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The Brief: Gov. Greg Abbott signed a ban on "sanctuary cities" into law this weekend

With the legislative session drawing its curtains at the Texas Capitol in a few short weeks, the House worked into the night Friday and most of Saturday. Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a controversial bill into law late Sunday.

Protesters turn out at the Capitol in Austin hours after Gov. Greg Abbott signs Senate Bill 4  — the "sanctuary cities" bill — into law. Abbott livestreamed the signing of the bill on Facebook.

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Tribune today

• From Ross Ramsey: Sorry, your bill at the Texas Legislature is probably dying. 

• A proposed higher education funding overhaul in the Senate could come with collateral damage.

• Signing the "sanctuary cities" bill Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott put the final touch on legislation that would also allow law enforcement to ask about a detained person's immigration status. 

• The races for mayor in San Antonio and El Paso are headed for runoffs

• Gov. Greg Abbott called for ethics reforms at the beginning of the legislative session. On Saturday, he might have gotten more than he asked for.  

• A measure that would force voters to make an individual decision on every ballot item was officially approved by the Texas House. 

• The Texas House shot down a bill that would have allowed the Texas Department of Transportation to use tolls to fund the construction, renovation or widening of several highways. 

• Opponents of a plan to build a bullet train line between Dallas and Houston are urging lawmakers to pass one of several bills that would likely kill it.  

What you need to know

With the legislative session drawing its curtains at the Texas Capitol in a few short weeks, the House worked late Friday night and most of Saturday, passing — and killing — a multitude of bills. Then, in an unexpected move, the governor signed a controversial bill into law live on Facebook. Here's what you need to know: 

• Gov. Greg Abbott signed the "sanctuary cities" bill into law last night. "Texas has now banned sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State," announced Abbott in a five-minute address on Facebook. Senate Bill 4 — one of Abbott's emergency items this legislative session — requires law enforcement to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration law. It also allows police to inquire about the immigration status of people they detain

• While Abbott was expected to sign the bill, the move to broadcast it live online Sunday night took some by surprise. A protest gathered outside the governor's mansion. A spokesman said the governor made the decision to broadcast it live on social mediawithout a press conference — because "we’re going to where most people are getting their news nowadays and talking directly to them instead of speaking through a filter."

Earlier in the weekend, the House approved bills that would ban "pay-to-play" and "one-punch voting." The lower chamber voted to disqualify anyone who contributes more than $2,500 in a year to the campaign account of the Texas governor from being appointed by that governor to top state boards and commissions. The House also approved a bill that would force voters to make an individual decision on every ballot item, starting with the 2020 election, instead of voting straight ticket with a single move. Both measures are headed to the Senate. 

• The House also voted down a bill that would've allowed the expansion of toll road projects. House Bill 2861 would have authorized the construction, renovation or widening of nearly 20 roadways — projects that may now be delayed or see their demise. The vote drew heated debate across party lines. Some opponents,, such as state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, suggested lawmakers who voted for it could lose their seats during the next election cycle. 

A couple of major pieces of legislation got delayed this weekend. The Texas House could soon still take up pension reform, a bill that'd let adoption agencies bar gay parents from adopting and more. Watch it unfold live here.

What we're reading

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

White House pressures Senate to fix health bill's policy problems, Politico 

Bingo: Texas lawmakers move to protect the charitable game, curb illegal gaming, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Longtime educator wins spot on Amarillo ISD board, Amarillo Globe-News 

When a Key Democrat Left Town, Republicans Snuck Through Controversial Nominee, Texas Observer 

Politifact: Breaking down business' share of state tax isn't so easy, Austin American-Statesman ($)

Poo emojis, bathroom bill threats and an 11th-hour deal: What made a Dallas Republican vote for LGBT rights, Dallas Morning News ($)

Texas House to delay vote on knife-legalization bill in light of UT attack, Dallas Morning News ($)

Democrats attack Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions for voting for GOP health care bill, Dallas Morning News ($) 

For your calendar 

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

Quote to note

"This is not a right or left issue. I feel there are a lot of members [who] will take the wrong vote today and ... it’ll cause you to lose your seat. Think about if you want to run home and defend this to your constituents.”

— State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, about a bill that would've allowed the expansion of toll road projects 

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

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