Hot List: Day 112 of the Legislature

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The Lead:

Payday loans have become one of the session’s hottest topics. Some lawmakers and consumer advocates have said this session is the time to impose some restrictions on the payday and auto-title lenders—which charge up 600 percent interest—before the industry becomes too rich and powerful to rein in.

The Senate passed John Carona’s  SB 1247 last Monday. It was an odd debate, which included Carona accusing some of his colleagues of “shilling” for the industry. In the end, the Senate strengthened what had been a watered-down compromise bill. The measure, as passed by the Senate, would place a hard cap on the amount of interest lenders could charge. Some advocates—and Carona too—feared the beefed-up bill now has no chance to pass.

We’ll begin to find that out today when the House Investments and Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hear the payday loan bill.

Weekend Headlines:

1. Last Friday, the House passed HB 1025, an $875 million supplemental spending bill to provide funds for public schools and wildfire relief during the 2013 fiscal year, the Observer’s Liz Farmer reports. In addition to the original bill, an amendment passed that would reserve recovery funds for West, Texas.

2. According to the Quorum Report, the House has set a calendar for next Saturday, May 4. The first working weekend will hear a sunset bill for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

3. The Austin American-Statesman writes that lawmakers aren’t buying into Gov. Rick Perry’s $1.6 billion tax cut proposal.

Line of the Day:

“I still don’t believe he has done anything,” —Rep. Phil Stephenson about former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s money laundering conviction, as quoted by the San Angelo Standard-Times.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House Investments and Financial Services Committee will hear Sen. Carona’s payday loan bill that caused so much stir in the Senate.

2. A major water bill will reach the House floor today. It would instruct the comptroller to allocate money from the rainy day fund to water infrastructure projects. Some Democrats and tea partiers are rumored to oppose it.

3. The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters is going to be discussing franchise tax exemptions today.