News Roundup: Senate Passes Bill That Adds Income Tax Prohibition To November Ballot

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 21, 2019 2:22 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Voters will decide in November whether to amend the Texas constitution to prohibit a state income tax. That’s after the Texas Senate approved House Joint Resolution 38 last night.

Ahead of the final vote, debate centered on one of the terms in the resolution. It says the state would be prohibited from instituting an income tax on an “individual.” A number of Senate Democrats argued it should read “natural person” to prevent any chance that businesses could get out of paying the franchise tax.

Dallas Democrat Royce West urged the resolution’s author, Republican Pat Fallon, to adopt his amendment to switch the language.

“As it relates to making certain there is clarity, why not just accept my amendment when it comes – that puts back in natural person, as opposed to leaving it at individual, which you’ve already said is synonymous with person and there’s a definition in the government code that said it could include organizations, specifically corporations,” West said.

“Actually Senator, I didn’t say that individual is synonymous with a person, I said an individual is synonymous with a natural person,” Fallon responded.

Ultimately, the resolution passed without the amendment.

A teenager from Guatemala died at a Border Patrol station in the Rio Grande Valley Monday. This marks the fifth death of a migrant child since December.

Reynaldo Leanos Jr. with Texas Public Radio has the latest.

The 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who died at a Border Patrol facility in Weslaco has been identified as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez. The teenager was apprehended and processed on May 13. A CBP official says on May 19, Hernandez Vasquez indicated he was not feeling well at the Rio Grande Valley’s Central Processing Center. Medical personnel at the processing center diagnosed him with the flu and was given Tamiflu, which border agents bought at a local pharmacy. About mid-day, Hernandez Vasquez was transferred to the Weslaco station. During a welfare check, the boy was found unresponsive. The FBI, CBP and the Weslaco Police Department are looking into the case.

Activists will face harsher penalties for using civil disobedience to protest pipelines and other energy projects under a bill passed by the state senate Monday.

The bill was opposed by environmental groups and organized labor. But as KUT’s Mose Buchele reports, it passed easily.

House Bill 3557 makes it a felony to damage a pipeline, a refinery or anything else considered “critical infrastructure,” making the crime punishable by up to ten years in prison. If the damage is done with the support of a group, that group can also be fined up to a $500,000. In an earlier draft of the bill the act of “impeding the operations” of these facilities was also made a felony. But that was amended on the senate floor yesterday making that form of civil disobedience a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Similar laws have already been passed in Oklahoma, Louisiana and other states as a boom in pipeline construction has sparked protests.