Agenda Texas: Ethics, Guns and Taxes Lead the Week

Crowds of visitors, lobbyists, and lawmakers turned out to the Texas capitol for the opening day of the 83rd legislative session, Jan. 8, 2013.
Crowds of visitors, lobbyists, and lawmakers turned out to the Texas capitol for the opening day of the 83rd legislative session, Jan. 8, 2013.

With six weeks left in this year's legislative session, each remaining day will bring critical votes on several bills. The Tribune’s Ross Ramsey says one highlight of the week is the debate over what changes to make to the agency that oversees political money, the Texas Ethics Commission.

"It looks like they're going to fiddle with the rules of the Ethics Commission itself without tightening the laws right now about how politicians should behave once they're in office and while they're getting to office during a campaigns," Ramsey said.

There's also a good chance a handful of bills that would allow more guns to protect schools will be heard in the House or Senate. But Ramsey said the problem now is you're never really sure what's going to happen next.

"We're in this land in the last six weeks of the legislative session where you'll say something's going to happen or not going to happen and you're not talking about certainties — you're just talking about probabilities," Ramsey said.

Of course, one of the biggest events of the week just happened a few hours ago.Gov. Rick Perry on Monday unveiled his plan to cut about $1.6 billion from the state’s business franchise tax.

That includes a 5 percent across-the-board cut to the current business tax rate, a $1 million dollar deduction for businesses making $20 million or less and more reasons for businesses to move to Texas.

“I’m also proposing to make Texas more appealing to outside businesses by allowing firms to deduct the cost of moving to the Lone Star State," he said. "These moves will contribute to a climate of job creation and continued prosperity for all Texans."

These cuts would be paid for out of the state’s general revenue, giving a boost, or maybe a good shove, to lawmakers’ efforts to pay for transportation and water infrastructure projects out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

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