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The Brief: April 28, 2015

The House is set to consider its tax relief package today as the impasse between its approach emphasizing a cut to the sales tax rate and the Senate's recipe that relies on a property tax reduction shows no sign of resolution.

Texas House Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, talks over amendments to border security legislation on March 1, 2015.

The Big Conversation

The House is set to consider its tax relief package today as the impasse between its approach emphasizing a cut to the sales tax rate and the Senate's recipe that relies on a property tax reduction shows no sign of resolution.

As the Austin American-Statesman's Kiah Collier reports, House Speaker Joe Straus did not refer the Senate's tax bills to committee last week. On Saturday, 90 members of the House GOP Caucus released a letter affirming support for the House's own tax plan.

The move, Collier wrote, "is likely to exacerbate tensions with the Senate, where (Lt. Gov. Dan) Patrick — who presides over the upper chamber — has said he would reject a state budget that doesn’t cut property taxes, which he argues is essential amid skyrocketing appraisals in cities like Austin."

Trib Must-Reads

Gay Marriage Cases Giving Republicans Jitters, by Bobby Blanchard — With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments in four same-sex marriage cases on Tuesday, Texas Republicans are already looking for loopholes in hopes of getting around a possible decision that effectively legalizes gay marriage.

A Look at the Priority Bills for Straus and Patrick, by Aman Batheja, Morgan Smith and Becca Aaronson — Here's an updated breakdown of House Bills 1-20 and Senate Bills 1-20, showing where House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are placing their priorities for the 84th legislative session.

Federal Appeals Court to Scrutinize Voter ID Law, by Jim Malewitz — Arguments over whether Texas’ voter ID law was written to intentionally discriminate against minority voters are up before a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Tuesday.

Inmate Set for Execution Seeks Supreme Court Stay, by Terri Langford — Lawyers for a Texas inmate convicted of capital murder in the 1999 stabbing death of a prison guard, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his Tuesday execution.

Health Agency Mergers Get House Look, by Edgar Walters — The House Human Services Committee heard testimony Monday evening on a bill that would partially consolidate the state’s massive health and human services system.

Video: Gov. Greg Abbott Reports for Jury Duty, by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn — Gov. Greg Abbott answered a jury duty summons on Monday afternoon, reporting to the Travis County criminal court building in downtown Austin. After about two hours of waiting and chatting with fellow potential jurors, he learned he was not selected.

Wining and Dining Disclosure Bills Advance, by Jay Root — Bills designed to shed more light on wining and dining of politicians by lobbyists and contractors advanced in the Texas Legislature on Monday.

Lawmakers Look to Ban Abortion From Health Plans, by Alexa Ura — Health insurers could be prohibited from offering Texans plans covering abortions under a proposal by Republican state Sen. Larry Taylor of Friendswood.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m. The House's chief tax writer, Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen, has his sales and business franchise tax cut bills scheduled for floor debate today.

•    The Legislature's budget conferees meet at 8:30 a.m. for an organizational meeting (E1.030).

•    House Public Health takes up medical marijuana bills at its 8 a.m. hearing (E2.012). House Administration takes up a resolution at it 8:30 a.m. meeting to authorize a monument at the Capitol complex to honor veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a bill to regulate unmanned aircraft in the Capitol complex (E1.014).

•    House Public Education takes up SB 6, which would assign A-F grades to school districts and campuses (E2.036). House Culture, Recreation & Tourism takes up a trio of bills at its 2 p.m. hearing designating official state hashtags for the Legislature, the state and Texas tourism (E1.010).

•    Senate Business and Commerce takes up legislation on regulation of payday lenders and requiring participation by state agencies in the federal E-verify system to ensure employee eligibility (E1.016). Senate Criminal Justice takes up at its 1:30 p.m. hearing HB 10, legislation designed to aid efforts to combat human trafficking in the state (E1.016).


Lawsuit filed in crash involving San Antonio mayor, San Antonio Express-News

Near 100 days, Lt. Gov. Patrick leads with rightward push, Wichita Falls Times Record News

Texas Senate committee to consider ban on texting while driving, Houston Chronicle

Tough ethics bills may hit too close to home for Texas Legislature, The Dallas Morning News

House OKs curbing budget writers’ use of accounting ruse, stopping it entirely in six year, The Dallas Morning News

House passes bill requiring colleges create campus sexual assault policies, Houston Chronicle

Lege tackles 'upskirt’ law rewrite, San Antonio Express-News

Texas lawmakers address hairy issues, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Meeting does little to sway critics of Army training in Bastrop County, Austin American-Statesman

Bruce Alger, firebrand Republican congressman from Texas, dies at 96, The Washington Post

Quote to Note

"We will simply say, not in Texas.”

— State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, to BuzzFeed News on how he expects Texas lawmakers to react should the U.S. Supreme Court rule that same-sex marriage is protected by the U.S. Constitution. He added that he didn't think "the Supreme Court has enforcement authority” in the matter.

Today in TribTalk

What it's like to be transgender at the Texas Capitol, by Caomhán N. Ó Raghallaigh — I needed to be present at the Texas Capitol as I went through my physical transition — to be seen, to be available to answer questions, to give those in power a chance to know a transgender person in real life.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Rep. Sylvester Turner on April 30 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With HUD Secretary Julián Castro on May 1 at The Austin Club

•    A One-Day Symposium on Health Care on May 4 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin

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

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dennis Bonnen on May 13 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club

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Dan Patrick Dennis Bonnen Greg Abbott Joe Straus Larry Taylor