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The Brief: May 14, 2015

The long hours this week are a direct result of one of the first big end-of-session deadlines that hits today. The House has until the end of today to take initial action on any bill or resolution coming out of that chamber.

Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel and Speaker Joe Straus with several other House members on dias May 1, 2015

The Big Conversation

The House gaveled out a few minutes before 11 p.m. on Wednesday. That's a late night, for sure, but they're all but guaranteed to be meeting tonight until midnight.

The long hours this week are a direct result of one of the first big end-of-session deadlines that hits today. The House has until the end of today to take initial action on any bill or resolution coming out of that chamber. That means if a House bill hasn't gotten a vote by the stroke of midnight, it turns into the legislative equivalent of a pumpkin.

But aside from the long hours, urgency in the House might have been hard to detect on Wednesday. A pair of bills — one dealing with allocation of hotel-motel tax revenue and another dealing with governance of local school districts — died, but only after several hours of debate that ate up much of the afternoon.

And the evening was largely spent on a bill to make it more difficult for a minor to get an abortion without a parent's consent. That legislation received tentative approval from the House late Wednesday night.

“We are running out of time on a lot of bills,” state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Anna Tinsley. “Every six minutes that goes by, another bill dies. They are just dying and dying and dying. Some bills are already dead and nobody knows it yet.”

Trib Must-Reads

Lawmakers Consider E-Verify Mandate for State Agencies, by Julián Aguilar — A controversial immigration-enforcement bill similar to an executive order issued by former Gov. Rick Perry in December is moving forward in the Texas Legislature.

End of the Road for Tesla, Ride-For-Hire Bills, by Jim Malewitz and Ryan McCrimmon — With the clock winding down on the legislative session, Tesla Motors, Uber and Lyft have little to show for the money they spent on high-profile lobbying. As deadlines loom, the bills they were steering appear to have run out of gas.

Limited Contracting Fixes Moving Forward, by Aman Batheja — Amid a series of scandals, most lawmakers say they want to reform the way Texas hands out billions in state contracts. Discussion has narrowed to a handful of bills that some warn are merely first steps.

Latin American, Asian Figures Diverge in Texas Immigration Report, by Alexa Ura and Annie Daniel — Though people born in Latin American countries continue to make up the largest group of immigrants to Texas, their state numbers are decreasing while the rate of migration by Asian immigrants into Texas is rising sharply.

House OKs Bill Restricting Minors Seeking Abortions, by Alexa Ura — Minors seeking to obtain abortions without parental consent would face more restrictions under a bill that received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Texas House.

In Texas, Clinton Campaign Revs Up, by Patrick Svitek — Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign is revving up in ruby-red Texas, where donors and volunteers are beginning to organize.

Lawmaker "Encouraged" After Meeting With DPS Director, by Julián Aguilar — The state's public safety director says if lawmakers let him, he'll provide Rep. Cesar Blanco with data on security operations on the border. The move follows weeks of tense exchanges over how border security dollars are being spent.

Powerful Republican Slams "Superficial" Ethics Reform, by Jay Root — The already tortuous path for ethics reform at the Texas Capitol took another sharp turn Wednesday when a powerful House leader criticized the package passed by the Senate and praised by Gov. Greg Abbott two weeks ago.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 9 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m. It is the last day for the House to consider House bills and resolutions on second reading.

•    Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development takes up House Bill 942 by Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, which would regulate the storage of ammonium nitrate and require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to collect hazardous chemical reports filed by facility operators (E1.012).


House, Senate said to be close to deal on tax cuts, Houston Chronicle

Texas Democrats confident same-sex marriage bill can be stopped, Austin American-Statesman

House rejects bill to allow fast-growth schools to exceed tax limit, The Dallas Morning News

Bill to ban dark money in political campaigns faces House and Senate hurdles, San Antonio Express-News

Senate panel may soon propose changes to House pension fix, Austin American-Statesman

Tests on wells near earthquake epicenter are almost complete, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Four Texas Members of Congress Took Trip Secretly Funded by Foreign Government, The Washington Post

Hinojosa challengers attack amid ethics inquiry, but political consequences unclear, The Monitor

ICE says it will change its family detention policy, San Antonio Express-News

Hard to Find in Parts of Texas: A Top-Rated Nursing Home, Kaiser Health News

Quote to Note

“They have everyone running for office peeing in a cup. If the House is going to take this up, we’re going to do it in a meaningful way. We’re not going to minimize something as important as this.”

— State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, criticizing ethics legislation coming out of the Senate as "one of the most superficial efforts" he's ever seen

Today in TribTalk

One year in, by David Muto — We didn’t expect some of TribTalk’s most-read columns of the past year to catch fire the way they did. Neither did their authors.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    How'd the House Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 21 at The Austin Club

•    How'd the Senate Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 28 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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Byron Cook Dennis Bonnen Greg Abbott Joan Huffman Van Taylor