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Newsclips - June 14, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2019

Chip Roy’s gambit keeps House in session till 4 a.m., and lawmakers grumble about the Texas freshman

Austin Rep. Chip Roy, a freshman conservative, on Wednesday gummed up the House's consideration of far-reaching spending legislation, using procedural levers to drag out the day's proceedings through the night and into the early morning.

The Republican — an acolyte of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — took the action to demand that the Democrat-run House approve measures he said would fix a migration crisis at America's southern border. Starting late Wednesday afternoon, Roy started requesting roll call votes on every floor amendment being considered on a sweeping appropriations bill for education, energy and other priorities. Roll call votes ended up happening on dozens of amendments, forcing votes that each took a few minutes.

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Laredo Morning Times - June 13, 2019

Meet Jessica Cisneros, the 26-year-old Laredo attorney running against Cuellar in Congress

A 26-year-old Laredoan, former valedictorian of Early College High School and current immigration and human rights attorney, Jessica Cisneros is announcing her campaign Thursday to run for Congress in 2020 to represent Laredo and the rest of Texas' 28th District, which spans from San Antonio to Mission.

Cisneros will have the chance to give Laredo's Rep. Henry Cuellar a serious primary challenger in this very blue district, which has solely been represented by Democrats since it was created in 1993. Cisneros is backed by Justice Democrats, the progressive advocacy group that famously recruited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her successful primary bid to represent New York's 14th congressional district.

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NBC News - June 13, 2019

DNC names 20 candidates who will appear on stage for first Democratic debate

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 presidential candidates who qualified to appear on stage later this month in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

Those who did not meet the threshold for the first debate include: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Bullock told NBC News' Chuck Todd Thursday in an interview on "Meet the Press Daily" that he was "disappointed" with the DNC's decision but declined to say if he would challenge it.

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Houston Public Media - June 10, 2019

Houston moves up in global cities ranking, slips in outlook

Houston climbed six spots in the 2019 Global Cities Report index, to No. 35. The report is created every year by business consulting firm AT Kearney and includes an index and an outlook ranking.

The index ranks cities’ current performance based on a number of metrics, including business activity, human capital, information exchange, political engagement and cultural experience. The top three cities are New York, London and Paris – which have been on top since at least 2012.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2019

Robert Scott Kellner: The anti-Nazi diary that George H.W. Bush brought to light

On June 12, George H. W. Bush would have turned 95. Most of the former president’s achievements are well known. But one, with lasting significance for future generations, is only now becoming appreciated. Without the former president, no one would have heard of a remarkable book: my grandfather’s World War II-era diary.

In an article that acknowledged Bush’s role in bringing it to light, Der Spiegel wrote: “The Friedrich Kellner diary is an image of Nazi Germany never before seen in such a concise and vivid form.” Kellner risked a great deal to write his diary. An organizer in Mainz for the Social Democratic Party of Germany, he had campaigned throughout the ill-fated Weimar Republic to keep Adolf Hitler and the Nazis from gaining power.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2019

Texas court says photographer has no recourse against university copyright infringement

The University of Houston got a big win this week when a state appeals court agreed to reverse a lower court ruling that would have allowed a Houston photographer to sue the university for using an aerial photograph the university used to promote its business school.

The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas determined that the university's copyright infringement of Houston photographer Jim Olive was not a "taking" of his property, an argument typically associated with real estate and not with intellectual property claims. In real estate when the government takes a person's property to build a road or bridge, the owner must be compensated.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

Rewrite of Texas sex education standards could include lessons on contraception, gender identity

Abstinence has long been the backbone of sex education in Texas, but this summer state officials are suggesting teachers should also be having conversations with children about contraceptives, sexual and gender identity, and how to say no.

Texas has the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, with above-average numbers of students reporting they have sex without condoms and engage in other risky behaviors. In light of those realities, Texas education commissioner Mike Morath is recommending students begin learning about reproductive and sexual health in age-appropriate ways as early as kindergarten and understand “sexual risk avoidance” by the end of middle school.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

UH launches investigation into rhabdo cases as new details emerge related to life threatening condition

University of Houston has launched an investigation after new details emerged about the training that led to several members of the UH women’s soccer team being diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, also known as rhabdo, a severe syndrome caused by muscle damage.

About a dozen students were diagnosed with rhabdo after a grueling workout in January. But that wasn’t the first time, according to a KPRC-TV 2 report. KPRC broadcast an interview with an anonymous student Wednesday night, in which the athlete stated that she and her teammates were “tortured almost” in an extreme, punishment workout in February 2018 after two teammates were accused of taking food designated for the football team.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

Abbott signs $1.7 billion in state aid for Harvey, flood projects into law

Tens of millions of dollars in state aid could flow to Houston and other communities flooded by Hurricane Harvey within weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed a $1.7 billion bill marking Texas’ largest response yet to that catastrophic storm.

The bulk of that money, and billions more in federal funding remains months, in some cases years, from ever reaching local authorities, however. Senate Bill 7, a flood-control package authored by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, was the marquee bill among a stack of disaster legislation Abbott signed Thursday at Gallery Furniture, the huge north Houston showroom where owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale housed flood victims during Harvey.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2019

Departing Mexican consul has been a prominent presence

Less than a month after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Mexico’s consul general in Austin, Carlos González Gutiérrez, received a note that he still keeps today. While having lunch at a local restaurant the waiter slipped him a note from some of the restaurant’s cooks asking if they could speak with him after his lunch.

González Gutiérrez looked at the kitchen and saw three Mexican women waving. He thought they might have questions about obtaining a passport. But he was taken aback by their concerns. Each was a homeowner who had built a life in the United States. When he met with them after his lunch, he remembers them asking, “Can President Trump confiscate our houses?”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2019

Why Chip Roy isn’t winning many friends in Washington

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Hays County, didn’t win any popularity contests among his colleagues this week, forcing them to work past midnight Wednesday night and return to the House floor Thursday for hours more to vote on 70 amendments to a funding bill that otherwise had drawn little opposition.

Democrats and Republicans alike were upset about being forced to cancel baseball practice for the upcoming annual charity congressional game. Others grumbled about losing sleep. Calling for a roll call vote instead of a voice vote is rarely done on such a large scale, and it tied up the House for more than two days. Roy’s tactic was meant to call attention to a $4.5 billion border security measure that hasn’t gotten a vote in either chamber.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2019

Despite new law, Austin Planned Parenthood clinic to stay open

Planned Parenthood’s $1-a-year lease of a city-owned building in East Austin can continue until 2039 despite a new state law that prohibits business dealings between local governments and the organization.

Senate Bill 22, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last week, takes effect Sept. 1 and will ban cities from “any transaction” with an abortion provider or its affiliates — including leases, sales and donations of real estate, goods and services.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 13, 2019

Plumbers and public safety saved after Abbott issues executive order extending board

Asa Womack, the owner of D-N-A Plumbing in Plano, was overjoyed when he learned Thursday that Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to keep the state board that regulates the plumbing industry intact. “Greatest news I’ve gotten since my wife’s last pregnancy,” Womack said.

The proclamation was welcome news to plumbers whose plumbing licenses — and livelihoods — were in jeopardy when lawmakers failed to pass legislation this session that would have ensured the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners continued to function past Sept. 1. The board oversees the licenses of about 58,000 plumbers in Texas and generated about $5.2 million in revenue in 2017, according to a January report.

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Associated Press - June 13, 2019

Trump administration reviewing foreign money to US colleges; Texas A&M among colleges

The U.S. Education Department has opened investigations into foreign funding at Georgetown University and Texas A&M University as part of a broader push to monitor international money flowing to American colleges.

Both universities are being ordered to disclose years of financial records amid concerns they have not fully reported their foreign gifts and contracts to the federal government, according to letters sent to the schools Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press. The inquiries are part of a broader campaign to scrutinize foreign funding going to universities and to improve reporting by schools, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the effort.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2019

Mitchell Schnurman: What’s ailing AT&T's stock? One year after Time Warner, investors worry about debt, Disney and Netflix

AT&T’s new-media revolution is off to a slow start on Wall Street. One year ago, the Dallas telecom giant closed on its $100 billion-plus deal for Time Warner Inc., owner of HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. Since then, AT&T’s stock price has languished while rivals surged.

Go back to October 2016, just before the deal became public, and the gap is even wider. While the market and competitors generated double-digit returns, AT&T shareholders are in the red over that two-and-a-half-year period — and that’s despite a rich dividend. AT&T’s stock closed at $32.29 on Thursday, $7 lower than before announcing the Time Warner merger. So what’s ailing AT&T’s stock?

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2019

Schlitterbahn selling New Braunfels, Galveston water parks

Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts — which has dealt with a gruesome death, indictments and financial troubles in recent years — is selling a chunk of its holdings, including its flagship water park, for $261 million. Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. said Thursday it will acquire the company’s New Braunfels park and resort as well as its Galveston park.

The late Robert Henry opened Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels in 1979 — the water park grew into one of the city’s premiere attractions — and the company has remained in the family. The Henry family said it had been looking for a buyer for the properties since last year.

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Laredo Morning Times - June 13, 2019

Laredoans react to the Jessica Cisneros campaign announcement

Jessica Cisneros' campaign announcement has made waves throughout Texas, with its epicenter right here in the Gateway City. In case you missed it, Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old Laredoan, former valedictorian of Early College High School and current immigration and human rights attorney, announced her campaign for Congress yesterday. The campaign will pit her against long-time Representative Henry Cuellar in the Democratic primary.

The announcement from the former Cuellar intern was polarizing, with spirited debates raging in the comments section of the Facebook post for the story. Both proponents and opponents of the young lawyer and the political group endorsing her, the Justice Democrats, made themselves heard.

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2019

Dallas DA tweaks plan giving some petty thieves a pass — but will he win over police?

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has tweaked the controversial theft policy he unveiled two months ago that prompted an uncharacteristically loud and negative response from local police chiefs.

Creuzot told The Dallas Morning News his office now allows police departments to resubmit cases the chiefs believe were wrongly rejected. He acknowledged that prosecutors initially tossed cases that should have been accepted.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

Appeals court orders Houston firefighters, city back to mediation

A Texas appeals court Thursday ordered the Houston firefighters union and Mayor Sylvester Turner's administration back to mediation in the hope the two sides will agree to a new pay contract and sidestep the contentious fight over Proposition B.

The order by the 14th Court of Appeals, which requires the parties to hold talks within 60 days, comes a month after a state district judge declared Prop B unconstitutional, marking the latest twist in a years-long battle between the city and firefighters over pay. The latest order cranks up pressure on Turner and the firefighters to work together to resolve the issues, said Josh Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

High-end housing demand drives Houston’s median price to record level

The median price of a single-family home in Houston hit a record high in May as the housing market logged its fourth straight month of sales gains, new data show. Shoppers pounced on fresh inventory last month and took advantage of low mortgage rates, increasing their buying power even as prices continued to rise.

High-end housing — properties that sold for at least $750,000 — led the way in sales volume, boosting the overall median price to a high of $249,993, up 2.4 percent from a year ago, according to the Houston Association of Realtors, which released its monthly market report Wednesday. Sales volume fell for homes priced less than $150,000, likely due to a lack of inventory.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2019

Business leaders take aim at Austin’s skills gap

With the local unemployment rate hovering around a 20-year low, it might be logical to conclude that everyone in Austin who wants a job has one. But civic and business leaders say more needs to be done to increase the expertise of the regional workforce, both to ensure that the economic boom continues and to keep local residents from getting left behind.

