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The Evening Brief: May 20, 2013

Your evening reading: uncertainty lingers over budget deal as votes loom; dispute over innocence commission bill threatens to derail other legislation; UT regent nominees grilled at hearing

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, moves away from the podium after moving to briefly postpone…

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Budget Agreement Hinges on Key Legislation: "As House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts expressed optimism that the Legislature would approve a budget in time to avoid a special session, others were still expressing uncertainty as a pair of critical votes were set to take place Monday."

•    Innocence Commission Clash Impacting Other Bills: "A battle over legislation that would create an innocence commission to review wrongful conviction has turned personal — and potentially deadly for a handful of bills authored by state Sen. Joan Huffman."

•    UT Regent Nominees Face Questions About Powers: "University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers was a popular topic Monday as the Senate Nominations Committee had several questions for the three nominees for the UT System's Board of Regents."

•    Lizard Protection Bill Caught in Oil Politics: "Top Republicans say Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has teamed up with major oil company interests to fight reforms of species protection programs."

•    Smart Meter Resistance Rises as Towns Say No: "Smart electricity meters have long been criticized by those who say they present a health risks and infringe on individual rights. Now, with legislative action to allow property owners to deny meters failing, municipalities are picking up the slack."

Culled

•    House rejects measure to detach their pensions from judge pay (The Dallas Morning News): "The House just rejected an amendment by Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, to detach lawmaker pensions from the pay of district judges in order to avoid raising their own pensions in the budget."

•    Shark fin ban stalls in Senate (San Antonio Express-News): "A bill to criminalize Texan fishers who possess or sell a shark fin appears to be dead in Senate waters. Sponsored by Sen. Juan 'Chuy' Hinojosa, D-McAllen, House Bill 852 was approved by the Texas House but was taken down after being introduced Monday morning."

•    Ted Poe leads new push for federal press shield law amid rising optimism the legislation will pass (Houston Chronicle): "Amid swelling criticism of the Obama administration for seizing reporters’ phone records without a court order, Texas Rep. Ted Poe is among several lawmakers renewing calls for a federal press shield law."

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