Texas State Capitol in Austin, Tex. (Patrick Michels)

Hot List: Day 42 of the Legislature


The Lead:

After a three-day weekend the Senate will reconvene at 2 p.m., and the House, which had to stick around longer last week, will reconvene this afternoon as well. Committees are in full force debating some of the state’s most contentious issues.

That includes the House Pensions Committee, which will meet this afternoon. While we ordinarily wouldn’t be fascinated with pensions, it could be an issue to watch this session. There’s a movement to reform—and we use that term loosely—public pensions in Texas. The Observer‘s Forrest Wilder has written about the attempts to manufacture a pensions crisis by portraying the Teacher’s Retirement System and Employee Retirement System, which covers state employees, as deeply troubled. The goal is to reduce benefits.

Weekend Headlines:

1. The Legislative Budget Board recommended that the state expand Medicaid in order to receive hefty federal funding, but top conservative leadership scoff at the idea, writes the Quorum Report.

2. Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) filed a bill to do away with the state office of public insurance counsel, a move that seems, shall we say interesting, given the large campaign contributions Hancock received from insurance company political action committees during his 2012 campaign, reports The Dallas Morning News.

3. The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas continues to make headlines as the institute receives heat for mishandling the grant process. Given all its troubles, the agency has stopped making grants. The Texas Tribune lays out the other side: those who are ready to continue research but can’t do so because of the moratorium.

4. The Austin American-Statesman reports that several legislators are working to repeal the 2005 constitutional amendment that excludes gay couples from the state’s definition of marriage. The national trend on gay rights has certainly shifted, even since 2005, but don’t hold your breath that Texas’ anti-gay-marriage amendment will be repealed any time soon.

Line of the Day:

I say I found Jesus at summer camp when I was 7 years old. I found Ronald Reagan when I was 8 the following year.” —Dallas Republican Rep. Jason Villalba to The Texas Tribune.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The Senate Finance Committee working groups will meet and continue to work out the kinks in the budgets for health and human services, higher education and public education.

2. The House Appropriations subcommittees will also be hard at work today constructing the budget.

3. The House Pensions Committee will meet this afternoon and hear invited testimony from the Comptroller’s office, Pension Review Board, Teacher Retirement System and Employee Retirement System.