Hot List: Day 44 of the Legislature


The Lead:

Women’s health and the cuts to family planning were back in the news yesterday. The Texas Freedom Network released survey findings yesterday, which revealed that a surprising 68 percent of Texans believe access to birth control is important. It turns out that Texans overwhelmingly support access to birth control and oppose family planning cuts, according to the TFN survey. The Legislature reduced funding for family planning services—birth control, STD testing, well-woman exams—in 2011 by two-thirds. More than 60 clinics have closed around the state as a result. Last week, a coalition of three-dozen organizations announced their support for restoring the cuts. It will be interesting to see whether any of this pushes the Republican leadership to increase funding.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. The Senate Education Committee debated SB 3, Chairman Dan Patrick’s bill to overhaul graduation requirements in Texas public schools.

2. The Observer’s Liz Farmer reports that the state government is hoarding money meant to fund clean air programs. Very little of the $632 million that Texans pay in fees ends up going toward reducing smog in Texas cities. While this money was meant to fund state-mandated programs to get dirty engines off the road or the work-site, the Legislature is just keeping the money to help balance the state budget. Lovely.

3. After Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s emotional display on Monday, he answered a few questions yesterday about the possibility of handing over the issue to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, according to the Quorum Report.

Line of the Day:

“I’m not that great of a test taker, but I excel in class….This test keeps taking things away. … I try to study between football games.” —Manor High School student Tyree Ihonvbere, one of many students who testified against high-stakes testing at yesterday’s Senate Education Committee hearing.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. Senate Committee on Economic Development is meeting at 8 a.m. in the Senate Chamber to discuss several bills, including SB 248, which was filed by Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth). The bill proposes to prevent workplace compensation discrimination.

2. The House State Affairs Committee meets this morning to consider a slew of bills, including Sylvester Turner’s HB 550 to help low-income families pay their electric bills, and—wait for it—Dan Flynn’s constitutional amendment banning Sharia law.

3. The House is gearing up for tomorrow’s debate on the supplemental spending bill to fund the Medicaid IOUs leftover from 2011. It’s nearly $5 billion the state has to spend. Should be fun.