Workers “are going to need to make significant leaps in their skill-sets to take the jobs of the 21st century,” said Grace Suh, an IBM senior program manager for corporate citizenship and affairs. She made her comments Wednesday during a “State of Talent” event sponsored by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, which is coordinating an effort to get local employers more involved in developing the local workforce, through initiatives such an internships and education programs.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2019

San Antonio Express-News Editorial: Nirenberg should seize opportunity

A narrow victory is still a victory. Mayor Ron Nirenberg might not have a “mandate” after defeating District 6 City Councilman Greg Brockhouse by a few thousand votes in the runoff election. But Nirenberg does have an opportunity in his second term to move this city forward and energize his constituents.

Specifically, he needs to press forward with ConnectSA, his transit plan to get this city moving, and he needs to move forward with the city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, while taking into account business community concerns about potential costs. But there is also a festering wound the mayor will need to do his best to close. This would be the city’s contract dispute with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, whose last contract expired nearly five years ago.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2019

Dueling groups take on San Antonio climate plan

As dozens of activists demanded that the San Antonio City Council quickly adopt a climate action plan, a conservative Austin-based think tank blasted the proposal Wednesday. The dueling factions underscore the strong opinions about the plan, which outlines steps the city could take to combat and adapt to climate change.

The plan was put on hold before the recent mayoral election while city officials tried to muster more support for its goals. With the reelection Saturday of Mayor Ron Nirenberg, one of its main champions, the plan, called SA Climate Ready, is likely to move ahead. He remains committed to it and a City Council vote this fall.

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National Stories

Governing - June 13, 2019

Where do inmates live? States move to stop 'prison gerrymandering' in Census

Prisoners count. But where? That's a question state lawmakers across the country are grappling with as the 2020 census approaches.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, signed a bill to make his state the latest to require that prisoners be counted at their pre-incarceration addresses — instead of where they're serving time — to end the practice of what critics call "prison gerrymandering."

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Governing - June 13, 2019

As 2020 Census looms, citizenship question isn't the only concern

The Trump administration's plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census continues to draw controversy. Bipartisan experts warn that the question would dissuade immigrant communities from participating, resulting in gross undercounts and denying states and localities significant resources.

But the citizenship question isn't the only aspect of next year's Census that has experts worried. At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Census officials and immigration advocates voiced their concerns about the failure to engage citizens without internet access and underfunding of Census workers and offices.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

Beto O’Rourke calls Joe Biden ‘a return to the past’

Democrat Beto O’Rourke unloaded on former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, saying Biden would represent a “return to the past” as the Democratic nominee for president, and questioning his positions on Iraq, China and abortion rights.

With the first Democratic debates less than two weeks away and poll numbers showing him way behind Biden, O’Rourke used a 30-minute appearance on national television to tell voters why they should pick him over President Barack Obama’s running mate. “Because you cannot go back to the end of the Obama administration and think that that’s good enough,” the former El Paso Congressman said during his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

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Associated Press - June 13, 2019

Sarah Sanders leaving White House job; governor run ahead?

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, whose tenure was marked by a breakdown in regular press briefings and questions about the administration's credibility, as well as her own, will leave her post at the end of the month, President Donald Trump announced Thursday.

Trump said he's encouraging her to run for governor when she returns home to Arkansas, where her father once held the job. Sanders is one of Trump's closest and most trusted White House aides and one of the few remaining who worked on his campaign, taking on the job of advocating for and defending a president who had his own unconventional ideas about how to conduct the people's business.

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New York Times - June 13, 2019

Tankers are attacked in Mideast, and US says video shows Iran was involved

Explosions crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday in what the United States called “unprovoked attacks” by Iran, raising alarms about immediate security and potential military conflict in a vital passageway for a third of the world’s petroleum.

Iran called the accusations part of a campaign of American disinformation and “warmongering.” The explosions forced the crews of both vessels to evacuate and left at least one ablaze, and hours later the causes were still under investigation. Yet the backdrop of steeply rising threats between President Trump and Iranian leaders gave the stricken ships a grave significance even before the facts became clear. By afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that American intelligence agencies had concluded Tehran was behind the disabling of both ships.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2019

Julián Castro draws on HUD experience as 2020 candidates pitch affordable housing plans

As housing secretary in the Obama administration, Julián Castro did what no one in the job before had done - finish rules to enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968, landmark legislation long ignored by forces unwilling to make hard decisions about segregation.

Castro’s drive to carry out a Great Society commitment forged by another Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson, stands as an achievement as Castro matches records with other Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. Shortly, Castro plans to spell out a housing policy that builds on his experiences running the Department of Housing and Urban Development for two and a half years.

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NPR - June 12, 2019

As migrants stream in at the border, inland checkpoints feel the strain

The surge of Central American migrants crossing into the U.S. isn't just taxing border agents and the nation's immigration system — it's straining interior checkpoints like one on Highway 281 in Texas. An hour's drive north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the new and expanded Falfurrias checkpoint is on a major route for traffickers shepherding people or drugs north.

"They're making a run at us every day," says Border Patrol agent Tom Slowinski, who's in charge here. "No other checkpoint anywhere on the Southwest border catches more alien smuggling cases than this checkpoint right here." But that mission is being stretched by what's happening at the border, says Slowinski. He has spent 34 years with the Border Patrol. He has seen it all: migrants crammed into trunks and drugs hidden in hollowed-out car batteries or dolls.

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Newsclips - June 13, 2019

Lead Stories

Rivard Report - June 11, 2019

Trade, tariffs, and turmoil in Texas: Local officials ‘concerned’

When it comes to trade with Mexico, no state has more to gain, or lose, than Texas. With San Antonio on the literal crossroads of that trade, recent federal proposals to curb immigration by imposing tariffs would have been catastrophic for a city that eagerly awaits passage of a new long-term trade agreement.

San Antonio business leaders and local officials gathered Monday at the site of the 1992 ceremonial signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to talk about how worsening federal trade relations could have a significant local impact. They urged stakeholders to push their legislators to ratify the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) which has stalled since negotiations came to a close in November 2018.

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ABC News - June 12, 2019

'I think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents

President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners –– such as China or Russia –– or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, "I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' -- oh, I think I'd want to hear it."

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2019

Mexicans are no longer the majority of the unauthorized immigrant population, analysis finds

Mexican immigrants no longer make up a majority of the U.S.’ unauthorized immigrant population, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1965.

The analysis released Wednesday found that as of 2017, Mexicans make up less than half of all unauthorized immigrants and the overall unauthorized population continues to decrease: About 47% of unauthorized immigrants are Mexican. The unauthorized population now stands at around 10.5 million, down from a high of 12.2 million in 2007. Mexicans make up about 4.9 million of that total and other nationalities make up 5.5 million.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2019

New property tax law could end up costing San Antonio and other major metropolitan taxpayers more

The nation’s three major credit agencies are warning San Antonio and other Texas cities that a new state law capping property taxes likely will strain their finances, possibly leading to a lower credit rating that would cost taxpayers money.

The bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Greg Abbott limits how much additional property tax revenue local governments can collect before they must seek voter approval. Now, property tax collections can increase by up to 8 percent. Voters must approve anything higher than that. Under the new law, which takes effect in 2020, any increase larger than 3.5 percent would trigger a referendum.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2019

Texas Republican Chip Roy slows down House with procedural moves over border security demands

Austin Rep. Chip Roy, a freshman conservative, on Wednesday gummed up the House's consideration of far-reaching spending legislation, using procedural levers to potentially drag out the day's proceedings late into the evening.

The Republican — an acolyte of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — took the action to demand that the Democrat-run House approve measures he said would fix a migration crisis at America's southern border. Starting late Wednesday afternoon, Roy started requesting roll call votes on every floor amendment being considered on a sweeping appropriations bill for education, energy and other priorities. If he continued down that path, he could demand the same for more than 100 amendments.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2019

Ted Cruz and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez may be teaming up again –– on access to birth control

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz wants to team up with Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez again –– this time to provide accessible birth control.

The move aligns with Cruz’s previous efforts to reject claims that he and other conservatives want to ban access to contraceptives. But in 2014, the Texas senator supported Hobby Lobby in their Supreme Court case opposing a mandate requiring employers to pay for contraceptives because he claimed it violated religious freedom. Birth control currently requires a prescription and is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2019

As Gov. Abbott signs property tax bill, city officials grapple with implications

The Legislature’s high-profile effort to limit the growth of property taxes is now law — and city officials across Texas are grappling with the implications for everything from park fees to police pay. Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday lent his signature to Senate Bill 2, the centerpiece to a plan by top policymakers to lessen the burden of property taxes, a fundamental source of money for cities, counties and school districts to meet their budgets.

But even as Abbott cheered the new law, city officials in fast-growing parts of the state, including Central Texas, were wrestling with how to meet projected future budget shortfalls. Among rising costs are base salaries, expected to increase by 4% to 5% a year, she said, to keep pace with the booming economy. Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan told the American-Statesman that the city will examine admission and use fees at recreation centers, sports fields and a city water park to ensure they cover the cost of service — which isn’t the case now, he said.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2019

Bill McCann: Political nuttiness deserves mom’s fruitcakes

Seeing the political nuttiness in Texas and national politics makes me think back to my mom’s fruitcakes. We weren’t fruitcake eaters when I was a kid, but mom always kept a few handy, not just for the holidays.

She used them strategically year-round. When our oddball aunt acted up, mom handed her a fruitcake. Same with the old guy up the street who yelled at the kids to get off his sidewalk, and the neighbor who called the cops if a dog barked or an unfamiliar car appeared on the street. Mom’s fruitcakes weren’t permanent solutions, but they quieted folks down, at least temporarily. To honor mom’s admirable strategy, I plan to award faux fruitcakes occasionally to deserving persons. Today, I’m confining selections to Texans. What better place to start than the Texas Legislature.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2019

George H.W. Bush stamp unveiled in College Station ceremony

Several hundred letters a month marking military retirements. Approximately 149,700 congratulatory letters to Eagle Scouts. Roughly 43,500 letters for births, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Such was the volume of mail that left George H.W. Bush’s office in Houston in the years after his presidency ended in January 1993. And that didn’t include countless letters sent to family, friends and others he met.

The late president’s prolific correspondence lent special meaning to a ceremony Wednesday dedicating the newly issued George H.W. Bush commemorative “forever” postage stamp. Hundreds gathered for the event at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, watching as a giant replica of the stamp was unveiled in sweeping fashion on stage.

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Texas Public Radio - June 13, 2019

Now that the 'Chick-fil-A Bill' is law, will it lead to discrimination?

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Religious Liberty Bill, known as the “Save Chick-fil-A bill.” In March, the San Antonio City Council voted to exclude the restaurant chain from an airport vending contract because of the company’s financial contribution to organizations opposed to LGBTQ+ rights. The decision ignited a firestorm of claims alleging the City Council committed religious discrimination.

Jeffrey Abramson is a professor of law and government at the University of Texas at Austin. He said the new law is “a wolf masquerading in sheep’s clothing.” The initial bill, as filed in the Legislature, used expansive language that would have allowed people with religious convictions to violate a number of anti-discrimination laws if they conflicted with an individual’s beliefs, Abramson said. In its final form, the bill amounts to a restatement of existing law.

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Houston Public Media - June 13, 2019

Report: Texas ranks last in US in health care access and affordability

The 2019 edition of a report on health care by The Commonwealth Fund ranks Texas last in access and affordability. One of the authors of the report told Houston Matters Wednesday that the fact Texas hasn’t expanded Medicaid eligibility is a crucial factor to explain the poor ranking.

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that focuses on promoting high-performing health care systems. The report includes data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Besides Texas, the states of Arkansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Mississippi are ranked at the bottom of the report. In contrast, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington are ranked as the states with the best performance.

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Texas Tribune - June 13, 2019

Did Texas make it too easy for parents to opt out of vaccines?

As measles cases hit a 25-year high in the United States, Texas medical experts fear the state could see the next outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Texas has reported 15 confirmed cases of measles so far in 2019, six more than in all of 2018.

Health officials are watching pockets of Texas closely because of the number of parents requesting exemptions under Texas’s broad vaccine exemption law. Texas is one of 16 states that allow parents to bypass vaccine requirements for enrolling their kids in school by claiming a conscientious exemption, along with citing medical or religious concerns. Just last month, Washington ended conscientious exemptions on the heels of a large measles outbreak with over 70 reported cases. Three states — California, West Virginia and Mississippi — only allow medical exemptions.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2019

Texas homeowners get more tools to fight property tax hikes under new law

Texas homeowners will have tools they’ve never had before under legislation Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law on Wednesday. Starting next year, property appraisers statewide will have to revamp appraisal notices and create online real-time tax notices with clearer information for homeowners that show them who is trying to raise their taxes and where and when to fight it.

Of all the reforms signed into law through Senate Bill 2, the change that will affect the most people is likely the new notice requirements, said Dale Craymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. Craymer said appraisal notices now are like mysterious “black boxes” that even seasoned tax experts would have trouble fully understanding.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2019

CPS worker claims agency threatened retaliation after he complained about removal ‘based on’ race

A Child Protective Services worker in Central Texas has alleged his bosses threatened retaliation after he formally accused officials of letting a black woman’s race influence the decision to take her 5-year-old son.

In two complaints filed last week with two separate agencies, special investigator Chris McMahan first accused a CPS supervisor of ordering the child’s removal without bothering to interview his mother or her boyfriend, and then accused officials of taunting him with the possibility of a transfer as soon as he told them he planned to complain about the perceived discrimination.

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San Antonio Current - June 12, 2019

Gov. Greg Abbott signs Holocaust Remembrance Week into law

Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 1828 into law Tuesday, requiring Texas public schools to establish a Holocaust Remembrance Week. Four San Antonio women who were concerned about the lack of students' Holocaust awareness brought the bill to Sen. Jose Menendez, who sponsored it. The bill passed unanimously in the House and 31-0 in the Senate Chamber, according to a press release.

In addition to establishing Holocaust Remembrance Week in public schools, the bill requires the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission to design approved materials for that week. The Commission was established in 2009 and strives to educate the Texas public about genocide and how to prevent it in the future.

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Texas Observer - June 12, 2019

David Brockman: ‘We got nothing:’ Few wins for the Christian Right in the 86th Texas Legislature

A quiet surprise of the 86th Legislature was the failure of many of the Christian right’s priorities. While lawmakers closely aligned with religious conservatism proposed several measures to enable religion-based discrimination, further blur the line between church and state and attack abortion rights, few of those bills made it to the governor’s desk. And the ones that did were weak or symbolic.

Christian conservatives had little success on the so-called religious liberty front, despite their new “#BanTheBible” message. Their one win, the much-ballyhooed “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, was substantially softened — language about “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” gave way to the more ambiguous affiliation with “a religious organization” — in order to pass the House (though critics contend it still achieves its goal of undermining LGBTQ rights.)

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County Stories

KERA - June 12, 2019

Denton County redistricting plan draws criticism

Denton County voters may find themselves voting in new districts for members of the county commissioners court next year. The Denton County Commissioners Court is planning to redraw their districts this summer. Commissioners say it’s an effort to make sure their precincts are equal in this fast-growing county, but critics of the plan says it’s being rushed unnecessarily and will have a discriminatory effect.

Denton County has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the country since it last redrew the boundaries for elected county officials in 2011, but that growth has not been evenly spread across the county. Commissioner Hugh Coleman said this has left commissioners’ precincts out of whack. Coleman represents a district that covers the northern chunk of the county, and he said his precinct has grown at a faster clip than others. The Texas constitution gives county commissioners courts the responsibility to draw county-level districts that are equitably apportioned.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2019

Houston City council officially rescinds firefighter Prop B layoffs, demotions

Houston City Council on Wednesday formally reversed the 220 firefighter layoffs and hundreds of demotions it approved earlier this year, making official Mayor Sylvester Turner’s pledge not to lay off or demote any firefighters in the aftermath of a judge’s ruling that Proposition B is unconstitutional.

Before a state district judge threw out Prop B, the voter-approved charter amendment granted firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and seniority. Turner warned that Prop B would require layoffs to offset the cost of the raises, a point hotly disputed by the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. City council voted in April to send firefighters 60-day layoff notices, which the panel unanimously rescinded Wednesday.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2019

Before $9M verdict, HISD could have settled copyright case for $250K

Threatened with a federal lawsuit alleging rampant copyright violations by Houston ISD educators, the school district’s leaders could have paid $250,000 in 2016 to avoid litigation with DynaStudy, a two-person educational materials supplier.

Instead, HISD officials rejected the offer and did not counter, triggering a three-year legal battle that ended last month with a $9.2 million jury verdict against the district. Leading up to the verdict, the largest against HISD in recent years, district officials turned down at least four opportunities to settle DynaStudy’s copyright claims for significantly less money than jurors awarded in May, according to newly filed court documents.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2019

Dallas Latino police chapter calls for Chief Hall to go, while black officers group backs the boss

One of Dallas’ officer associations on Wednesday called for Police Chief U. Renee Hall’s resignation, citing a vote of no confidence by its members. The National Latino Law Enforcement Organization’s Greater Dallas chapter President George Aranda, a sergeant, said the department has suffered under what he called Hall’s “lack of leadership.”

Hall did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Aranda declined to show full details of the vote and the size of the group’s membership. But his call for Hall’s ouster comes amid increasing scrutiny of the chief in recent weeks as a violent crime spike, highlighted by a sharp rise in homicides, strained the already short-staffed department.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2019

Suspect in Muhlaysia Booker's slaying already jailed in 2 other slayings

Dallas police have arrested a suspect in the slaying of Muhlaysia Booker, a 22-year-old transgender woman found shot to death last month in Far East Dallas.

Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 33, faces charges in two unrelated slayings and was already in custody when police linked him to Booker's death, Maj. Max Geron said at a news conference Wednesday at Dallas police headquarters.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2019

Panel: Mayor’s aid’s cut of nonprofit’s city contracts violated ethics code

A former aide to Mayor Steve Adler violated four sections of city code by quietly taking payments from a nonprofit receiving city contracts, the Austin Ethics Review Commission declared Wednesday night. The commission’s vote came a year and a half after an American-Statesman investigation into conflicts of interest between the aide, Frank Rodriguez, and the nonprofit, Latino HealthCare Forum, which he founded.

Statesman stories prompted the city to undertake an external investigation, which found that after Rodriguez joined Adler’s staff, he continued to write himself checks from the nonprofit — including payments designated as percentages of city contracts. Records show Rodriguez received $17,235 in 2015 and $19,875 in 2016 in consulting payments from Latino HealthCare Forum. He resigned from Adler’s office in 2017.

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Dallas Observer - June 11, 2019

Dallas settles Exxxotica porn convention lawsuit for $650,000

Dallas ended up paying dearly for banning porn conventions from the city in 2016. On Wednesday, the City Council signed off on paying J. Handy $650,000 to settle the suit he brought against the city in February 2016.

Handy, founder of the Exxxotica pornography and adult industry expo, sued the city in 2016 when the council refused to host his convention after a successful and largely uneventful three-day run at Dallas' Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in 2015. U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater dismissed the case in 2017. Fitzwater did not rule on the suit's underlying First Amendment issues or the city's claim that it has a business case to regulate who uses the convention center.

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National Stories

Washington Post - June 12, 2019

Former White House aide Hicks agrees to testify to House panel investigating Trump

Hope Hicks, a top aide to President Trump during his 2016 campaign and his first year in the White House, has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. Hicks will be the first former Trump aide to go before the committee investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But Hicks might not answer many of the panel’s questions, citing the president’s assertion of executive privilege on events that occurred inside the White House. Earlier this month, the White House instructed Hicks not to cooperate with a congressional subpoena for documents related to her White House service.Robert Trout, a lawyer for Hicks, declined to comment.

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Washington Post - June 13, 2019

House panel votes to hold attorney general, commerce secretary in contempt over census probe, the next step toward a court battle

The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over documents about the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

The nearly party-line vote of 24 to 15 came hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the materials from Congress. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who has accused Trump of impeachable acts, was the lone Republican to join Democrats on the contempt vote.

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Roll Call - June 12, 2019

‘Running with Beto’: The offstage version of Beto O’Rourke

Filmmaker David Modigliani got to first base with Beto O’Rourke. At an amateur club baseball game in Austin, Texas, in early 2017, O’Rourke, center fielder for the Los Diablitos de El Paso, singled and introduced himself to Modigliani, first baseman for the Texas Playboys Baseball Club, and said he was a congressman running for Senate.

This anecdote doesn’t make it into Modigliani’s documentary for HBO, “Running with Beto,” but it fits right into the movie’s vibe. O’Rourke’s “Let’s put on a multimillion-dollar Senate campaign” approach did not suffer from a lack of exposure, but Modigliani casts it in a different light by showing more than just the Texas Democrat’s armpit-sweat and crowd-surfing, DIY schtick. He wanted to document someone like O’Rourke “trying something new” in Texas, where Democrats “have been banging their heads against the wall for 30 years.”

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Barron's - June 12, 2019

As the price of gas tumbles, even California is getting a break

Gasoline prices have been falling fast in recent weeks as the price of crude oil has dropped. Gas Buddy, a service that tracks gas prices around the country and guides consumers to cheap gas, said on Tuesday that the average nationwide price was $2.73 for a gallon of regular gas. Gas Buddy expects prices—already 6% lower than a year ago—to continue to drop.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Gas Buddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick Dehaan, said he expects the average price of regular-grade gas to fall as low as $2.59 this week. The price of crude futures were down 2.6% to $51.90 Wednesday afternoon, after government statistics showed that U.S. crude supplies continue to build. “The stifling overhang of trade fears will continue to dog investors and traders,” Gas Buddy analyst Dan McTeague wrote.

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Associated Press - June 12, 2019

Watchdog: Abuse and neglect in nursing facilities unreported

Nursing facilities have failed to report thousands of serious cases of potential neglect and abuse of Medicare beneficiaries even though the federal government requires such reporting, says a watchdog report due out Wednesday that calls for a new focus on protecting frail patients.

Auditors with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office drilled down on episodes serious enough that the patient was taken straight from a nursing facility to a hospital emergency room. Scouring Medicare billing records, they estimated that in 2016 about 6,600 cases reflected potential neglect or abuse that was not reported as required. Nearly 6,200 patients were affected.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2019

Report finds sweeping blame for fatal Oklahoma rig explosion

A federal review of an oil rig explosion that killed five workers in Oklahoma last year assigned blame not only to the Houston company that owned and operated the rig, but also to the entire energy sector and government for a woeful lack of regulation and supervision of onshore oil and gas drilling.

The report, released Wednesday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, amounted to an indictment of the oil and gas industry and the shale boom that rapidly turned the United States into the world’s largest oil and gas producer, but has come with little oversight and the cost of human life. The explosion, near Quinton, Okla. was the deadliest U.S. oilfield accident since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy killed 11 workers on a Gulf of Mexico offshore platform.

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Axios - June 13, 2019

Apparent tanker attacks jolt oil market

Oil prices climbed Thursday after 2 tankers were reportedly attacked in the Gulf of Oman, a major oil shipping region. Via the Wall Street Journal, "Bermuda-based shipping company Frontline Ltd. said one of its vessels, Front Altair, was on fire in the Gulf of Oman and its crew had been safely evacuated from the ship."

"U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local (Bahrain) time and a second one at 7:00 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance," the Navy said in a statement. Today's incident comes a month after several other tankers suffered damage in the same region, apparently from mines.

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Newsclips - June 12, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 11, 2019

Gov. Greg Abbott signs school funding bill, but teachers still waiting on pay raise details

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law the Legislature's prized school funding overhaul — but teachers and school staff standing by to celebrate the news said they still don't know what size raise to expect from the new law.

The law infuses more money into schools and teacher salaries, while lowering school property tax rates. Abbott said the funds will lower school property tax bills by an average of 5% in the first year and 10% the second year. The Legislature, however, did not identify a revenue source to fund the property tax cuts beyond two years. A sticking point throughout the process was what kind of salary increase teachers would earn.

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Wall Street Journal - June 12, 2019

Google, facing more scrutiny, overhauls lobbying and public affairs operations

Google has fired about a half-dozen of its largest lobbying firms as part of a major overhaul of its global government affairs and policy operations amid the prospect of greater government scrutiny of its businesses.

In the past few months, the company has shaken up its roster of lobbying firms, restructured its Washington policy team and lost two senior officials who helped build its influence operation into one of the largest in the nation’s capital, according to people familiar with Google’s Washington strategy. The firms Google has dumped make up about half of the company’s more than $20 million annual lobbying bill.

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Associated Press - June 11, 2019

Sanders to discuss ‘what democratic socialism means to me’

Seeking to rebut President Donald Trump’s attempts to cast him and Democrats as too liberal, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to give a speech Wednesday on democratic socialism, the economic philosophy that has guided his political career.

Sanders made similar remarks during his first presidential campaign in 2016, when he faced questions about his decadeslong association with democratic socialists. He’s again confronting criticism from within and outside the Democratic Party during his second presidential bid, and the speech, which the campaign is billing as a major address, is an attempt to reframe the debate about his views.

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Rivard Report - June 11, 2019

Architect hired for new Alamo Museum, Visitor Center

Alamo officials have hired Boston-based Machado and Silvetti Associates to design the Alamo Museum and visitor center, part of the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Alamo Plaza.

The $1.6 million contract between the Texas General Land Office (GLO) and the firm, which has the Denver Art Museum’s welcome center in its extensive portfolio, was executed on May 20. The Alamo Museum will be located where three historic buildings are currently located. Whether those buildings will be renovated, demolished, or partially demolished remains to be seen and is a point of controversy in the redevelopment.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 11, 2019

$11.5 billion Texas school finance bill signed into law

Marquee legislation that will deliver $5 billion in property tax relief and pump an additional $6.5 billion into classrooms and the pockets of teachers over the next two years is now law. From the cafeteria stage of Parmer Lane Elementary School in the Pflugerville school district, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law House Bill 3, which makes sweeping changes to the way Texas public schools are financed.

Under HB 3, property tax rates that school districts levy will drop by an average of 8 cents per $100 property valuation in 2020 and an additional 5 cents per $100 property valuation in 2021. By 2021, an owner of a home with a taxable value of $300,000 will see an average savings of about $390. Future property tax relief will be driven by a provision in the bill that would prevent school districts from generating more than 2.5% more each year in revenue on a large portion of their property tax rates.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 11, 2019

Gov. Abbott signs bill strengthening Public Information Act

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a far-reaching bill Monday that government transparency advocates say will repair Texas’ strongly watered-down public information laws.

Senate Bill 943 by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, dismantles portions of two 2015 Texas Supreme Court decisions that opened up loopholes in the state’s Public Information Act allowing state agencies and local governments to conceal from the public certain information about how they spent taxpayer money on outside contractors and quasi-governmental entities.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 11, 2019

Fact-check: Did people lie about Texas maternal mortality rate like Abbott said?

For two years, data suggested that the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in Texas was at shocking levels, higher than in every other state and in much of the developed world. The data, reported by the state and published in a 2016 study, turned out to be wrong.

A new look at the figures in 2018 found that the Texas maternal mortality rate was lower than reported, due in large part to errors with data entry on death certificates. Gov. Greg Abbott sounded off on this in a tweet Sunday, linking to a news article from last year discussing the inaccurate state data. Abbott is right about that last part, but less-so about the rest.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 11, 2019

Amid national rancor, Texas legislative session stands apart

Tuesday’s bill signing for House Bill 3 was a thoroughly bipartisan affair. And why not? The final version of the school finance legislation that was the centerpiece of the 2019 session passed the Texas House 139-0 and the Texas Senate 30-0. For Gov. Greg Abbott it was proof that Texas Republicans are, as he told the American-Statesman in an interview Friday, “the party of results”

But Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, was equally prepared to claim credit for its enactment. Amid a year of exceptional partisan acrimony and polarization at state Capitols across America in 2019, Texas has proved a very notable exception. While Texas state government — the Senate, the House and the governor’s office — all remain in Republican hands, both parties, thanks to voters in 2018, had strong self-interest in proving ahead of the 2020 elections that they were capable of governing.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 11, 2019

Gov. Abbott signs ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ bill

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the so-called “Save Chick-fil-A” bill Monday. Senate bill 1978 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, labeled the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill by some supporters, prohibits government entities from taking “adverse action” against people or businesses based on their membership in, or support for, religious organizations.

Supporters of the bill said the measure is necessary to protect religious freedom. They point to a recent decision by the San Antonio City Council to bar Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the city’s airport and one council member’s cited reason for the decision as “anti-LGBTQ behavior.” Chick-fil-A’s CEO came out in public opposition to gay marriage in 2012.

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KUT - June 11, 2019

Coming to a Gulf Of Mexico near you: A ‘Dead Zone’ the size of Massachusetts

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the so-called dead zone is the result of agricultural activity, which courses through the Mississippi River Delta and spawns a massive bloom of algae that kills marine life. The buildup happens every summer, but researchers predict this year the dead zone could be as large as 8,766 square miles – roughly the size of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

NOAA says higher than average amounts of rainfall along the river’s watershed could make this year’s dead zone especially aggressive. And, the agency warns, larger masses of algae could continually form each summer as heavy rainfall becomes the norm over much of the region and Texas, in particular.

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KUT - June 12, 2019

Alex Jones to pay $15,000 in Pepe The Frog copyright infringement case

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the founder of Infowars, has agreed to pay a $15,000 legal settlement to the creator of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character appropriated by the "alt-right" that is now widely used in racist Internet memes.

Jones signed the settlement on Monday with Matt Furie, the California-based artist who created Pepe some 15 years ago. The lawsuit alleged that Jones used the character without permission as part of a promotional poster also featuring images of himself, President Trump and far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Last month, the judge in the lawsuit limited the potential jury award to $14,000.

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Houston Public Media - June 11, 2019

As summer temperatures climb, most Texas prisons aren’t air-conditioned

In 2018, after a years-long lawsuit, the state of Texas installed air-conditioning at the Wallace Pack prison southeast of College Station, as part of a settlement with inmates. But within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system, there are just 29 facilities with air-conditioned beds.

TDCJ spokesman Jeremy Desel said the other facilities have some air-conditioning in designated respite areas. “That includes having unit-based command centers that are activated during and National Weather Service deemed heat emergency,” he said. The Lychner state jail in Humble is one of those facilities without air-conditioned beds. The facility 20 miles northeast of Houston can house more than 2,000 inmates.

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Texas Public Radio - June 12, 2019

Hemp production is now legal in Texas but it needs guidelines before it can grow

Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation legalizing hemp production and hemp-derived CBD products. But it could be awhile before there are fields of hemp across the Texas landscape.

That’s mainly because federal regulators, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have not yet issued their own guidelines for states wanting to grow hemp. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said he's waiting for them. “And once those guidelines come out, they’ll come out about July or August, I can begin my process of writing the rules, and I tell you right now how I’m going to write them, they’re going to have the bare minimum of the federal guidelines,” Miller said.

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Houston Chronicle - June 11, 2019

Regulators cite care deficiencies at MD Anderson after patient’s adverse event

The federal government has found MD Anderson Cancer Center in violation of serious hospital requirements for patient care and safety and notified the hospital it will come under more aggressive government oversight in the aftermath of an “adverse event” involving a blood transfusion.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services noted the deficiencies earlier this month in letters and reports issued following investigations conducted at MD Anderson after the cancer center reported the event in December. The center is currently developing plans of corrective action, which will be submitted next week. Details of the deficiencies are contained in the reports, which are not yet public. The letters, which are public, provide only a general summary.

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Fox 26 - June 11, 2019

Police investigate burglary at office of State Senator Borris Miles

Authorities are investigating a burglary at the office of State Senator Borris Miles in northeast Houston. Police confirm they responded to a report of a burglary at the address around 9:20 a.m.

A large front office was ransacked and computers and electronics were taken. The suspects apparently gained entry by breaking a side window.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 12, 2019

Petition, evidence being gathered to ask Vatican to remove Fort Worth Bishop Olson

Hundreds of parishioners from across the Diocese of Fort Worth have begun the process to ask Pope Francis to remove Bishop Michael Olson. Philip Gray, a canon lawyer and president of The St. Joseph Foundation, is advising the groups, gathering evidence and writing the petition.

There are nine cases being brought against Olson, Gray said, but he declined to give details on the ones that haven’t been made public. The two public cases involve the closing of San Mateo Church and the forced resignation of the Rev. Richard Kirkham. More than 2,500 mandates — a form that officially allows Gray to speak on behalf of a parishioner who seeks removal of the bishop — have been distributed and he has received hundreds of signed forms back, Gray said. The mandate says Olson “has become ineffective and harmful.”

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Dallas Morning News - June 11, 2019

Texas scores poorly in new assessment of states' LGBTQ friendliness

Texas scores poorly in a new analysis that grades states based on LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace and legislative protections to ensure equal treatment.

The report by Out Leadership, an advisory firm that promotes inclusion as a business growth tool, gives the state a score of 38.1 out of a possible 100 points. It takes state leadership to task for what it describes as a lack of protections for LGBTQ workers and a history of discriminatory legislation. Texas ranked 45th in the firm's ranking of business environments for inclusivity, trailing other southern states such as Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. Massachusetts, California and Connecticut topped the organization's list with scores as high as 90 points.

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County Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 11, 2019

Harris GOP chair opposes Dem county clerk’s joint primary idea

Harris County Republicans have announced their opposition to County Clerk Diane Trautman’s proposal for a “joint primary” that would consolidate the lines for political parties into a single queue, which she said would be more efficient and offer more privacy to voters.

Instead of declaring their party affiliation to poll workers in order to receive the correct primary ballots, Trautman said voters would be able to choose their party anonymously via an iPad. The county and political parties also would save money since the joint primary would reduce the number of poll workers and party-specific staff needed at each voting location. Harris County Republican Party Chairman Paul Simpson said Texas law allows parties to run their own primary elections, and he is reluctant to cede that role to the county clerk.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2019

Bexar County Democratic Party appears to splinter after continuing rift

The Bexar County Democratic Party has appeared to splinter. The factional feud that has roiled local Democrats led to two separate party meetings on Tuesday — one led by chairwoman Monica Alcántara, and another involving ousted officials Garrett Mormando and Stephanie Carrillo.

The dueling assemblies came after a state district judge dismissed a lawsuit that Mormando and Carrillo filed against Alcántara, the latest episode in a saga that also prompted the chair to file a complaint with the FBI in March. Since Alcántara was elected chair over her predecessor, Manuel Medina, in March of 2018, the party has been divided by those loyal to Alcántara and those still loyal to Medina, who lost by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

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City Stories

San Antonio Express-News - June 11, 2019

Elaine Ayala: Female majority on San Antonio City Council was years in the making

The way former San Antonio Councilwoman María Antonietta Berriozábal sees it, the ascension of three more women to the council in Saturday’s runoff was about much more than vote totals. It was a milestone years in the making.

