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From Guns on Campus to Raw Milk

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Day 42 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

Happy Presidents Day, folks. Of course, a ton of committees are still meeting, so no holiday for the Lege. This week redistricting will likely take on a life of its own, while legislation ranging from concealed handguns on campus to the raw milk products are all the gossip. The Senate is also poised this week to take up the fourth of Gov. Rick Perry’s emergency items—a resolution calling for a U.S. constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to balance its budget—which was passed out of committee last week. Meanwhile, the House version of the sonogram bill will be taken up in committee mid-week, and if you thought the Senate bout over the bill was exciting, the House is almost sure to be more fun.

1. Triple C

The climate in the Texas Legislature this session is a perfect one for passing a bill that would allow concealed handguns on public university campuses. Proponents of the bill argue conceal and carry on campus will amp security, while opponents fear it will create a battleground for carelessness and campus violence. [Austin American Statesman]

2. Got (Raw) Milk?

A bill filed by state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, would allow broader sales of raw, or unpasteurized, milk products. Right now, raw milk can only be sold on the farms themselves, but Flynn’s legislation would allow farmers to sell their products at farmers markets, festivals or by delivery. The proposed bill is popular among raw, natural and local food product advocates while some say that unpasteurized milk is more likely to carry salmonella. [Dallas Morning News]

3. AP Program No More?

Neither proposed budget bill includes the $14.2 million needed to fund the Advanced Placement incentive program, which allows high school students to take advanced courses for college credit. Experts say the program saves millions in higher education spending, but passing rates have only declined since the program began. [Austin American Statesman]

4. To the People

According to a poll by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas, 17 percent of respondents would balance the budget by just cutting spending, while 22 percent were “in the middle.” But when asked where to cut, respondents leaned toward saving many health and human service programs. [Texas Tribune]

5. What are the Odds?

With the budget crisis finally coming into focus for so many, this might be the time to seriously consider legalizing gambling in Texas. Both parties have said casino gambling could raise up to $1 billion in revenue. Word on the street is that state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, has a plan in the works. [Houston Chronicle]

Alexa Garcia-Ditta is an Observer reporter (and former intern) covering women's health, reproductive health and health care access across the Lone Star State. Before joining the Observer, she was a staff news writer at the San Antonio Current. She holds an MA in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and BA in journalism and Spanish from UT-Arlington, where she worked for three years on her college newspaper. After graduate school, she dipped her toe in public policy communications at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. When she's not at work, she's probably training for her next marathon.