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The Brief: March 18, 2015

A bill allowing the carrying of handguns on college and university campuses wasn't heard on the Senate floor on Tuesday because of a paperwork error. But it is expected to be heard today and will likely pass.

Sen. Joan Huffman R-Houston

The Big Conversation

A bill allowing the carrying of handguns on college and university campuses wasn't heard on the Senate floor on Tuesday because of a paperwork error. But it is expected to be heard today and will likely pass.

The Houston Chronicle's Lauren McGaughy wrote that SB 11 was delayed because of "inaccuracies on the witness list that came out of committee." Such an error would open up the bill to a point of order that would knock the bill back to committee if those problems weren't fixed beforehand.

Still, McGaughy noted that the bill remains a near lock to head to the House. She writes, "The proposal is nearly guaranteed to pass, since it boasts a super-majority of 19 co-sponsors in the upper chamber. It passed easily by a partisan vote of 7-2 out of committee, where (Sen. Brian) Birdwell and other supporters rejected Democrats' calls to include a provision allowing public universities to opt out of the law if it passes."

Trib Must-Reads

Bill Would Prohibit Doctors From Asking About Guns, by Edgar Walters — State Rep. Stuart Spitzer is afraid the federal government can use medical records to identify gun owners. Over the objections of the medical community, he has filed a bill that would prohibit doctors from asking patients whether they own a firearm.

Map: Texas Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Providers, by Alexa Ura and Becca Aaronson — The Senate's proposed changes to the state's breast and cervical cancer screening program — intended to cut funding for Planned Parenthood clinics — could hit low-income women in rural and West Texas hardest. Use our map to see how.

The Tribune's Higher Education Explorer Gets an Update, by Christopher Chang and Kathryn Beaty — We've updated our Higher Ed Explorer, your go-to source for key statistics on how well Texas' 148 public and private colleges and universities perform. This easy-to-navigate interactive database lets you explore key academic, enrollment and cost records on all of Texas' institutions of higher learning.

State Could Pay for Special Needs Students to Transfer, by Eva Hershaw — Under a bill before lawmakers Tuesday, the state would expand an existing program to pay if special needs students need to transfer out of schools that aren't serving their individual needs.

TxDOT Refunding $1.7 Million for Botched Toll Bills, by Aman Batheja — Billing problems on state toll roads are bigger than TxDOT previously announced, and customers who have been overcharged will be getting about $1.7 million back.

Tax Cut Measures Headed to Full Senate, by Aman Batheja — The Senate Finance Committee voted Tuesday to send proposals cutting property taxes and business taxes to the full Senate, though some senators questioned whether the property tax cuts could be better spent in other ways.

Bill Creating Graduation Panels Passes Texas Senate, by Morgan Smith — High school seniors who have failed their state exams may still have a shot at earning a diploma. A bill providing them a way around the requirement continues to advance in the Texas Legislature.

House Committee Takes Up Open Carry, Campus Carry Bills, by Ryan McCrimmon — One day after the Texas Senate voted to loosen state handgun regulations, a House committee Tuesday considered proposals to allow the open carry of handguns with a license and the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. The House is expected to take up HB 11, the omnibus border security bill by Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton. The Senate is expected to take up a campus carry bill — SB 11authored by 19 Senate Republicans.

•    House Higher Education meets at 8 a.m. to take up legislation to authorize tuition revenue bonds for building projects at college and university campuses (E2.014). House Criminal Jurisprudence meets on adjournment; one bill up for consideration — HB 1627 by Garnet Coleman, D-Houston — would tweak the "stand your ground" law (E2.030). House State Affairs meets on final adjournment; one bill up for consideration — HB 468 by Mary González, D-Clint — would make it easier for teen parents to obtain birth control (JHR 140).

•    Senate Higher Education meets at 9 a.m.; a vote is expected on Chairman Kel Seliger's SB 177 that would further define regents' roles and responsibilities in governance of colleges and universities (E1.012). Senate State Affairs meets at 8 a.m.; one bill up for consideration — SB 694 by Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston — would expand the ability of terminally ill patients to get access to drugs that have not yet been fully approved by the FDA (Senate Chamber).

Elsewhere

Texas lost its spot as the nation’s top job creator in January, The Dallas Morning News

Lethal drug details secret under House bill, Houston Chronicle

State starts using big data for child protection, Austin American-Statesman

Ted Cruz ventures into the lamestream media, Washington Post

Garcia: Hurd prepares to have voters grade his paper, San Antonio Express-News

Straight-party voting bill debated before Texas House committee, The Dallas Morning News

Sources: Adrian Garcia to run for Houston mayor, Houston Chronicle

Quicksilver Resources files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rural Hospitals, One Of The Cornerstones Of Small Town Life, Face Increasing Pressure, Kaiser Health News

Quote to Note

"When we've seen botched executions in other states and with the United States Supreme Court looking at the constitutionality of lethal injection, this is not the time to shut the doors and evade transparency."

— Attorney Maurie Levin, criticizing a push by some Texas House members to keep confidential information on the makers of execution drugs

Today in TribTalk

A real fix for Texas' traffic problems, by Scott Haywood — A patchwork of one-time funding jolts to our state’s transportation system isn’t sustainable. We need predictable, long-term sources of revenue.

Would LBJ have supported marriage equality?, by Mark K. Updegrove — Johnson’s keen sense of social justice tells me that if he were alive today, he’d view the gay marriage fight in much the same way he saw civil rights in the 1960s.

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

•    Transportation: The Next Five Years on April 10 at Austin College in Sherman

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

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