hot list: day 133

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Day 133 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

LINE OF THE DAY
“They’ve been slicing and dicing and attaching all kinds of dead bills to it,”
Luis Figueroa, staff attorney for MALDEF, on SB9, the “Frankenstein” homeland security bill.

FLOOR PLAY BY ABBY RAPOPORT
Texas lawmakers may have reached a compromise on a budget that cuts about $4 billion from education. But in order for it to pass, the Legislature will have to first agree on a new school finance reform plan to help schools deal with the cuts. Abby Rapoport breaks down the school-finance drama in which everyone has a vested interest and major lawmakers are butting heads.  

OBSERVED
While everyone’s attention was focused on the spending debate going on in the House late Friday night, across the hall, the Senate quietly passed an industry-friendly insurance reform bill that does little to protect consumer interests. As Dave Mann reports, Texas homeowners insurance rates are among the highest in the country, but the Senate version of HB 1951, was stripped of key provisions that would have imposed more regulation on the industry.  

BEST OF THE REST
Tort reform advocates and attorneys struck a surprise deal over the contentious “loser pays” bill that would require plaintiffs to pay for meritless lawsuits. As the Austin American-Statesman‘s Mike Ward reports, the reworked version of HB 274 contains provisions that everyone could agree on. It passed unanimously out of the Senate State Affairs Committee 9-0 on Friday.  

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
It’s the final week of the session, folks, and you can expect some tricks and suprises as lawmakers scramble to pass thier legislation. Budget writers are expected to unveil their comprimise this morning at a conference committee meeting. Meanwhile, on the House floor, the key battle will be over the school finance reform plan in SB 1581.