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The Brief: Texas House tentatively passes child welfare reform

After a lengthy debate, a package of sweeping measures aimed at addressing the state's child welfare system crisis passed the Texas House on Thursday.

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What you need to know

After a lengthy debate, a package of sweeping measures aimed at addressing the state's child welfare system crisis passed the Texas House on Thursday. Senate Bill 11 — one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's legislative priorities — would shift the state to a "community-based care" model for handling some endangered children and allowing contracted organizations to oversee children in foster care and adoptive homes. Here's what you need to know

• "I truly believe we must leave the status quo," said state Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, the lawmaker who carried the bill in the House. SB 11 would require the Department of Family and Protective Services to find eight areas in the state to implement the new system by 2019, while also making changes to how the department handles data.

SB 11 awaits final approval in the House, and will then head back to the Senate. Senators can either concur with the changes made to SB 11 in the House, or send the bill to a conference committee where lawmakers from both chambers can hash out the differences. 

Other stories we're watching today:

• Remember when we told you yesterday about the Texas House voting on Senate Bill 2, the property tax relief bill? That didn't happen — the vote got delayed until today. But, some are saying the bill might be in trouble.

Tribune today

• From Ross Ramsey: There's a simple test to tell you whether the promise of a tax cut is really a tax cut: Is there money in your hand?

• Video: Lt. Gov. Patrick says state lawmakers might be staying in Austin past May 29 if some key measures don’t pass the House.

• In a Houston Chronicle op-ed, Perry endorsed two criminal justice reform measures moving through the Texas Legislature. 

• The Texas House thwarted an effort to patch what some called “glaring loopholes” in public records law, recently punched by the Texas Supreme Court.

• Educators are taking issue with the Senate's plan for school assessment

• A bill that would require three-point seat belts be installed on newly-purchased school buses across the state tentatively passed the Texas House.  

• Texas Senate budget writers voted to spend about $800 million in state funds to cover a Medicaid shortfall in the current two-year budget.

• After waiting three days to see her dead son, a mom is hoping to change current Texas law. 

News from home

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What we're reading

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

House may be forced to vote again on GOP's Obamacare repeal billBloomberg

Nearly $19 million worth of drugs have already been seized at the Texas-Mexico border this month, Laredo Morning Times 

Federal agency searches Beaumont healthcare business, Beaumont Enterprise

Chambers of commerce say Texas can't afford bathroom billSan Antonio Express-News ($)

Texting bill has added support, Craddick says, but concerns remain, Austin American-Statesman ($)

Comey, unsettled by Trump, is said to have wanted him kept at a distance, The New York Times ($)

For your calendar

Today: 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

"This bill protects the most vulnerable among us: our children. It puts Texas in a strong position to meet the challenges ahead.”

— State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, about a Senate bill approved to plug two-year-old funding holes

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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