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The Brief: May 26, 2015

The House faces a major deadline today; it's the last day to take up contested Senate bills and, as such, the session promises to last until the clock strikes midnight. It doesn't help that a major backlog of controversial legislation awaits House members.

Empty Texas House seat with paperwork, May 1, 2015.

The Big Conversation

The House faces a major deadline today; it's the last day to take up contested Senate bills and, as such, the session promises to last until the clock strikes midnight. It doesn't help that a major backlog of controversial legislation awaits House members.

One of those bills is legislation advocated by many gun rights activists that would knock down prohibitions on carrying concealed handguns on college and university campuses. The Tribune's Morgan Smith reports that in advance of the anticipated floor debate, an opponent of campus carry, state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, released correspondence with University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, also a campus carry opponent.

In that correspondence, McRaven said in part that adopting campus carry could hurt his university's ability to recruit top professors because of college faculty's widespread dislike of campus carry policies.

Also up for consideration today is a far-reaching piece of ethics legislation. Complicating the matter here is that the House and Senate have taken sharply different approaches to crafting ethics reform.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dave Montgomery writes that the House has made waves by introducing a provision designed to force disclosure of so-called dark money given by unidentified donors to political nonprofits. The move has angered the bill's Senate author, who said it unacceptably infringes on the free-speech right to spend money to influence political campaigns.

With other controversial bills addressing Travis County's public integrity unit and the ability of certain health plans to cover abortion services, the potential for multiple standoffs among lawmakers is high. Also, any one of these could create a time-wasting logjam dooming bills waiting in line behind it on the calendar.

Trib Must-Reads

Accident Secrecy Provision Likely to Be Stripped, Author Says, by Terri Langford — A late-night amendment aimed at keeping secret the names of parties involved in traffic accidents parties is expected to be stripped out of a bill targeting overzealous tort lawyers, its sponsor conceded Monday.

Senate Backs House on In-Person Inmate Visitation, by Eva Hershaw — Inmates in some Texas county jails may no longer have to speak to loved ones on a video screen, after the Senate voted today to pass a House measure guaranteeing a minimum of two 20-minute, in-person visitations per week.

House Votes to Keep Grid Decisions in Texas, by Jim Malewitz — The state House on Monday voted to make sure Texans have the final say over who gets to connect to the Texas’ near-island of an electric grid.

Senate Clears Bill Restricting Minors Seeking Abortions, by Alexa Ura — After four hours of debate and more than a dozen failed amendments by Democrats, the Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to far-reaching restrictions on minors seeking abortions in Texas without parental consent.

E-Verify Bill One Step Closer to Abbott's Desk, by Julián Aguilar — The Texas House on Monday gave tentative approval to a bill that would require state agencies and public universities to use the federal electronic employment system called E-Verify.

House Enlarged Tax Relief Price Tag by $400 Million, by Aman Batheja — The ball is in the Senate's court on a major tax relief deal after the House unexpectedly increased the price tag by $400 million.

Residency Requirement for Statewide Elected Officials Could Change, by Bobby Blanchard — Statewide elected officials would no longer be required to live in Austin under a constitutional amendment that could be headed to voters on a general election ballot. The House tentatively backed the measure on Monday.

The Day Ahead

•    The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m.; the House convenes at 10 a.m. Expect a late day in the House — it's the final day for the chamber to take preliminary votes on all Senate bills not already on a local and consent calendar.

Elsewhere

Governor tours damaged area as 12 remain missing, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas lawmakers leave water measure out to dry, The Dallas Morning News

Diversity requirement new fight in grand-jury bill, Houston Chronicle

Amendment: Gays could be denied as foster or adoptive parents, The Dallas Morning News

Tradition upended as freshmen make voices heard in Senate, Houston Chronicle

Alamo preservation bill on the way to Gov. Greg Abbott, San Antonio Express-News

Dead bills frustrate advocacy groups; lawmakers say it's part of the process, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Four Words That Imperil Health Care Law Were All a Mistake, Writers Now Say, The New York Times

Texas’ Julian Castro generates buzz as possible Clinton running mateFort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

"I never ever said that that seven-state U.S. military operation intended to take over Texas."

Chuck Norris, clarifying in a column on the website WorldNetDaily his thoughts on Jade Helm 15. He added that he believes the operation is "likely more than a military exercise."

Today in TribTalk

What Texas could learn from Ireland on gay rights, by John Holden — The legalization of gay marriage by popular vote in Ireland — one of Western Europe's most conservative countries — sends a strong message to red-state holdouts like Texas.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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