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The Brief: Feb. 12, 2015

The debate over the expansion of rights to carry guns onto university campuses and openly with a permit moves from rallies outside the Capitol to legislative hearings inside the building today.

Almost forgotten in the midst of Texas Muslim Capitol Day, an open carry advocate displays his gun and the Israeli flag on Jan. 29, 2015.

The Big Conversation

The debate over the expansion of rights to carry guns onto university campuses and openly with a permit moves from rallies outside the Capitol to legislative hearings inside the building today.

The Tribune's Morgan Smith writes:

Groups on all sides of the fight over gun laws will testify at the hearing, where lawmakers are set to consider bills that would let permit holders carry holstered handguns openly ("open carry") and allow concealed handguns to be carried on university campuses ("campus carry"). 

Notably absent from the Senate committee’s agenda on Thursday is a so-called “constitutional carry” measure sponsored by Dallas Republican Don Huffines that would repeal handgun permitting rules altogether. The bill, which mirrors legislation championed by Bedford Republican Jonathan Stickland in the House, is favored by vocal factions within the gun rights movement.

Smith also reports that the tense atmosphere created by the issue has prompted one group that advocates for tighter restrictions on firearms to hire security to accompany its members at the Capitol today.

An unarmed, off-duty police officer will accompany representatives of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, Claire Larson, the president of the group's Texas chapter, confirmed Wednesday night. 

The group has received "death threats, threats of sexual violence, threats against our children," Larson said, and judged Thursday's hearing to be a circumstance in which extra security was needed.

"We just wanted somebody whose only job is to be looking out for us,"  Larson said. "We don’t have panic buttons in the halls of the Capitol."

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.

•    Senate State Affairs meets at 9 a.m. to consider legislation on campus carry and permit open carry (E1.016); Senate Nominations meets at 8 a.m. to consider nominees for secretary of state and HHS inspector general (2E.20); Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. to review the budgets for the Texas State, Texas Tech and University of North Texas systems (E1.036)

•    State Reps. Mary González, D-Clint; Donna Howard, D-Austin; and Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, will hold a 9 a.m. press conference at the Capitol to highlight legislation intended to support the multi-year Reproductive Health Care Access Campaign.

•    Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will interview House Appropriations Chairman John Otto, R-Dayton. The 8 a.m. event will take place at the Austin Club and will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person.

•    At noon, Smith will moderate a panel discussion on Houston and the Legislature. Panelists are state Sen. Sylvia Garcia and state Reps. Garnet Coleman, Jim Murphy and Debbie Riddle. The event will take place at the Wortham Center in Houston and will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person.

Trib Must-Reads

Virtual Doctors Making Medical Board Really Nervous, by Edgar Walters

Video: Campbell Takes Reins of Veterans Panel (w/ interview), by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn

Straus Says House Will Stand Up to Bullies, by Aman Batheja and Julián Aguilar

Proposal: Require Heart Screenings for Student Athletes, by Reeve Hamilton

Health Insurance Fund for Retired Teachers Drying Up, by Jim Malewitz

Cruz: Senators Have Presidential Edge on Foreign Policy, by Abby Livingston

Erroneous Toll Bills Fuel Criticism at Hearing, by Aman Batheja

After Ebola Scare, Bill Seeks to Fix Outbreak Response, by Ryan McCrimmon

DPS Chief: Border Surge Wears on Officers, Resources, by Julián Aguilar

Williams: "Conflict of Visions" on Educator Evaluations, by Morgan Smith


Cornyn gives his 'word:' no Homeland Security shutdown, Houston Chronicle

Ted Cruz’s immigration gambit, Politico

Joe Straus takes positions at odds with Dan Patrick, Austin American-Statesman

GOP senators pitch higher school property tax exemption, The Dallas Morning News

State should cover Hazlewood costs, lawmakers say, Houston Chronicle

State lawmaker looking to give Texas more clout in presidential primaries, San Antonio Express-News

Pollster joins likely Rick Perry campaign, Politico

Lawyer: ‘American Sniper’ said ex-Marine ‘straight-up nuts’, The Associated Press

New Lookout for Solar Storms Lifts Off on SpaceX Rocket, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“Texas House members aren’t going to be bullied."

— House Speaker Joe Straus, in a Wednesday afternoon interview with UT-Austin political science professor and Tribune pollster Jim Henson on physical and political threats coming from conservative activists

Today in TribTalk

Why "drill, baby, drill" was right, by Sarah Palin

News From Home

During the legislative session, we're compiling "hot lists" of issues across key policy areas. This week, the featured list on our Lege page is Higher Ed. Subscribe to our Trib+Edu newsletter for more education news.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club

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

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

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Health care Higher education Politics Public education Charles Schwertner Dan Patrick Joe Straus Rick Perry Ted Cruz