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The Brief: Jan. 27, 2015

Guns were a big topic of conversation inside the Capitol and outside of it on Monday.

Chris Way and his son Ryan, 2, participate in an open carry march on March 12, 2014 during the South by Southwest festival. The event was led by the Austin chapter of Come and Take It.

The Big Conversation

Guns were a big topic of conversation inside the Capitol and outside of it on Monday.

Nineteen of the 20 Republicans in the Senate filed legislation on Monday that would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry on public college campuses. The show of strength was a clear signal that Republicans in the chamber feel they have the votes to push campus carry legislation all the way to enactment.

Helping their efforts was the move last week to change the rules of the Senate to make it easier to bring up legislation.

"Last session, a weaker version of campus carry — allowing state college and university campuses to opt out of allowing guns — failed in the Senate when supporters were unable to get 21 senators to agree to a floor vote on a House-passed bill," wrote Chuck Lindell of the Austin American-Statesman. "New rules this session, however, require only 19 senators to allow a floor vote. What’s more, in the 2013 session, several Democratic senators said Republican colleagues had asked them to help kill campus carry. Such strong GOP support in 2015 would seem to preclude a repeat this session."

Meanwhile, a group that advocates for allowing the open carry of handguns without a permit, also known as constitutional carry, rallied outside the Capitol, according to the Houston Chronicle's Lauren McGaughy. They were joined by state Reps. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, and Molly White, R-Belton, as well as a survivor of the 2009 Fort Hood shootings.

The protesters made their position known by brandishing empty gun holsters, with some of them filled by bananas, copies of the Constitution or cans of hairspray, per a report from The Associated Press' Jim Vertuno.

Still to be determined is whether open carry activists can coalesce around a single legislative approach this session. Other advocates are pushing for allowing open carry with a permit, more like what exists today with a concealed handgun license.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m.

•    The canvass for the HD-13 special election will be held at 4 p.m. at the Governor's Mansion. With this action, the governor will be free to set a date for the runoff to settle the contest.

•    A consortium of civil liberties groups holds a briefing in the Capitol extension on consequences of proposed constitutional amendments that would replace the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1999.

•    House Speaker Joe Straus at 5:30 p.m. will address the Texas Society of CPAs legislative reception marking the 100-year anniversary of the CPA profession, the TSCPA and the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.

•    Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick drops by the Austin Club for a conversation with Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith. We will livestream the 8 a.m. event for those unable to attend in person.

Trib Must-Reads

The Health Care Budget: Four Things to Know, by Edgar Walters

Democrats Set to Play Defense on Immigration, by Julián Aguilar

Funding Concerns Surround Veterans Tuition Program, by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn

Judge Rules Against State in Hazlewood Case, by Reeve Hamilton

Analysis: It's Not Bribery Unless They Say It's Bribery, by Ross Ramsey

Texas Bikers Know How to Be Heard at Capitol, by Ryan McCrimmon

Tea Party Leaders Will Advise Patrick on Key Issues, by Morgan Smith

Sen. Nelson Looks to Strengthen Contracting Oversight, by Bobby Blanchard

Abbott to Deliver State of the State Address on Feb. 17, by Reeve Hamilton

Perry Courts the Jewish Vote in Iowa, by Abby Livingston


Glenn Hegar defends revenue, oil estimates, Austin American-Statesman

Texas’ Flores steers huge GOP bloc, trying to keep it intact, The Dallas Morning News

U.S. Spies on Millions of Cars, Wall Street Journal

Koch Brothers Budget of $889 Million for 2016 Is on Par With Both Parties’ Spending, The New York Times

The rise of 'scam PACs', Politico

The Power of Two, National Journal

Kaufman DA killer seeks new trial, citing newly discovered ‘brain damage’, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"It's a little silly, bananas, if you will, that I can't carry a handgun at my side."

Jason Green of Texarkana to The Associated Press on stuffing his gun holster with two bananas at an open carry rally at the Texas Capitol on Monday

Today in TribTalk

7 takeaways from Iowa, by Jennifer Rubin

News From Home

During the legislative session, our reporters are compiling "hot lists" of issues across nearly a dozen different policy areas. This week, the featured hot list on our Lege page is Social Issues. Follow our curated lists to stay updated on what we're covering.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Adm. William McRaven, UT System Chancellor on Feb. 5 at The Austin Club

•    Houston & the Legislature: Previewing the 84th Session on Feb. 12 at the Wortham Center in Houston

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro on Feb. 19 at The Austin Club

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

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Health care Higher education Politics Bill Flores Dan Patrick Glenn Hegar Greg Abbott Jane Nelson Joe Straus Rick Perry