By MANNY FERNANDEZ
New York Times
Published: January 5, 2013
AUSTIN, Tex. — Long before lawmakers prepared to gather at the sand-colored Capitol here on Tuesday for the opening day of the legislative session, State Representative Richard Peña Raymond had already filed a little-noticed bill to drastically change not only how they conduct business, but also how often.
Texas is one of only four states whose legislatures convene in regular session every two years. Lawmakers in Texas meet in odd-numbered years only — as do legislators in Montana, Nevada and North Dakota — while those in the 46 other states hold legislative sessions yearly, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Mr. Raymond’s bill would require the Texas Legislature to meet in regular session in odd-numbered years and to hold a budget session in even-numbered years. The move would mean annual meetings and budgets, an idea that has been debated for decades but has long been viewed with suspicion in a place that prizes small government, low taxes and deregulation.
A state bill will allow slot machines of business owners to give higher cash prizes.
By: Francisco Diaz, The Laredo Sun
LAREDO, TX. – For the third consecutive legislative session, state Rep. Richard P. Raymond will propose a law to regularize the activity of slot machines and will raise the amount of cash prizes that are awarded.
The legislator said the sessions in the Texas Congress will begin on Jan. 8 and is already preparing its proposal in order to have a law that can stop the irregularities.
“We need legislation that can help these businesses flourish without the shadow of giving illegal cash prizes,” he said.
He said that he tried to pass the bill twice before Congress, but failed to gain support from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
A proposal for the upcoming legislative session is resuscitating a debate that goes back to the writing of the Texas Constitution in 1876.
The bill, authored by state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, would abolish the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for all criminal matters, and bring all criminal cases under the Texas Supreme Court, which now hears only civil and juvenile cases.
Texas and Oklahoma are the only two states with their highest courts divided between civil and criminal jurisdictions, though others have considered it as a means to deal with large case backlogs. Last year, lawmakers in Florida considered splitting the state’s Supreme Court, particularly to deal with a growing list of death penalty appeals, but a political battle killed the proposal.