Texas House Lowers Pot Penalties, Speaker's Death Threats, Baylor Women at White House, Dallas Elections Heating Up

Good morning! Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Washington, the campaign trail and Dallas.Points from Austin1. Speaker Dennis Bonnen says he's received "repeated death threats" since he became the House's leader in January. On Monday, his office released copies of about two dozen menacing messages the Angleton Republican has fielded as he faced a backlash for squelching passage of a "constitutional carry" bill sought by ardent gun-rights advocates. See screen grabs of the messages here.2. The Texas House on Monday gave initial approval to a bill that would reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso who authored the bill, said it was a bipartisan effort to remove collateral consequences under the criminal justice system for those who face such charges. He acknowledged that the bill had been rewritten to remove opposition by major players in state politics, including Gov. Greg Abbott."Although this compromise isn't as far as I would like to go, I'm not going to sacrifice the good for the perfect," Moody said. "If this is what we can do, then this is what we must do."3. A showdown is coming over school finance and property tax overhauls, the Legislature's top priorities this year. This week, the Senate likely will debate a proposed revamp of how Texas funds public schools, while the House is expected to take up a measure designed to curb your spiraling property tax bills. Here's what you need to know.4. Earlier this month, Texas House members celebrated passing legislation to overhaul schools by increasing salaries, lowering property taxes and giving every district in Texas a significant increase in money to educate students. Last week, the Senate countered with its plan, and education leaders scrambled to determine the winners and losers.5. Last week, a settlement was announced forcing Texas to cancel its flawed advisory that questioned the citizenship of 100,000 voters. The state will also have to pay the plaintiffs nearly half a million dollars in attorney's fees in exchange for the lawsuit's dismissal. Now, acting Secretary of State David Whitley wants to meet with Senate Democrats. They stalled his confirmation after the advisory, and he needs their votes for it to move forward. Here's what the leader of the Democratic caucus had to say about that.6. You might say it was happy hour in the Texas House on Thursday afternoon. Members voted resoundingly for letting retail stores sell beer and wine starting at 10 a.m. Sundays rather than noon -- in time for football kickoffs. Another proposal regulating beer sold at breweries also won approval.7. A sweeping bill to install new protections for millions of poor and disabled Texans who rely on Medicaid, and rein in health care companies that have been enriched by that broken system, cleared its first major hurdle last week.8. Calling it an effort to "end the corruption" that ensnared a former City Council member who pleaded guilty to taking bribes last month, Dallas Rep. Eric Johnson presented a bill that would take all elected officials out of the affordable housing tax credit award process.9. A Texas lawmaker spoke publicly for the first time last week about his struggle with autism.10. 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.Points from the trail  Continue reading...

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