” Gutierrez said. “And so, therefore, if you had 100 at AT&T Center, you’d have to have 100 at Harlendale Civic Center. And so none of that makes sense for communities and for local control, where county commissioners can make the right decisions and elections officials can make the right decisions as to where the masses of people are going to vote.”
Senate Bill 8 looks to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.
“At the end of the day, doctors are not going to be able to perform these procedures. They’re going to have even a hard time performing procedures in case of an emergency,” Gutierrez said. “And so you’re going to have a lot of women making the decision to go to another state where things are allowed a little bit later on in the cycle. What this bill says is the minute you hear a heartbeat, which is about six weeks, that you’re not going to be able to have that procedure.”
Another proposed law making headlines is House Bill 1927, which would remove the requirement for Texas residents to get a license to carry a handgun.
“Right now, you need a license to drive. You need a license to carry a handgun and have it concealed on your body,” Gutierrez said. “Now, with this bill, anybody can walk around with a handgun holstered to their side for the whole world to see.”
According to Guttierez, there is noticeable hesitancy from Democrat lawmakers.
“It’s about the fact that everybody’s going to be able to do this if they want, without even so much as an application or a license or anything,” Guttierez said. “Their protection is that we’re going to keep this out of the hands of criminals by adding a five-year mandatory prison sentence if you’re a felon with a gun. The problem is, and this is what I’ve been telling my Republican colleagues, you’re never going to know who the criminals are because you’re not even allowed to ask if someone has any kind of criminal history.”
According to the Criminal Justice Impact Statement on the Texas legislative database, House Bill 441 would amend various codes related to punishment for certain marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession offenses.
The legislative language says that the bill would reduce the punishment for certain drug-related offenses to a class C misdemeanor upon passage.
“I am concerned that whether or not it’s going to get through the Senate, you know, the lieutenant governor has always been very, very hesitant on cannabis legislation,” Gutierrez said. “There’s actually another component of that bill or another one that says that will take the compounds like gummies, for instance, and make them the equivalent to a marijuana cigarette so that those issues don’t have criminality to them as well.”