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Hot List: Day 84 of the Legislature

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One of this session’s hottest issues has been whether Texas will take a Medicaid expansion deal offered by the federal government. Under Medicaid expansion, roughly 1.5 million more Texans would be covered under the health insurance program, while the feds would provide $100 billion to pay for it, and the state would have to pay $15 billion over a 10-year period. Many states have accepted the deal. But Texas’ leaders remain opposed.

Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will hold a press conference later this morning at the Capitol to reiterate their strong opposition to Medicaid expansion in the state.

The Texas Tribune reports that an unauthorized source involved in the event planning said all three lawmakers will “stand together to demand greater flexibility from the Obama administration to operate the state’s existing health care system for poor children and the disabled as Texas sees fit.”

The Tribune also reports that the Dems are ready with a response press conference led by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), his brother, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, and the Texas Hospital Association.

Weekend Headlines:

1. The Observer‘s Melissa del Bosque reported Friday that some county jails need a bailout. State legislators are looking to more affordable rehabilitative programs rather than filling the state’s 10,000 empty jail beds.

2. Pre-filed budget amendments—in advance of the House budget debate—by House Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) would limit the authority University of Texas System regents would have over the Available University Fund. The Texas Tribune reports regents could lose power over how funds are spent.

3. The Dallas Morning News compiled a brief legislative “crunch-time” summary of where we stand in the session so far.

Line of the Day:

“It’s not the same warm place Austin is. When people speak to me on the elevator, I’m kind of surprised.” —New U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, a Fort Worth Democrat, on the differences between the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress, as quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House chamber will convene around 2 p.m. today and will probably just hear honorary/congratulatory resolutions. We’re still waiting on the House to pass its version of the budget. The House is scheduled to take up the budget on Thursday. The full Senate doesn’t meet until Tuesday morning.

2. The House Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform will hear a few bills that would change the definition of “information” in the Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Public Information Act. That’s always worth keeping an eye on.

3. This morning’s dueling press conferences over Medicaid expansion.