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Hot List: Day 117 of the Texas Legislature

by Published on
Texas State Capitol in Austin, Tex.
Patrick Michels

The Lead:
Lawmakers are giving up their Saturday—the first chamber weekend workday of the session—to debate a slew of controversial gun bills.

The gun day fun day festivities include legislation that would decrease the classroom hours required to get a concealed handgun license, allow licensed gun owners to bring guns onto higher education campuses, designate some public school workers as gun-carrying school marshals, and nullify any federal gun laws from being enforced in Texas. That’s just a few.

Many of the bills are expected to pass in the House, but may have difficulty getting ahead in the Senate according to the Dallas Morning News.

Yesterday’s Headlines:
1. The House voted yesterday to continue the Texas Economic Development Act, a program created in 2001 that allows school districts to offer property tax cuts to businesses. According to the Texas Tribune, critics of the program say it allows school districts to “pick winners in the marketplace and is not worth the resulting increase in jobs and investment.”

2. The Dallas Morning News reports the House tentatively approved a bill that would help the fight against the West Nile Virus by letting local health officials enter abandoned or uninhabited and foreclosed properties to treat standing water, where mosquitos breed. The bill still needs a two-thirds vote in the House on its final reading to become effective immediately.

3. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced on the Senate floor that, despite hours of closed-door negotiations, there weren’t enough votes on Friday to pass House Bill 5, the sweeping test reform bill championed by Sen. Dan Patrick that reduces standardized testing and changes graduation requirements. Dewhurst said later he intends to bring the bill up in the Senate on Monday, according to the Quorum Report (article subscription only).

Line of the Day:
“If he believes the answer to violent crime is not prosecuting felons and fugitives, not prosecuting gun crimes but going after the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens, I would like to invite the vice president to engage in an hour-long conversation and debate.” —U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s open invitation to Vice President Joe Biden at Friday’s NRA National Convention in Houston.

What We’re Watching Today:
1. Guns.

2. Before the gun show begins, the House is slated to hear a sunset bill that would keep the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a few other law enforcement agencies, running for 12 more years. There are 27 pre-filed amendments to the bill that could change how the agencies run.

3. Two House committees are also working weekend overtime: Ways and Means and Corrections.