Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Texas House okays restricting insurance coverage of abortion:

The Texas House has given preliminary approval to a measure that would bar insurers from covering abortions in basic health care plans. If signed into law, women would have to purchase separate policies for abortion coverage in Texas.

Supporters say it makes it so that Texans who don’t believe in abortions don’t have to subsidize them for other insurance policyholders.

“We’re discussing taking the life of the innocent little baby because of something the baby had nothing to do with,” Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, said.

Opponents call it anti-women’s health and that it’s simply another attempt to limit abortion access in Texas.

Life threatening medical emergencies to the mother would still be covered. But Democratic attempts to allow abortion coverage in instances of fetal abnormalities, rape or incest were rejected.

“We’re excluding things that I think common decency would dictate should be apart of this coverage,” Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said. “I’m just, I’m sorry, I’m just baffled.”

The Senate has approved a similar proposal.

Coming up on Capital Tonight at 7, hear from one abortion rights groups about how much this could potentially cost some low-income Texas women.


Senate stands firm on education agenda:

State Senate Republicans are standing firm on their education agenda and rejecting a House plan. That plan would pump $1.8 billion into public schools over the next two years.

The House education chair has touted it as an important step to fixing the state’s troubled school finance system. But today, the chair of the Senate education committee argued long-term solutions are needed and called the lower chamber’s proposal a political fix.

“The time for tinkering around the edges and making minor changes is over,” Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said. “We have a broken system that is well past applying another band aid.”

Sen. Taylor and his Republican colleagues say the Legislature needs to study the problems in the school finance system further. He’s pushing a plan to create a commission to do just that and then make recommendations.


When and how to use the Rainy Day Fund:

There’s been an ongoing debate about when and how the state’s so-called rainy day fund should be used. It’s at about $10 billion right now. House members have been on board with tapping it to fill holes in the state’s budget. But Senate Republicans say it should only be used for one-time expenses or emergencies.

Dale Craymer, President of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, joins us at 7 to talk more about its intended purpose and whether current needs warrant tapping it.


Talking trees:

One of the 20 items Gov. Abbott wants lawmakers to pass this special session is outlawing local tree regulations. More than 50 cities and towns in Texas have ordinances aimed at protecting trees. Many of the local rules require property owners to either pay a fee for removing trees or plant new trees if they cut down larger ones on their land.

Abbott and other conservatives argue the ordinances are an unconstitutional violation of private property rights. But proponents of the local regulations say they are constitutional and improve the quality of life for Texas residents.

Andrew Dobbs with the Texas Campaign for the Environment will discuss his group’s opposition to the legislation and why he says a compromise bill is being “hijacked.”


Watch for these stories and the latest on President Trump’s threat to North Korea tonight at 7pm.


Posted by Karina Kling