The Big Conversation
A resounding pro-gun message emanated from Texas over the weekend.
On Friday, the National Rifle Association opened its annual convention in Houston, where members heard from pro-gun advocates like Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, outspoken rock musician Ted Nugent and the association's controversial CEO, Wayne LaPierre.
Perry, who was introduced by video footage of him shooting targets, trumpeted the state's pro-gun policies, while Cruz touted his fight in Washington against new federal gun regulations and challenged Vice President Joe Biden to a debate over gun control.
"I would think he would welcome the opportunity to talk about the sources of violent crime and how we can do everything we can to stop it," Cruz said of Biden, who may be planning another push for new federal gun control laws.
Meanwhile, in Austin, the state House on Saturday offered its own show of support for gun rights, giving early approval to a raft of bills that would further loosen Texas gun laws.
After heated debate, lawmakers passed House Bill 972, by state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, which would allow licensed college students to carry weapons into buildings on campus. The controversial legislation, however, faces long odds in the Senate.
Lawmakers also approved Republican-authored bills that would allow schools to hire marshals and give the state the authority to ignore any new federal restrictions on gun rights.
Democrats succeeded only once in derailing any of the gun bills, knocking down legislation by state Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, that would have let Texans use a concealed handgun license as a valid form of ID, as The Dallas Morning News reports.
• South Carolina crowd embraces Ted Cruz, but is he seasoned enough for White House? (The Dallas Morning News): "Ronald Reagan starred at the first Silver Elephant Dinner and went on to become president. Sen. Ted Cruz got that spotlight Friday night, invited by state party leaders who oversee the first-in-the-South primary. Whether he viewed it as a useful stopover on the way to the White House — and he and aides insisted he did not — many in the audience did. South Carolina Republicans value their outsize clout in the nomination process, and many came to scope out the young tea party darling from Texas."
• 'Governor' Van de Putte an advocate for equality (San Antonio Express-News): "Sights and sounds of San Antonio poured into the Texas Senate on Saturday as state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte became governor for a day. The San Antonio Democrat beamed from the dais, looking out at supporters. Music from an all-female mariachi band, Mariachi Damas de Jalisco of San Antonio, flooded the upper chamber."
• President Obama to visit Manor school (Austin American-Statesman): "White House officials say President Barack Obama will visit Manor New Tech High School, local technology businesses and entrepreneurs and middle class workers during his trip to Austin on Thursday. The focus of the president’s trip is economic growth and the need to invest in jobs, skills and opportunities, said Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. The president’s stop in Austin part of his Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity tours, he said."
• Perry Asks UIL for Investigation (The Texas Tribune): "Gov. Rick Perry asked the University Interscholastic League on Friday to investigate why a high school track team was disqualified after one of the student athletes made what his father called a religious gesture."
Quote of the Day: "I think he is the most talented and fearless Republican politician I've seen in the last 30 years. I further think that he's going to run for president and he is going to create something." — Democratic strategist James Carville discussing Ted Cruz on ABC's This Week
- Texas has much at stake in voting rights ruling, San Antonio Express-News
- Battleground Texas wraps up 1st phase; now hard part begins, Austin American-Statesman
- Texas plant that blew up carried $1M policy, The Associated Press
- Lege Divided on Abortion Finds Rare Harmony in Women's Health Care, The Texas Tribune