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Session Hits Cruising Speed

The "Former Fetus" flap highlights the divide between House leadership and the Tea Party wing.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford.

Little doubt remains that the legislative session is now humming along.

Looking at our coverage of the week, there was a big day in House Public Ed with six pre-K bills and more than 40 witnesses taking most of Tuesday.

Then the next couple of days saw rallies outside the Capitol by supporters of Planned Parenthood and Medicaid expansion.

The Planned Parenthood rally, of course, garnered even more attention after Bedford Republican Jonathan Stickland made headlines for protesting in unexpected fashion the Capitol visit by that group’s supporters.

Stickland took advantage of the spotlight (and the fact he was disciplined by Speaker lieutenant Charlie Geren) to throw down a marker that he and his Tea Party colleagues wouldn’t look kindly on their agenda being sidelined by the House leadership.

Stickland told Tim Eaton of the Austin American-Statesman, “We are about to start cutting each other to shreds.”

This intraparty split inside the House was signaled on the first day of session when opponents of Speaker Joe Straus went against tradition and insisted on a recorded vote.

While Stickland’s “Former Fetus” sign made headlines this week, what he said afterward might be of greater portent heading into the meat-grinder portion of session.

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The Right on Crime campaign announced this week that former Gov. Rick Perry has joined the effort.

The national initiative has gathered conservatives together in an effort to reform criminal justice programs to promote prison diversion programs. The campaign has its roots in the work of Marc Levin, a policy analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Perry, who is expected to decide on a second presidential run in two or three months, notably said in his farewell address to the Legislature in January, “Over the years I have come to see our approach to nonviolent drug offenders as flawed.”

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Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has gone to Texas … to store his papers.

UT’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History announced Monday that Richardson, who did turns as a congressman, U.N. ambassador and Cabinet secretary in addition to governor, will turn over to the center his professional and political papers.

There could be much in those papers to interest scholars. As a diplomat and envoy, he conducted high-profile negotiations with governments in North Korea, Cuba, Iraq and Sudan.

He also ran for president in 2008.

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From the Department of Firsts … Greg Abbott meets on Sunday with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny — his first meeting as governor with a foreign prime minister.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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