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Hot List: Day 38 of the Legislature

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The Lead:

The Lege will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a slow work day at the Capitol. The Senate has already blown town for the weekend, but the House will meet this morning at 10 a.m.

Yesterday, though, was a big day for legislative committees. Lawmakers debated some of the most controversial issues in the state, including women’s health, Medicaid, climate change, transportation funding and water scarcity.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. A major anti-abortion bill was filed yesterday by three pro-life senators who all happen to be doctors. As the Observer‘s Olivia Messer reports, Senate Bill 537 would require abortion clinics to meet the standards of surgical centers. Abortion rights advocates say this effort, attempted in other states, could force some clinics to close.

2. A joint meeting of the House and Senate Natural Resources committees didn’t really delve into anything too heated—only climate change and fracking. Forrest Wilder has the details.

3. State Rep. Garnet Coleman debated new HHSC Commissioner (and former Senator) Kyle Janek in yesterday’s House Public Health Committee hearing over how to deal with the state’s uninsured, writes the Observer‘s Emily Mathis.

4. TxDOT director Phil Wilson continued pleading the agency’s poverty yesterday in the Senate Transportation Committee, saying the agency needs a new funding source.

Line of the Day:

“This is not about abortion. It’s about prevention.” —Dr. Janet Realini at a press conference yesterday in which a coalition of 23 groups announced began their push to restore cuts to family planning programs.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The budget writers are still hard at work today. Both the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance have broken into subcommittees to put together spending recommendations on major sections of the budget.

2. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.