Hot List: Day 64 of the Legislature


The Lead:

The Senate became whole again yesterday: Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) was sworn in, taking her place as the 31st senator, but just the seventh woman in the current Senate and the third Latina. The Senate had been operating with just 30 members after the death of Sen. Mario Gallegos (D-Houston), who passed away in October of liver failure but remained on the ballot and was reelected posthumously in November. Garcia, who served on the Harris County Commission until losing her seat in 2010, won a recent special election to replace Gallegos. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst named her to the committees on Government Operations, Intergovernmental Relations, Jurisprudence and Nominations. Garcia has no easy task—jumping into her freshman session nearly halfway through. And after the bill filing deadline.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. In other parts of the Capitol, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Budget Transparency and Reform both met to discuss funding for water projects, as the Observer‘s Liz Farmer writes.

2. About 2,000 teachers rallied at the Capitol yesterday for increased funding of public schools. At the rally, Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) said Comptroller Susan Combs—by delivering what turned out to be a low  revenue estimate—was partially to blame for the deep 2011 cuts to schools, according to The Dallas Morning News.

3. Relish a local beer after work today with just a bit more gusto. Beer distributors reached a deal on Monday that would potentially loosen restrictions in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code for small breweries across the state, the Texas Tribune reports.  

Line of the Day:

“Our fear is that this money is not going to go toward conservation … We’d like to see half of the funding put aside for conservation. We’d also like to see education included in this funding.” —Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, at Monday’s Senate Finance committee in response to Sen. Fraser’s bill to fund water projects.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. Expect more fireworks in the Senate Education Committee today. The committee will hear a bill to reform testing and graduation requirements in public schools. It was filed at the last minute on Friday by Sen. Dan Patrick, who rushed it into the committee he chairs just four days later. The committee could also address bills on human sexuality and family planning instruction.

2. Worker’s rights will be a big issue today, especially protections for working mothers. The House Business and Industry Committee will hear a bill that would promote breast-feeding by requiring employers to provide opportunities for mothers to breast-feed or pump in their workplace. Another bill would allow workers to take leave to care for their foster kids.

3. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has a full plate today.  Here’s just a taste of the criminal smorgasbord: Juvenile delinquents, computer crimes, prostitution, and sex offenders. We don’t think you’ll be needing a to-go box.