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The Brief: May 13, 2011

Democrats may have little time to savor their first real win of the session.

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The Big Conversation:

Democrats may have little time to savor their first real win of the session.

That win, as the Tribune's Morgan Smith reports, came Thursday night with the death of House Bill 400, a controversial piece of Republican-backed public education legislation.

House members had until midnight to preliminarily approve legislation, and HB 400 — waiting at the back of the pack as lawmakers spent the day scrambling to make last-minute pitches for their own bills — missed the deadline.

The bill would have would have lifted the state's 22-1 student-teacher class-size ratio in early grades, authorized unpaid furloughs for school district employees and altered requirements for teacher contract renewals. Democrats had already derailed the bill three times on technicalities, the last remaining weapon in their arsenal (which, as the Trib's Ross Ramsey writes today, the beleaguered party has had surprising — if short-lived — success at brandishing this session).

But the legislation's author, Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, said Thursday that the bill wasn't dead and that he'd try to attach it to another bill — a common move in the House after the preliminary-passage deadline.

Other legislation made it through the House under the wire: the so-called spanking bill (which failed Wednesday), a ban on synthetic marijuana and payday loan regulation.


  • Lacking votes in the full Senate to tap the Rainy Day Fund for the 2012-13 budget, the Senate Finance Committee has found nearly $800 million to cover the shortfall. The source? The … Rainy Day Fund. But the Austin American-Statesman reports that lawmakers' latest feat of fiscal acrobatics may not pass muster with the House and Gov. Rick Perry.
  • Still working a craft a final budget proposal that could make it out of the Legislature before the end of the session, lawmakers have another worry on their hands: 2013, when, according to the House's chief budget, money will run out for public schools and Medicaid.
  • The Trib's Reeve Hamilton has a look the state's top two university system chancellors' past week — one of whom announced his retirement amid rumors he'd been encouraged to leave, and the other who received unanimous support from regents after delivering a major speech.

"Mr. Zedler, do you like getting spanked?" — State Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco offering a bit of comic relief during House debate on a "spanking" bill, which Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, spoke against


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