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The Brief: May 28, 2015

The House remains fully committed to keeping dark money disclosure language in its ethics reform legislation. However, the measure's Senate author is equally adamant that provision must come out.

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, on the House floor, May 7, 2015.

The Big Conversation

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, remains fully committed to keeping dark money disclosure language in his version of far-reaching ethics reform given final approval by the House on Wednesday.

However, Senate Bill 19's author is equally adamant that provision must come out. State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, told the San Antonio Express-News' David Saleh Rauf there was "no chance" he'd agree to keeping the dark money provision, which calls for political nonprofits to list their donors.

“Anonymous political speech absolutely must be something we protect,” he said.

Cook, meanwhile, told the Austin American-Statesman's Tim Eaton the disclosure language is "something the House clearly wanted to move on." He noted that 124 out of 150 members signed on to separate, standalone legislation on disclosure of dark money.

The bill now goes to conference committee, where Taylor and Cook must figure out a path forward for the signature bill of the session on an issue signaled early on as a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott. As to where Abbott might be found on the House's push on dark money, Rauf offers a possibility.

Abbott, he writes, "has said he believes donor and membership lists are constitutionally protected under a 1958 U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving the NAACP.

"His stance on the House bill is still unknown. Abbott’s office released a statement when the bill measure cleared the Senate last month, applauding the ethics reform. But he’s remained mum publicly on the House bill."

Trib Must-Reads

Budget Deal Includes $25 Million Boost for Alamo, by Aman Batheja — Budget writers have added some last-minute cash for the Alamo, in large part to ensure the state holds on to a collection of Alamo artifacts from British music legend Phil Collins.

Eye on the Prize, Cruz Attendance in Senate Slumps, by Abby Livingston — It's a calculation every member of Congress who runs for president faces: Is time spent fundraising and campaigning worth the blowback for missing work in D.C.? So far, Texas' junior senator appears to be betting yes.

Senate Passes Anti-Gay Marriage Resolution, by Edgar Walters and Aman Batheja — Following an emotional floor debate, the Senate passed a resolution Wednesday reaffirming the state's opposition to same-sex marriage, an action taken as it became clear a bill to prevent such marriages in Texas was dead.

Climate Change, a Factor in Texas Floods, Largely Ignored, by Neena Satija and Jim Malewitz — Climate change is taking a toll on Texas, and the devastating floods across the state are some of the best evidence yet of that phenomenon, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said. But efforts to consider climate change policy in Texas have fallen flat.

House and Senate Will Hash Out Open Carry Differences, by Morgan Smith — After outspoken opposition from the state's law enforcement officials, the Texas House on Wednesday took a step toward removing a controversial provision from legislation allowing licensed Texans to openly carry handguns.

Analysis: Votes Count, but the Rules Can Count More, by Ross Ramsey — At the end of the legislative session, votes still count and majorities are important. But the rules come into play as well, and so do the political minorities.

Campus Carry Gets Final Approval in Texas House, by Morgan Smith — The battle over "campus carry" is headed back to the Texas Senate after House lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to legislation requiring universities in the state to allow concealed handguns on campus.

In Austin, Flores Doesn't Mince Words on Ex-Im Bank, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, the latest Texas Republican to come out against the U.S. Export-Import Bank, did not shy away from his new position Wednesday as he spoke to business groups fighting to keep the 81-year-old federal agency alive.

Police Chiefs: Open Carry "Handcuffs" Law Enforcement, by Morgan Smith — Texas police chiefs are urging Gov. Greg Abbott to veto legislation repealing certain handgun restrictions in Texas if lawmakers do not remove a controversial provision the chiefs fear would allow criminals to carry firearms without repercussions.

Lawmakers: Bill Slaughter Not a Partisan Deal, by Terri Langford and Alexa Ura — After a night of dramatic maneuvers in the Texas House, lawmakers were back at it on Wednesday morning, with a handful of irked conservatives using parliamentary tactics to kill previously uncontested Senate bills.

In Texas Senate, Smooth Sailing for Shark Fin Ban, by Ryan McCrimmon — A measure to ban the trade of shark fins in Texas is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after clearing the Texas Senate on Wednesday. The fins are collected by a brutal fishing process: cutting off a live shark's fin and leaving the shark to die.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 2 p.m.; the Senate convenes at 1 p.m.

•    Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will moderate an end-of-session discussion with state Sens. Kelly Hancock, Lois Kolkhorst and José Rodríguez. The 8 a.m. breakfast conversation at the Austin Club will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.


Senate resurrects legislation to ban red-light cameras in Texas, The Dallas Morning News

Texas Senate quietly revives contentious education proposals, Austin American-Statesman

Watson’s tax-relief bill dies amid Democrats’ chubbing, Austin American-Statesman

Senate passes truancy reform bill - again, Houston Chronicle

Rep. González, D-Clint, kills Hays County water plan, for now, El Paso Times

Van de Putte wins East Side backing, San Antonio Express-News

Lawsuit claims parents of US-born kids denied birth certificates, The Monitor

Immigration Overhaul May Be in Limbo Until Late in Obama’s Term, The New York Times

'Waters of the United States' rule pits EPA against powerful industries, Politico

Jade Helm: Suspicion of US government reaches new level in Texas, Boston Globe

Quote to Note

“We have the potential, like Nazi Germany did, to go really bad. And if we don’t nip this stuff in the bud — once it gets its head under the tent, it’s there.”

Jim Dillon, who held the "No Gestapo in Bastropo" sign at the now infamous public meeting with a U.S. Army officer on the Jade Helm 15 military exercise, on the danger that exercises like that one will get citizens used to the sight of "heavily armed, camouflaged soldiers on the city streets, ranches, farms, public roads.”

Today in TribTalk

How to restore trust in our criminal justice system, by John Cornyn — Criminal justice reform isn’t easy, but if we work across party lines and think big, we can make real progress. I know, because I’ve seen it happen in Texas.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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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Bill Flores Byron Cook Greg Abbott Ted Cruz Van Taylor