Hot List: Day 77 of the Legislature

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

The Lead:

The Senate passed its version of the budget last week, and soon it’ll be the House’s turn. The House Appropriations Committee voted out its version of the two-year state budget late last week, but not before allotting $1 billion more to public education than the Senate-approved budget. That means the House version would add a total of $2.5 billion to public school budgets. That’s still a long way from restoring the $5.4 billion lawmakers cut from schools last session, but it looks downright spendy compared to the Senate. Lawmakers have time to mull it all over, though. The full House isn’t scheduled to debate the budget until next week.

As the budget debate unfolds, committees continue to chug along. Our favorite today: Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is presenting a bill in committee that would require the attorney general to file an injunction against any local gun control laws. So much for local control.

Weekend Headlines:

1. The Senate approved a bill last week that would set term limits for statewide officeholders. The Dallas Morning News explains that things look better for the bill than they have in the past, but the big test will now be in the House.

2. The Dallas City Plan Commission rejected drilling permits for natural gas producer Trinity East. Apparently the city manager had a secret side-deal with the company. The Observer’s Priscila Mosqueda writes that the City Council didn’t know about the deal and some members, along with environmentalists, are fighting the fracking permits.

3. Here we go again, another Bush enters Texas politics—and another George Bush at that. George P. Bush, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s son, is pursuing the office of Texas Land Commissioner. Bush is playing it safe and gave a safe speech at Friday’s Texas Legislative Conference, as The Texas Tribune reports.

Line of the Day:

“He might be the most outside-the-box and creative person I’ve met in higher education.” —Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) told The Texas Tribune about Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams is up before the Senate Nominations Committee.

2. Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) is presenting a bill to the Senate Open Government Committee that will clarify that certain emails between elected officials regarding official business should be public.

3. Katy Republican Sen. Glenn Hegar’s anti-gun control bill goes before the Senate Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security Committee today.

4.  The House Appropriations subcommittee on Government Transparency and Reform is discussing the issue of misusing dedicated funds to certify the budget. A big example is the sporting goods tax, which doesn’t actually fund the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for which it’s intended.