Analysis: In Texas, principles matter, but exceptions may apply

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State lawmakers have highly discriminating tastes. Sometimes, it’s because they are just discriminating. Sometimes, it’s because they’ll take what they can get from a policy-making machine that kills almost everything and mangles nearly everything else.

This week, the Texas Senate changed a school choice bill, one the lieutenant governor calls “the civil rights issue of our age,” pruning a statewide plan for public subsidies for private schools into one that won’t affect rural and smaller communities, where opposition was strong. They won an exception from bill supporters scrounging for votes from senators representing those areas.

That legislation includes education savings accounts — a form of vouchers — and a scholarship fund for poorer students, funded by insurance premium credits. And even with the changes that limit the bill’s geographic spread, it faces tough sledding in the House. It might die there — that’s the fate of almost four of every five proposed pieces of legislation. Or it might be reshaped again to win a majority in the House. Either way, it’s already a slimmed-down version of what was originally proposed.

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Earlier in the week, senators took up a piece of legislation that began as something less than a full measure. It would end the practice of allowing government employees to deduct their union and non-union labor organization dues from the paychecks.

They built in an exception for police, firefighters and other first responders, but still defended the legislation as a principled stand against letting labor organizations collect dues from public-sector employees the way they collect dues from private-sector employees.

It’s a principle, but with an exception for favored groups.

It’s not that lawmakers are inconsistent, though it wouldn’t take Perry Mason or CSI to…

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