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The Brief: May 10, 2013

After President Obama's visit to Austin put Texas in the spotlight on Thursday, attention turned back to the state Capitol, where a major deadline loomed.

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The Big Conversation

After President Barack Obama's visit to Austin put Texas in the spotlight on Thursday, attention turned back to the state Capitol, where a major deadline loomed.

On the same day Obama swept through the capital city, visiting two area businesses, a school and a barbecue restaurant, the House faced a midnight deadline to pass bills before the end of the legislative session.

The deadline ultimately claimed dozens of bills, including, as expected, several anti-abortion measures and legislation pushing an alternative to Medicaid expansion. (Check out our recent House bills app to see which legislation didn't survive.)

A sluggish day in the House, however, belied the high stakes.

"There’s no sense of urgency," state Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told The Dallas Morning News. "This is the first week of the session we’ve even stayed past dinner time."

Stalling, or "chubbing," as it's called in the Lege, helped kill several bills; others, like a proposal to raise vehicle registration fees to help fund transportation projects, were pulled due to a lack of support.

Still, many bills made the cut, including one by Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, that would make it a misdemeanor to use drones to surveil private property.

The House and Senate, meanwhile, are still fighting over how to pay for $2 billion in new water projects, though the chief budget writer in the House says a compromise will be reached before the end of the session.

Culled

•    Ted Cruz tried to boost border security in immigration bill (The Dallas Morning News): "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tried to add significant security resources along the U.S.-Mexico border as a Senate committee debated immigration legislation Thursday, but his amendment was rejected. Cruz proposed tripling the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border and quadrupling equipment, 'including cameras, sensors, drones and helicopters,' within three years. He also would have required that 700 miles of border fence called for in a 2006 law be finished."

•    After Plant Explosion, Texas Remains Wary of Regulation (The New York Times): "As federal investigators sift through the rubble at the West Fertilizer Company plant seeking clues about the April 17 blast that killed at least 14 people and injured roughly 200 others, some here argue that Texas’ culture itself contributed to the calamity."

•    Chemical Depots Fall Under a Patchwork of Rules (The Texas Tribune): "As the authorities continue to investigate the cause of the West explosion, and state and federal lawmakers discuss whether new regulations and greater oversight are needed, stockpiles of chemicals stored in communities across the state are the subject of intense concern."

•    UT regents approve $334.5 million plan for medical school (Austin American-Statesman): "University of Texas System regents Thursday approved a $334.5 million plan for the first phase of developing a medical school at the southern edge of the Austin campus. The action, which was expected, came as the Board of Regents wound up a two-day meeting in Austin. The regents also authorized their staff to negotiate what is expected to be a long-term lease of 4.8 acres of the area in question to Central Health, Travis County’s health care district, for a new teaching hospital."

Quote of the Day: "He didn’t go to Detroit. He didn’t go to Chicago. He didn’t go to some of the cities in California that have been declared bankrupt. He came to Austin, Texas, and he came here because we are a success story." — Gov. Rick Perry on the president's visit to Austin on Thursday

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