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Legislators Prepare to Go Back to School

The Texas state legislature will have its hands full during the 79th session. The biggest issues are school-related.

Governor Rick Perry has designated school finance reform as an emergency issue, meaning bills passed and signed by Perry can take effect immediately. Normally, new laws don't take effect for months.

The state's top ten percent rule will also come into question. That's the law which guarantees high schoolers in the top tenth of their class a spot at any state college. According to Governor Perry, more and more students outside the top ten are going out of state.

Another school issue is whether colleges should continue to set their own tuition rates, which could rise nearly five percent this fall.

Lawmakers will discuss if video lottery terminals can be placed at racetracks. If they would be legalized, the state would take a percentage of the revenues to help with their budget woes, with track owners and horse breeders pocketing the rest. Moral conservatives continue to object to gambling as a revenue stream.

Child and adult protective services are the other issues Governor Perry has designated as emergency items for the session. Perry announced a plan last week that increases the number of child abuse investigators. That plan would cost $329 million, but there are questions as to how the budget-strapped state would fund it.

March 11th is the 60th day of the session, and the last day to file bills and resolutions. Come May 30, the 79th sessions ends, and the governor then has until June 19th to make decisions on bills. At the end of August, most of the new laws will go into effect.


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