Wentworth Bill Bans Recognizing Same-Sex Civil Unions
Austin - The Senate tentatively passed legislation today addressing the issue of civil unions for persons of the same sex. San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth, the bill's author, said that the reason for Senate Bill (SB) 7 is so that Texas does not have to recognize civil unions by people of the same sex from states other than Texas. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst called SB 7 "a good bill" that simply ratifies what most Texans believe: that marriage is an honored institution between a man and a woman.
The two main dissenters of the bill, Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos and Houston Senator John Whitmire, pointed out that the current law prohibits same-sex marriages and that a recent Beaumont court decided that Texas does not recognize other states' civil unions. Five other Senators objected to the bill, which should be put a final vote tomorrow.
Governor Rick Perry visited the Senate floor for the first time this legislative session today. Dewhurst explained that Perry came to visit with a number of his friends and it gave them a chance to talk.
The Senate also approved legislation today that would allow the Texas Department of Transportation to borrow funds from the permanent school fund to purchase rights-of-way for the state highway system. SB 1082, by College Station Senator Ogden, would go into effect assuming the related Senate Joint Resolutions passed last week are approved by the voters this November.
Another Ogden bill approved by the Senate, SB 1083, would authorize the Texas Transportation Commission to issue bonds and other public securities to generate funds for highway construction. The bill would earmark twenty percent of the revenues generated for safety improvements.
SB 244, sponsored by Dallas Senator Royce West, would prohibit statewide officeholders, legislators, and their campaigns from accepting contributions from the period thirty days prior to a regular session through the period in which the Governor considers whether to sign or veto legislation from the session. The bill was passed by the Senate and is now headed to the House.
The Senate also passed the following legislation today:
- Senate Joint Resolution 19, by The Woodlands Senator Tommy Williams, would propose a constitutional amendment to add college professors and retired college professors to the list of state employees who may receive compensation for serving on local government boards.
- SB 493, by El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh, would require the Health and Human Services Commission to regularly evaluate program contractors and subcontractors that provide or arrange for services for persons enrolled in Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Texas Health Steps Program.
- SB 641, by West, would create a presumption that documents of record, including maps and surveys, in the archives of the General Land Office accurately depict boundaries of patents, grants, and titles emanating from the state.
- SB903, by Houston Senator Jon Lindsay, would enable federal military vehicles to use toll projects without payment of a toll or fare.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 15, 2003, at 11:00 a.m.