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The Brief: Three issues to watch today as key deadlines loom

Lawmakers in the House have one week to tentatively pass Senate Bills out of the lower chamber. Time is running out for the 85th Texas legislative session. There are a few key issues we're watching today — here's what to look out for.

A handful of tourists hang around outside the Texas Capitol on May 11, 2017 as the House faces a midnight deadline that will ultimately end in the death of scores of bills in the 85th Legislature. 

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What you need to know

Lawmakers in the House have one week to tentatively pass Senate Bills out of the lower chamber. Time is running out for the 85th Texas legislative session. There are a few key issues we're watching today — here's what to look out for:

• The House is expected to take up a bill that would create a grant program to ensure Texas' patrol officers have bulletproof vests. Senate Bill 12, which would direct $25 million to support 50,000 officers in the state, is up for a second reading vote. The proposed measures, endorsed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, come as a response in part to the Dallas ambush last July, in which five police officers lost their lives. 

• The House is also expected to tentatively vote on legislation that would improve protections for judges who have been threatened or attacked. The bill is named after state District Judge Julie Kocurek, who was shot outside her Austin home. She's back in court after months of rehabilitation. Some lawmakers say better planning could have protected Kocurek.

• Meanwhile, a Senate committee is expected to consider a key mental health parity billHouse Bill 10 would prevent health insurance companies from offering mental health benefits differently from medical benefits and help policyholders who think their insurance is wrongly denying them coverage.

Tribune today

• After a House member was hit by a stray bullet on New Year's Eve, he filed a bill that criminalizes celebratory gunfire in Texas. It's unlikely that it will reach the governor's desk.

Churches are building a "sanctuary" network to help Texas' undocumented immigrants before Senate Bill 4 goes into effect this September.

• Critics of a State Bar of Texas sunset bill backed by the House worry that an amendment to the legislation could create legal hurdles for LGBT clients.

• A House panel approved a bill that would require minors to obtain parental consent before joining a labor union.

• Behind closed doors, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller tells a constituent that a hog poison safeguard is not "doable."

News from home

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What we're reading

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

Texas tests Trump administration over abortion providersThe Associated Press

More than 250 people sworn in are U.S. citizens, The Monitor

Families provide respite for foster parents, Midland Reporter-Telegram

Why John Cornyn would want to be FBI director, Texas Monthly

In Texas: 'It's an all-out assault on LGBT people', USA Today 

Big Oil's favorite Democrat? Texas lawmaker's votes reflect industry interestsMcClatchy

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador, The Washington Post ($)

Senate sends bill on inappropriate teach relationships to governor, The Houston Chronicle ($)

Houston Rep. Al Green callas for Trump's impeachment as other Democrats hold offThe Dallas Morning News ($)

For your calendar 

May 19:  Join us in person or on our livestream as we wrap up the end of the session with state Reps. Rafael Anchia, Geanie Morrison and Matt Rinaldi to assess how the House did.

May 25: Join us in person or on our livestream as state Sens. Konni Burton, Bryan Hughes and Royce West tell us how they think the Senate fared in the 85th legislative session.

Quote to note

"That label didn’t look anything like what the man [Miller] told me on the phone — I thought, 'My god, that can’t be right — people can’t eat this. How in the world can you put something in the human food chain that can kill somebody, to kill an animal that people eat?"

— Bruce Hunnicutt, a Franklin County rancher about Commissioner Sid Miller's assurances the poison used on hogs would be safe to humans and other wildlife.

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

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