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The Brief: Top Texas News for April 11, 2011

The fate of campus-carry legislation — once virtually assured of passage this session — may lie with a Senate Democrat (or two).

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The Big Conversation:

The fate of campus-carry legislation — once virtually assured of passage this session — may lie with a Senate Democrat (or two).

The bill, which would allow concealed-handgun license holders to carry their weapons into college classrooms in Texas, enjoys broad Republican support. But last week, the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, unexpectedly stopped debate in the chamber after two Democrats — Sens. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, and Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville — withdrew their support, citing concerns from their constituents.

Wentworth, left with only 20 votes, said he'd try again today.

Gallegos voted for a version of the bill in 2009 but this time said he'd been flooded with calls from his district before the vote. Lucio said he'd been urged to press for an amendment that would allow universities to opt out of the law.

Wentworth would only need to flip one of those votes to reach the 21 required to bring the bill up for debate in the 31-member Senate. "I'm hopeful and cautiously optimistic," he said, according to The Associated Press.

Democrats will likely attempt to fire amendments at the bill that would allow such exemptions, which Wentworth has said he'll oppose.

If the bill does clear the Senate today, it'll be smooth sailing for it in the Republican-dominated House — where more than half of the members have already signed on as co-sponsors — as it winds its way toward the governor's desk.

Culled:

  • Boyd Richie, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, announced Saturday that he would not be seeking another term. "Now more than ever, Democrats must unite," the three-time candidate said in a statement, "because a Republican political agenda that threatens to shut down government, schools and nursing homes is one that has turned its back on the people."
  • Texas has become the latest state to move toward banning legal recognition of Shariah, the religious law of Islam. A bill by state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, doesn't specifically mention Shariah law, but Berman hasn't hidden his intentions. "This is now happening all over Europe ... and in Dearborn, Mich. ... and it could spread throughout the United States," Berman said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  • Politico has a look today at a redistricting proposal from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund that would likely increase the amount of Texas Democrats in the U.S. House from nine to 12.

Must-Read:

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