Hot List: Day 45 of the Legislature

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The Lead:

The supplemental Medicaid appropriations bill—to pay for six months of Medicaid costs lawmakers left out of the budget in 2011—is up for debate on the House floor today. HB 10 would send just over $5 billion to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Texas Education Agency. Democrats could fight to include more money for schools in the bill, too—a handful of amendments already filed would boost funding for some school programs.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. Florida’s governor announced yesterday that the state would be accepting Medicaid expansion after all. This leaves Texas as the last Republican state resisting Medicaid expansion under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. As the Observer’s Emily Mathis reports, interfaith groups joined a few Democratic lawmakers on the Capitol steps yesterday, calling on Gov. Rick Perry to follow Florida’s lead.

2. The House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on a proposal to merge two South Texas universities, give them access to more state funding and open the doors to a new medical school near the Texas-Mexico border. University officials and lawmakers made emotional cases for the bill.

3. Andrew Weber with KUT News reports that Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a “Workers Bill of Rights,” that includes a bill that would keep unionized workers from being intimidated by Texas unions. But unions see the bill itself as an intimidation tactic in this “right-to-work” state.

Line of the Day:

“This bill, the Affordable Care Act, [is] the one called Obamacare because they think if they call it Obamacare maybe Republicans will be against it. Look at the bill. … This is an American bill. This is a bill that needs to be implemented in the state of Texas and every other state in this country because it is the right thing to do.”—State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo) on Medicaid expansion.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House debate on HB 10, the first supplemental Medicaid appropriations bill.

2. The Senate Education Committee will take up Dan Patrick’s sweeping charter school bill this morning, which would end the state cap on charters, offer state money for charter school buildings and take charter application process out of the hands of the State Board of Education. Many education groups have already lined up against it.

3. The House Appropriations Committee will hear budget requests from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies.