Quorum Report News Clips

April 26, 2017: All Newsclips | Mid Morning Clips

Early Morning - April 26, 2017

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Statesman Exclusive: Where ‘savings’ come from in Abbott’s hiring freeze

Gov. Greg Abbott said this week that the state government hiring freeze he announced in January has already saved the state $145 million, well on the way to reaching the $200 million he said the policy would save by the time it expires at the end of August. About $99 million of the savings, however, don’t come from a streamlined state workforce but from “offsets” proposed by state agencies and public universities in exchange for getting waivers from the hiring freeze. In some cases, agency officials said they would withhold spending money they likely wouldn’t have been able to spend by the end of the budget year. Additionally, one of the largest chunks of savings Abbott is claiming — $28 million from the Department of Family and Protective Services — will actually be spent this fiscal year within the agency on needed improvements in Child Protective Services and the foster care system, according to the governor’s office.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Cervantes: Trump's 'sanctuary cities' order is blocked; what does that mean for Texas?

A federal judge from California on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump's executive order that would have cut off federal funds to cities that limit their police department's participation with federal immigration authorities. Judge William Orrick, based in San Francisco, said the cities that sued the federal government were likely to succeed on the merits of their challenge to the Jan. 25 executive order. His decision places a nationwide temporary hold on the directive. At issue is whether Trump had the authority to bar federal grant money from local jurisdictions which the administration classifies as so-called 'sanctuary cities.' The cities said Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by acting unilaterally, while Department of Justice attorneys argued the order was an effort to ensure local jurisdictions were complying with federal immigration law.

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - April 25, 2017

Kennedy: Why the Texas House’s ‘sanctuary city’ bill is also about sanctuary for Republicans

We are down to the gamesmanship phase of the Texas Legislature, when looks matter most. Fort Worth Republican state Rep. Charlie Geren is carrying a bill cracking down on “sanctuary cities” in a Wednesday debate. His job is to make it look tough. Fort Worth Democratic state Rep. Ramon Romero is against the bill, which allows police to ask anyone arrested (not simply detained) their federal civil immigration status. His job is to make it look too tough. Both gain votes in their home district — Geren in Republican west Fort Worth and northwest Tarrant County, Romero in Democratic central Fort Worth — with a hard-fought debate.

Dallas Morning News - April 25, 2017

Jury deciding fate of John Wiley Price is deadlocked

Near the close of their fifth day of deliberations, the federal jurors who are deciding whether John Wiley Price is a crook informed the judge they were unable to agree on some of the counts against the commissioner or his top aide. U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn on Tuesday sent the jury home early around 3:30 p.m. to "refresh" and asked panelists to resume their attempts to find a consensus on Wednesday morning. If they still cannot agree, Lynn could ask the jury to continue for a few more days. Or she could declare mistrials on the counts that the jury can't agree on. And then, the government would have to decide whether or not to retry the defendants on those charges.

The Hill - April 25, 2017

Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page

resident Trump is on a different page than Republican leaders in Congress just days away from a possible government shutdown. Trump and the White House are pressuring Congress to include funding to build the president’s signature wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a bill to keep the government open past Friday. GOP leaders, worried their party will be blamed for a shutdown and realizing they’ll need votes from Democrats to get a stopgap measure to Trump’s desk, have said funds for the wall should be dealt with in a supplemental spending bill or as part of next year’s appropriations process. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last month even noted that construction on the wall couldn’t begin soon.

Huffington Post - April 25, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry Supports Paris Climate Agreement, But Wants To Tweak It

Energy Secretary Rick Perry supports remaining in the Paris climate agreement, but wants the United States to renegotiate its terms, he said Tuesday. That puts him on one side of a schism forming within President Donald Trump’s White House over how to handle the historic 195-country deal to slash emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, support remaining in the agreement; chief strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt ? two of the more radical, far-right voices in the White House ? want Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to exit the agreement.

State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Ken Paxton: Affidavits are public even if they reveal search warrants

A search warrant affidavit becomes a public record when it is filed with a Texas court, even though it could tip off the subject before the search can take place, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a written opinion released Tuesday. If the Legislature did not intend that result, Paxton added, there is a bill pending in the Texas House that would correct the situation. The opinion was requested in October by James Hicks, the criminal district attorney for Taylor County, who argued that the affidavit should be available to the public only after the search had begun. Doing otherwise, he said, “would allow criminals to receive forewarning that a search warrant had been issued and was imminent.”

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Advocates push for hearings on stalled medical marijuana bills

Dr. Robert S. Marks says he routinely faces a dilemma when cancer patients and others dealing with chronic pain broach the topic of marijuana as a treatment option. “You’re in a very tough position between what the law tells you to do, and what your (medical) oath tells you to do,” said Marks, who operates two pain management clinics in Austin. “The truth of the matter is, you have a huge disconnect right now between what’s legal and what can actually help people” with fewer adverse side-effects than prescription opiates, he said. Marks was among about two dozen advocates for so-called medical marijuana, including health-care professionals and patients, who gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Lawmakers consider bill that would reduce the number of STAAR tests

A Central Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that would scale back the number of state standardized tests, including social studies and writing. More than two dozen lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have signed on as co-authors of House Bill 1333, filed by Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs. The bill was heard in the House Public Education Committee on Tuesday. The main purpose of the bill is to reduce the number of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to what is required by federal law. By reducing the costs of administering the test, the state could save $1.8 million over the next two years, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

As controversy swirls, feral hog bait manufacturer pulls out of Texas

A grand experiment by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller to hasten “the feral hog apocalypse” is on hold after the company producing a bait meant to poison the destructive animals has asked the Texas Agriculture Department to withdraw its approval of the product. The rollout of the product, Kaput Feral Hog Bait, had faced wide skepticism from hunters, environmentalists and meat processing plants following its promotion by Miller in February. Amid the pushback, the product has never been available for sale in Texas. The Texas House, meanwhile, quickly moved to pass a measure that called for further study of the product before its use.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Texas students demonstrate mixed results on STAAR reading, math tests

Elementary and middle school students demonstrated mixed results this year in their performance on the first administration of Texas’ standardized tests. STAAR math scores for fifth- and eighth-grade students showed improvement, but reading scores for both grades dropped. Compared with last year, passing scores on the math test for both grade levels statewide were up 5 percentage points to 81 percent for fifth-graders and 74 percent for eighth-graders. Reading scores dropped 2 percentage points among fifth-graders to 71 percent, and 3 percentage points for eighth-graders to 76 percent.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Texas House to tackle lackluster inspections of farmworker housing

The House Committee on Urban Affairs on Tuesday will examine the state’s unfunded inspection program for farmworker housing, which a 2016 American-Statesman investigation found fails to ensure licensed housing for the vast majority of the state’s farmworkers. The committee is scheduled to take up HB 2365, filed by State Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., D-Fort Worth, and HB 2677, filed by State Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, at a hearing this morning. State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, has filed similar legislation in the Senate. The bills call for stricter housing inspections, tougher penalties for violators, and enhanced community outreach to growers and farmworkers in the state in hopes of uncovering unlicensed housing.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Lawmaker on farmworker housing bill: Inaction is ‘inexcusable’

In emotional testimony Tuesday, Texas farmworkers and advocates urged a House committee to pass a bill that would strengthen inspections of housing for agricultural workers, increase penalties on violators and require state regulators to look for unlicensed facilities. Justino De Leon, a longtime farmworker from Pharr, told members of the House Committee on Urban Affairs that he often was forced to live in unlicensed facilities with appalling conditions. “We slept on the floor, on cardboard, with a broken air conditioning,” he said. “Some had to sleep in their trucks. There were lots of mosquitoes.” Daniel Dwyer, head of the farmworker program at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., showed the committee photos taken at an unlicensed housing facility in Premont last week with broken windows, large insects and no furnishings.

Texas Tribune - April 25, 2017

Texas teachers have mixed opinions on bid to reduce state tests

Jennifer Stratton said her third-grade son has been on the honor roll for the last three quarters but is anxious his progress could be erased if he does poorly on standardized tests. She testified Tuesday before the House Public Education Committee to support House Bill 1333, which would scale back the number of required standardized tests and reduce its importance in rating schools and districts. HB 1333 is one of several this session aimed at limiting the high stakes of standardized testing across the state.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

HC: Hopes for sanity -- New strategies for treating those coping with mental illness need lawmakers' support.

Talk to Tom Luce, the longtime Dallas attorney who now heads the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, and you get the idea that Texas lawmakers are beginning to understand how to calibrate the mental-health needs of their fellow Texans. That's good news, although whether those same lawmakers will adequately fund programs to meet those needs is another matter. During a phone conversation with the Chronicle editorial board last week, Luce called for a state hospital system that recognizes the need for a different treatment model for the long-term care of Texans dealing with mental illnesses. The new model can't be emergency care and also has to be more sustained than what most community health centers are able to offer. It's also something other than long-term hospital care, and certainly not "warehousing," the thoroughly discredited approach from years past when patients became lifelong wards of the state at state hospitals in Austin, San Antonio and elsewhere.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Swastikas, bomb threats and ‘Heil Hitler’: Anti-Semitic incidents jump 50 percent in southern Texas

Anti-Semitic hate incidents like the one in Humble have jumped 50 percent this year over all of last year in the southern part of Texas, a "disturbing trend" that includes swastikas, Nazi salutes and even bomb threats, according to a report released this week by the Anti-Defamation League. The surge in the Lone Star state was part of an 86 percent increase nationwide, compared to last year. "Clearly, ADL is needed more than ever, and we will redouble our efforts to fight anti-Semitism and all types of discrimination," said ADL regional Associate Director Dena Marks. While 2016 saw 16 reported hate incidents in the League's Houston-based southwest region, the first quarter of this year logged 25 reports, including eight swastikas, one incident of allege

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Dems hope to weaponize amendments to take down 'sanctuary cities' bill

There are many differences between the Texas House and Senate, but arguably the most important one is the set of rules in each chamber. While the lieutenant governor and the Republican majority largely can change the Senate's calendar and rules on a moment's notice, that's not the case in the House. On Monday, the House had a noticeable scuffle that highlighted the divide. At issue was whether the chamber would effectively cut off debate on Senate Bill 4, the anti-"sanctuary cities" bill, when it comes to the floor on Wednesday. In particular, the Republican chairman of the Calendars Committee, Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, wanted to ensure that all amendments to the bill would be filed by 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Dems hope to weaponize amendments to take down 'sanctuary cities' bill

There are many differences between the Texas House and Senate, but arguably the most important one is the set of rules in each chamber. While the lieutenant governor and the Republican majority largely can change the Senate's calendar and rules on a moment's notice, that's not the case in the House. On Monday, the House had a noticeable scuffle that highlighted the divide. At issue was whether the chamber would effectively cut off debate on Senate Bill 4, the anti-"sanctuary cities" bill, when it comes to the floor on Wednesday. In particular, the Republican chairman of the Calendars Committee, Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, wanted to ensure that all amendments to the bill would be filed by 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Online tool to track air pollution in Texas debuts

Air pollution happens every day in Houston. Sometimes, that pollution is well within permit limits, considered safe by state environmental regulators, and sometimes, it's not. So how do Houston residents who care about air quality tell the difference? Several environmental groups have recently debuted a handy new tool that notifies people when a Texas industry anticipates releasing air pollution that exceeds permitted limits. Here's how it works. Go to www.neighborhoodwitness.org and sign up for alerts. Alerts are sent when a company tells state environmental regulators that it expects emissions will exceed permit limits, usually because of planned maintenance or repairs.

Dallas Morning News - April 25, 2017

Attacks on fasting lawmaker hint at fiery debate expected for 'sanctuary cities' bill

When Dallas Democrat Victoria Neave decided to fast in protest against the so-called sanctuary cities bill, she didn't expect messages from people like @TruckinAltRight, who tweeted: "Hopefully you'll starve to death and your body will be deported." At the same time, Neave knew what she was getting into. The controversial bill is expected to draw fiery rhetoric from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Wednesday, when the House takes up the proposal. The bill would ban cities, counties and universities from adopting policies that prevent local law enforcement agencies from asking about a person's immigration status or enforcing immigration law.

Dallas Morning News - April 25, 2017

Wallace: Texas has made abortion riskier

As a family physician dedicated to helping my patients and their families live their healthiest lives, I am saddened and disheartened by our lawmakers' continued assault on the right to safe and accessible health care. Once again, our state Legislature has shown intent to criminalize and further stigmatize abortion. Instead of attacking abortion care, which most Texans believe should be accessible in their communities, I hope our tax dollars can support legislation that restores trust in doctors and allows us to practice medicine in accordance with our professional judgment and training and in the best interest of all Texans. Here in Texas, we have weathered the storms of baseless legislation that tear away at the fabric of the provider-patient relationship. These laws have not made abortion safer, but rather have subjected women to substandard health care practices or increased personal costs because the few remaining clinics are burdened by overregulation.

Dallas Morning News - April 25, 2017

AG Ken Paxton continues to demand new judge to preside over his criminal trials

Attorney General Ken Paxton has repeated his request that a new judge be named to preside over his criminal cases, saying he "has not and will not" allow the judge to remain involved. On Monday, Paxton's lawyers sent Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel a letter asking him to replace Judge George Gallagher. The existence of the letter was first reported by The Texas Tribune. "Paxton respectfully advises the Harris County District Clerk, as he did by court filing last week, that he has not and will not give the statutorily-required written consent under Article 31.09 to allow the Honorable George Gallagher or his court staff to continue to preside over the matter in Harris County," Paxton's attorneys wrote. "Accordingly, Paxton requests that the Harris County District Clerk assign these cases to a Harris County district court in the manner and as it would with any new criminal case."

San Antonio Express News - April 25, 2017

CPS says it is working on new ways to combat child abuse

While the rate of child victims of abuse or neglect declined somewhat in Bexar County last year, the rate of children removed from their homes for such maltreatment increased, with more than 1,900 kids being taken from their parents by the state. And last year 11 children in the county died at the hands of their caregivers, up from four such deaths in fiscal year 2015. Despite such dark statistics, officials with Child Protective Services and others involved with child welfare gathered Tuesday to discuss what the state agency is doing right to combat child abuse in Bexar County, which routinely posts some of the worst numbers in the state.

San Antonio Express News - April 25, 2017

Bill to limit annexations appears to gain momentum

At least one bill that would give residents of unincorporated areas more power to fight annexation by a city won approval in the state Senate on Monday and is on its way to the House. The Senate passed Senate Bill 715, filed by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, on a 20-10 vote. If it becomes law, residents would have a chance to vote on whether they want to become part of a city through annexation. Final passage of SB 715, or several other annexation bills, could dramatically curb San Antonio’s ability to grow in the future and could halt the city’s current attempts to annex a rapidly developing part of North Bexar County along Interstate 10 West — a scaled-down version of an annexation plan the city proposed two years ago.

