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The Brief: May 27, 2015

Campus carry legislation lived to fight another day as a last-minute deal saved Senate Bill 11 just before a midnight deadline in the House to take initial votes on bills originating in the Senate.

House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel is handed another stack of bills during debate on S.B. 19 Tuesday evening May 26, 2015 in the Texas House.

The Big Conversation

Campus carry legislation lived to fight another day as a last-minute deal saved Senate Bill 11 just before a midnight deadline in the House to take initial votes on bills originating in the Senate.

The dramatic scene occurred close to 11:30 p.m. The House had just spent 30 minutes considering a point of order raised by San Antonio Democrat Trey Martinez Fischer. With about 100 filed amendments awaiting debate, many had already started writing the obituaries for the legislation that would require public colleges and universities to allow concealed handgun license holders to bring guns on campus.

Instead, Speaker Joe Straus called for a vote on SB 11, which passed on a 101-47 vote.

Also passed before the Senate bill deadline was SB 19, the far-reaching ethics legislation substantially expanded by the House; SB 206, the sunset bill on the Department of Family and Protective Services; and SB 9, a statutory spending limit proposal that was substantially modified by the House.

Killed by the deadline was a hot-button abortion bill. SB 575 would prevent health plans sold on the federal health insurance exchange from offering abortion services. It was perhaps the highest-profile target of the Democrats' delaying tactics that occurred off and on throughout the day.

On the campus carry bill, it emerged after the House adjourned that a deal had been struck to allow a vote on the bill in exchange for an amendment giving colleges and universities more control over implementation. That includes the ability to pass bans in limited areas of campus. Also, an exception for health-related facilities was written into the bill.

SB 11 faces another vote on final reading today, and it remains to be seen how the House and Senate will reconcile their differences in conference committee between now and sine die on Monday.

Trib Must-Reads

Funding Cut as Film, Video Game Lobbies Squabble, by Ryan McCrimmon — The incentive fund for attracting film and video game companies to Texas is about to take a major budget hit. Advocates for both industries are licking their wounds, and blaming each other for failing to present a united front.

Hopes Fading for New Rules to Limit Tuition Growth, by Matthew Watkins — With the death of all legislation specifically aiming to re-regulate tuition costs at Texas' public universities, proponents of the idea see few avenues for implementing the idea this year.

In Deadly Flood, Abbott Faces First Big Leadership Test, by Patrick Svitek — Just five months into his first term, Gov. Greg Abbott is tackling the kind of crisis his predecessor likes to say there is no manual for.

After Day of Rules Warfare, Both Sides Claim Some Wins, by Alexa Ura, Edgar Walters, Jay Root and Morgan Smith — A daylong parliamentary battle ensued Tuesday as the Texas House faced a crucial deadline to pass many major bills before they died. Democrats succeeded in killing an abortion bill, while Republicans managed to pass ethics reform legislation and a version of campus carry.

House Passes Weakened Campus Carry Bill, by Morgan Smith — Facing a midnight deadline, the Texas House managed to pass a version of legislation allowing concealed handguns on university campuses that differs greatly from a version approved by the Senate.

Before Central Texas Flooding, Officials Sounded Alarm, by Neena Satija — When Wimberley residents woke up Sunday to flooding, the surprise was palpable: The area had been going through a drought. But months earlier, local officials had voiced concerns about the rapidly growing region's vulnerability to flooding.

Health Insurance Card Bill Clears Senate, by Edgar Walters — House Bill 1514, which would add a special label to the health insurance cards of people purchasing health plans on the exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, passed the Texas Senate late Tuesday evening.

House OKs Raising Age of Juvenile Offenders to 18, by Terri Langford — A final effort to raise from 17 to 18 the age at which offenders automatically enter the adult legal system made it through the Texas House on Tuesday, tacked onto a bill reorganizing the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

Senate Approves $564.6 Million Supplemental Budget Bill, by Aman Batheja — The Texas Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a $564.6 million bill that plugs holes in the current budget and shores up the health care plan for retired teachers.

