Hot List: Day 119 of the Texas Legislature


The Lead:

It was gun-show day on Saturday in the Texas House. The Lower Chamber, on its first working Saturday of the session, passed 14 out of 15 gun bills, the Observer’s Beth Cortez-Neavel reports. The bills passed despite concerns some Democrats expressed that the hastily taken voice votes didn’t allow members to fully consider the consequences of each bill. The measures, among other things, will make it easier for schools to have armed guards, reduce the number of training hours needed for a Concealed Handgun License, and withhold state funding from any state agency that enforces federal gun-control laws.

Attorney General Greg Abbott reportedly helped author that last measure—an effort to essentially nullify federal gun control. That would appear unconstitutional, and several lawmakers pointed that out during Saturday’s debate. But why would some crusty old thing like the U.S. Constitution stop the Texas House?

House members weren’t the only ones shooting their mouths off, er, making a stand for guns. Gov. Rick Perry caused a media controversy with his dramatic introduction at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston on Friday.

With the gun debate over, it’s back to regularly scheduled legislating today. The House has a full calendar of bills to consider.

Weekend Headlines:

1. Divisive debates over women’s health have been rare this legislative session, especially compared to the controversies of 2011, the Texas Tribune writes. Legislators are compromising to secure more funding for the women’s health services.

2. In an interesting twist, the business lobby could pressure the Legislature enough to get rainy day funds approved for a water plan, as the Dallas Morning News reports. State general revenue funds could be eaten up by the water plan if rainy day funds aren’t approved, which could mean no tax breaks for businesses. Heaven forbid.

Line of the Day:

“This is a bill about saying that we’re making a political statement, that we don’t like President [Barack] Obama, that we don’t like what’s going on in Washington, and that we can go back home and say we took it to the president.” —Democratic Rep. Chris Turner (Grand Prairie) during Saturday’s gun-bill debate.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The Senate may actually pass House Bill 5, which restructures high school degree plans to offer more career and technical opportunities and reduces the number of end-of-course exams. The bill got caught up in back-room negotiations on Friday after Sen. Leticia Van de Putte introduced an amendment aimed at maintaining a more structured degree plan.

2. The House a long calendar of bills to consider, including HB 887, which would limit full-contact football practices for high school and middle school teams to one hour per week. Studies have shown that small impacts sustained during football practices can contribute to severe brain damage. Full-contact practices, of course, are a Texas high school football tradition. So this one should be interesting.

3. The House will also hear the bi-partisan-backed House Bill 953, which would offer a franchise tax credit to businesses that do research in partnership with a Texas higher education institution.