County Stories

Dallas Morning News - April 25, 2017

Ragland: Four things to watch for after jury returns verdict in John Wiley Price's public corruption trial

Look, we don't know if the jurors in John Wiley Price's public corruption trial are hopelessly deadlocked, or if they all just need a good night's sleep. They could be log-jammed on one count -- or all of them. Neither the judge nor the jurors tipped their hand Tuesday on the fifth day -- give or take -- of deliberations, which ended with U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn sending the panel home early to watch some "mindless television." But whenever the jury wraps up its work, there are several potential developments that bear watching.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Adler: Sessions says Travis County detainer policy not breaking law

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled Tuesday that the Trump administration won’t punish Travis County for disregarding federal requests to detain local inmates suspected of being in the country illegally, according to Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who was among a group of big-city mayors who met with Sessions on Tuesday. Just hours after Sessions’ comments to representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, including Adler, a federal judge in San Francisco blocked a Trump administration order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. Travis County was one of dozens of cities and counties joining a lawsuit filed in San Francisco challenging President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order.

San Antonio Express News - April 25, 2017

Lawmakers working to create special districts to fuel Boerne-area growth

Developers behind two large subdivisions proposed in Kendall County are asking the Legislature to create a pair of special districts to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure. Some residents are upset over not being alerted earlier by state and local officials who knew of the legislation since the start of the year. Worries about new growth hastening the depletion of groundwater in Kendall County were tempered by word the developers are exploring out-of-county water sources rather than drilling wells. But the prospect of adding motorists to already crowded roads around Boerne remains a major concern.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Letter signed by 60 Texas leaders and sent to Trump backs Ike Dike

Texas land Commissioner George P. Bush has sent Donald Trump a letter signed by more than 60 Texas leaders urging the president to include a coastal barrier in his proposed $1 trillion national infrastructure project. "We believe we have all the support necessary; what we need is the $15 billion in funds to protect this crucial part of the nation's economy," reads the letter sent Monday to the president. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. The estimate is larger than the previous one of $11.63 billion because it includes money for a ring dike around the portions of the city of Galveston behind the seawall and for a gate at the Galveston Bay entrance to Clear lake, Land Office spokeswoman Brittany Eck said.

San Antonio Express News - April 25, 2017

Trump tariff could drive up San Antonio home prices

The Trump administration announced Monday that it plans to slap a roughly 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imported from Canada, a move that would likely drive San Antonio’s fast-growing home prices even higher. Lumber prices were already getting more expensive locally amid growing demand for new homes for San Antonio’s swelling population, local builders and suppliers said. Prices for Canadian lumber then surged after a trade deal between the U.S. and Canada expired last fall. For local building materials supplier Allen & Allen Co., prices went up by as much as 30 percent over the last few months, Chief Operations Officer Wade Payne said. “We’re hoping it’s only short-term, before cooler heads prevail,” Payne said of the tariff.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

Waller County may replace aging jail

Waller County officials may soon replace what a recent report described as an "inefficient, outdated" jail that has been under particularly intense scrutiny since the 2015 death of Sandra Bland. The project has for years been on the county's radar, County Judge Trey Duhon said. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has discussed it with local officials. And, with time ticking, it has again come to the forefront: county commissioners plan to talk about hiring an architect to build a new jail at a meeting on Wednesday. "It has nothing to do with any recent events, or even Sandra Bland, or anything else like that," Duhon said. Rather, he added, officials worry it will soon no longer meet state standards, forcing the county to pay to house inmates elsewhere.

City Stories

Dallas Morning News - April 25, 2017

Dallas activists voice opposition to anti-sanctuary city bill

Maria de Jesus Garza remembers singing the national anthem with all she could to prove to immigration agents that she was U.S. citizen. She was 17 years old and boarding a Greyhound bus in San Diego when agents detained and deported her. Her father traveled from the Los Angeles area to Tijuana with documents that proved her U.S. citizenship. Now a 32-year-old organizer with the Workers Defense Project, the bilingual, U.S.-born Garza uses her story to show how racial profiling can sweep up those who aren’t even immigrants. The potential for increased racial profiling is one of the reasons Garza says she joined Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, members of the League of United Latin American Citizens and other groups at a news conference announcing their opposition to immigration legislation headed Wednesday for a full House vote in Austin after approval by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Austin American-Statesman - April 25, 2017

