Quickies from the Capitol

• Thirty-one and counting: The 81st Legislature enters its final month.

• Members of the budget conference committee, which will hammer out the differences between the House and Senate budget versions, have been announced. From the Senate: Finance Committee Chair Steve Ogden, Vice Chair Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, and Sens. Florence Shapiro, Royce West, and Tommy Williams. From the House: Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts, Vice Chair Richard Raymond, and Reps. Ruth Jones McClendon, John Otto, and John Zerwas.

• To deal with the crush of bills, on April 24 the House took the unusual one-time-only step of suspending the constitutional restriction against hearing bills for the second and third time on one day (don't worry; the Senate does it all the time). House Administration Committee Chair Charlie Geren, R-River Oaks, followed that by announcing that the House won't hear any guest introductions from the dais on Friday or Saturday.

• Saying sorry and making amends: The House passed House Bill 1736, the "Tim Cole Act," increasing compensation for citizens who were wrongfully imprisoned. Now lawmakers are waiting for senators to take up their version, Senate Bill 2014.

• The pen is not quite as mighty as the subpoena: On April 28, the Senate passed HB 670, a journalist shield law, giving reporters qualified privilege to protect confidential sources, subject to judicial review.

• Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said she's optimistic that a compromise public school finance reform bill is imminent. "We know it's going to be $1.9 billion; we just have to work out how we'll distribute it," she said.

• They call this Texas comedian 'Tater Salad: April 27 was Ron White Day in the House.

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81st Legislature, budget, filmmaking, shield law, school finance reform

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