The House Tuesday tentatively approved a campaign finance bill, but it's less than what reform advocates wanted. The bill, by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, clarifies how corporations can use the money they raise through their political action committees. Campaign finance watchdog groups say Berman, who chairs the House Elections Committee, should have also addressed spending limits as well as the controversy surrounding "issue ads," which are designed to promote or slam a particular political candidate without instructing voters to vote for one candidate over another. Amy Smith
The Texas Senate approved a defanged version of Jessica's Law on Tuesday. This was crucial to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who campaigned heavily on the theme that he would pass Jessica's Law as part of the Session of the Child. Under a compromise drafted by Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, the death penalty for repeat offenders would not be mandatory but left to the discretion of the prosecutors. Other provisions include enhanced penalties for aggravated and repeated sex offenders, a mandatory 25-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, and no statute of limitations for prosecution of childhood sexual assaults. Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who considers the use of the death penalty to be too liberal in Texas given the number of recent exonerations, was the lone vote against the measure. Kimberly Reeves
With little fanfare, the Senate passed legislation Monday to reverse Gov. Rick Perry's directive requiring girls to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer. The ban against the mandate would expire in four years, during which time more money will be spent on providing educational info about HPV to students in public schools. The House similarly approved a bill against the vaccination mandate. It is uncertain whether Perry intends to veto the bill, but odds are that he won't. A.S.