Senate committee passes bills on private school choice and school finance study

State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, during a July 21, 2017 Senate Public Education Committee hearing. Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, is seated to his left. 
<p><span>State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, during a July 21, 2017 Senate Public Education Committee hearing. Sen.&nbsp;Eddie Lucio Jr., D-</span>Brownsville, is seated to his left.&nbsp;</p>

The Texas Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would create a "private school choice" program to subsidize private school tuition for kids with special needs, and a bill to study the school finance system.

Bill limiting city, county spending fuels war over local control

State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, visits with a House member on the Senate floor May 17, 2017. House members have been visiting the upper chamber to negotiate bills in the final days of the 85th Legislature.&nbsp;
<p>State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, visits with a House member on the Senate floor May 17, 2017. House members have been visiting the upper chamber to negotiate bills in the final days of the 85th Legislature.&nbsp;</p>

When state senators revive legislation on Saturday that could require voter approval of city and county property tax rates, lawmakers will also consider something new: limiting how much money local governments spend.

Analysis: In special session, Texas Senate's the hare, House is the tortoise

The three leaders of Texas appear jovial at a short meeting of the Cash Management Committee on July 18, 2017, as they face a potentially contentious 30-day special session of the 85th Legislature.&nbsp;
<p>The three leaders of Texas appear jovial at a short meeting of the Cash Management Committee on July 18, 2017, as they face a potentially contentious 30-day special session of the 85th Legislature.&nbsp;</p>

This summer's special session is a little like this spring's regular session, only in miniature. The Senate has big plans and is in a hurry. The House? Not so much.

After Texas "human trafficking crime," Lt. Gov. Patrick lauds new law

The truck with human trafficking victims &mdash; nine of whom died from heat exposure &mdash; was discovered at a Walmart in southwest San Antonio.
<p><span>The truck with human trafficking victims &mdash; nine of whom died from heat exposure &mdash; was discovered at a Walmart in southwest San Antonio</span>.</p>

Amid the deaths of nine people in San Antonio, state and federal officials used social media and formal statements to tout a new anti-"sanctuary city" law, human trafficking legislation and U.S.-Mexico border security. 

Texas Senate committee OKs bill to outlaw city cellphone restrictions

State Sens. Brandon Creighton, R-The Woodlands, and Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, at a Business &amp; Commerce committee hearing on Saturday.&nbsp;
<p>State Sens. Brandon Creighton, R-The Woodlands, and Kelly Hancock, R-<span>North Richland Hills, </span>at a Business &amp; Commerce committee hearing on Saturday.&nbsp;</p>

Senate Bill 15 would pre-empt local ordinances on mobile phone usage, effectively rolling back provisions in more than 40 Texas cities that currently post hands-free ordinances stricter than the statewide texting ban.

Texas Senate panel approves teacher bonuses, retirement benefits

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, explains the benefits of Senate Bill 19 during a Saturday meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on July 22, 2017.&nbsp;
<p>State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, explains the benefits of Senate Bill 19 during a Saturday meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on July 22, 2017.&nbsp;</p>

The Texas Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Saturday that would put one-time influxes of money toward the Teacher Retirement System and teacher bonuses, and require districts to fund $1,000 in teacher pay raises.

Despite losing bathroom bill fight, a transgender girl gets her two minutes

Libby Gonzales, a 7-year-old transgender girl,&nbsp;and her sister sit by their parents at a press conference in the Capitol &nbsp;rotunda concerning SB 3 and SB 91 on July 21, 2017.
<p>Libby Gonzales, a 7-year-old transgender girl,&nbsp;and her sister sit by their parents at a press conference in the Capitol &nbsp;rotunda concerning SB 3 and SB 91 on July 21, 2017.</p>

They were unlikely to sway a committee of Republicans considering bathroom restrictions for transgender Texans, but a transgender 7-year-old and her mother waited for their two minutes.

Abortion rights groups sue Texas over procedure ban

An exam room at ChoiceWorks, formerly Whole Woman's Health Clinic, on June 27, 2016, the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of HB 2 restricting women's access to abortions in Texas.
An exam room at ChoiceWorks, formerly Whole Woman's Health Clinic, on June 27, 2016, the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of HB 2 restricting women's access to abortions in Texas.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood announced on Thursday they're suing over a provision in Texas' Senate Bill 8, which outlaws dilation and evacuation abortions. 

Kay Bailey Hutchison vows toughness on Russia as NATO ambassador

Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to NATO, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017.&nbsp;
<p><span>Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to NATO, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017.&nbsp;</span></p>

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas told a panel of  Senate lawmakers on Thursday that she will take a hard line on Russia if she is confirmed as ambassador to NATO. She appears to be on track for confirmation.