The Look Ahead: What to Expect in the Texas Legislature the Week of April 3

AUSTIN — Good morning, y'all, and welcome to The Dallas Morning News' weekly political preview: The Look Ahead. Join us here every Monday morning for a look at the week to come in the Texas Legislature.Mark your calendars Get ready for an all-night budget party in the House this week — woohoo! Senators last week gave a big thumbs up to their two-year budget proposal, sending it over to the House. Now, the lower chamber is scheduled to settle into some good ol' fashioned budget talks on Thursday and Friday. Debate over the budget in the House is a notoriously nocturnal affair, as members go back and forth on specific expenditures and big picture spending habits, like whether to dip into the state's Rainy Day Fund. You can get updates from the No. 1 live-tweeter in town, Bob Garrett: @RobertTGarrett.On Monday, lawmakers in the House Human Services Committee will hear testimony on a foster care privatization bill from Rep. James Frank. A Senate panel approved a similar, far-reaching privatization for Child Protective Services employees' duties in February. The lovely Bob Garrett will also be tweeting from that meeting: @RobertTGarrett. House members will be focused on mental health - the state's, not theirs - on Tuesday, with a floor debate over a key piece of legislation and a committee hearing on other mental health priorities. Addressing mental health shortcomings across the state is a priority for House Speaker Joe Straus, who formed an interim committee last year to review the state's offerings for people suffering with mental illness. Want updates? I've got 'em. Follow me @madlinbmek. On Wednesday, the House State Affairs committee will take up a proposal that would protect doctors who withhold information about fetal abnormalities and don't present abortion as an option. The Senate approved their version of the bill last month. Want more committee meetings? Here's a look at the Senate and House schedules for next week. By the numbers: school vouchersSenators on Thursday approved a version of a "private school choice" bill that would only apply to residents of the state's 17 most populous counties. The narrowing of the legislation was a major concession to lawmakers who represent rural districts and generally worry that so-called vouchers could mean less funding for public schools. The bill would let parents in those 17 counties apply for education savings accounts and tax credit scholarships if they'd rather homeschool their children or send them to a private school. Smaller counties would be allowed to opt into the program if an election — spurred by a petition from voters in a particular county — showed support.   Continue reading...

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