Governor Greg Abbott Signs Legislation

Published 9:30 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

Governor Greg Abbott, on Wednesday, signed Senate Bill 17 (SB 17) to extend the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force.

The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force was created by Senate Bill 495, 83rd Legislature, Regular Session, 2013. The multidisciplinary task force within the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will study maternal mortality and morbidity. The task force will study and review cases of pregnancy-related deaths and trends in severe maternal morbidity, determine the feasibility of the task force studying cases of severe maternal morbidity, and make recommendations to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity in Texas. The task force and DSHS must submit a joint report on the findings of the task force and recommendations to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House of Representatives, and appropriate committees of the Texas Legislature by September 1 of each even-numbered year, beginning September 1, 2016.

Members of the task force were appointed by the DSHS commissioner. Task force members appointed by the commissioner serve six-year staggered terms. In making the initial appointments, the commissioner designated five members to serve terms expiring February 1, 2015, four members to serve terms expiring February 1, 2017, and four members to serve terms expiring February 1, 2019.

“As Governor, I am committed to doing everything we can to combat the maternal mortality rate in this state,” Governor Abbott said. “Now that the task force can continue its work, Texas will be equipped with the most accurate information to help ensure the safety of Texas women. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for passing this law, and specifically Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Cindy Burkett for their leadership on this issue.”

Senate Bill 5 helps prevent voter fraud by widening the definition of mail-in ballot and creates a state jail felony for certain voter fraud offenses

The secretary of state shall establish a program using mobile units to provide election identification certificates to voters for the purpose of satisfying the requirements of Section 63.001(b). A mobile unit may be used at special events or at the request of a constituent group.

(b) In establishing the program, the secretary of state shall consult with the Department of Public Safety on the creation of the program, security relating to the issuance of an election identification certificate, best practices in issuing an election identification certificate, and equipment required to issue an election identification certificate.

(c) The secretary of state may not charge a fee to a group that requests a mobile unit established under this section.

(d) If the secretary of state cannot ensure the required security or other necessary elements of the program, the secretary of state may deny a request for a mobile unit established under this section.

(e) The secretary of state shall adopt rules necessary for the implementation of this section.

Governor Greg Abbott also signed Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), which will reform and restrict the municipal annexation process. Under the new law, authored by Sen. Donna Campbell and Rep. Dan Huberty, Texans will now be able to vote on whether a city can annex areas outside of its limits. This legislation was a key priority for the Governor during the special session, and with its passage, Texans will now have a voice when it comes to the annexation practices of local governments.

“In Texas, of all places, property rights matter,” Abbott said. “Residents from across the state that have expressed their concerns about feeling abused by the annexation process have had their voices heard. I’m proud to sign legislation ending forced annexation practices, which is nothing more than a form of taxation without representation, and I thank the legislature for their attention to this important issue during the special session.”