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Hot List Day 80

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Day 80 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

LINE OF THE DAY
“If you want to be a first-class state, protect the children.”
State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, at a rally yesterday to protest budget cuts to children’s health care.

FEATURES FROM THE LEGE
Get ready for some federal lawsuits: In 2009, the state signed an agreement with the Department of Justice to improve conditions at the 13 state supported living centers, home to more than 4,000 Texans with mental retardation. But, as Dave Mann writes, this session’s proposed 16 percent funding cut for the facilities might unravel those reforms—and violate our agreement with the feds.

OBSERVED
In a hearing for the homeland security bill yesterday, state Sen. Tommy Williams agreed to remove the controversial measure allowing for police checkpoints to inspect driver’s licenses and car insurance. However, plenty of questionable requirements, including an automated license plate reader, were left in the bill. 

BEST OF THE REST
Over at Texas Monthly’s Burkablog, R.G. Ratcliffe examines some of the 371 pre-filed amendments to the House budget. With some taking aim at school vouchers and others at Planned Parenthood, the upcoming debate “may be as much about the culture wars as state spending,” Ratcliffe says.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Cue the beginning of the House budget debate. Today, representatives will focus on finding a way to get the bills paid for the current fiscal year, 2011. Starting at 8:30 a.m., the House will hear two bills—one to that cuts agency spending and another that would use $3.2 billion from the Rainy Day fund to bridge the gap. Lawmakers have already filed around 100 amendments.