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Hot List: Day 56 of the Legislature

by Published on
Texas State Capitol in Austin, Tex.
Patrick Michels

The Lead:

Committees are back up and running today, including the Senate Finance Committee, which will continue to work through agency recommendations for the budget. Senate Finance Chair Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) said he’s shooting to get the bill out of committee and headed to the Senate floor by next Wednesday. Of course the senators took an extra long weekend (poor dears got a little flack for that), so we’ll see if they make their own deadline on the only action the Legislature must accomplish during the session.

Weekend Headlines:

1. Former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia won the runoff race for Texas Senate against state Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), as the Texas Tribune reports. Garcia will fill the seat previously held by the late Sen. Mario Gallegos.

2. Major changes may be in order for the Texas Water Development Board, will handle billions of dollars in the coming years. The Austin American-Statesman reports that Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) wants to restructure the board before all that money starts to, ahem, flow. With all the cronyism in state government in recent years, some people are naturally suspicious of this move.

Line of the Day:

“It would be irresponsible to add more Texans and dump more taxpayer dollars into an unsustainable system that is broken and already consumes a quarter of our budget,” —Perry spokesperson Lucy Nashed to the Austin American-Statesman about Medicaid expansion.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House Elections Committee is set to hear a large slate of bills today, including a bill by Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) to give local prosecutors the ability to investigate election fraud—instead of the Attorney General. That may sound benign, but with all the controversy in recent years over supposed election fraud—and the efforts of groups like King Street Patriots, a Houston tea party group, and its True the Vote project—providing more outlets for voter fraud investigations has political implications.

2. The Ways and Means House committee will hold a hearing on the sporting good tax, which has been substantially used to fund programs outside of its intended use—state parks. They could use some extra cash.

3. The Senate Finance Committee continues to make its way closer to pulling together a budget bill. Today the committee will discuss recommendations on higher education and criminal justice.