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Dallas Lawmaker Proposes Changing Rule On Quorums & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – A Texas lawmaker is proposing a change to the Texas Constitution that would stop legislators from breaking a quorum by leaving the state.

The proposed amendment is designed to keep lawmakers from the minority party from stalling legislation, such as Democrats are currently doing in Wisconsin. Texas Democrats used the same tactic in 2003.

Currently the Constitution requires two-thirds of lawmakers to be present to conduct business. State Representative Dan Branch's resolution would require only two-thirds of lawmakers present within the state to be present. The Dallas Republican's proposal comes before the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

If approved, the proposed constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters.

Texas sales tax revenue up from year ago

Comptroller Susan Combs says sales tax revenue for last month rose 9.7 percent in Texas compared to a year ago. Combs on Wednesday reported the February sales tax figure was $1.75 billion.

She says sales tax revenues have improved for the last 11 months, reflecting increased activity in almost all major economic sectors.

Combs reports that tax collections were up in the oil and gas industry, manufacturing and retail trade.

Democrats say new budget would close nursing homes

Democratic lawmakers denounced the latest version of the state budget, saying it would close 50 percent of the state's nursing homes. Those closures would leave 43,700 without a facility to live in.

Lawmakers have been struggling to find a solution to the $27 billion revenue shortfall facing the state. Republicans have pledged to cut spending and not raise revenues.

In a proposal approved this week, the state would cut Medicaid by 33 percent. The elderly and disabled take up 59 percent of Medicaid spending in Texas.

The Texas Health Care Associations says those cuts would not only close nursing homes, but also leave 60,000 nursing home workers unemployed.

Democrats make up less than a third of the Texas House. They urged Texans to call their legislators to protest the cuts.

Alleged overtime scam cost Fort Worth $231K

An alleged scheme by nine police officers to be paid for un-worked overtime will cost Fort Worth $231,000.

KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth reports the expense is more than city officials initially thought.

The officers are accused of falsifying traffic tickets to collect overtime pay for hours they didn't work. Each of them has either quit or has since been fired. All face tampering charges.

A state-funded highway safety program provided the money for the officers' pay. The state wants its money back.

The city will reimburse the state with money from other programs or emergency funds.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief says the situation is "pretty embarrassing" for the city and police department.

He says Fort Worth residents deserve better and city administrators will be more vigilant in the future.