Kelly Jones fears children are `morphing into’ ex-husband Alex Jones

Kelly Jones took the stand at her child custody trial Tuesday and described ex-husband and Austin broadcaster Alex Jones as a “violent, cruel and abusive man” who is “enraged and out of control most of the time.” While Alex Jones and his attorneys have contended that he leaves the “bombasity” of his Infowars persona at the office, Kelly Jones said Alex Jones spouts what she views as racist, homophobic and anti-women sentiments in both his public and private life and that their children have come to echo him. “They are morphing into him,” she said. She said her son, who she said wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, had said, “I hate women,” and had grown “domineering” in his relationship with his 9- and 12-year-old sisters. She said her 12-year-old daughter had said, “Women shouldn’t be judges.”

National Stories

Texas Monthly - April 25, 2017

Before the Flood

On a recent morning in Nuevo Laredo, Marciano Santiago sat in a white plastic folding chair waiting his turn to use the phone at the Instituto Tamaulipeco para los Migrantes, a state agency that provides humanitarian assistance to migrants. Near him, in identical chairs, sat four new arrivals: a bricklayer, a factory worker, a McDonald’s fry cook, and a gardener, each holding the sum of his meager possessions in clear plastic bags. Earlier that day, U.S. immigration officials who had held the four men in custody in Laredo took them across the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge and left them in the hands of Mexican officials. Eventually, they ended up here. Santiago, on the other hand, had already been in town for a while, following his second failed attempt to cross over into Texas.

Reuters - April 25, 2017

Government costs could rise $2.3 billion without Obamacare payments: study

The U.S. government's costs could increase by $2.3 billion in 2018 if Congress and President Donald Trump decide not to fund Obamacare-related payments to health insurers, according to a study released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The payments amount to about $7 billion in fiscal year 2017 and help cover out-of-pocket medical costs for low-income Americans who purchase insurance on the individual insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. Trump has threatened to withhold the payments to force Democrats to the negotiating table on a healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. He has also said he will fund the subsidies if Democrats agree to funding for his proposed border wall with Mexico as part of efforts to pass a government funding bill this week and avert a shutdown. Democrats have rejected the conditional offer.

CNN - April 25, 2017

Sh*t talking is Democrats' new strategy

Democrats in the post-2016 world have potty mouths. Swearing has become such a part of Democratic stump speeches that profane clips have become routine in Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez's speeches. With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump "doesn't give a shit about health care." ... And the swearing has made its way onto the campaign trail, too. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Texas Democrat who plans to challenge Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, has taken to saying "shit" on the campaign trial. O'Rourke slammed Cruz earlier this month for campaigning all over the country, something he said signals the Republican is "sure as shit not serving" his constituents. He has also used the swearing in interviews, describing Obamacare in an interview with Politico bluntly: "That shit doesn't work."

The Hill - April 25, 2017

Ted Cruz: Seize money from drug lords to fund border wall

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is introducing a bill to allow assets seized from drug lords, like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to fund President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Cruz's bill, the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act, also known as the "El Chapo Act," is a reference to the Mexican drug kingpin from the Sinaloa cartel. The U.S. government is seeking $14 billion from the drug lord as part of its prosecution of Guzman.

The Atlantic - April 25, 2017

How Democrats Came to Feel Nostalgic for George W. Bush

In February 2010, a series of billboards began popping up around the nation. A grinning, waving George W. Bush appeared beside the phrase, “Miss Me Yet?” The answer was a resounding, Eh, sorta. Bush had bounced back somewhat from his abysmal final approval rating, but while Republicans were feeling rosier about the ex-president, Democrats were not. It turns out that for some Democrats, the question was not mistaken but merely premature. “Did we ever think we would see the day when we would say, ‘Please bring back George W. Bush’?” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said during an interview with Evan Smith last week. “We really did work together.” Pelosi is the most specific but not the first example of Democrats expressing surprising fondness for the 43rd president. His refusal to endorse Donald Trump, his decision to skip the Republican National Convention, and rumors that he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election softened feelings about him. Perhaps his alleged reaction to Trump’s inaugural address was the coup de grace: “That was some weird shit.”

