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Texas House Rejects Senate's "Fatter" Budget & Nightly Roundup

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By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Texas House is not willing to compromise on budget cuts.

House members, today, rejected Senate amendments that restored several billion in spending. That sends the budget to a "conference committee" to work out differences.

House members also cautioned budget conferees against restoring funds for certain programs: Planned Parenthood, was one of them.

State Representative Mark Strama, a Democrat from Austin, says conferees should be allowed to do their jobs.

Strama: Unless you believe that preventing a pregnancy is the same as terminating a pregnancy, if you want to reduce the number of abortions in this state, you should be for funding these family planning services.

But Stephenville Republican Sid Miller argued that the House has spoken.

Miller: I'm asking the conferees to honor the will of the house when we transferred this money - just to uphold the will of the House.

Miller's motion passed 86 to 39.

Task force recommends fewer mandates

A bipartisan task force is recommending that state government impose fewer mandates on cities, counties and schools.

The group, which includes Houston Mayor Annise Parker, reported its suggestions for streamlined government to Gov. Rick Perry Friday. Among the recommendations: allow school districts to determine the best student-to-teacher ratio, rather than face the state mandate of 22 to one; let local governments determine when to replace firefighting equipment instead of requiring them to do so at regular intervals; give local governments the revenue from red light cameras instead of providing some of the money to the state.

The task force is also calling on the state to shorten the amount of time state prisoners spend in county jails.

Texas House debates bill banning sanctuary cities

The Texas House has kicked off debate on whether to require local police to enforce federal immigration law.

Gov. Rick Perry declared the ban on so-called sanctuary cities an emergency matter. He says all Texas law enforcement agencies should tackle the problem of illegal immigration.

Republican Rep. Burt Solomons said his bill will increase safety in local cities without placing an unfunded mandate on them.

Police chiefs across the state disagree. They say they don't have the funding or manpower to take on a federal responsibility.

Solomons says his bill doesn't promote racial profiling and differs from the contentious Arizona law that requires law enforcement to inquire about immigration status.

He said his bill doesn't force law enforcement to do anything, only prohibits policies not to inquire about immigration status.

US senators to Obama: Tour wildfire-ravaged Texas

Both U.S. senators from Texas are inviting President Barack Obama to tour wildfire-ravaged parts of the state during a visit next week and asking him to reconsider a decision denying a federal disaster declaration.

Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn sent Obama a letter Friday telling him that seeing "this devastation firsthand" will offer a sense of how the wildfires have affected Texas.

Obama is set to deliver an immigration speech in El Paso and attend a fundraiser in Austin on Tuesday.

The letter says thousands of wildfires have burned more than 2.2 million acres this year and "resulted in the destruction of homes, businesses, farms and ranches, and the death of two brave firefighters."

Officials say a disaster declaration would trigger a wider range of federal funding.