Friday, September 6, 2013

Fwd: Fw: Letters From Leticia: New Laws Take Effect Sept. 1

August 29, 2013 
The official e-newsletter of Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, R.Ph.
Chair, Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Committee
In Case You Missed It
Senator Van de Putte 
in the News
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Austin, Texas 78711
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September 1 Brings New Laws 
Measures Passed in 83rd Session Take Effect
The first day of September is near - an important day in state government. That's the day that many new laws will take effect - in fact, more than I can list here, but this is a small sampling of what's to come (plus some new laws that have already taken effect during the summer):

Education: Various parts of House Bill 5, this session's biggest public education measure, take effect at different times. Some of it became law as soon as the Governor signed it on June 10; other parts begin September 1, 2013; others September 1, 2014; and still other parts at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

The new law decreases the number of end-of-course tests required for high school graduation from 15 to 5: Algebra I, biology, English I, English II, and United States history.  The tests will no longer count for 15 percent of students' course grades. (Elementary and middle school STAAR tests will not be decreased due to federal reporting requirements that are linked to Title I funding.)
HB 5 also moves from the state's "4x4" graduation plan to a 22-credit Foundation High School Plan that allows students to receive endorsements in specific areas. The total number of credits required for a student to earn an endorsement is 26, which is the number of credits currently required under the Recommended High School Program and the Distinguished Achievement Program. The new graduation program allows students to earn performance acknowledgments for outstanding performance in areas such as bilingualism and biliteracy or on tests such as the SAT or ACT. They can also earn a distinguished level of achievement by completing a total of four math credits, including Algebra II, a total of four science credits, and earning at least one endorsement.
The changes in end-of-course exams begins with this school year (2013-2014). The new diploma plans apply to all students starting high school in the 2014-2015 school year. For students already attending high school, they will be permitted to choose between completing one of the new diploma programs or the previous diploma programs.  Also, students who are entering Seniors in the 2013-2014 school year and who are not on track to meet the previous diploma programs must be allowed to graduate if they have met the requirements of the new Foundation Plan.
Transportation Infrastructure: Under a law authored by San Antonio Reps. Ruth Joncs McClendon and Roland Gutierrez which I sponsored in the Senate,  HB 1573, the Legislature granted Bexar County Commissioners the authority to approve a "local option" $10 vehicle registration fee that would be dedicated to Bexar County road and bridge projects. The additional $10 registration fee in Bexar County will generate approximately $12 million per year to fund transportation projects within the county.
Also, Senate Bill 475 allows the City of Leon Valley to hold an election asking for resident approval to adopt the street maintenance tax for 10 years. If the tax is extended from four to 10 years, the city will be better positioned to secure financing for road repair.
Human Trafficking: I authored or sponsored a whole package of bills aimed at curtailing the horrible crime of human trafficking and providing services for its survivors. Trafficking - modern-day slavery - is particularly a problem along the I-10 corridor.
The new laws we passed will:
  • create stricter penalties for trafficking and compelling prostitution
  • Allow survivors to receive reimbursements under the Crime Victim's Compensation Act
  • create diversion courts for juvenile trafficking survivors so that, rather than being pushed through the criminal justice system on prostitution charges, they will be treated as crime victims.
  • allow civil remedies for survivors against those who exploited them
  • continue the Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force
  • exempts human trafficking shelters and child-placing agencies from public information requests on information such as the location and physical layout of the shelter and contact information of staff and victims in the shelter.  
 Military Bases: Senate Bill 1200, which I authored, creates a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Task Force under the Texas Military Preparedness Commission that will help protect Texas' 14 military installations and their $150 billion direct economic impact.

Small Business Regulations: If you've visited one of Texas many craft spirits distilleries (such as Ranger Creek or Rebecca Creek here in San Antonio, or Garrison Brothers in the Hill Country town of Hye), you were probably perplexed that you could not buy a bottle of their fine products to take home. Beginning Sept. 1, that will change - you'll now be able to purchase up to 750 milliliters at the distillery. I authored this law and I'm really proud of it - these distillers, who work as hard at their craft as any great chef, can now promote their products without outdated restrictions.
Military Matters                              
New Law Expedites Licensing

Governor Rick Perry signs my Senate Bill 162 into law while I and House sponsor Rep. Dan Flynn look on.

There's another new law I'm particularly proud of that is already in effect. Senate Bill 162, which I authored, creates an expedited occupational licensing process for for military service members, military spouses, and military veterans within one year of separation from the military, thus removing a major barrier to employment for our returning heroes and their families. I'm grateful to my fellow legislators, especially House sponsor Rep. Dan Flynn and my Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Committee Vice-Chair Brian Birdwell.

Too often, these service members and their spouses are having to wait too long for employment because they must wait for licensing in fields in which they already have substantial experience. This bill will put them on the fast-track for an occupational license, but also will require them to come into full compliance with Texas' licensing requirements within a year.

After our heroes fight for us, they should not then have to fight for a job when they get back home. 

  • Army Spc. William R. Moody, 30, of Burleson died June 18, in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire. He was assigned to 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. 
  •  Army Spc. Anthony R. Maddox, 22, of Port Arthur died July 22, in Landstuhl, Germany, of a non-combat related incident that occurred in Andar, Afghanistan.  The incident is under investigation. He was assigned to the 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
  • Army Spc. Keith E. Grace Jr., 26, of Baytown died Aug. 11, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.
Upcoming Events 
Please join me at these great upcoming events:
  • September 5, 9-11 a.m. - "The Future of Latino Health Care," sponsored by the Texas Tribune, at the UTSA Downtown Campus. Features a panel discussion between Dr. Esteban L√≥pez, president of the San Antonio Region for BCBSTX, Dr. Amelie Ramirez, professor and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and myself. For more details and to RSVP, go to
  • September 7, noon-2 p.m. - "Sign Up and Speak Out," sponsored by Organize Texas, at Sultenfuss Library Community Room at Our Lady of the Lake University. San Antonio Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer and I will help explain how the Affordable Care Act can benefit you. For more details and to RSVP, go to
  • The Texas Tribune Festival, September 27-29, a weekend full of debate, discussion and dialogue at the University of Texas at Austin featuring some of the biggest names in the world of politics and public policy. I'll be featured on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 10 a.m. for "Turning Texas Blue," a panel that will also include Battleground Texas' Jeremy Bird, Congressman Pete Gallego, and former Houston Mayor and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Bill White. For more details and to register, go to

Senator Leticia Van de Putte | P.O. Box 12068 | Austin | TX | 78711

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