Hot List: Day 135 of the Legislature

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

The Lead:

Five days left till sine die, and the deadlines are coming fast. Today’s the last day for the Senate and the House to pass bills and joint resolutions from the opposite chamber on third reading.

The House agreed—except for Rep. David Simpson’s lone “nay” — to postpone voting on Senate Joint Resolution 1, a key component of this session’s budget deal, yet another day. (That gets the bill around last night’s midnight deadline for voting on Senate bills and resolutions on second reading). The Dallas Morning News has the details.

The House will take up SJR 1 today. It’s a constitutional amendment to create SWIFT, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, and pave the way for the Lege to fund water infrastructure projects.

The word is the House will postpone a vote on SJR 1 up to Thursday, if necessary, until the Senate hears House Bill 1025.  The emergency spending bill is the House’s attempt to add $200 million to the public school system, and Gov. Rick Perry has threatened to call a special session if the bill doesn’t pass. Right now, the level of trust between the House and Senate isn’t too high.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. The Senate passed a much-amended House Bill 500, the controversial bill that would exempt quite a few businesses from the franchise tax, according to the Quorum Report (subscribers only). Sen. Tommy Williams tacked on an amendment that ties the passage of the bill to SJR 1, to muck up the budget game of chicken between chambers even more.

2. The House tentatively passed a bill Tuesday that allows for “hotter,” or more radioactive, waste to be dumped at a site dangerously close to water tables. The Observer‘s Forrest Wilder reports this is just one more favor granted to a major GOP donor.

3. The Senate passed House Bill 29 yesterday, which requires universities to offer a flat-rate, four-year tuition option for incoming students. But the Texas Tribune reports the Senate Higher Education Committee’s restrictions on university regents might solicit a veto from Gov. Rick Perry.

4. Last but certainly not least, House Democrats managed to kill SB 11, the drug screening-f0r-welfare-applicants bill on the floor last night. Dems lined up points of order and stalled the bill until it—and about 50 other Senate bills on the calendar behind it—were dead. The Statesman has details.

Line of the Day:

““We believe, simply, that this bill is wrong,” —Democratic Rep. Chris Turner on SB 11, which would have required drug screening for some welfare applicants.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. HB 1025 in the Senate and SJR 1 in the House. Here’s hoping the House doesn’t move the vote to Thursday.

2. The Senate has yet to hear HB 972, which would allow for licensed concealed handgun owners to pack heat on university and college campuses.

3. Today’s also the last day for the House to consider Senate Bills on the Local and Consent calendar, including a bill that would set requirements for election interpreters and one that would update the definition of “autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.”