Tracking Texas Politics: April 30, 2015


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what’s happening at the capitol on Thursday, April 30, 2015.On the Floors:

The Senate is likely to approve making one day a year a “Second Amendment Tax Holiday.” That’s right, everything guns — ammo, weapons, holsters, hunting supplies — tax-free. After the Senate passed its ethics reform package earlier this week, the upper chamber has passed out most of its priority items.

The Hazelwood Act, which gives tuition benefits to veterans, has drained state coffers after a recent court decision that says any veteran living in Texas in a year can get money for school. The Senate will take up a plan that will make it sustainable but will leave some non-native veterans out.

The House will take up its massive transportation plan. Lawmakers will debate how TxDOT operates and how it should change in the next ten years. Included in that is a way to pay for our highways. Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, will defend an idea dedicating a portion of the State Sales Tax to roads. This is different from the Senate’s plan which would just use money from the Motor Vehicles Sales Tax. Both chambers are expected to add just under $5 billion a year to road maintenance and construction. It does set up, however, another large debate between the two chambers.In Committees:

The House Business and Economic Development Committee will debate the existence  of the  Music, Film,Television, and Multimedia Office and the moving image industry incentive program. The Senate has voted away to do with the Tech Fund earlier this week. All incentives programs, except the deal closing Texas Enterprise Fund, are in serious jeopardy this session. That committee begins at 8 a.m.

Lawmakers have a magnifying class to the tollway program TxTag this session. After thousands of complaints rolled in drawing attention to operational confusion during vendor changes, lawmakers look to fix the problem. At 8 a.m. the Transportation Committee will discuss a bill that would force TxTag to deal with an individual complaint or grievance from a customer within twenty days.

The governor’s Pre-K plan lives and is making its way through the process. HB 4 by Dan Huberty, R-Houston, has a hearing in the Senate Education Committee at 9 AM. Adding $1,500 per student to districts who raise standards flew through the House but sat untouched in the Senate for a couple weeks. But since a very tense breakfast between the leaders of our state brought the issue to the forefront, it was quickly scheduled for a hearing.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee will take up a controversial issue that passed the House. A statewide ban on fracking bans – saying a city owns the topsoil, the state owns the mineral rights – will be debated after Denton’s fracking ban brought this issue to a statewide level.Events:

At 1 p.m., Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, community members, allies and others will deliver petitions to the Governor and hold a press conference to denounce what they see as an anti-Immigrant Agenda in Texas.Coming Up:

Texans will eagerly watch the US Supreme Court hear arguments for four same-sex marriage related laws. Texas doesn’t have a direct dog in the fight, but any decision made for the entire country will impact our state. Texas currently has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between only one man and one woman.

One of the many Texas laws caught in a New Orleans Circuit Court of Appeals is its voter ID law. A lower court said it was unconstitutional but kept the law on the books until after November’s election. Some say the law keeps are voter rolls accurate and legal. Others say it discriminates against minorities. The court will hear the two arguments this week.

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