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A New Group of Patrick Advisers Will Reach Out to Grassroots

Also, a Senate Higher Ed member defends tuition deregulation, and the latest school finance case still has a long way to go before a final resolution.

Parliamentarian Karina Davis watches as new Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gavels in the Texas Senate on Jan. 21, 2015.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has followed up on the creation of an advisory board of business leaders with the announcement of another panel aimed at coordinating directly with grassroots conservatives.

The 20-member group is chaired by JoAnn Fleming, head of Grassroots America-We the People and chairwoman of the Legislature’s TEA Party Caucus advisory committee.

Though there may be some overlap in members, Fleming said the TEA Party Caucus advisory committee would be a “totally separate” entity from the new grassroots board, which she said would focus specifically on the issues of education reform, immigration and tax relief.

For the 2015 session, Fleming said state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, will likely chair the Legislature’s TEA Party Caucus, with state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, serving as vice chairwoman.

Other members of note on the new lieutenant governor panel include Katrina Pierson, who challenged House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions in the GOP primary last year, and Dallas Tea Party organizer Ken Emanuelson.

Also on the board is Robin Lennon of the Kingwood TEA Party, who is part of an initiative pushing a legislative agenda geared toward transparency and paring back government tax and economic incentive programs.

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State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said he would likely not be for re-regulating tuition at higher education institutions in Texas this session — a convoluted issue that lawmakers are expected to address this session.

Perry, who was named to the Senate Higher Education Committee for the 84th legislative session, said he would need to study the issue more. But from what he's seen so far, Perry said he thought deregulating tuition has been better for Texas' higher education institutions.

However, Perry cast doubt on his support for the state's top 10 percent automatic admissions law, calling the number "arbitrary."

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Keying off the court’s announcement of a lengthy briefing schedule ahead of oral arguments in the latest challenge to the state’s school finance system, we thought it would be interesting to look at how long it took for the court to act in 2005 — the last time the system was declared unconstitutional.

Looking at the case timeline, the court agreed to hear the appeal on Feb. 18. The case was set for oral arguments on April 22, or a little more than two months afterward.

Oral arguments were heard on July 6 with the opinion handed down on Nov. 22.

In contrast, the court this time is allowing up to 80 days for the state to file its brief and up to 80 more days for the school districts to file their briefs. Another 40 days could be taken for responses.

Only afterward would oral arguments be set, possibly more than six months from today. In other words, it’s entirely possible a decision won’t come until well into next year. That could have interesting implications for the Legislature’s ability to find a remedy before the next regular session.

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