Wendy Davis

 Kate Gardiner

Committee Passes Bill That Would Protect Veterans Fund

A Senate committee on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would prevent the Texas Veterans Commission — which faces a proposed 20 percent budget cut — from dipping into a fund it is barred from using for administrative purposes.

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 Courtesy of Equality Texas

Senators Take Up Bullying Bills

At Tuesday's Senate Education Committee hearing on a trio of anti-bullying bills, the parents of children who committed suicide after being picked on by classmates asked lawmakers to fix a system they say failed their families.

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 Muliadi Soenaryo

SBOE: Now With Two-Thirds Approval?

State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, filed a bill today that would require two-thirds of the State Board of Education to reject recommendations from experts during the approval process for curriculum standards and textbooks.

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 Spencer Selvidge

Senators Debate Productivity Center, Class Size

During Tuesday's Senate Education Committee meeting, senators considered legislation that could dramatically change the way school districts operate — including two bills that target the dreaded "unfunded mandates."

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 Bob Daemmrich

Senators Try to Buy Time for Teachers

With major state funding cuts looming, for many school districts, it's not a question of if — but how and when — teacher layoffs will occur. A new bipartisan bill from education leaders in the state Senate could temporarily change how schools go about that.

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Battle Brewing Over Mandatory Meningitis Vaccine

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week that vaccine manufacturers are protected from lawsuits by parents who believe that vaccines harmed their children is sure to energize anti-immunization advocates working to thwart attempts to expand meningococcal vaccine requirements for college students.

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Senate Committee Targets Payday Lending

If a set of bills filed by Sens. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Royce West, D-Dallas, passes this session, consumers who take out short-term, high-interest loans could be protected from exorbitant interest rate charges.

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 Spencer Selvidge

Texas Democrats Blame Republicans for Budget Blues

Gov. Rick Perry's State of the State speech on Tuesday was part pep rally, part budget proposal, with a dash of national politics. And, as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, Democrats weren't charmed.

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 Illustration by Bob Daemmrich / Todd Wiseman

Senators Call Tuition Set-Aside Theft, Secret Tax

One state senator calls it "a 20 percent backdoor secret tax" on those paying for college. Another argues that eliminating it would help create a Texas with a "have-and-have-not culture." And some students say the the tuition set-aside program mandated by the state in 2003 is just plain theft.

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 Illustration by Todd Wiseman

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

M. Smith and Butrymowicz of the Hechinger Institute on charter schools and public schools making nice in the Valley, Ramsey's interview with House Speaker candidate Ken Paxton and column on the coming budget carnage, Hu on the Legislature's disappearing white Democratic women, Grissom on the sheriff who busted Willie Nelson, Hamilton talks higher ed accountability with the chair of the Governor's Business Council, Aguilar on the arrest of a cartel kingpin, Ramshaw on the explosive growth in the number of adult Texans with diabetes, Philpott on state incentive funding under fire and Galbraith on the greening of Houston: The best of our best from November 29 to December 3, 2010.

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 Bob Daemmrich

Single White Female

The force of the GOP wave in November was so strong that black Republicans and Latino Republicans outnumber the Texas House's new endangered species: the white Democratic woman. And if the 16-vote victory of state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, doesn't survive a recount, the species will be extinct.

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 Graphic by Matt Stiles

The Senate's Biggest Spenders

The 31-member body spent nearly $16 million last fiscal year on travel, staff and office expenses, according to records from the office of the Secretary of the Senate. Overall spending by individual senators ranged from $206,000, by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, to $637,000, by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.

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 Jacob Villanueva

Road Conditions

Sensible people in the Metroplex may have given up long ago on Southwest Parkway and State Highway 161, two huge projects first proposed back in the 1960s. Now they're toll roads — one incomplete, one not yet started — and the money to build them may finally be available. There is, of course, a catch.

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 Matt Stiles

Debtors' Treadmill, Part Two: Political Payday

Groups that offer high-interest, short-term consumer loans and want to avoid state regulation contributed more than $1.4 million to Texas politicians over the past nine years, Texas Ethics Commission records show.

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