Tracking Texas Politics: March 31, 2015

On the Floor:

There’s a reason the budget is the only thing lawmakers legally have to pass. All the new laws are just words and paper without the money to back them up. Representatives will haggle over almost $210 billion of your tax dollars. More than 300 amendments will try and put things in and strip them out. Among the list is an amendment to forbid any state money to go to private schools – a major setback to the Senate’s “voucher” plan. Also, funding for abortion providers, border security, and public schools is all on the floor starting at 10 a.m.

In the Senate, a bill that would gives individual schools a grade (A through F) is likely to be passed for the final time. This is one step in  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s and Senate Education Chair Larry Taylor’s plan to revamp public education. The Senate gave preliminary approval to the idea already by a vote of 20 to 10. Senators convene at 2 p.m.

In Committees:

We don’t have “Sharia Law” in Texas, but many say two bills likely to pass a committee will make sure we never do. Opponents say they these bills are “anti-Muslim”. A hearing in an early House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee at 8:15 a.m.

When the Senate is finished on the floor, the upper chamber’s Committee on Criminal Justice will debate a bill that would decriminalize truancy. A series of reports on Texas’s high numbers of truancy cases in criminal courts has raised some alarms within lawmakers offices. Lawmakers ask themselves; should playing hooky be criminal?

On the Steps:

Advocates will gather on the steps of the capitol at 1:30 p.m. to rally for safer laws on prescription pain killers and texting and driving.

At 11:30 a.m, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think-tank, will gather speakers to emphasize the importance of school choice in the Hispanic community. This happens at the same time a House amendment could block any state money from going to private schools when Representatives vote on their budget.

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