House Passes Ethics Bill, Senate Showdown Likely, by Jay Root — After a passionate and sometimes raunchy debate, the Texas House tentatively approved a far-reaching ethics reform package that would shine light on so-called “dark money” while heavily restricting undercover recordings of politicians in the state Capitol or their district offices.

Border Security Bill Tentatively Passes Senate, by Julián Aguilar — An expansive border security bill declared a priority by Gov. Greg Abbott was given final approval Tuesday by the Texas Senate. The vote marked the near end of a months-long disagreement between the House and the Senate.

Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Gets Another Try, by Edgar Walters — A Texas Senate committee on Tuesday approved a measure that would forbid state or local governments from using public money to issue same-sex marriage licenses, reviving a proposal that died in the House earlier this month.

Abbott, Paxton Praise Panel's Ruling on Immigration Order, by Julián Aguilar — A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has denied the White House’s request to let a controversial immigration policy proceed.

House Republicans Fail to Move Up Controversial Bills, by Aman Batheja and Ryan McCrimmon — House Democrats narrowly avoided a Republican-led effort on Tuesday to rearrange the chamber's calendar to make sure controversial measures got a vote before a midnight deadline.

House, Senate Leaders Confirm Transportation Funding Deal, by Aman Batheja — House and Senate leaders have come to an agreement on a deal to significantly boost the Texas Department of Transportation’s funding.

Advocates Fret Disaster Bill Won't Make Cut in House, by Patrick Svitek — Texas housing advocates are sounding the alarm about disaster recovery legislation they say would be critical for those affected by the kinds of storms that devastated some parts of the state this week.

Breitbart Texas Will Not Publish Lawmaker Videos, by Terri Langford — Undercover video of Texas lawmakers made by the American Phoenix Foundation will not be published by Breitbart Texas after the legislative session ends, according to the conservative news organization's managing director.

Analysis: A Short List With Some Explosive Issues, by Ross Ramsey — It's not the end of the session, but Tuesday marks the end of the line for a lot of legislation. And the fates of the items at the bottom of the House's list could be determined by long debates on ethics, guns, abortion and state spending limits.

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Texas Redistricting Case, by Patrick Svitek — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a case that centers on how Texas draws its political districts, a longtime point of dispute between the state and voting rights advocates.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m.

•    It's the last day for the House to consider Senate bills on a local and consent calendar and the last day to take a final vote on all contested Senate bills. It's the last day for the Senate to pass bills out on preliminary and final reading.

•    U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, takes part in a lunch-hour business leader roundtable at the IBC Bank building in Austin hosted by the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Association of Manufacturers. Topics of discussion include tax reform, trade, immigration, health care reform and Ex-Im Bank reauthorization.


Tussle in Texas Legislature over Hueco Tanks, Hays County water, El Paso Times

Texas Senate OKs innocence panel, Houston Chronicle

Lawmakers give up on bill to limit lawsuits against insurers, Houston Chronicle

Senate takes aim at double-dipping officeholders, The Dallas Morning News

Will Texas House’s spending limit fly?, Austin American-Statesman

Controversial immigration bills die in Texas Senate, Amarillo Globe-News

Oil company looks to drill in residential area, fracking not ruled out, KGBT 4

Texas manufacturers report longest slowdown since recession, San Antonio Express-News

Taylor, Van de Putte only eye city role, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“Never assume the Democrats gave up on campus carry. Democrats did not give up on campus carry. The Zerwas amendment waters it down. The bill will go to conference, and we will continue to have our input in the process.”

— State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, signaling that his fellow Democrats were not done fighting on campus carry legislation that received a preliminary OK from the Texas House late Tuesday

Today in TribTalk

Feds aren't telling the truth about Medicaid funds, by John Davidson — The Obama administration is attempting to coerce Texas into expanding Medicaid against state lawmakers' better judgment — and against voters' wishes.

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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Greg Abbott Jason A. Isaac Joe Straus Ken Paxton Trey Martinez Fischer