Some more notes about what has been happening in the Lege...
- It looks like the program to test high school athletes for steroids will be scaled back.
Texas lawmakers have reached a deal to slash steroid testing of public high school athletes to less than half of the current program, but still leave it big enough to test thousands of athletes over the next two years.
The deal was struck by House and Senate members negotiating the 2010-2011 budget, lawmakers said Tuesday.
The current $6 million program was designed to test up to 50,000 students by the end of the current school year. The tentative deal for the new program would slash funding to $2 million over the next two years.
- There's still some hope for the omnibus gambling resolution, but Rep. Ed Kuempel has a backup plan ready anyway.
UPDATE: Brandi Grissom tweets that "the fat lady has sung" for the gambling bill.
- If you're under 21, getting a driver's license for the first time just got harder.
- A tax on smokeless tobacco, which would fund a medical school repayment fund for doctors who agree to move to rural areas, passed the House.
The Texas Senate voted on Tuesday to repeal a $5-per-person admission fee on strip clubs that has been ruled unconstitutional and agreed to replace it with a new tax on sexually oriented business.
The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry for his consideration even as House members were poised to debate a competing bill favored by sexual assault victim advocates.
Passed in 2007, the strip club admission fee has been ruled unconstitutional by a judge and is currently under appeal. Money collected under that fee was sent to a fund to help sex assault victims and a pool for uninsured Texans.
The new tax proposed by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would apply to adult movie theaters, adult video stores, adult bookstores and other sexually oriented businesses that charge admission fees. It would total 10 percent of gross admissions receipts.
According to a legislative analysis, the new plan would send 25 percent of the new fee to a state school fund and the rest to a sexual assault victims fund.
But some advocates for victims say the new bill is a ruse put forth by strip club owners, who would not be required to charge admission to their clubs, and would sharply reduce the money collected to help assault victims.
The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault instead supports a separate House bill by Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston, who pushed the original $5 fee. Cohen's bill would reduce the club entry fee to $3 and dedicate all the money to the sexual assault fund.