Session Talk

The Legislative Cocktail Hour: High school kids and hookers

The Legislative Cocktail Hour: High school kids and hookers

The saying is that March weather comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Well, the opposite can be said for the Texas Legislature. In early March our lawmakers were still politely filing bills and lauding Texans doing important things. But with the bill filing deadline weeks behind us, all that lies ahead is pure legislation. And with that, the lion roars.

You know who maybe shouldn’t decide what classes students should take in high school? High school students.

Had I been allowed to take easier classes in high school, I most certainly would have done it. At 16, I was far more interested in music and my friends than I was in algebra II and physics. In fact, the one case in which I was allowed to switch my Spanish IV class for something else, I chose free period.

But the Texas House voted this week to change current high school curriculum and create two tracks. Track one, or the “distinguished diploma,” is similar to Texas’ current “4x4” standard and will require all students to do four years of math and science. In order to be considered in the state’s top 10 percent rule, students must complete track one.

Track two allows students to take the minimum requirements for graduation, but does not deem the student as prepared for college. Both tracks will require students to pass five exams, down from the 15 currently required. Some critics say graduating them without preparing them for college is a dumb idea. Nevertheless, the House approved the bill overwhelmingly, with a vote of 145-2.

Regarding the world’s oldest profession

This week the Senate referred a bill that would offer alternative sentencing to those charged with prostitution. Under current Texas law, anyone picked up for prostitution is charged with a misdemeanor and forced to pay a fine (unless they’ve been charged two or more times before, in which case they automatically face jail time).

The new legislation would allow those picked up for some prostitution related offenses to complete 50 hours of community service and 100 hours of sexual education counseling without having to enter a guilty plea. If the requirements are successfully completed in a year, the charge is dismissed. In other words, they're establishing rehab for hookers. 

Making it rain

Two weeks ago I told you about the water bill that, if passed, would tap into that elusive, ephemeral thing known as the Rainy Day Fund. Well, it passed.

Senate to shelters: No more gas

Our furry friends can breath a little easier since Wednesday saw the Senate voting unanimously to outlaw carbon monoxide chambers as a form of euthanasia for shelter animals. As CultureMap contributor and Dallas Morning News reporter Karen Brooks Harper noted in her column, the bill is being met with criticism from some rural shelters who point out that the gas chambers are more efficient and cost effective (for those who have already purchased the chambers) than injections.

But it's become common knowledge that injections are far better than the gas, and lawmakers seem to agree. A House committee passed it with no opposition, and now it goes to the floor.

No more Twinkies, kids

If SB 1786 passes, public schools in Texas will be forced to implement a much stricter nutrition policy on vending machines and other “competitive foods.” Included: Whole grains, non-fried vegetables (not sure why that had to be differentiated ,but I guess we do live in the south), eggs, legumes, seeds and cheese. Not on the docket: juices with added sugars, whole fat milk or sugar water. While Twinkies are not specifically in the written legislation, they would most likely be banned.

If anything, this week’s Legislative Cocktail made me happy that I am not a high school student in Texas today. If I were, I most certainly would be on track two, sipping on non-sugar water and pondering a life where college wasn’t an option.