‘Save Chick-fil-A' Bill Revived, Waning Support for Beto O'Rourke, Dallas Mayoral Candidates Debate

Good morning! Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Washington, the campaign trail and Dallas.Points from Austin1. Legislation that would deliver on promises of property tax relief, revamping school funding and teacher pay raises is seemingly inches away from the governor's desk, but the House and the Senate remain miles apart on some important details. "Nothing is off the table. We're starting at ground zero," Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble, said as the 10 members of the House and Senate conference committee met for the first time to negotiate the school bill. The chambers have two weeks to resolve their differences and pass a final version of the bills.Until then, critical questions remain unanswered.2. With two weeks left in the legislative session, lawmakers are still at odds about how to fix the vexing hours-long waits at the state's driver's license centers and how quickly they can provide relief. Here's what lawmakers are proposing, as well as a chart showing the average wait times for centers in North Texas.3. Does the so-called Save Chick-fil-A bill still have a chance? After Carrollton Rep. Julie Johnson and the LGBTQ Caucus defeated it in the Texas House last week, a Senate committee on Monday quietly revived the bill gay rights groups called the "most extreme anti-LGBT" legislation filed this year.4. The same night the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill went down, hundreds of other House bills perished because of a midnight deadline. Here's a list of the major ones that lived or died. One of the bills that died would have created a 10% state retail excise tax on e-cigarette and vapor smoking products. At the urging of the nation's biggest tobacco company, Gov. Greg Abbott launched a late-hour push to change the bill. Another bill that perished would have banned abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before a woman may realize she's pregnant.And another would have added protections for extremely poor and disabled patients who rely on Medicaid. 5. Texas lawmakers agree that state district judges need a pay raise, and in the past, that has always meant a bump in legislators' pensions. But Plano Republican Rep. Jeff Leach has found a way to raise judges' pay without benefiting legislators.6. The House narrowly agreed last week to change the Texas Constitution to prohibit a personal income tax, as urged by Leach. The move came just hours after the chamber passed a bill calling for elimination of the main school property tax in about 2 ½ years. While it's unclear the Senate will go along, here's what the House's message was in passing the two measures.7. Is reducing penalties for getting caught with small amounts of marijuana right for Texas? Check out Michael Hogue's illustrated guide to the proposals working their way through the Legislature this year.8. At our state politics coverage site, the Texas Tracker: Your Guide to the State Legislature, you'll find stories, analysis and more from the Capitol. If you're a Dallas Morning News subscriber, you can customize your feed. Sign in, click the issues you want to follow, and you'll see only posts matching those topics.Bob's breakdownBob Garrett is the Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News. A fifth-generation Texan, he has covered state government and politics for decades. Here, Bob offers his take from the Capitol.It's beginning to look a little like Halloween in May. Consider:· After what a socially liberal critic called a "ghost hearing" -- hastily convened with virtually no public notice -- the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday resuscitated the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill. Social conservatives say the bill's needed to protect "religious beliefs and moral convictions" against militant political correctness. Progressives call it the "most extreme anti-LGBT" legislation filed this year.· In January, House leaders appeared ready to push through a "ghost pension increase" for legislators. It's easy enough to do if the Legislature elevates state district judges' base pay -- to which the lawmakers' own pensions are pegged. But on Monday, it looked as if long-serving jurists may get long-awaited pay raises, with no corresponding boost to legislative retirement benefits.· The Managed Care Accountability Bill also appears to be a ghost. With no champion as powerful as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the bill to crack down on Medicaid managed care organizations' abuses is dead. Still, advocates for fragile kids hope for smaller, if meaningful, improvements that could save lives. Points from the trail  Continue reading...

Read More

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us