Patrick Michels

Hot List: Day 115 of the Legislature


Above: Texas State Capitol in Austin

The Lead:

The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety met yesterday to begin legislative investigation  into the West fertilizer plant disaster. Lawmakers took no action yesterday, but speculated on emergency management procedures that took place and how they might have been improved. Many state agency officials testified that, in safety management of the plant before the explosion, they had been doing exactly what the law requires them to do.

“Everything changes from here on out, period,” committee chair Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) told reporters, according to the Texas Tribune. “I don’t think it’s a law that’s necessary, it’s an attitude.”

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. Five members of GetEqual Texas, a pro-LGBT rights group, were arrested yesterday at the Capitol as they protested the holdup of SB 237, banning job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which hasn’t been given a committee vote. Their offense? Overstaying their welcome in conservative legislators’ offices. The members have been charged with criminal trespassing.

2. The House passed a measure capping the use of dedicated funds to certify the budget at $4 billion, part of a movement to ensure money collected for specific purposes gets spent properly. In the past, the Legislature usually devotes about $5 billion from dedicated to balance the budget.

Line of the Day:

“The NRA doesn’t do pep rallies. … We’re engaged in a long battle that will take years. We know it’s not over.” —Andrew Arulan­andam, NRA Director of Public Affairs. The National Rifle Association holds a national convention this weekend in Houston that is expected to draw 700,000 of the nation’s most gung-ho gun owners.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon’s HB 3238 syringe exchange pilot program bill is up on the House floor. The bill is supported by such groups as Mothers Against Teen Violence, and could help ensure safe needle use to prevent the spread of disease.

2. The Senate could hear HB 5, which relates to high school graduation requirements. Check out the Observer‘s coverage of the bill’s passage in the House and in Senate committee.