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The Brief: Senate Education committee takes up school choice legislation

The Senate Education Committee is expected to hear testimony Tuesday on a bill that would subsidizing private school tuition.

Students, educators, activists and parents march on the south lawn of the Capitol in Austin on January 24, 2017 to show thei…

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Senate Education Committee taking up school choice bill
The Senate's public education committee will hear testimony on the leading "private school choice bill" for this first time this session, Tuesday at 9 a.m.

By wading into energy policy, did Texas GOP chair break ethics law?
Texas GOP chairman Tom Mechler, an Amarillo oilman, insists that he wasn't lobbying when he asked the state to intervene in his clients' dispute with a pipeline giant.

Texas Senate passes two anti-abortion bills
Texas senators advanced two anti-abortion bills, one that would prevent parents from suing doctors if their baby is born with a birth defect and another that would require doctors to make sure a fetus is deceased before performing a certain type of abortion.  

Bill that would reduce handgun license fee headed to full Senate
A measure approved by a Senate committee would reduce the first-time fee for a license to carry a handgun from $140 to $40 and the annual renewal fee from $70 to $40.

House Democrats try again for a minimum wage hike
Though the proposals are unlikely to get very far, House Democrats are again pushing for a minimum wage increase in Texas.

Report: Travis County released dozens of undocumented inmates wanted by feds
Travis County officials declined dozens of requests from federal immigration agents to hold inmates in the days leading up to the county's recent showdown with Gov. Greg Abbott over its new "sanctuary" policy.

Cruz: Gorsuch nomination has "superlegitimacy"
In opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz suggested Neil Gorsuch was "no ordinary nominee" and that his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court must be viewed in light of the 2016 presidential election. 

Texans Castro, Conaway and Hurd grill Comey over Russian hack
U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, a Midland Republican, questioned FBI Director James Comey at Monday's hearing on whether the intelligence community was certain that Russia intended to help Donald Trump become president.

Texas A&M's first openly gay student body president to take office
Texas A&M University's first openly gay student body president is set to take office next month, marking a milestone for the largest public university in the state. 

Stolen after Super Bowl in Houston, Tom Brady's jersey recovered in Mexico
After being stolen from the Patriots' locker room at NRG Stadium in Houston last month after the Super Bowl, quarterback Tom Brady's jersey was traced to Mexico, according to officials involved in the investigation.

What you need to know

The Senate Committee on Education is expected to hear testimony Tuesday on a bill that would subsidize private school tuition. The legislation — authored by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood — is this session's leading "private school choice bill."

  • The legislation has two key components. It proposes an education savings account program, which would give parents bank accounts of taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition and supplies for homeschooling. It also creates a tax credit scholarship program, which would gives tax credits to certain businesses if they make donations toward students’ private school tuition.
  • Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, Dan Huberty, R-Houston, has said he already considers the issue "dead." Though the issue is a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Huberty said earlier this year he is unsure the bill would even make it out of the Senate. His remarks angered school choice supporters and activists.
  • The hearing is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Watch live on our website here and follow Texas Tribune reporter Aliyya Swaby for updates.

News from home

Meet Paige, our new Facebook Messenger bot! Message “hello” to m.me/texastribune to sign up for updates on the most important issues coming up in the 85th Legislature. 

What we're reading

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

Court: Student prayers OK at school board meetings, The Associated Press

Local cities face funding loss under HUD cuts, Herald Democrat

East Texas views mixed on GOP health bill, Longview News-Journal

San Antonio seeks outside review of officer-involved killing of Marquise Jones, San Antonio Express-News ($)

Texas needs a remedial lesson on voting rights, The New York Times ($)

Now the battle of oil producers really beginsThe Houston Chronicle ($)

Tomi Lahren show on hold after she voiced 'pro-choice- stanceThe Dallas Morning News ($)

U.S. judge: ICE said Austin raid was because of 'sanctuary' policy, Austin American-Statesman ($)

Fear, hope and deportationsThe Washington Post ($)

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.

Photo of the day

LGBTQ equality, civil rights and religious freedom groups gathered at the Texas State Capitol for the “All In For Equality Advocacy Day & Rally” on Monday afternoon. Photo by Bob Daemmrich. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"When individuals with severe mental illnesses enter the criminal justice system and are not appropriately diverted to treatment, the state runs the risk of executing innocent people. "

— Toni Rose, state representative for HD-110, about severe mental illness and the death penalty 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 thebrief@texastribune.org. 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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