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Hot List: Day 35 of the Legislature

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The Lead:

While House and Senate members kicked up their feet for a long weekend, two left-leaning groups met in Austin to discuss their own legislative agendas: The Center for Public Policy Priorities launched its 2013 legislative series on Friday, and the ACLU of Texas met on Sunday for its 2013 symposium and lobby conference on mass incarceration in Texas.

No rest for the wicked today with committee meetings galore. The Senate committees on Finance, Nominations, and Agriculture Rural Affairs & Homeland Security will be meeting. The newly assigned House committees on Appropriations, Technology,  Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Land & Resource Management, and Pensions will hold hearings as well. Also in the House this week, we’ll be watching the progress of the supplemental spending bill for the rest of 2013, which may start moving toward a House floor debate this week.

Weekend Headlines:

1. The credit rating firm Moody’s is concerned about the state’s finances should a final ruling in the school finance case require billions in new investment in education, as The Dallas Morning News reports.

2. The Observer‘s Forrest Wilder writes about former state Rep. Vicki Truitt, who headed the committee overseeing the payday loan industry and is now an employed lobbyer for ACE Cash Express.

3. The Statesman has a must-read story about public employees increasingly being disciplined—and in some cases losing their careers—due to perfectly legal personal activities during off-work hours.

4. Transparency was a theme late last week with both Sen. Ellis and Rep. Donna Howard filing bills to address the need for increased accountability and availability to the public sector.

Line of the Day:

“The dirty little secret is when you become a health care professional you can’t make the mistakes Joe Blow down the street does. And when you make that mistake, it puts your license at risk.” —Austin’s Jon Porter, who worked as an investigator for the Texas Medical Board, as quoted in the Statesman.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The Senate will jump-start the week with the second reading of several bills, including one on the ever-popular transparency theme, and a joint resolution, at least they’re on the schedule.

2. The House Appropriations Committee will be hearing public testimony on House budget recommendations first thing in the morning.

3. The Committee on Nominations will jump right into the fast lane  by considering the nomination of State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill.  Anything related to the SBOE always brings some controversy with it. Have fun.

4. Democrats in the House plan to force Republicans to vote on restoring cuts to public schools—or take bad votes against it. That process may start today.