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The Brief: May 14, 2013

With the end of the session drawing near, a possible crack in the budget stalemate has emerged.

House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, watches from the sidelines as debate continues on SB 1 on April 4, 2013.

The Big Conversation

With the end of the session drawing near, a possible crack in the budget stalemate has emerged.

Amid tension between the House and Senate over how to fund major budget items like water and transportation, state Rep. Jim Pitts, the House's chief budget writer, said late Monday that a Senate-backed measure that has struggled to win support in the House would be heard in committee, as The Dallas Morning News reports.

The proposal would draw $5.7 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund for water, transportation and education under a plan that would go on the ballot in November. House leaders have opposed the measure, saying lawmakers, not voters, should have to make the difficult decisions.

But Pitts on Monday sounded "less hostile" to the Senate proposal, as the Morning News notes, signaling possible movement between the two chambers. 

Whether the House will leave the Senate plan intact, however, remains unclear. In response to whispers that he would push to remove the transportation and education funding from the proposal, Pitts said, "Stay tuned, because we’ll be hearing it and may have a committee substitute."

Pressure on the House and Senate to work toward a compromise on the big items increased on Monday as leaders announced they had reached agreement on virtually every other issue, including financing for the beleaguered Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Gov. Rick Perry also recently pressed lawmakers on the matter, instructing them to send him a budget that includes $2 billion for water or face a potential special session.


•    House Tentatively Approves Morton Act, Sanctions for Prosecutors (The Texas Tribune): "As Michael Morton looked on in the House gallery, lawmakers on Monday approved two bills meant to ensure that wrongful convictions, like the one that put him behind bars for nearly 25 years, don't happen to others."

•    Cruz: IRS Scandal 'Harkens Back to the Days of Nixon,' Carney Guilty of 'Flat-out Falsehoods' (National Review): "Senator Ted Cruz says the IRS scandal 'harkens back to the days of Richard Nixon,' and proves that President Obama keeps an 'enemies list.' 'This is part of a distressing pattern of the Obama administration of being less than honest with the American people and using the machinery of government to target their political opponents,' Cruz tells National Review in an interview."

•    House Gives First OK to Campaign Disclosure Bill (The Texas Tribune): "A divisive measure requiring the disclosure of certain unreported political donors won early approval in the Texas House on Monday — denying, for the moment, the Texas Senate's desire to have it back in its clutches."

•    Texas gets $203 million to offset damage from BP spill (Austin American-Statesman): "Texas will receive $203 million over five years for coastal restoration projects to offset environmental damage caused when an offshore BP drilling operation exploded and leaked of millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, officials involved in the matter said Monday."

•    Solar bill stalls in Texas Senate after power industry opposition (The Dallas Morning News): "The push to expand solar power generation in Texas hit another roadblock Monday. Legislation that would have required power companies to buy excess electricity generated by home or small commercial solar systems was pulled from the state Senate calendar after opposition from the power industry."

Quote of the Day: "Democrats worship abortion with same fervor the Canaanites worshipped Molech." — U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, on Twitter, in response to the Kermitt Gosnell verdict on Monday


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