|Dallas Morning News -- Tucson -- May 19, 2015
Austin -- Top lawmakers appear close to a compromise on boosting border security, setting the stage for the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a more permanent law enforcement presence along the Texas-Mexico line.
On Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee approved a House-passed border security bill --- which had languished untouched for two months --- that blends the two chambers' approaches to beefing up the border with as many as 300 state troopers, tougher smuggling penalties and expanded law enforcement infrastructure.
GOP lawmakers haven't been that far apart on the legislation, which creates the framework for the $600 million or more they want to spend on border security in the next two years. The effort has been a top priority for Republican leaders and a key component of late-session negotiations, even as some Democrats have questioned the need to expend so many state resources.
Legislators have worked to hash out differences on the work schedules for state Department of Public Safety officers, the state's involvement in southbound border checkpoints, a proposed legislative oversight committee and other details.
The “hybrid” bill offered by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, appears to head in that direction. And though the full extent of the border boost won't be known until a broader budget deal is struck, key lawmakers pegged Tuesday's action as a significant step.