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The Brief: April 16, 2015

For all the talk about undocumented immigrants qualifying for in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities, it turns out that these students make up a very small portion of the college-going population.

Students arrive in caps & gowns to Texas Capitol on April 6th, 2015. The Senate sub-committee on border security will listen to testimony on SB #1819 relating to determination of resident status of students by public institutions of higher education

The Big Conversation

For all the talk about undocumented immigrants qualifying for in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities, it turns out that these students make up a very small portion of the college-going population.

The Tribune's Alexa Ura and Jolie McCullough ran the numbers and found a total of 24,760 undocumented students paying in-state tuition. That's 1.87 percent of the total number of enrolled students in the state.

And here's another surprising number. The vast majority of those students paying in-state tuition are doing so at community colleges rather than four-year institutions. The ratio breaks down to 71.6 percent of undocumented students on in-state rates attending community college against 28.3 percent who are attending a four-year school.

The school with the most enrolled undocumented students? Dallas Community College with 3,691 students, making up 8.7 percent of the overall student population. Check out the story for an interactive graphic that allows you to look up the number of undocumented students receiving in-state tuition at specific universities and community colleges in 2013.

Trib Must-Reads

State Readies for Court Battle in New Orleans, by Julián Aguilar — Two months after a Brownsville-based federal judge halted President Obama's immigration program, attorneys for Texas will try to convince a three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to keep it on hold.

Analysis: A Senate Trying to Regulate its Own Spending, by Ross Ramsey — The Texas Senate wants to limit growth in the state budget — by adding a fifth spending limit to state law.

Cruz Nets $4.3M With Help of Texas' Top GOP Donors, by Patrick Svitek — In early campaign fundraising, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is adding some deep-pocketed Texas donors to the loyal base of small givers backing his presidential bid.

Lawmaker Says Death Penalty in Jeopardy, by Terri Langford — If the names of the compounding pharmacies providing execution drugs to Texas officials are made public, it could end the death penalty, state Rep. John Smithee told a house committee on Wednesday.

"Parent Trigger" School Bill Clears Texas Senate, by Morgan Smith — If a public school isn't getting the job done, parents would have greater power to demand changes under legislation passed by the Texas Senate on Wednesday.

Universities Plead for Help With Hazlewood, by Matthew Watkins — School officials say the cost of providing free tuition for veterans and their dependents is growing at an unsustainable pace. Lawmakers in the House are considering tweaks to the law.

Lawmakers Consider End-of-Life Care for Pregnant Women, by Alexa Ura — The family of the late Marlise Muñoz, a pregnant Fort Worth woman who in 2013 was kept on life support against her family’s wishes, asked state lawmakers on Wednesday to help prevent other families from going through similar trauma.

Senators Approve Partial Consolidation of Health Agencies, by Edgar Walters — The Texas Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved a measure to partially consolidate the state’s massive health and human services system.

Analysis: Abbott Wants a Tax Cut Without Picking Sides, by Ross Ramsey — As the House and Senate continue their "robust discussion" over whether to cut sales or property taxes, Gov. Greg Abbott touted his own preference, along with a way to avoid the fight: business tax cuts, along with whatever legislators decide.

Abbott Refuses to Take Sides on Tax Cuts, by Jay Root — Gov. Greg Abbott refused to pick sides Wednesday in a growing squabble over how best to cut state taxes, and moved away from an earlier promise to “insist” that Texas lawmakers cut property taxes before the session ends on June 1.

Shark Fin Ban Back on the House Menu, by Ryan McCrimmon — A proposal to ban the trade of shark fins in Texas sailed through the Texas House on Wednesday, but it faces choppier waters ahead: the Texas Senate, where similar legislation foundered in 2013.

Lawmakers in No Rush to Disclose Wining and Dining, by Jay Root — Two bills aimed at disclosure of lobbyist wining and dining are on the verge of being snuffed out in a Senate committee, according to the sponsor of the measures. That's despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s vow to “dedicate this session to ethics reform."

School Finance Plan Praised in Capitol Hearing, by Morgan Smith — A plan to overhaul the state’s public education funding system from a top House lawmaker received largely favorable reviews from school districts during a marathon legislative hearing that ended late Tuesday night.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m. On the House calendar is a proposed constitutional amendment by Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, allowing charitable raffles at professional sports events.

•    Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will interview state Sen. Kel Seliger, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and state Rep. John Zerwas, chairman of the House Higher Education Committee. The 8 a.m. breakfast conversation at the Austin Club will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person.


Senator urges Public Integrity Unit to reopen probe of DPS contracts, Austin American-Statesman

Dems force Medicaid expansion onto Senate floor, but it did not go well, Houston Chronicle

Anchia: Texas should list both same-sex parents on adopted children’s new birth records, The Dallas Morning News

Texas high-speed-rail plan on collision course with opposition, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas tea party day highlights legislative wins – and Capitol tension, Houston Chronicle

Texas executes San Antonio man for killing police officer, The Associated Press

Lumberman who became legendary conservationist dies at 73, Austin American-Statesman

Conservative Leaders Plan Two Secret Meetings Aimed at Picking a 2016 Candidate, National Journal

Quote to Note

“I just don’t want somebody to be called a criminal just because they can’t get to school.”

— State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, on the need for his bill that ends criminal penalties for truancy. The legislation passed the Senate on Wednesday.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Energy: The Next Five Years on April 24 at at SMU in Dallas

•    A Conversation With John Sharp on May 7 at The Austin Club

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Greg Abbott Jane Nelson John Smithee John Whitmire Rafael Anchia Ted Cruz