The Look Ahead:What to Expect in the Texas Legislature the Week of March 20

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 session has started to pick up pace? Make yourself a big ol' mug of tea and settle in to The 85th, where we break down the biggest issues of the session and what you should be paying attention to.Mark your calendars The Senate now has a handful of blockbuster bills on its Intent Calendar, but that doesn't necessarily mean the measures will come to the floor the day they're scheduled. If a lawmaker wants to bring a bill from the calendar to the floor, they need a three-fifths vote to take it up. Right now, the Senate's calendar is chock full of legislative priorities, including a property tax bill, a bill to ban wrongful birth abortions and one to ban texting while driving. In the House, the calendar is a bit less exciting. On Tuesday, the chamber is slated to debate bills relating to reclaimed water facilities and "criminal mischief" on property used for flood control purposes. On Wednesday, lawmakers will discuss bills relating to two water conservation districts. Committees are busy this week. The Senate State Affairs panel on Monday will hear a number of gun-related bills including one to remove the fee for a gun license. You can follow Madlin Mekelburg (me) on Twitter for updates @madlinbmek. The Senate Education Committee will hear public testimony on the upper chamber's controversial "school choice" bill, which would shift education funds from schools to families. Follow Bob Garrett @RobertTGarrett for updates. The Criminal Justice Committee in the Senate will hear testimony on Tuesday on a bill that would require students in public school to learn about interacting with police officers and another measure that would allow law enforcement to use automatic license plate readers for investigating criminal offenses or missing person cases. The Senate Higher Education committee on Wednesday will discuss a bill that would institute a four-year tuition freeze at public universities. Follow Lauren McGaughy at @lmcgaughy. In the House, the Elections Committee will debate a number of bills on Monday and the Public Education subcommittee on Educator Quality will hear a bill aimed at cracking down on "improper relationships" between students and teachers. On Tuesday. the Public Health Committee in the House will hear testimony on a bill to extend the life of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and another that would create a grant program to support community mental health programs. By the numbers: funding for unauthorized inmatesPresident Donald Trump released a budget outline last week that included a call to scrap a grant program that awards money to cover the cost of housing inmates who are also unauthorized immigrants. The program sent more than $13 million to Texas in 2016, $9 million of which went to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Texas and California received the most grant money in 2016.Under Trump's proposed budget, the grant program would be cut, but spending on detention facilities overall would increase.   Continue reading...

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