The Big Conversation:
A bill allowing guns on college campuses took the first step Wednesday toward what appears to be its likely passage.
After hours of testimony, the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee voted 5-3 — along party lines, with all Democrats opposed — to send the bill to the House floor.
The bill, one of many pieces of gun-related legislation the committee heard Wednesday, would allow individuals with concealed-handgun licenses to carry weapons on university campuses. Private universities could opt out. (Other legislation filed this session would also allow concealed carry on community college campuses.)
And as it did in 2009, before stalling in the House, the issue on Wednesday drew impassioned debate.
"We are not trying to create an amateur security force," said W. Scott Lewis of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. "We are suggesting that individuals be given the means to protect themselves."
John Woods, who directs the University of Texas chapter of Students for Gun-Free Schools and, while attending Virginia Tech, lost some of his close friends in the 2007 shooting, said the legislation wouldn't make campuses safer. "These bills are about an ideological agenda, not about campus safety." Woods said.
The bill's author, state Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, noted that license holders must be 21 or older. "Passage of this legislation will not result in a large population of armed undergraduates," he said.
Supporters of the legislation have said they expect it to pass this time. Driver's bill already has the support of more than 80 House members and 14 senators, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
- Officials announced Wednesday they'd found a substitute for the drug used to execute inmates. In January, the American manufacturer of sodium thiopental, which the state has used since 1982, announced that it would stop selling the drug. Lawyers for Cleve Foster, who next month will be the first inmate to receive the substitute drug, pentobarbital, are preparing a lawsuit.
- In response to concerns from legislators and alumni that the recent controversial hiring of Rick O'Donnell signaled a change in the University of Texas System's view of academic research, officials said Wednesday that they'd decided to reassign O'Donnell within the system. The Tribune's Reeve Hamilton has the full, and much juicier, story.
- Paid for by the Austin-based conservative group Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, two TV ads critical of public school spending started airing Wednesday in Amarillo, Lubbock and three other Texas cities, according to the Amarillo Globe-News. The group, headed by Michael Quinn Sullivan, has recently begun a statewide campaign challenging assertions that cuts in funding for school districts will result in job losses.
"We’ll be there for eternity, as far as I’m concerned." — Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on the group's presence in Texas
- Japan earthquake displaced water in Edwards Aquifer, Austin American-Statesman
- A rarity in area, Hurst-Euless-Bedford district will avoid teacher layoffs, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Cecile Richards: The TT Interview, The Texas Tribune
And on this week's TribCast: the Rainy Day Fund, Hispanic Republicans and Tommy Lee Jones
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