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Hot List: Day 43 of the Legislature

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The Lead:

Education will be the big topic today at the Capitol. The Senate Education Committee this morning is slated to debate SB 3, Chairman Dan Patrick’s bill to overhaul graduation requirements in Texas public schools. Not to be outdone, the House Education Committee this afternoon will take up the state’s reliance on high-stakes standardized tests. The House panel is scheduled to hear a number of bills aimed at reforming  Texas’ testing regime.

Everyone has been jumping on the anti-testing bandwagon. Teachers, parents, school administrators, lawmakers—even, long-time test proponent Sandy Kress—now say the system needs to be reformed and that state test scores shouldn’t count as part of a student’s grade. It remains a safe bet that some testing reform will pass this session.

Elsewhere at the Capitol today, lawmakers will be hearing testimony on environmental regulation in House committee and legislation on health care on the Senate floor. The Texas Freedom Network is also slated to release their recent polling on attitudes toward birth control in the state. Buckle your seatbelts, folks.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. Some odd moments in the Senate yesterday. The Senate adopted an honorary resolution recognizing the work of University of Texas President Bill Powers. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst grew emotional during the remarks honoring Powers, and went on to voice anger about attacks on Powers. 

2. Charter school advocates are no doubt happy to see much of their legislative wish list included in Sen. Dan Patrick’s charter school bill, which was filed Monday, as the Observer‘s Patrick Michels reports.

3. The Senate Nominations Committee approved the nomination of Barbara Cargill as chair of the State Board of Education and sent her nomination to the Senate floor.

4. The Statesman has an interesting story today about the people behind the powerful Texans for Lawsuit Reform—including Mike Toomey, Dick Trabulsi and Dick Weekly—now working to reform public education.

Line of the Day:

“There were some anonymous letters that may not be so anonymous, that were trumpeted, I’m told, by one of the regents. … I just think that’s a very underhanded approach. You leave family and staff out of it. I am really mad.” — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, after becoming emotional during a tribute to University of Texas President Bill Powers.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House Committees on Energy Resources and Environmental Regulation will be meeting jointly and are scheduled to hear invited testimony from environmental agencies in the state. Things could get rowdy.

2. The Senate is scheduled hear a second reading on various agenda items, including several hot list health care bills authored by Sen. Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound). This includes a bill that would regulate stem cell research at universities.

3. The House Ways and Means Committee will meet to review the Comptroller’s revenue estimates and hear from the Legislative Budget Board.

4.  The Texas Freedom Network will be holding a press conference at the Capitol to announce the results of their recent polling on Texans’ attitudes on birth control. We’re thinking that might produce a headline or two.