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Private school choice bill likely to get makeover on Senate floor
Legislative staffers Tuesday received a one-page report detailing changes to Senate Bill 3, which would exclude rural counties from participating in the private school subsidy programs and limit overall participation.
Despite concerns, Texas legislators push to regulate powdered alcohol
Concerns about powdered alcohol have led 34 states to ban or considering banning it. However, both the House and Senate are considering legislation that would regulate the product in Texas.
Why Texas Ag Chief Sid Miller signed a deal with disputed Israeli settlements
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has opened trade relations with group of Israeli settlements in the West Bank that neither the United States nor the United Nations legally recognize.
House panel hears testimony on child welfare religious liberty bill
House State Affairs Committee members heard testimony Wednesday afternoon on House Bill 3859, which would allow faith-based organizations to exercise their “sincerely held religious beliefs” when participating as providers in Texas’ child welfare system.
Texas House budget writers send budget to full House with massive health care cut
“I am absolutely confident that services won’t be compromised," state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, said of the cuts.
Texas Senate tentatively approves fetal remains bill
The Texas Senate tentatively approved a bill that would change how health providers in the state handle fetal tissue Wednesday.
Texas Senate backs bill that would end most union payroll deductions
The Texas Senate tentatively approved a measure that would end the state’s practice of collecting public employee membership dues for certain labor unions and other associations through payroll organizations.
Senate bill would let Houston voters weigh in on fix to pension crisis
The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill Wednesday that Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told the Texas Tribune could unravel the city's hard-fought plan to curb a growing pension crisis.
Senate passes bill requiring schools to teach teens about interacting with police
The proposal — which would affect high school students, new drivers and police officers — passed the chamber unanimously and now heads to the House.
Cruz and Cornyn urge Democrats to allow vote on Gorsuch
Amidst the threat of a filibuster from Democrats, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz said Wednesday they are intent on finding a way for Republicans to confirm President Trump's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Frustrated Texas senators call for transparency from Baylor after rape scandal
Baylor University leaders faced strong criticism Wednesday from Texas senators who are pondering whether to require the private university to comply with state open records laws.
Judge in Paxton case will rule on pretrial issues on Thursday
The judge in the securities fraud case against Attorney General Ken Paxton says he will rule by noon Thursday on a number of major pretrial issues.
Trump official implies border wall might go on Mexico side of river
Though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke didn't say it directly, his remarks imply the border wall would have to go on the southern side of the Rio Grande River — in Mexico.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke to launch Senate run against Ted Cruz Friday
The 2018 Texas race for U.S. Senate is poised to start in earnest Friday, as U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke will officially launch his campaign to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, according to a colleague with direct knowledge of the El Paso Democrat's thinking.
What you need to know
Lawmakers in the Senate could begin debate over the "school choice" legislation on the floor Thursday. If they do, they're expected to be discussing a very different bill than what was heard in committee.
Here's what you need to know:
- The changes aim to exclude rural counties from participating and limiting the overall number of students who can take advantage of the program. The changes seem to be in response to criticism that the bill would suck money away from public schools.
- Rural legislators have been outspoken on their opposition to the bill. Their constituents do not have access to many private schools.
- The Senate could begin debate on the bill today. Watch online here and follow Texas Tribune reporter Aliyya Swaby for updates.
To get more education news in your inbox, subscribe to Trib+Edu: Your guide to state and regional education policy news and events.
Other stories we're watching today:
- A coalition of conservative groups is sending a letter to state leaders today asking them to support direct car sales in Texas. A proposal has been introduced in the Legislature that would let manufacturers — like electric car maker Tesla — sell directly to Texans, who currently have to buy vehicles through dealerships. Read the letter, which is signed by 26 activists.
What we're reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $)
Lyft allowed to operate without regulations in Laredo, Laredo Morning Times
TxDOT approves $163 million for Nueces County projects, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Zinke: Border wall 'complex,' faces geographic challenges, The Associated Press
Should local governments lend startups a helping hand?, The Houston Chronicle ($)
Ben Carson in Fort Worth: other funding can fill in holes left by budget cuts, Fort Worth Star-Telegram ($)
To promote Texas' bathroom bill, Dan Patrick turns to anti-LGBT groups, The Dallas Morning News ($)
For your calendar
Next Tuesday, April 4, The Texas Tribune will talk about legislative issues with experienced community organizers at the W Austin Records Room. The event is part of the Tribune's On the Record series, geared towards helping Texans be better, smarter citizens.
Quote to note
"Texas has demonstrated that we can reduce imprisonment and strengthen our justice system, without compromising public safety. It’s time for the rest of the nation to follow our lead."
— Jody Lay, police chief in Terrell, about criminal justice and safety via TribTalk
The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. Patrick Svitek contributed to today's edition. If you have feedback or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.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.