Hot List: Day 102 of the Legislature


The Lead:

It appeared yesterday that Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) had become fed up with the power and influence of the payday loan industry, as the Texas Observer’s Forrest Wilder reports.

Carona stood on the Senate floor trying to pass an extremely watered down version of his reform bill while several senators were doing the industry’s bidding by working the floor and trying to flip votes against the measure. Carona had had enough. He called out some of his colleagues for working as “shills” for the payday loan industry. You just don’t hear that kind of language on the Senate floor very often.

Carona himself said the legislation is already a compromise with the industry, because it doesn’t cap interest rates, as the Observer’s Forrest Wilder wrote in this piece. However, it would limit the number and size of loans for some consumers. Democrats and consumer advocates are divided over whether to support the bill, which does impose minor restrictions but also hands the industry a major victory by doing away with city ordinances on payday loans.

In the end, Carona agreed to postpone a vote on the bill till Monday. That gives both sides the weekend to swing votes.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. Apparently Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t too fond of Rep. Lyle Larson’s term-limits bill. The governor hauled the fellow Republican in for a “spirited” hour-long meeting, the Dallas Morning News reports. Perry, of course, is the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He’s occupied the office going on 13 years and hasn’t ruled out a run for….um, what number term would this be? We’ve lost count.

2. The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to send a supplemental spending bill, with $500 million more for education, to the full House, as the Texas Tribune reports. The legislation also tosses in $170 million for several agencies to cover costs of last year’s wildfires.

Line of the Day:

“To me, House Bill 1938 would take us back to 1938 in ethnic studies.” —Librotraficante founder Tony Diaz told the House Higher Education Committee about a bill that would end race, gender and other specialized history courses from counting toward students’ required history credits.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. It’s a slow Friday. The House is in session, but not much on the calendar looks controversial, except possibly HB 1325, which would limit some asbestos litigation.

2. House Criminal Jurisprudence is the only committee in either chamber scheduled to meet.