The election of Adriana Rocha Garcia, Melissa Cabello Havrda and Jada Andrews-Sullivan and the re-election of Councilwomen Ana Sandoval, Shirley Gonzales and Rebecca Viagran brought the number of councilwomen to six, a majority of the 10-member body. In 1981, Berriozábal became the first Mexican American woman elected to the council. As much as others have credited her for that breakthrough, she views it expansively, as the culmination of decades of effort by many women.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 11, 2019

Here’s how Nirenberg narrowly won re-election as San Antonio’s mayor

Mayor Ron Nirenberg protected a narrow edge over Greg Brockhouse in Saturday’s mayoral runoff by maintaining turnout in his pockets of strength near San Antonio’s urban core, without ceding ground on the North Side.

The result was a markedly similar election to the first round a month ago, when Nirenberg led Brockhouse by 3.1 percentage points but failed to reach the majority needed to win outright. His margin narrowed to 2.2 points in the runoff, just enough to secure another term. In both races, the electorate represented a tale of two cities. Nirenberg ran up the score within Loop 410 to withstand Brockhouse’s dominance outside the loop.

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Dallas Morning News - June 11, 2019

Dallas ISD apologizes to grad whose speech was silenced when she got to 'victims of injustice'

Dallas ISD has issued an apology to the Conrad High School valedictorian whose microphone was cut off when she named black shooting victims at the school's graduation ceremony two weeks ago. "It is never our intent to censor anyone's freedom of speech," the district said Monday in a written statement. "Students have that right — Dallas ISD encourages it."

Rooha Haghar’s speech gained national attention after she posted a video in which her mike was silenced after she dedicated a line of her speech “to Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and all the other children who became victims of injustice.” The district said it is a practice for all valedictorian and salutatorian speeches to be reviewed. So when Haghar went off-script, the principal made the decision to limit Haghar’s remarks. But the district acknowledged that it is charged with ensuring the rights of all students.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 10, 2019

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board: Fort Worth police must answer questions about officer shootings — quickly

Four times in little more than a week, Fort Worth police officers have drawn their weapons and fired on suspects. It may be that all of the shootings were justified, including Sunday night’s killing of the suspect in an aggravated assault.

But with years of tension between police and the city, particularly among black residents, the department needs to answer questions and release videos and other information — as quickly as possible. We understand and are sensitive to the need to protect an ongoing investigation. Police must follow an orderly process, interview officers and witnesses and allow the district attorney’s office to review the case.

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Dallas Morning News - June 11, 2019

In a Dallas council district, a majority of voters liked Scott Griggs, but not his ally Philip Kingston

In Lakewood and Hollywood Heights, campaign signs for the municipal election still poke out of immaculate lawns, even after Sunday's storm ripped away tree branches and knocked out power to swaths of homes there. Those signs showed north Oak Cliff council member Scott Griggs, a mayoral candidate, was popular in these parts. More popular, it turned out in Saturday's runoff elections, than the area's representative, Philip Kingston, his longtime close ally on the council.

Although Griggs lost his mayoral bid to state Rep. Eric Johnson, he won the majority of the vote in District 14, which includes East Dallas, downtown, Uptown and parts of Oak Lawn and Lakewood. And Kingston lost to David Blewett in District 14 after garnering just 46.5% of the vote while Griggs earned 51.7% of the district's voters. That means for hundreds of voters in the low-turnout municipal election, Griggs' campaign, which focused heavily on public safety, resonated — and Kingston's didn't.

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National Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 11, 2019

Former EPA commissioners, Republican and Democrat, urge action on climate change

Former EPA administrators, Republican and Democratic alike, urged Congress Tuesday to take swift action to fight climate change, in a clear rebuke to President Donald Trump's questioning of the severity of the crisis.

Gina McCarthy, who served in the Obama administration; Christine Todd Whitman, who served under George W. Bush; William K. Reilly, who served under George H.W. Bush and Lee Thomas, who served in the Reagan administration, all testified that climate change posed a grave risk to the planet and greenhouse gas emissions needed to be cut. "We are here because we are deeply concerned that decades of environmental progress are at risk of being lost," Whitman said in written testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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NPR - June 11, 2019

Trump wants to limit aid for low-income Americans. A look at his proposals

If you're poor or low-income in the U.S. and use government safety net programs, you could be affected by a number of new rules and actions proposed by the Trump administration. Most of the changes are still pending, and anti-poverty groups are trying to stop them from going into effect. Some of the proposals already face legal challenges.

The Department of Agriculture has called for stricter enforcement of a requirement that able-bodied adults work, volunteer or get job training for at least 20 hours a week to continue getting their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, after three months. Currently, most states waive that requirement. The administration would make that much more difficult to do. Critics estimate that 750,000 SNAP recipients would likely have their benefits cut off because they would be unable to find jobs or otherwise meet the requirements.

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Bloomberg - June 11, 2019

Oil rises as forecast drop in U.S. stockpiles beats demand woes

Oil rose amid estimates that U.S. crude inventories fell, tempering concerns that a drawn-out trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies is putting pressure on demand.

Futures gained as much 1.5 % in New York on Tuesday to trade close to $54 a barrel. U.S. stockpiles probably shrank by 1.25 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey. That would be the biggest decline since May if confirmed by official data on Wednesday. Prices are also inching up on expectations that the OPEC+ coalition will reach an agreement to extend supply curbs when it meets the coming weeks, said James Williams, president at WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas.

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Politico - June 11, 2019

Trump touts 'beautiful letter' from Kim Jong Un

President Donald Trump talked up his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, saying he had received a "beautiful letter” from Kim, shortly after 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg slammed the president for “exchanging love letters with a brutal dictator.”

The president did not hold back his praise for North Korea, stating that “North Korea has tremendous potential” under Kim’s leadership. The president has been criticized for his close ties with the North Korean leader in the past. Trump gave Kim the benefit of the doubt last week over allegations of executions in North Korea.

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Politico - June 10, 2019

Justin Amash quits House Freedom Caucus

Rep. Justin Amash quit the conservative House Freedom Caucus on Monday night, weeks after becoming the lone Republican to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Michigan lawmaker told a CNN reporter that he has “the highest regard for them, and they’re my close friends,” but he “didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group.” Amash’s decision to step down was confirmed to POLITICO by his office.

Amash, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, has long been a lone wolf in Congress, routinely bucking GOP leadership and defying Trump on a number of issues throughout the past two years. But Amash’s support for impeachment roiled members of the Freedom Caucus, who found Amash’s criticism dead wrong. The group decided to uniformly oppose his impeachment stance last month, though they stopped short of kicking him out of the caucus — despite some lawmakers complaining that Amash was still a member.

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CNBC - June 11, 2019

Sen. Rick Scott: China’s growing influence in Latin America is a threat to our way of life

Last month I traveled to Panama, Colombia and Argentina. The purpose of my trip was to get an update on the fight for freedom and liberty in Venezuela, to highlight the important economic relationships between Latin America and my state of Florida and to continue building on the progress made to stop narco-trafficking. On all of those fronts we made important progress and had great conversations about the future.

I came away with another impression that I, quite honestly, hadn’t expected. But it’s one that is stark and unmistakable. All across Latin America, we’re seeing the creeping influence of China in our hemisphere. We know that China is a bad actor. China is not our friend. China sees the United States as its global adversary and is taking the steps necessary to “win” the great power conflict of the 21st Century.

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Newsclips - June 11, 2019

Lead Stories

Washington Post - June 10, 2019

How Mexico talked Trump out of tariff threat with immigration crackdown pact

Mexican negotiators persuaded President Trump to back down from his tariff threat by agreeing to an unprecedented crackdown on Central American migrants and accepting more-expansive measures in Mexico if the initial efforts don’t deliver quick results, according to officials from both governments and documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

The enforcement measures Mexico has promised include the deployment of a militarized national guard at the Guatemalan border, thousands of additional migrant arrests per week and the acceptance of busloads of asylum seekers turned away from the U.S. border daily, all geared toward cutting the migrant flow sharply in coming weeks.

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Dallas Morning News - June 11, 2019

Expect a large field in Texas House race to replace newly elected Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

Dallas community advocate Lorraine Birabil has launched a campaign to replace outgoing state Rep. Eric Johnson, becoming the first of what's expected to be a large field of contenders. She told The Dallas Morning News that it's critical for lawmakers to help develop criminal justice reform, access to affordable health care and quality public schools.

Birabil won't have the field to herself. The race to replace Johnson, who won Saturday's runoff for Dallas mayor, is expected to be highly competitive. At least 11 people have expressed interest or have been mentioned as possible candidates to fill his unexpired term in the Texas House. That number could grow by the time Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sets a special election, presumably in November, to fill Johnson's seat.

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Texas Public Radio - June 10, 2019

A Texas child custody case could upend a long-standing system for Native American adoptions

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. Before the law, a vast majority of Native American children in foster care were placed in homes outside of native communities. The law was meant to correct that, and it mandated that Native American families have priority in adopting Native American children.

But now, over 40 years later, that law could change. A non-Native American family from Fort Worth is battling in the courts for custody of a child whose birth mother is Navajo and birth father is Cherokee. If they are granted custody, the decisions could have implications for how the Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWA, is used in future lawsuits, and possibly for other laws that provide race-based protections.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 10, 2019

City Council might repeal Lake Austin mansion tax exemption

They’re calling it the “mistake on the lake.” Hundreds of homes along the shores of Lake Austin have remained off city tax rolls for decades. But City Council members Greg Casar and Jimmy Flannigan are hoping to change that.

“When we found out about this earlier this year ... at first, it felt impossible,” Flannigan said during a news briefing at City Hall. They unveiled their efforts Monday to repeal a 33-year-old ordinance that exempted hundreds of idyllic homes on Lake Austin from city property taxes. Those homes would have generated about $3 million in tax revenue in 2018, but have been left off the city’s tax rolls since the city annexed the shorelines of the Colorado River in the late 19th century.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Study: Federal judges give steeper sentences to Hispanic immigrants in places with less immigration

Hispanic immigrants face harsher federal sentences than whites in regions of the country that have newer Hispanic immigrant populations or have not experienced a significant influx of them, according to a new study.

However, the journal of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences found no such disparity among defendants in Texas, California, Arizona, northern Illinois, southeastern New York and other federal jurisdictions with well-established Latino populations. Areas with emerging Latino immigrant populations such as northern Florida and southern Indiana also had no significant sentencing disparities in recent years for defendants with similar criminal backgrounds convicted of robbery, gun crimes, drug possession and other non-immigration offenses.

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Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Calls for Cardinal DiNardo to step down intensify ahead of bishops’ gathering

On the eve of a bishops’ gathering in Baltimore, advocates for clergy abuse victims in Houston on called on Cardinal Daniel DiNardo Monday to step down from leading the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following allegations that he mishandled sexual misconduct complaints.

DiNardo, the highest-ranking American bishop, who also oversees the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is scheduled to kick off the meeting of Catholic leaders on Tuesday morning as questions intensify in Texas about whether he did enough to prevent sex abuse in his religious jurisdiction or to hold accused priests responsible.

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Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Jewish ‘Texas 7’ death row prisoner claims judge was anti-Semitic

A “Texas 7” escapee on death row has filed an appeal claiming a former Dallas County judge referred to him with obscenity-laced anti-Semitic language, part of an alleged pattern of racism and bias so serious that he says the jurist should have recused himself before the man’s 2003 trial.

The federal appeal filed by Randy Halprin, a Jewish man who was sentenced to die under the controversial law of parties, contends that ex-Judge Vickers Cunningham routinely used racial slurs, including the n-word. He allegedly told a friend that he wanted to run for office so he would save Dallas from “(n-words), Jews, ‘w******s,’ and dirty Catholics” and that he took extra pride in overseeing the death sentences of the Latino and Jewish members of the Texas 7.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 10, 2019

Texas joins 15 states in support of Trump health insurance appeal

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday joined 15 other states in supporting a Trump administration rule that would expand access to small-business health insurance plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act.

In March, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates struck down the U.S. Department of Labor rule, saying it was “clearly an end-run around the ACA.” The department appealed the ruling, in a lawsuit originally filed by New York and 10 other states, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in April. The case has not yet been set for oral argument.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 11, 2019

Oil man Alfaro and wife not turning over monies, San Antonio receiver alleges

San Antonio oil and gas businessman Brian Alfaro and his wife allegedly are continuing to take distributions from her company rather than turning them over to a court-appointed receiver, according to a new court filing.

Brian and Kristi Alfaro have received almost $233,000 from Kristi Alfaro’s Synergy E&P since J. Scott Rose was appointed receiver by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargotta in November, Rose said a court document Friday. Rose wants Gargotta to issue an order compelling the Alfaros to turn over payments they’ve received from Synergy. Rose is responsible for collecting an $8 million court judgment that nine investors obtained from Brian Alfaro and some of his companies in late 2017.

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Dallas Morning News - June 10, 2019

Jerry Jones just made a $2.2 billion deal for a Dallas energy company

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ oil and gas company, Comstock Resources, is making a $2.2 billion acquisition that will make it the leading producer in one of the nation’s largest natural gas basins.

The cash-and-stock deal for Covey Park Energy is expected to advance Frisco-based Comstock’s position in the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and northwest Louisiana. The Haynesville region is the third-largest natural gas producer in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Jones will put in $475 million for 50 million new shares of Comstock stock to finance the deal, upping his total Comstock investment to $1.1 billion.

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Dallas Morning News - June 10, 2019

6,000 insurance claims filed as storm’s costs are yet to be tallied

The thunderstorm that swept through the area in about an hour Sunday may take months to recover from as tree service companies worked to remove downed trees, roofing firms began repairs and homeowners filed insurance claims for damage.

By Monday afternoon, property owners had filed 6,000 insurance claims — most of them in Dallas County, where about a quarter of Oncor customers lost power. The downed trees and other debris that caused many of the outages made up the bulk of the damage reports. “Claims will continue to pour in for the next several days,” said Insurance Council of Texas spokesman Mark Hanna, who added that it is too soon to estimate the financial impact of the storm.

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Texas Observer - June 4, 2019

Chad Brock: I’m a teen activist in Texas, and I’m tired of being ignored by politicians

In an expression of dissent earlier this year, I got one of the state’s most powerful Republicans to show off an “Abolish ICE” / “Impeach Trump” painting at a tea party event in North Texas. I left the artwork with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s staff, and Patrick said that he would take it with him on the private jet he’d arrived in — though it was probably trashed as soon as he realized what it actually said.

After media outlets picked up the story, I wasn’t surprised that a Patrick spokesperson brushed me off as a “duplicitous” teenager. The tactic of discrediting young people has been used for too long to diminish our collective power. I know how it feels to be ignored by someone who supposedly represents me. In April 2018, along with some of my fellow students at Guyer High School in Denton, I helped plan an event for the National School Walkout against gun violence.

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Texas Observer - June 6, 2019

Texas Legislature improves suicide prevention in schools but makes little progress for adults

This year, the Texas Legislature had a chance to address suicide, an urgent public health problem that claimed the lives of 3,800 Texans in 2017. The crisis is especially pronounced in rural areas due to poverty, a dearth of health care options and other factors.

Some lawmakers made a valiant effort to shore up mental health support and suicide prevention, but when the session ended last month, their victories were mostly contained within school-based initiatives — a byproduct of Governor Greg Abbott’s call to protect schools from gunmen. Through Abbott’s mandate to make schools safer, lawmakers managed to elevate mental health education and suicide prevention in schools. They passed House Bill 18, by state Representative Four Price, R-Amarillo, to add mental health to public school curricula and to encourage school districts to partner with community health centers to prevent student suicides.

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Austin 360 - June 10, 2019

Bill Wittliff, ‘Lonesome Dove’ screenwriter and Texas State archive namesake, has died

Bill Wittliff, a celebrated writer, filmmaker and photographer who authored screenplays for the iconic 1980s television miniseries “Lonesome Dove” and founded a popular public archive facility at Texas State University that was named after him, died Sunday, the university announced Monday morning.

An assiduous book collector — he owned first editions of the published works of J. Frank Dobie, another key Texas storyteller — sculptor and ink sketch artist, Wittliff was born in Taft in 1940. He attended Blanco High School and graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism. As with the rest of his life, however, Wittliff did it his way.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 10, 2019

Rep. Chip Roy slams Republicans, Democrats on border security inaction

Sparing no criticism of his colleagues on either side of the political aisle, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Hays County, attacked Republicans and Democrats in a series of tweets Saturday for favoring “hand-wringing” and inaction instead of working to find solutions to the “border crisis.”

“Democrats (and too many GOP) do not care,” Roy tweeted Saturday. “They view it as political theater and deny reality ... and as a result little girls get raped, migrants get held hostage, cartels get empowered, gangs grow, & American communities are made less safe.” Roy emphasized the need for both parties to take action against drug cartels and applauded President Donald Trump’s efforts to secure the border.

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KERA - June 6, 2019

1 in 30 kids in foster care in Texas were reported missing last fiscal year, report finds

More than 1,800 children and youth in foster care in Texas were reported missing during fiscal year 2018, according to a new report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. DFPS was responsible for more than 52,000 kids during that period. Similar numbers were reported in the previous two years.

Nearly 86 percent of the kids reported missing were found by Aug. 31. Of those who were still missing by then, 64 had exited foster care; another 197 were still missing and had been gone an average of 11 weeks. DFPS says it continues to search for any child or youth missing from foster care until the department no longer has legal authority over them.

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KERA - June 6, 2019

1 in 30 kids in foster care in Texas were reported missing last fiscal year, report finds

More than 1,800 children and youth in foster care in Texas were reported missing during fiscal year 2018, according to a new report from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. DFPS was responsible for more than 52,000 kids during that period. Similar numbers were reported in the previous two years.

Nearly 86 percent of the kids reported missing were found by Aug. 31. Of those who were still missing by then, 64 had exited foster care; another 197 were still missing and had been gone an average of 11 weeks. DFPS says it continues to search for any child or youth missing from foster care until the department no longer has legal authority over them.

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KUT - June 10, 2019

Online system to track rape kits launches this week in four Texas cities

Horror stories of untested, long-forgotten and even moldy sexual assault evidence kits have been a problem in Texas for years. And those forgotten kits have been on Becky O’Neal’s mind for a long time.

“I can’t imagine that there'd be anything worse from knowing that your kit sat there and nobody ever cared enough about it to send it to see if there were any DNA hits on it or anything,” she says. O’Neal has been a nurse and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – or SANE – for almost 30 years. She runs the team of SANE nurses in the Northwest Texas Healthcare System. “If you have the courage to go through an exam, it’s nice to know that that kit is not gonna sit there,” she says.

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City Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 10, 2019

Deadly Dallas crane collapse leaves residents, investigators with questions

While investigators try to answer why a crane sliced through an Old East Dallas apartment building during Sunday’s violent windstorm, residents want to know what’s next. None of the more than 500 people who lived in the Elan City Lights complex will be allowed to move back in.

A spokeswoman for the apartment company said it was too early to know whether owners will demolish or rebuild the complex where one woman died and five other people were injured in Sunday’s collapse. Investigators with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were working with Bigge Crane and Rigging to figure out how to remove its fallen apparatus and determine what caused the accident.

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Dallas Morning News - June 10, 2019

Dallas City Council puts police chief on defensive as city on pace for decade-high homicide total

Dallas police officials on Monday said the city is on pace to end the year with about 228 homicides — a total that would surpass any year in the past decade. That amount, in fact, would nearly double the 116 homicides the city recorded in 2014.

Members of the City Council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee on Monday pressed the Police Department’s top brass for more information on strategies to combat the increase in violent crime this year. At times, committee members expressed dissatisfaction and frustration with commanders' answers.

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Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Rapper Scarface announces run for Houston City Council seat

Your mind isn't playing tricks. A former member of the pioneering hip-hop group Geto Boys could wind up representing a large part of the city. Brad Jordan, better known as his rap moniker "Scarface," on Sunday announced his bid for Houston City Council District D.

The seat is currently held by Councilman Dwight Boykins, who recently filed paperwork indicating he will run for mayor, according to earlier reports in the Houston Chronicle. The district includes the Texas Medical Center, the Astrodome area, the Museum District, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston. City officials confirmed that Jordan has already filed a campaign treasurer, Oma Terry.

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Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Mayoral challenger King lays out ethics, transparency plan

Houston mayoral challenger Bill King on Monday proposed a series of "ethics reforms" he said would deter so-called pay-to-play and increase transparency, continuing to sharply focus his campaign on rooting out alleged corruption at City Hall.

King’s rollout came the day after a political action committee launched a petition drive aiming to amend Houston's campaign finance ordinance by barring people who do business with the city from contributing more than $500 to municipal candidates. King, who helped author the petition, included that proposal in his reform package, pledging to put it to a city council vote if the petition drive fails and he becomes mayor.

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Eater - June 10, 2019

Classic Austin restaurant Hut’s Hamburgers is closing

Hut’s Hamburgers, the longtime downtown Austin restaurant, is closing. Its last day on 807 West 6th Street will take place on Sunday, October 20. However, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport location of Hut’s, which debuted in January 2019, will remain open.

The original Hut’s Hamburgers opened in 1939 on South Congress before it moved to West 6th Street in 1969. Current owners Mike and Kim Hutchinson took over in 1981. It’s known for its burgers, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes. Actor Ethan Hawke is a fan, too. “We are ready to move in a different direction,” said co-owner Mike Hutchinson in a statement, indicating that it was not a landlord dispute, but it was just time to close. Next-door neighbor Favorite Liquor & Wine shop is also closing at the end of the year.

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National Stories

Associated Press - June 9, 2019

Progressives out to oust '20 House Dems try to focus fervor

Activists hoping to defeat House Democrats in next year's primary elections with more progressive and diverse challengers are assessing how to cope with unintended consequences of their 2018 success, even as they hunt for their next Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Her startling victory sent shivers through incumbents and has helped galvanize liberals eager for more fresh Democratic faces in 2020. Yet progressive organizations worry that, emboldened by Ocasio-Cortez and others, a glut of Democratic challengers might divide the anti-incumbent vote in some districts, helping House members they are targeting to survive party primaries. In 40 states, the primary winner needs only the largest share of votes, and there is no runoff.

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Associated Press - June 10, 2019

Alabama gov OKs chemical castration for some sex offenders

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law legislation that would require certain sex offenders to be chemically castrated before their parole.

Gov. Kay Ivey's press office said Monday that she had signed the bill, which is to take effect later this year. The measure applies to sex offenders convicted of certain crimes involving children younger than 13. Chemical castration involves injection of medication that blocks testosterone production. Under the measure, certain offenders must receive the medication before they are paroled from prison. A judge would decide when the medication could be stopped.

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Center for Public Integrity and The Tennessean - June 11, 2019

Bills supporting religion-based rejection turning parents away from adoption agencies

Aimee Maddonna, 34, a South Carolina mother of three, was turned away by a state-funded foster care agency because she is Catholic. Maddonna went to Miracle Hill Ministries in Greenville, the state’s largest foster care outlet, asking to volunteer in hopes of one day becoming a foster parent. But the initial screening was cut short after she was asked the name of her church.

