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The Brief: Bathroom bill debate looms in the Texas Senate

Lawmakers could begin debating the so-called "bathroom bill" on the Senate floor as early as today.

Transgender activists gather in the state Capitol rotunda as SB6 — the so-called "bathroom bill" — is being rolled out in a State Affairs Committee hearing on March 7, 2017.

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Tribune today

Advocates hope to end policy in Texas of jailing poor for unpaid fines
Thousands of Texans are at risk of being arrested at any given moment for not paying fines often related to traffic offenses or other city ordinance violations, according to a recent report. 

Texas A&M law school cracks U.S. News' top 100 list
Texas A&M University's law school came in at 92 — its first time in the top 100 since A&M took over the school in 2013. The University of Texas at Austin's law school remains the highest-ranked in the state. 

Execution set for Fort Worth man who killed a father and an infant
The state is set to carry out its fourth execution of the year, putting to death 61-year-old James Bigby. He was convicted in the 1987 murders of his friend and a 4-month-old during a killing spree in Fort Worth.

Rape Kit Donation Testimony
Thousands of rape kits in Texas remain untested, leaving sexual assault victims and police in the dark. And faced with a desperate budget environment, lawmakers heard testimony on a proposal to put a dent in the backlog -- by asking Texans to step in and donate to the cause.  

Texas lost a ruling over its congressional map. So what's next?
Here's what you need to know about Friday night's huge — and incredibly complicated — ruling that effectively invalidated Texas' congressional map.

Will Senate bill provide tax relief or hamstring local governments?
Bettencourt says Texans are tired of seeing their property tax bills increase dramatically year after year. But local government officials say his Senate Bill 2 would limit their abilities to raise necessary revenues.

Senate Committee approves Texas voter ID overhaul
A Texas Senate panel has advanced a bill that would overhaul the state voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters.

What you need to know

Debate on the so-called "bathroom bill" on the Senate floor could begin as early as today. Last week, the legislation survived a marathon hearing during which senators heard 13-plus hours of public testimony from hundreds of Texans, mainly against the legislation. They voted to advance the bill.

  • Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in publicly-owned facilities that match their "biological sex." Proponents of the bill say it is about privacy, but opponents say the bill is discriminatory.
  • The bill isn't exactly the same as the one that state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst first proposed. While the revised version of the legislation remains largely unchanged, it removed a section that would have increased penalties for certain crimes committed in a bathroom or changing facility. Here’s what the whole thing means in plain English.
  • If it passes the Senate, the bill still has a long road to becoming law. The House isn't as warm to the bathroom bill. “Clearly, I’m not a fan of the bill that they’re discussing,” House Speaker Joe Straus told reporters last week.

What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi visits valley, The Monitor

Amarillo police chief: meth problem 'out of control'Amarillo Globe-News

City studying options for reusing waterLubbock Avalanche-Journal

Jury hears how Ross Perot Jr. company paid to get John Wiley Price to delay vote on trade zoneThe Dallas Morning News ($)

Report: bill could cut $86 million from Central Texas school districts, Austin American-Statesman

Texas doctor and RNC committeeman joins White House gathering of Obamacare 'victims', Houston Chronicle ($)

Speaker Straus takes issue with Senate budget pace, vows actionSan Antonio Express-News ($)

Patrick’s love of media spotlight on full display as session heats upFort Worth Star-Telegram ($)

For your calendar

Join us on Tuesday, March 28, at KLRU's Studio 6A for a special screening of Beyond the Wall, The Texas Tribune's short documentary that explores the state's immigration issues through the eyes of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents and a borderland rancher.

Quote to note

"As a member of the North Carolina General Assembly who has watched the HB2 trainwreck up close for the last year, here’s some advice to my Texas counterparts: When it comes to state-sanctioned discrimination, let North Carolina remain the Lone Star State — for now."

— Jay Chaudhuri, state senator in North Carolina, about Texas' bathroom bill via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. If you have feedback or questions, please email We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.

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