The 2009 Safe Passing Bill, Senate Bill 488 was passed today by the Texas State Senate by a vote of 28-2.
Over the last two weeks, BikeTexas has been working with Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and their staff to craft language that would address Senator Patrick's concerns while still preserving the safety benefits of the bill. This afternoon, Senator Ellis reintroduced the bill and Senator Patrick then offered a floor amendment to substitute the compromise language. Senator Ellis accepted the amendment, and the bill passed with 28 voting yes and 2 voting no.
Click here to see the tentative amended version of the bill (the official version is not yet posted on the Legislature's website). We have not been able to find out which senators voted no, but when that information is available it will be posted here.
Final coauthors in the Senate were Senators Ellis, John Carona (R-Dallas), Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and Kirk Watson (D-Austin). As we informed the Cyclists in Suits participants yesterday, Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) did not sign on as a coauthor of SB 488. Due to an unfortunate miscommunication with her staff, we mistook her coauthoring of a different bike-friendly bill (SB 2041, requiring bike questions on the driver's license exam) for coauthoring the Safe Passing bill. We apologize for any confusion this caused.
Thank you to everyone who participated in Cyclists in Suits! Turnout was great for our BikeTexas bike lobby day yesterday, and we believe that your strong showing was a powerful factor in the sudden movement on Safe Passing in the Senate. With about 75 cyclists attending, all sporting bike pins, we made for an impressive sight in the House and Senate galleries during the bike resolutions. We seemed to make an impression on the legislators, and we got tons of positive feedback from our office visits.
Thanks so much to those who coordinated buses and carpools to Austin: Michael Hennessey of Bexar Trails, Woody Speer of BikeHouston, and especially Michelle Holcomb and other BikeDFW folks, who rallied more than 40 people to get on a bus at 3 am! It was a blast and we'll give the full report in the next newsletter.