The Brief: Texas alcohol regulators could lose funding for out-of-state travel” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Jet-setting liquor regulators could see wings clipped by lawmakers
All the jet-setting and partying by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, as depicted in an internal flier the agency produced, would come to a screeching halt under budgetary amendments filed Tuesday by state Reps. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs and Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth. 

How the Texas “bathroom bill” compares to North Carolina’s revised law
After North Carolina revised its controversial bathroom law last week, the NCAA announced it would again consider the state for future championship games. So is the proposed Texas bill more like the new North Carolina law or its predecessor?

Analysis: A teen’s death — and a failure of policy
The death of a teen on the run from the state’s foster care system stirs deeper questions: Why aren’t these programs working, and who will be held to account for that?

Are too many Texans calling themselves psychologists? Some lawmakers think so.
A bill that will be heard in a Senate committee Wednesday would narrow the practice of psychology in state statute after parts were ruled unconstitutional.

Senate panel approves bill banning bestiality in Texas
“These are serious crimes,” said state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, the bill’s author. “The state’s response should be as well.”

Postpartum depression bills get hearing before House lawmakers
House Public Health Committee members heard testimony on three measures that would aim to increase access to postpartum depression screenings and treatment for mothers.

Lawmakers consider requiring Texas schools to test water for lead
Advocates for mandatory water testing say schools are particularly vulnerable because so many of them are aging and have older pipes and water fountains.

Senate approves two-year tuition freeze, 1% cap on increases after that
The Texas Senate voted 29-2 to freeze tuition for two years, and then cap tuition increases at 1 percent plus inflation after that. The legislation will now go to the House, where leaders are skeptical of tuition freezes.

Judge denies request to dismiss some felony charges against Rep. Dawnna Dukes
A Travis County judge denied a request to dismiss four of 13 felony charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin.

Senate passes court security bill named in honor of Austin judge who was attacked
The Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act of 2017 passed the chamber Tuesday.

House approves bill focused on mental health insurance benefits
Texas House members approved a bill that would gives the Texas Department of Insurance more power to enforce how health insurance plans offer mental health and substance abuse benefits.

What you need to know

Among the 400-plus amendments filed to the House’s proposed state budget, two legislators filed amendments that would cut off future out-of-state travel by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission after reading about the agency’s spending tendencies in The Texas Tribune. Here’s what you need to know:

  • TABC spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars since the 2011 fiscal year attending liquor industry conferences with open bars, mariachis and square dancers. The commission spent at least $8,000 for a San Diego trip in 2015 and more than $10,000 for a Hawaii conference in 2013.
  • State Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, and Rep. Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth, want to shut the party down. Isaac filed an amendment that would prohibit liquor regulators from spending money in the next biennium on “travel outside the state, other than for bonafide and documented law enforcement or investigative activities.” Romero’s amendment would place a ban on any travel outside state borders by the commission.
  • The House is considering the budget on the chamber floor Thursday. Watch it live on our livestreaming page, and follow Texas Tribune reporters Jim Malewitz and Edgar Walters.

Other stories we’re watching today:

  • Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, is due in federal court in Houston at 2 p.m. to be arraigned on conspiracy charges. His lawyers say he will plead not guilty in the case, which alleges he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from charities, some of which they used to finance his campaigns and pay for personal expenses.

What we’re reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $)

Court: Civil Rights law prohibits discrimination of LGBTAP

Texas inmate wins Orthodox Jews the right to kosher meals in prisonFort Worth Star-Telegram

The interview: Joaquin Castro says Texas Democrats are poised for a comeback, Texas Observer 

Texas lawmakers launch effort to repair special education woes, Houston Chronicle ($)

S.A. pastor John Hagee meets with President Trump to discuss international affairs, San Antonio Express-News ($)

Will the masturbation bill get a House committee hearing?, Austin American-Statesman ($)

For your calendar

On April 10, join us for lunch and a conversation with state Sen. Kirk Watson and state Reps. Gina Hinojosa and Donna Howard.

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. Patrick Svitek contributed to this edition. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.org. As a nonprofit newsroom, we count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/04/05/brief-april-5/.

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