The initial filing period for bills to be introduced in the 79th session of the Texas State Legislature has begun, and as always, it brings silliness.
Gay marriage was a heated issue during last week's national elections, with 11 states approving constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. At least five other states had previously passed similar constitutional amendments.
Texas already has a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, as well as a law passed in 2003 that prohibits the recognition of same-sex unions.
House Joint Resolution 6 would add a new section to the Texas Constitution that reads: "Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." It would have to be passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate before going to a vote of the people.
"I think it's very important that we get this issue out of statutes and into the constitution so that there's no question about how the people stand on this issue of marriage," said Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who introduced the joint resolution.
On to more serious things:
The school finance bill was filed by Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands. The measure would increase the state sales tax by 1 cent and add a 1 percent tax on business profits as a replacement for the current corporate franchise tax.
Eissler said his "one-plus-one" plan would raise $4 billion that could be used to reduce local school property taxes and provide funding for schools.
Eissler said a new federal law allowing Texans to deduct their sales tax on their federal income tax returns makes a sales tax increase viable. He said with only one out of six businesses paying the franchise tax, a small tax that reaches all businesses would be good for the state's economic climate.
Sen. Kip Averitt, R-McGregor, filed a bill to fully restore the Children's Health Insurance Program. The proposed measure reverses legislative changes that have cut 159,000 children from the health insurance program.
"Texas families need health insurance, and CHIP helps working families afford the high cost of insuring their children," Averitt said.