Teacher Pay Raise Passes Senate, Medical Pot Bill Passes House, What to Watch for in Dallas Mayoral Runoff

Good morning!Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Washington, the campaign trail and Dallas.Points from Austin1. The Texas Senate on Monday voted out sweeping school-funding legislation that would give every teacher in Texas a $5,000 raise while cutting property taxes for home and business owners.Both chambers of the Legislature have passed versions of a bill to dedicate at least $9 billion of new money toward improving schools and delivering tax relief over the next two years, but major differences remain before it can reach the governor's desk.2. State GOP leaders' plan to add a penny to the sales tax to reduce property taxes would hurt low- and moderate-income Texans, three veteran House Democrats warned Monday. Under the Republicans' "tax swap" legislation, 144 of the House's 150 members are from districts where more people would see a net tax increase than a net tax decrease, the Democrats said."If you are making less than $100,000 in your household, you will lose," said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer.3. The Texas House has approved a bill that would expand the state's medical marijuana laws to cover many more patients with a variety of different ailments and diseases. Under the state's Compassionate Use Act, only Texans diagnosed with intractable epilepsy are allowed to use cannabis that contains low levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.4. The Texas Legislature is cracking down on cities. Lawmakers -- particularly conservative ones -- are pushing bills to limit how much local government can tax residents. They're trying to stop cities from imposing bans on short-term rentals, like Airbnb. They want to block local officials from forcing businesses to offer employees paid sick leave."'If you can't beat them, silence them,'" said Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League.5. The Dallas woman pushing for the Legislature to make fertility fraud a crime has revealed the doctor who she says is her father. In a gripping episode of ABC's 20/20, Eve Wiley of Preston Hollow identified Nacogdoches obstetrician-gynecologist Kim McMorries as her biological father, saying her mother didn't plan it that way.The Dallas Morning News first reported Wiley's story and her efforts to lobby the Legislature last month.6. Civil rights groups told a court last week that Texas has discriminated so much in drawing electoral maps and implementing voting laws that the state should be put under federal supervision to prevent harm from coming to minority voters.7. Here are several stories about bills you might have missed last week: A House committee voted to ban cities from enacting scheduling and overtime mandates on private businesses, but not before adding in language that protects local LGBT rights ordinances. Women seeking abortions in Texas would have to get outside counseling first under a bill the Texas Senate passed. A much-criticized program that charges drivers huge fines on top of penalties for violations such as speeding and DWI would be eliminated under a bill the House unanimously approved. Lawmakers debated, but didn't vote, on whether to ban gay conversion therapy for minors, the first time state politicians have formally addressed the controversial practice meant to lessen or rid kids of homosexual feelings. 8. And to find all our state politics coverage, including brief daily updates, visit the Texas Tracker: Your Guide to the State Legislature, where 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. With the Senate conducting a marathon debate of school finance Monday, the session's top priorities - school funding and property taxes -- advanced closer to passage. But the Senate's no longer making big chunks of its school finance bill contingent on a swap of higher sales tax for lower property taxes. Senators took that out of the schools bill. The move clouded prospects for a House floor debate Tuesday of the tax swap. Raising taxes, even to lower others, is always a hard vote for Republicans. Gov. Greg Abbott hasn't given up on passing a tax swap, which would allow much deeper cuts to school property taxes. That's why he appeared at a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Caucus on Monday. Thursday night is the deadline for tentatively passing House bills and constitutional amendments, other than local bills and resolutions. In past years, outnumbered Democrats sometimes would "chub," or slow the debate of bills before the House by talking nonsense. Democrats did it to prevent supercharged measures such as voter ID from reaching the floor. In this year's calmer session, there's not a partisan chub underway. But conservative bills on elections, pre-empting local regulation of business and protecting religious liberties have "chub potential," some say. Stay tuned.Points from the trail  Continue reading...

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