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Hot List: Day 50 of the Legislature

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The Lead:

After 10,000 people rallied for more education funding at the Save Texas Schools rally over the weekend, education was again the big topic at the Capitol yesterday. The Senate Finance and Education committees met in a workgroup to debate funding levels for education, and Sen. Dan Patrick said at a Texas Tribune-Rice University event that he planned to ask the Texas Education Agency to put a moratorium on some high-stakes, end-of-course exams this spring.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an Alabama case challenging the Voting Rights Act. The case could have major implications for Texas. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was used to help shoot down Texas’ voter ID law and its redistricting plan last year. As the Dallas Morning News points out, Texas is last in voter turnout.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. The Observer‘s Forrest Wilder reports that San Angelo Republican Rep. Drew Darby has filed a bill to reduce the public’s input and citizen challenges to Waste Control Specialists’ radioactive waste dump in far West Texas.

2. Rep. Matt Krause has a bill that would allow college student groups to keep out anyone they didn’t want to join the group. The Observer‘s Liz Farmer details why this allows discrimination and goes against a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling

3. Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) filed a series of environmental protection bills on Monday that would seek to broaden the definition of a drought.

Line of the Day:

“The University of Texas will change its colors to maroon and white before Texas goes purple, much less blue.” —Rick Perry as quoted by the Stateman‘s Jonathan Tilove over the weekend.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House Transportation committee will hear bills today that would ban texting while driving. Motorcyclists across the state are watching closely.

2. The Medicaid debate rages on in the Senate Health and Human Services committee. Legislators will hear invited testimony today, and will debate a bill on child immunizations by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound).

3. Sen. Dan Patrick’s (R-Houston) bill on providing penalties for abortion-inducing drugs is also set to be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services committee today.