Maddonna responded by suing the government officials who made it legal this past year to deny services to anyone who conflicts with their religious beliefs. And South Carolina officials are not alone. There are at least nine other states that have passed laws allowing child placement agencies to turn away anyone who doesn’t match their religious beliefs or moral convictions, including same-sex couples. Eight of these states have passed such exemptions in just the past three years. Among them: Texas, Alabama, Michigan and South Dakota.

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New York Times - June 10, 2019

Images of travelers stolen in cyberattack on border agency

Tens of thousands of images of travelers and license plates stored by the Customs and Border Protection agency have been stolen in a cyberattack, officials said Monday, prompting renewed questions about how the federal government secures and shares personal data.

A Customs and Border Protection official said the agency learned on May 31 that a federal subcontractor transferred copies of the images to the subcontractor’s network, which the agency said was done without its knowledge and in violation of the contract. The subcontractor’s network was then hacked.

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Politico - June 10, 2019

Cuccinelli starts as acting immigration official despite GOP opposition

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Monday as acting director, according to an announcement by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

The appointment places an immigration hard-liner atop the agency charged with facilitating the country’s legal immigration system. The move follows the departure of Francis Cissna, the Senate-confirmed former director who was swept out last month as part of a broader reboot at the Homeland Security Department.

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CNN - June 10, 2019

Restricting abortion is ‘bad for business’, 180 business leaders say

Top executives from more than 180 companies have a message for lawmakers: Restricting abortion is "bad for business." A letter endorsed by the business leaders appeared as a full-page ad in Monday's New York Times, declaring "it's time for companies to stand up for reproductive health care."

They argue that limiting access to comprehensive care, "including abortion," threatens "the health, independence, and economic stability of our employees and customers." The letter says strict abortion laws are "against our values" and impede corporate efforts to build diverse workforces. Among the list of the ad's endorsers are chief executives from Yelp (YELP), Slack, Tinder, H&M (HNNMY), and food delivery app Postmates. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter (TWTR), was also on the list, though he signed on behalf of the other company he runs, digital payment firm Square (SQ).

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Wall Street Journal - June 11, 2019

Defense consolidation continues as spending priorities shift

The biggest aerospace-and-defense merger ever caps two years of deal making in an industry that is reorganizing in anticipation of slower growth in Pentagon spending and new priorities such as space systems and hypersonic missiles.

Cuts to U.S. military spending also contributed to an estimated 17,000 U.S. firms leaving the industry between 2001 and 2015, according to a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. The Pentagon has also streamlined military operations in ways that have left less room for multiple contractors.

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Newsclips - June 10, 2019

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 8, 2019

Calling Texas GOP 'the party of results,' Abbott looks to 2020 elections; will not campaign against incumbents

Describing Texas Republicans as emerging from the 2019 legislative session as “the party of results,” Gov. Greg Abbott said he plans to actively back every Republican state House and Senate candidate seeking reelection in 2020 and to look to a more diverse array of GOP candidates to try to win back seats lost last year.

Abbott, the most popular figure in Texas politics and the undisputed leader of the state GOP, is letting it be known that he has no interest in seeing any Republican legislative incumbents face primaries next year as Democrats seek to use what promises to be a record-smashing turnout, with President Donald Trump seeking a second term, to wrest control of the Texas House ahead of congressional and state legislative redistricting in the 2021 session.

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McAllen Monitor - June 9, 2019

Tariff reversal allays economic experts’ fears

As Mexico scrambled last week to head off the imposition of a 5 percent tariff on all its exports to the United States, alarm bells were going off in this country over projected economic damage to Texas and the United States.

However, President Donald Trump on Friday eased off on his threat from May 30 to implement 5% tariffs June 10 after Mexico and the White House reached a deal Friday that will result in Mexico taking “strong measures” to stem the arrival of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Associated Press reported.

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Dallas Morning News - June 9, 2019

Free of factions, Dallas Mayor-elect Eric Johnson, council could focus on problems, not politics

Saturday's runoff election marked a new beginning at Dallas City Hall. Mayor-elect Eric Johnson and a reconstituted City Council believe they now have the opportunity to tackle systemic Dallas problems without being saddled with warring factions, wedge issues and personal animus.

"I'm optimistic about this new term and this new council," said Mayor Pro Tem Casey Thomas, who is returning to the council. "The citizens of Dallas want to see us work together, when we can, and they want to see us move the city forward with an agenda that includes real progress." The reset comes after Johnson overwhelmed council member Scott Griggs in the mayoral runoff. Voters resoundingly chose Johnson, who cast himself as a unifier over the veteran council member known for his opposition to outgoing Mayor Mike Rawlings.

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Dallas Morning News - June 6, 2019

Poll: Texas voters support Gov. Greg Abbott, Roe v. Wade and protecting LGBT people

A new Texas poll found that voters approve of Gov. Greg Abbott's job performance by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The Quinnipiac University poll, released Thursday, also found Texas voters largely agree with Roe v. Wade and back increasing the legal age to smoke, and they don't want businesses to be allowed to refuse service to people based on their sexual orientation.

"Texas voters are not easy to categorize. Even on hot-button matters, they are not necessarily predictable. And, in fact, many might be surprised that the liberal position sometimes predominates," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "Take two of the thorniest social issues of our time: abortion and gay rights. On these issues, Texas voter opinions are noteworthy."

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says illegal immigration to U.S. is outpacing births. Is he right?

The claim: “"This will stagger you. We will have more people enter our country illegally than were born in this country in one year, said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He made the statement during an appearance on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on the Fox Business Network last month.

PolitiFact ruling: Pants on Fire. There is no evidence to support Patrick’s claim. While it is hard to say exactly how many people successfully enter the country illegally while evading detection, experts and federal reports say the real number is significantly smaller than Patrick’s 4 million.

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

50 years after opening, Bush airport is glue that holds Houston economy together

With America’s race to the moon nearing its culmination, 5 year old David “Hoss” Robertson thought he had glimpsed the future as he dreamed about Houston Intergalactic — er, Intercontinental — transforming the city into a hub for spaceflight.

Fifty years later, the airport has been transformative, just not in the way Robertson expected. Instead of trips to the moon, the airport’s domestic and international routes have made Houston a global city, helping to lure Fortune 500 headquarters, the U.S. subsidiaries of some of the biggest foreign corporations, and the talent that underpins the world’s greatest cluster of energy companies and largest medical complex.

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Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Cheap construction, government targets and lots of wind spurs wind development

Lots of wind, cheap construction costs and government targets to boost the percentage of power generated from renewable sources gave several states, including Texas, an incentive to invest in wind generated power.

More than half of the 275 million megawatt hours of wind-generated power last year was produced by just four states: Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas. Another five states provided another 20 percent, including California, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Colorado. Texas accounted for more than 25 percent of the total U.S. wind generated in each of the past three years, with most of the power coming from the northern and western parts of the state, according to the Department of Energy.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 7, 2019

Ken Herman: Sen. Judith Zaffirini has record-making session

Before the 2019 regular session of the Texas Legislature is too far in our rearview mirror (I miss ’em already. Should I seek professional help?) let’s pause to note some numbers, collective and individual.

Collective: 7,324 House and Senate bills were filed this year. Of those, 1,429 won approval in both chambers and were sent to the governor. As of Friday afternoon, he’d signed 508 into law, vetoed seven and allowed 34 to become law without his signature.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 7, 2019

Texas judges could be getting $30,000 raise

Many Texas judges are in line for pay increases — some by more than $30,000 annually — after state lawmakers passed a bill that rewards longevity on the bench. House Bill 2384, which is awaiting final approval from Gov. Greg Abbott, would raise the pay for district, county and appellate judges after their fourth year on the bench. The pay bump, proponents say, is necessary to retain good jurists and attract quality candidates to open benches.

The bill by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, removes a sticky provision tying legislators’ pensions to the base pay for district judges. Leery of the optics of passing a law from which they would personally benefit, lawmakers have long resisted calls to boost judges’ pay and have not done so in the eight years since it was set at $140,000 a year.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 7, 2019

National Democrats call for investigation of Abbott’s role in Texas voter review

Saying that recent emails show Gov. Greg Abbott’s “fingerprints” were all over a botched attempt to review the citizenship status of Texas voters earlier this year, two Democratic congressmen said Friday that they will press for a sharper U.S. House investigation into the matter.

Twice in the past 2½ months, the Committee on Oversight and Reform, the main investigative body of the U.S. House, demanded internal documents related to the citizenship investigation, and twice state Republican officials have refused.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 10, 2019

Judges OK political map in Fort Worth, saying new boundaries no longer discriminate

There’s a new House District 90. Kind of. The lines around the Fort Worth district have been redrawn slightly, mostly around Sansom Park and Jacksboro Highway, shifted just enough for three federal judges to sign off on the map, saying that it rectifies gerrymandering in the district.

“It’s done,” said state Rep. Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth, who represents this district. “This is the map in place for next year.” The changes were needed because the district was singled out and cited for deliberate discrimination by lawmakers when the U.S. Supreme Court approved redistricting maps in Texas. Judges last year said race was wrongly used as a key factor when the boundary lines were redrawn in 2013.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 7, 2019

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial: Trump’s tariffs on Mexico could backfire, and Texas will be the one to suffer

President Donald Trump seems to think that if he can hurt Mexico enough with a new tariff, our neighbor to the south will cut off immigration from Central America. And he might be right, especially if he escalates the tariff beyond the 5% he pledges to apply Monday.

But if he does, the Fort Worth area, like all of Texas, is in line for some significant collateral damage. Texas imports from Mexico topped $107 billion last year, according to the Census Bureau, and the DFW region does well more than $1 billion in total trade with Mexico each year. So, Texans are on the hook for billions more when Trump’s tariffs are passed on to consumers. And that’s not even counting the pain that will come when Mexico inevitably retaliates and puts new tariffs on our exports. More than a third of Texas products shipped out of the state are sent south.

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Dallas Morning News - June 9, 2019

Alan Peppard, who wrote for 'The Dallas Morning News' for 30 years, dead at 56

Alan Peppard, the Dallas native who worked his way from society columnist to Texas historian, who could turn forgotten footnotes into multipart series during his 30 years at The Dallas Morning News, died Saturday night. He was 56.

Peppard died in his sleep at his Highland Park home, two years after he left The News and went to work in the family business, Geomap Co. Based in Plano, the company was founded 60 years ago by his father, Vernon Peppard, a geologist and pilot. A cause of death is pending, but his wife of 24 years, Jennifer, said it was likely a heart attack — the same thing that felled Peppard’s father only 14 years ago.

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Dallas Morning News - June 9, 2019

First group of asylum-seeking migrants arrives in Dallas. Second group expected next week

The first group of about 57 migrants from an overwhelmed El Paso migrant shelter arrived Saturday night in Dallas, with another bus of about 55 expected to arrive early this week. The first charter bus pulled into the cramped parking lot of the historic Oak Lawn United Methodist Church shortly before 9 p.m. where volunteers and organizers greeted the group with hugs. Organizers said about half of those who arrived are children.

“They looked happy to arrive. They looked like they were ready to get off the bus, as you might imagine for a long trip like that,” said Senior Pastor Rachel Baughman after all the migrants had been greeted and led inside the church. Baughman boarded the bus alongside the church’s Hispanic ministry pastor Isabel Marquez, who led the group in prayer shortly after its arrival.

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Houston Public Media - June 10, 2019

Texas employers lawyer up after flurry of Social Security Administration letters

Texas companies are responding to a renewed government effort that has been used to identify undocumented workers. Employers worry that hundreds of thousands of letters coming from the Social Security Administration could lead to immigrants leaving their jobs.

The move has spurred business-owners to ask lawyers how to handle the onslaught of what are called “no-match letters” that flag workers with incorrect social security numbers. “The agency mailed approximately 577,000 Employer Correction Request letters to date,” a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration said in a written statement in end-May.

