The Look Ahead: What to Expect in the Texas Legislature the Week of March 27

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.Are you feeling overwhelmed now that the action at the Capitol has started to speed up? Do you find yourself frantically scanning Twitter and Facebook during bathroom breaks at work to see what testimony you missed at a committee hearing on your favorite bill? Look no further than The 85th, an exciting platform that gives you detailed updates from the Senate, House and everything in between.Mark your calendarsBuckle up everybody, it's budget time. On Tuesday, the full Senate is going to take up the budget. That's right, the giant document detailing the state's two-year $217.7 billion spending plan. Budget talks tend to be tense, but things could get hairier this year, since lawmakers are working with 2.7 percent fewer general purpose dollars than they had last time around.House Speaker Joe Straus last week accused members of the Senate budget writing team of "cooking the books" with their plan to spend more money without tapping into state savings. They've proposed delaying a voter-approved fund shift by one month, which would allow them to add $2.5 billion to the state's general revenue. Tuesday's conversation is going to be interesting and Bob Garrett will be there to guide you through it, @RobertTGarrett. If you've had enough of budget talks come Tuesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety will hear public testimony on two bills that would establish "constitutional" or permitless carry — allowing people to carry guns without a license. I'll be there, tweeting up a storm. Follow along with me (Madlin Mekelburg) @madlinbmek. The House Public Health Committee on Tuesday will hear testimony on a bill that would raise the smoking age to 21 and another to approve testing for a controversial feral hog poison some hope will be used in a "Hog Apocalypse." On Wednesday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony on two bills that would allow women who are already mothers to consent to exams or medical treatment related to contraception. They'll also hear about another bill that would require abortion facilities to submit reports of complications to the state. A number of Senate committees are also meeting next week, take a look at the lineup here. By the numbers: sexual assault at the UT System The University of Texas System on Friday released the results of an in-depth survey of 28,000 students about sexual assault, harassment and student safety at each institution. UT Austin President Greg Fenves said the survey results were a "wake up call." It showed that 15 percent of undergraduate women at the flagship campus were raped during the 2015 academic year, a higher number than at any other system institution. The findings also revealed that while many students reported experiencing some sort of sexual violence or harassment, very few reported it to university officials at any campus. A number of people who were victims reported taking time off, having to retake classes or dropping some classes completely.   Continue reading...

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