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The Evening Brief: June 21, 2013

Your evening reading: after dramatic hearing, House committee quietly approves abortion bills; Pitts says he has support to impeach UT regent; key vote on immigration bill in U.S. Senate set for Monday

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•    House Committee Quietly Approves Anti-Abortion Bills: "After abruptly ending hours of public testimony that went into the wee hours of Friday morning, the House State Affairs Committee reconvened on Friday and quietly approved House Bill 60, its companion, Senate Bill 5 — omnibus abortion restriction legislation — and a standalone measure to ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation, House Bill 16."

•    Pitts Working to Impeach Controversial UT System Regent: "State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, the House's chief budget writer and a critic of some current University of Texas System regents, said Friday he is confident he has the support needed to unseat UT Regent Wallace Hall."

•    House Debates Sentencing for 17-Year-Old Murderers: "Lawmakers are one step closer to fixing constitutional problems that have left prosecutors without any sentencing options for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder in Texas."

•    Tommy Williams: What Really Happened on the State Budget: "In a recent interview with The Texas Tribune, my colleague, state Sen. Dan Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, attempted to explain his vote against our no-new-tax balanced state budget that was approved by a supermajority of Republicans. … The problem with these comments is that Patrick was directly responsible for these same education programs not being funded. Such revisionism cannot go unchallenged."

•    Texas Democratic Officials Post "It Gets Better" Video: "Seventeen Democrats in the Texas Legislature participated in a new video offering support to gay teens. The video is the latest entry in the nationwide 'It Gets Better' campaign, which began in 2010."

•    Audie Murphy, a Hero Still Missing One Medal: "Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II, was awarded almost every ribbon and medal available. His name can be found on a commemorative postage stamp, a veterans’ hospital and even the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But Murphy’s home state has never bestowed its highest military award, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor. And for the second time in two years, an effort to give him one has fizzled."

•    UT/TT Poll: Partisan Splits on Guns in Texas"Support for criminal and mental health background checks on gun purchases is overwhelming in Texas, but voters are split when it comes to carrying concealed weapons on college campuses, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll."

•    Re-examining High School's Senior Year to Benefit Pre-K: "The senior year of high school, a time when students sometimes seem to be putting the focus on social rather than academic pursuits, is a periodic target of cost-cutting school boards and state Legislatures. One Texas school district is evaluating the 12th grade for a different purpose — not to reduce overall spending, but to fund prekindergarten."


•    After defeat of Cornyn amendment, what’s next for Senate immigration reform? (Houston Chronicle): "Sen. John Cornyn’s high-profile border security amendment was scuttled by the Senate Thursday amid political maneuvering that produced an even tougher enforcement proposal that would double the size of the Border Patrol and construct 700 miles of fencing. … Cornyn expressed his own displeasure after Thursday’s setback. The Texas senator said he felt 'shock and amazement' that the Gang of Eight would accept a new amendment that requires an additional 350 miles of border fencing and even more border patrol agents than the 5,000 Cornyn proposed — a whopping 20,000."

•    Countdown to immigration vote begins (Politico): "The Senate is rushing to the finish line on the Gang of Eight bill, setting up a key vote Monday that could clear the way to final passage of the immigration overhaul by the end of next week."

•    Farm Bill’s Fate in House Bodes Ill for Overhaul of Immigration (The New York Times): "Though both chambers have added more conservative Republican members over the last few election cycles and partisan divides have deepened, the House and Senate are set on disparate legislative trajectories that may well linger for the rest of this Congress and beyond, and may be a dark harbinger for immigration legislation."

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