Hot List: Day 52 of the Legislature

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Jeb Bush
Patrick Michels
Former Fla. Governor Jeb Bush.

The Lead:

A Bush was back in the Texas Capitol yesterday. Jeb Bush, that is. The former Florida governor was a guest of Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), who had been trying since last summer to get Bush to come before the Senate Education Committee. He finally got his wish at yesterday’s hearing in the Senate chamber.

Bush told the committee about the  merits of high-stakes testing and education reform. As the Observer’s Liz Farmer writes, “Between the guest of honor’s last name and his tremendous faith in high-stakes testing, visiting the Senate chamber this morning felt a lot less like reform than a trip back to 1999.”

It should be a light day at the Capitol today as lawmakers ease into their customary early session long weekend.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in an Alabama case challenging  Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as The Dallas Morning News reports. Protestors rallied at the court in support of the law. Section 5 requires southern states like Texas with a history of discrimination to “pre-clear” any changes to election procedures with the Justice Department or a federal court. Conservative justices on the High Court made clear they felt the law’s time had passed.

2. Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas) and Texas Association of Business president and CEO Bill Hammond held a press conference yesterday touting the need for performance-based funding in higher education, instead of the enrollment-based funding that dominates currently.

3. The House Public Health Committee heard concerned testimony on House Bill 46, which would allow unpasteurized milk to be sold at farmer’s markets and other places other than the originating dairy sites, as the Texas Tribune reports.

Line of the Day:

“Human nature is what it is… To have no consequence for kids, you’re going to have the same tragic results that we’ve had.” —Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, going old school at the Senate Education Committee hearing yesterday.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The Senate sure does like their long weekends—it’s adjourned until Monday. But at least the Senate Finance Committees will meet today to consider budget recommendations from the Health and Human Services, Public Education, Natural Resources, and the Public Safety and Criminal Justice sub-committees. The budget-writing keeps on moving along.

2. It’s a slow day for House committees, but the House Appropriations Committee is meeting this morning to hear invited testimony from a few key agencies, including the Department of Transportation, Texas Workforce Commission, the Attorney General’s office, the troubled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)and the Governor’s office.