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The Brief: Convention of states debate in House begins

A couple of measures tied to one of Gov. Greg Abbott's four emergency items this legislative session — a call for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution — are up for debate on the floor of the Texas House today.

Gov. Abbott delivers the State of the State address at the Capitol on Jan. 31, 2017.

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Tribune today

• A bill on the Texas House floor today would require students to pass a version of the civics test immigrants must take when applying for U.S. citizenship. How well would you do? Take our quiz and find out. 

• A brief guide to the legislative dark arts as the scramble to pass — and kill — bills reaches its height.

• A Senate panel approved its version of the Sandra Bland Act, which aims to comprehensively reform police and civilian interaction. 

• The Texas House tentatively approved a measure that would significantly reduce the fee for a license to carry a handgun. 

• "This was not a conspiracy," police said about the stabbing spree that killed one and injured three people on the University of Texas at Austin campus. 

What you need to know

A couple of measures tied to one of Gov. Greg Abbott's four emergency items this legislative session — a call for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution — are up for debate on the floor of the Texas House today. The Senate already approved the package of proposals in February, and a House panel gave the same legislation a green light last month. Here's what you need to know: 

• A national convention could only happen if 34 states signed onto the idea. Ten states have passed resolutions calling for a convention, and while supporters say they want a convention of states to restore the proper balance of power, skeptics say they fear delegates at the convention could wield too much power. 

• Senate Bill 21 and Senate Joint Resolution 38 are up for a vote on the floor. SB 21 outlines the qualifications, duties and limits of Texas delegates if a convention were to happen, and SJR 38 cancels all but one of the Legislature's prior calls for a convention of states — some more than 100 years old. 

• The House will debate SJR 2 — the actual call for a convention of states — tomorrow. The resolution calls for amendments to the Constitution to enact term limits for U.S. officials, impose spending limits on the federal government and limit its power — changes that could only be added to the document with the backing of 38 states. 

What we're reading

Links below lead to outside websites; we've noted paywall content with $.

Clinton: 'I was on the way to winning' until Comey, Russia intervenedPolitico

Baylor faces federal review of campus crime reporting practicesWaco Tribune-Herald

FBI honors El Paso-area community leader, El Paso Times 

Austin think tank seeks to unravel Obama-era climate change policy, Austin American-Statesman ($) 

How a deal to soften the 'sanctuary cities' bill fell apart, leaving a political bloodbath on the House floor, The Dallas Morning News ($)

Justice Department will not charge Baton Rouge officers in fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, The Washington Post ($) 

For your calendar 

On May 10: Join us for coffee and a conversation with author and political strategist Matthew Dowd at The Austin Club.

Photo of the day

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and other members of law enforcement agencies joined state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, at a press conference to oppose House Bill 1911 — which would allow the permitless cary of firearms — at the Texas Capitol May 2. Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"It is hard to comprehend that in 50 years there had never been a violent murder on our campus, and to have two in one year is simply unexplainable." 

— Greg Fenves, UT-Austin president, about the stabbing spree on campus

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.org.

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