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The Brief: March 16, 2015

Legislative activity begins to ramp up in the two chambers this week with speculation rampant that the Senate might take up as early as today legislation that would allow permitted gun owners to carry handguns openly.

Anti-guns advocates inside Texas Capitol where the Senate Committee on State Affairs is listening to testimony SB 11 & SB ...

The Big Conversation

Legislative activity begins to ramp up in the two chambers this week with speculation rampant that the Senate might take up as early as today legislation that would allow permitted gun owners to carry handguns openly.

Enrique Rangel of the Amarillo Globe-News reports:

The proposed legislation, commonly known as “open carry,” is expected to pass in the Republican-dominated body because it was an issue Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — the presiding officer of the Senate — and a good number of GOP legislators campaigned on last year.

“I am very confident the Senate will pass the bill and we look forward to making it at the discretion of the licensee whether he is to carry concealed (or) open,” state Sen. Craig Estes said in reference to his Senate Bill 17.

On other proposed legislation to allow the carrying of handguns on college and university campuses, The Dallas Morning News' Tom Benning reports the proposal might have a smaller impact than most had thought. That's because of a limitation written into the bill.

Benning writes:

That’s partly because the contentious bill authored by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, would limit the privilege to those who have concealed handgun licenses. Texans must be at least 21 years old to get that license, a requirement that would disqualify a large portion of the student body.

Also, a small share of Texans of all ages acquire a gun license, and it’s likely that students, typically with limited incomes, acquire them at an even lower rate than the rest of the population.

A review of student demographics at five large public universities and gun license statistics show it’s likely less than 2 percent of students who could carry a gun on campus. For the student group that lives on campus, it might be only a couple of dozen students at a given school.

The Day Ahead

•    The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m. The House will consider an emergency calendar consisting of HB 10 by Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, addressing human trafficking.

•    Ron Simmons' HB 1288 eliminating straight-ticket voting is up for consideration in House Elections (E1.026).

•    The Senate border security subcommittee considers Chairman Brian Birdwell's omnibus border security bill, SB 3, and Charles Perry's sanctuary cities bill, SB 185 (E1.016). Senate State Affairs will take up Chairman Joan Huffman's SB 10, which would relocate the Public Integrity Unit to the Office of the Attorney General (Senate Chamber).

Trib Must-Reads

State Medicaid Investigations Produce Paltry Results, by Terri Langford

Texas Urged to Crack Down on Employers That Misclassify Workers, by Julián Aguilar

Analysis: When a Disclosure is No Disclosure at All, by Ross Ramsey

At SXSW, Paul Courts Nontraditional GOP Voters, by Patrick Svitek

Abbott Discusses Trade With Irish Prime Minister, by Bobby Blanchard

Capitalizing on SXSW, Greg Abbott Touts Texas Economy, by Patrick Svitek

Perry Goes Small in New Hampshire, by Abby Livingston

Cruz Heavy on Border Rhetoric, Light on Trips, by Alexa Ura

Elsewhere

Durst charged with murder, says on TV he 'killed them all', Houston Chronicle

Cruz Hunts for Conservative Support in N.H., Washington Post

Top Bush, Obama lawyers say Cruz is eligible for presidency, The Dallas Morning News

State incorrectly obscures millions of dollars in legal payments, Austin American-Statesman

Ex-lobbyist gives new details in 21CT scandal, says he was told to lie, Austin American-Statesman

Alamo changes raise possibilities, concerns, San Antonio Express-News

No legislative movement to erase an unconstitutional law opposed by LGBT community, Houston Chronicle

Republicans find religion on spending, San Antonio Express-News

Keeping sunshine on public information is an ongoing fight, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

"What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

Robert Durst, caught whispering to himself in an episode of an HBO documentary aired Sunday. Late Saturday, he was arrested in New Orleans and charged with murder in the death of his friend, Susan Berman.

Today in TribTalk

In defense of straight-ticket voting, by Wayne Thorburn

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Conversation With Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett on April 7 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. John Zerwas on April 16 at The Austin Club

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