Washington Post - April 25, 2017

Trump to propose large increase in deductions Americans can claim on their taxes

President Trump on Wednesday plans to call for a significant increase in the standard deduction people can claim on their tax returns, potentially putting thousands of dollars each year into the pockets of tens of millions of Americans, according to two people briefed on the plan. The change is one of several that the White House will propose when it provides an outline of the tax overhaul pitch Trump will make to Congress and the American people as he nears his 100th day in office. He will propose a sharp reduction in the corporate tax rate, but also major changes to the taxes individuals and families pay. White House officials believe these changes will give Americans and companies more money to spend, expand the economy and create more jobs.

The Hill - April 25, 2017

Swing-state Iowa pivots to the right with GOP now in control

Iowa has been a swing state for decades. But this legislative session, the state swung decidedly to the right. Republicans in Iowa asserted a broad mandate after winning complete control of the state’s government in November, enacting a sweeping conservative agenda unlike anything seen in the state. Among the measures passed this year: new limits on abortion rights, a package of election reforms that includes a requirement that voters show identification at the polls, a broad expansion of gun rights, reforms to collective bargaining laws for state workers, limits on worker compensation claims, and a measure pre-empting Iowa cities and counties from setting their own minimum wages higher than the state rate.

The Hill - April 25, 2017

House GOP circulates new changes to health bill

House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment obtained by The Hill, the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats -- and many more moderate Republicans -- warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums.

Politico - April 25, 2017

Lawmakers: Flynn likely broke law in not revealing Russia payments

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn did not disclose payments for a 2015 speech in Moscow in his application to renew his security clearance in 2016, the leaders of the House Oversight Committee told reporters Tuesday. The omission likely broke the law, the lawmakers said. “As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said. “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s top Democrat, noted that knowingly falsifying or concealing information on a security clearance application form, called an SF-86, is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Wall St. Journal - April 25, 2017

Americans Back Immigration and Trade at Record Levels

Americans’ support for immigration and free trade hit record highs in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, just three months after the inauguration of a president who pledged to curtail both. It remains unclear whether opinions are shifting permanently on these matters, or whether support for immigration and trade is solidifying among Democrats and independents as part of a broader reaction against the policies of President Donald Trump. Six in 10 Americans said immigration helps the nation more than it hurts—up 6 points since the last sounding, in September 2016. One-third of people in the survey said immigration hurts more than it helps.

Houston Chronicle - April 25, 2017

A look at immigrants in the US without legal status

A new study shows the number of immigrants in the U.S. illegally has fallen to 11 million since 2009, largely because of a drop-off in the number of Mexicans without legal status. The Pew Research Center reports Tuesday there were about 11.3 million immigrants in the country illegally in 2009. The study is based on survey data from 2015. The nonpartisan center says the number of Mexicans in the country illegally dropped to about 5.6 million from about 6.4 million during the six-year period. Pew didn't give a reason for the decline. But in earlier reports, it said the U.S. economy was slow to recover from the recession and border enforcement got stricter.

Washington Post - April 25, 2017

Trump’s ‘sanctuary city’ order blocked by federal judge in San Francisco

A federal judge in San Francisco dealt the Trump administration another legal blow Tuesday, temporarily halting President Trump’s threat to withhold unspecified federal funding from cities and towns that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick imposed a nationwide injunction against Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on what are called “sanctuary” jurisdictions and said lawsuits by Santa Clara County and San Francisco challenging the order were likely to succeed. Orrick pointed to discrepancies in the administration’s interpretation of the executive order, which broadly authorized the attorney general to withhold grant money from jurisdictions that do not cooperate with immigration officials on deportations and other enforcement actions.