Texas Senators “Save Chick-fil-A” and OK Hemp, Brass Knuckles and Kitty Keychains, Plus Big Endorsements in Dallas Mayoral Race

Good morning! Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Washington, the campaign trail and Dallas.Points from Austin1. The Texas Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit government from penalizing individuals and businesses for their charitable giving to or membership in religious groups.After about three hours of debate on what supporters call the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill, the measure was approved 19-12. It must be approved in the Senate one more time before going to the House, where last week, the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus succeeding in killing a similar proposal.2. Texas lawmakers have passed legislation lifting the state ban on brass knuckles, kitty keychains and other self-defense items.The Texas Senate gave the bill its final OK on Wednesday morning; it now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature or veto. Abbott's staff did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday. Bill author Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, said the bill was "another step" toward getting rid of" antiquated laws regarding weapons."3. State lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize industrial hemp production and clear up confusion about what CBD products can be sold in Texas. The Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill Wednesday, but House lawmakers must decide whether they agree with the Senate's amendments before it goes to the governor for his signature or veto."This is no slippery slope toward marijuana," said Sen. Pete Flores, R-San Antonio. Read more about what the bill would do and which people it would help.4. Voting rights groups and disability advocates descended on the Capitol on Wednesday to oppose a bill they say would have a chilling effect on voting and voter registration efforts. Republicans say the bill would strengthen election integrity, while the advocates say it would make volunteers who assist people with voting fear criminal charges.5. The Texas House gave initial approval to a bill that would expand the power of the attorney general's office to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases in the state, but only after an amendment was tacked on that its author said would "gut the bill." Find out which Democrat added the amendment and how it changed the legislation.6. Dirk Nowitzki may have retired, but he's staying busy receiving honors commemorating his 21 years in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks. On Tuesday, he traveled to Austin to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott and appear before the Texas House and Senate. "We are so proud of you," Abbott told Nowitzki before introducing him to the media. "The greatest player in the history of the Dallas Mavericks and one of the greatest players in NBA history."7. Have you visited our state politics coverage site, the Texas Tracker: Your Guide to the State Legislature? Recent posts include what's happening with the brewery beer-to-go bill and one that would increase the age at which you can buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.Points from the trail1. Beto O'Rourke continued his TV tour Tuesday, fending off tough questions on The View after sitting down with liberal host Rachel Maddow on Monday."This is your relaunch today, maybe?" View co-host Whoopi Goldberg put it to O'Rourke, a former El Paso congressman whose White House bid hasn't sparked the national interest he enjoyed last fall when he challenged Sen. Ted Cruz.Points from Washington  Continue reading...

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