Notable Issues of the 2007 Texas Legislature

A look at some notable bills that made it, and some that didn't, in the regular session of the 80th Texas Legislature.


_Castle Doctrine: Allows Texans to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, cars and workplaces.

_Firearms in Disaster: Prohibits law officers from confiscating firearms and ammunition during a state of disaster, such as a hurricane, except in cases of a clear threat.

_Elderly Drivers: Requires Texans ages 85 and older to renew their drivers' licenses and pass a vision test every two years.

_Handgun Records: Reclassifies as nonpublic records the state licenses granted to residents to carry concealed handguns.



_Cancer Research: A proposed constitutional amendment allowing the state to borrow up to $3 billion over the next decade to fund cancer research aimed at finding a cure.

_Recorded Votes: A proposed constitutional amendment requiring the Texas House and Senate to record individual lawmakers' votes on final passage of bills.



_Cervical Cancer Vaccine: Blocks state officials from following Gov. Rick Perry's order requiring the vaccine against the human papillomavirus for sixth-grade girls. The vaccine protects against strains of the sexually transmitted virus that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

_HIV Testing: Expands HIV testing in the state prison system to establish mandatory testing of inmates when they report to prison.



_Ex-convicts Voting: Would have required the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to notify former inmates of their eligibility to vote.



_Sex Offenders: Imposes a possible death penalty for sex offenders who are twice convicted of raping children under 14.

_Marriage Fee: Increases the Texas marriage license fee from $30 to $60 but waives the fee and a 72-hour waiting period for couples who take a premarital education course.

_Toll-road Moratorium: Freezes most new privately financed toll road projects for two years.

_Search Warrants: Allows judges to seal some search warrant information from the public for up to 60 days.

_Tourist Train: Creates the Texas State Railroad Authority, intended to keep an East Texas tourist train running between Palestine and Rusk by allowing the venture to be leased to a private operator.

_Sudan Sanctions: Requires state pension funds to divest from companies doing business with Sudan, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million been chased from their homes since 2003 because of civil strife.

_Violent Dogs: Makes dog owners whose pets attack people subject to a third-degree felony with possible prison time of two to ten years and a possible $10,000 fine. If the victim dies, the charge could become a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

_Friendly Dogs: Calls for the state to assist in plans for the humane evacuation, transport and temporary sheltering of pets during times of disaster, such as a hurricane.

_Under God: Adds the words "under God" to the Texas pledge of allegiance.

_TYC overhaul: Puts an executive commissioner in charge of the Texas Youth Commission for two years. Improves staff-to-inmate ratios, creates new investigative powers to check abuse claims and prohibits courts from sending youths to state lockups for misdemeanors.

_Bible Classes: Allows high schools to offer elective Bible courses.

_Religious Expression: Provides Texas students greater freedom to express their religious views on school campuses by treating students' religious viewpoints in class assignments the same as secular expression.

_Strip Club Fee: Charges strip club patrons a $5 admission fee, with money going to help sexual assault victims.

_Replacing TAKS: Replaces the state's high-stakes high school exit exam, known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, with end-of-course tests.

_Medicaid Reform: Rewards Medicaid recipients for adopting healthy lifestyles and encourages them to seek treatment at doctor's office instead of a hospital emergency room.

_Business Tax: Revises the state's new business tax to fix errors and loopholes in last year's franchise tax overhaul and giving many small businesses a discount.

_Children's Health Insurance: Changes enrollment rules for the Children's Health Insurance Program to allow more than 127,000 children to be added to a low-cost state insurance program.



_Smoking Ban: Would have banned smoking in workplaces and many other public places statewide.

_Voter ID: Would have required voters to show photo identification or two other forms of ID, not just a voter registration card.

_Texas Lottery Sale: Would have sold the state lottery to a private firm for at least $14 billion and used the proceeds for cancer research, education and health insurance, a proposal made by Gov. Rick Perry.

_Casino Gambling: Would have created full-scale destination resort casinos in major cities and some coastal tourist spots.

_Race Track Slots: Would have allowed video slot machines, known as video lottery terminals, at horse and dog race tracks.

_Indian Gambling: Would have allowed limited casino gambling on the state's American Indian reservations.

_Private School Vouchers: Would have created a pilot program to allow some parents to send their children to private schools using taxpayer money.

_Shield Law: Would have created limited immunity for journalists from revealing their confidential sources in court cases.

_Abortion-Ultrasound: Would have required doctors to perform ultrasounds on pregnant women seeking an abortion.

_Drunk Driving Checkpoints: Would have allowed police to set up checkpoints to see whether motorists exceed the legal blood-alcohol level for driving.

_Futile Care: Would have extended the 10-day time limit for medically futile patients before hospitals can cut off their life support.

_UIL-Private Schools: Would have allowed private schools into the Texas public school athletic league.

_Bicycle Passing: Would have required motorists to give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing.

_Covenant Marriage: Would have allowed couples applying for a marriage license or couples already married to designate theirs a "covenant marriage," making divorce more difficult.