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Midland Reporter-Telegraph - June 9, 2019

Future of Permian production is in global markets

Drill locally. Sell globally. That's the mantra offered to those attending Hart Energy's Midstream Texas conference last week at the Horseshoe. "We're going to have to export significant amounts of incremental production, not just from Texas but from elsewhere in the U.S.," Greg Haas, director, integrated oil and gas at Stratas Advisors, told his audience.

The nation is already a net exporter of hydrocarbons –– from the lightest gas to the lightest crudes –– and is a major source of refined products to the rest of the world, he said. "The U.S. must remain a net exporter," he said, estimating at least 50 percent of U.S. field production, from crude to natural gas liquids to refined products must be destined for export. Since the ban on exporting domestically produced crude was lifted in December 2015, exports have soared to about 3 million barrels a day and are expected to reach 4 million to 6 million barrels a day by 2030.

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Texas Public Radio - June 10, 2019

As more migrants cross Rio Grande, Border Patrol rescues surge

The U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement on Friday that was expected to defuse the Trump administration's threat of tariffs on Mexican products. Mexico said it will do more to stop the flow of migrants coming north, which includes immediately expanding the Migrant Protection Protocols across its entire southern border.

The Trump administration wanted Mexico's help to address the surge in migrants crossing the southern U.S. border. More than 144,000 migrants made the very dangerous journey into the U.S. just last month. Traveling by –– across deserts or scrublands with little or no water –– can be very dangerous. But water itself can be even more dangerous. Many migrants risked their lives by swimming across the rain-swollen Rio Grande. In some cases, migrants used rafts or they walked across shallow areas in the river, which are not easy to find.

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Washington Monthly - June 10, 2019

There is still time for Beto O’Rourke to return to Texas and run for Senate

Beto O’Rourke’s presidential aspirations are not going well. The former Texas congressman and one-time Senate hopeful has attended at least 67 Iowa town halls, driven nearly 3,000 miles across the state, and hired dozens of staffers there. He’s tall, white, charismatic, and handsome—traits that should serve him well in the famously monochromatic Hawkeye State.

And yet, in the latest Des Moines Register poll, O’Rourke only has 2 percent support. He’s also not faring much better in national polling, where he hovers around 3-4 percent, and his numbers have sharply declined since an early and splashy entry into the race. Fortunately for O’Rourke and for Democrats, there is another useful path for him, one that would serve the country far better: making another run for the U.S. Senate against Republican John Cornyn. The filing deadline isn’t until December 9, which gives him plenty of time to reconsider. And a large number of Texas Democrats would like to see him come back home to do it.

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County Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

Two years after bribery scandal, Sreerama welcomed back as Harris County vendor

Two men in business attire sat across from Harris County Engineer John Blount in the downtown administration building earlier this year, making the routine visit Blount asks of all engineers wishing to be added to the county’s list of approved vendors. These attendees already were well known, however, not only to Blount, but to nearly every political player in Houston.

One was Karun Sreerama, an engineer and prolific political donor who resigned as Houston Public Works director two years ago after payments he made to a Houston Community College trustee who pleaded guilty to bribery charges became public. The other was Jerry Eversole, who had a corner office on the building’s top floor as a county commissioner for nearly two decades until his resignation as part of a 2011 plea deal in a federal corruption case.

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Houston Chronicle - June 10, 2019

Data raises questions about Harris County DA’s push for 100 more lawyers

When a line of prosecutors stepped up to the microphone at Harris County Commissioners Court in February, they told tales of long hours, endless to-do lists and bloated caseloads well into the triple digits. Their impassioned pleas and barrage of data were part of the push by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for an unprecedented $21 million expansion that would add more than 100 lawyers to its staff.

But despite a weeks-long campaign, District Attorney Kim Ogg’s budget request failed. Now, four months later, records obtained by the Houston Chronicle and The Appeal indicate that the attorney caseload figures used to justify the request appear to overstate the office’s workload. The data presented to commissioners and the public did not reflect that about two-thirds of the felony trial bureau attorneys consistently handle a smaller number of complex cases.

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City Stories

KERA and Associated Press - June 9, 2019

Woman killed after crane collapses in Dallas during storm

A construction crane buffeted by high winds during a storm toppled on a Dallas apartment building Sunday, killing one woman in the building and injuring five other people, two of them critically, a fire official said.

Crews searching the Elan City Lights building found the body of a woman inside after the crane collapsed and ripped a large gash into the side of the five-story structure, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said during a press briefing.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 9, 2019

San Antonio mayor, with slim reelection margin, looks ahead

Surrounded by supporters in sweltering heat, Mayor Ron Nirenberg closed his victory remarks Saturday night with a final reflection. “This runoff has changed me, changed me for the better,” Nirenberg said. “And I’m going to be your mayor, a mayor for all in San Antonio.”

After a turbulent two years and a strenuous reelection fight, the degree to which Nirenberg adapts will determine the success of the new term he narrowly secured. Many interpreted the change he alluded to as a response to the criticism that he’s long on plans and short on action. But Nirenberg disagrees with that premise, pointing to achievements such as equitable budgeting, $25 million in funding for affordable housing and a doubling of resources for street maintenance as evidence that his administration moved the needle in his first term.

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

PAC to launch "anti-pay-to-play" petition drive aimed at November vote

A political action committee is launching a petition drive Sunday aimed at limiting how much city contractors and vendors can contribute to municipal candidates, marking the start of a month-long effort to gather enough signatures to put the so-called anti-pay-to-play measure on Houston's November ballot.

The drive is for a petition authored by a group of lawyers, including Houston mayoral candidate Bill King, that would amend a city ordinance to bar people who do business with the city from contributing more than $500 to candidates for municipal office. Houston's campaign finance laws allow individual donors to give candidates up to $5,000 every two years. Committees can contribute a maximum of $10,000 during the same span.

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National Stories

Rolling Stone - June 10, 2019

Biden leads but Warren and Buttigieg gain ground in new Iowa poll

Former vice president Joe Biden still leads the pack of Democratic contenders for their party’s nomination in a new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa caucus participants, but Biden’s opponents are also gaining ground.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said they support Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) comes in second with 16 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg clocked in with 15 and 14 percent, respectively. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) completes the top five with seven percent supporting.

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Bloomberg Law - June 5, 2019

Research security bill coming this week, Cornyn says

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will introduce a bill next week to address federally funded research from theft, he said June 5 at a Senate Finance hearing.

The hearing comes as the government is increasingly worried about foreign nationals stealing scientific secrets.

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New Republic - June 3, 2019

The state liberal Democrats are made of

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak received national attention last week for vetoing a bill aimed at reforming the Electoral College. State lawmakers approved a measure that would have added Nevada to the popular vote interstate compact, pledging its six electoral votes to whoever wins the nationwide popular vote.

Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia, comprising 189 electoral votes, have signed the compact. Once the compact reaches the threshold of 270 votes, it would theoretically render the Electoral College obsolete. While the compact’s defeat in Nevada may have been dispiriting to national observers, its failure shouldn’t be their biggest takeaway from the state’s legislative session.

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The Atlantic - June 10, 2019

Beto’s term-limits plan is just what Democrats need

Anyone who remembers the 1994 Republican “Contract With America” might have found it jarring to read Beto O’Rourke’s voting-rights plan, released this week. Along with a range of other policies, from automatic voter registration to campaign-finance reform, the Democratic presidential candidate and former congressman calls for term limits for members of the House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

While term limits for the justices have become a popular cause in both parties, term limits for Congress are an idea that left popular circulation around the time Newt Gingrich stepped down as speaker of the House. When the GOP reclaimed the House in a stunning victory in 1994, the new majority began implementing reforms. One of those was term limits—in fact, Republicans wanted the same 12-year limits (six terms for the House, two for the Senate) that O’Rourke suggests.

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Washington Post - June 9, 2019

NRA money flowed to board members amid allegedly lavish spending by top officials and vendors

A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum.

The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances. In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.

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NPR - June 7, 2019

What loosening restrictions on radio consolidation could do, and what it already has

If you're a country artist who dares to have a political opinion in the cautious world of Nashville, you're certain to hear a familiar refrain. "Be careful," you'll be warned. "You don't want to get Dixie Chicked."

But what's often left out of the Dixie Chicks' mythology is that their "cancellation" wasn't caused by the independent minds of programmers across America rebelling on their own free will – it was a direct product of consolidation, of many bullhorns being held by the same hand, and the power that bestows.

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Open Secrets - June 7, 2019

Banking groups lobby Congress to enable banking services for cannabis companies

Trade groups believe it’s high time to push for legislation that would make life easier for the budding cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act, which would enable banks and credit unions to do business with cannabis-related businesses in states where marijuana is legal, is poised to pass the House after overwhelmingly advancing through the House Financial Services Committee and being waived through the House Judiciary Committee.

Naturally, groups representing the cannabis industry are pushing for the bill, which they say would help grow the industry in the U.S. and make it significantly safer. Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association descended on Capitol Hill in late May for an annual lobbying blitz. The trade group ramped up its lobbying spending to an all-time high of $560,000 last year. Overall, the industry reported spending a record $2.7 million on lobbying in 2018. It’s on pace to surpass that number this year, shelling out more than $900,000 through the first quarter.

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Newsclips - June 8, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 8, 2019

State Rep. Eric Johnson easily defeats council member Scott Griggs to become Dallas mayor

State Rep. Eric Johnson, who rose from the blight of West Dallas to a career in law and public service, defeated council member Scott Griggs on Saturday and will become Dallas' next mayor.

Johnson, 43, was backed by most of the city's business and political elite — including term-limited Mayor Mike Rawlings — and had a huge money advantage over his opponent. The election results showed the veteran legislator enjoyed strong support from northern and southern Dallas, while running well enough in the east to pull out an easy victory. The Dallas lawyer campaigned on bringing the city together to solve its nagging problems, effectively casting Griggs as a dangerous divider who would set the city backward.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 8, 2019

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg wins second term after bruising battle

Mayor Ron Nirenberg narrowly survived a bruising runoff Saturday, earning a second term and fending off challenger Greg Brockhouse in what widely was considered to be the most polarizing local election in a generation.

The mayor won by a slim margin of 51-to-49 percent, with all precincts reporting. The contest drew more votes than any municipal race since 2005, when Phil Hardberger beat Julián Castro. Nirenberg campaigned on a vision to continue guiding the seventh-largest city in the United States into a new chapter. He vowed to do so with carefully laid, far-reaching plans he initiated in his first term to tackle mass transit and affordable housing, among other long-term challenges.

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Politico - June 7, 2019

Koch network floats backing Democrats in revamp of influence operation

The Koch network is shaking up how it tries to influence Washington heading into 2020, starting with plans to spend money to reelect lawmakers from either party who back its issues and are facing primary challenges.

Once a pro-Republican electoral powerhouse, the network that was long led by Charles and David Koch has made major changes to the way it operates in recent years, focusing more on policy and philanthropy and even renaming itself Stand Together to reflect its less political tone. As part of this transition, Americans for Prosperity, the policy and political arm of the network, is retooling for the 2020 election cycle.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 7, 2019

Lawmakers overlook high rates of uninsured, foster care fixes

Occupied with reining in rising property taxes and overhauling the school finance system, state lawmakers left Austin last month without substantively addressing other long-standing issues: the high number of uninsured Texas residents and problems that still plague the child foster care system.

Advocates were encouraged that bills addressing shortcomings in state social services, including those that would have expanded Medicaid, received public committee hearings at the beginning of the legislative session — something previous Legislatures had been loath to do. But dozens of bills — including those that would have extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers, prepared older teenagers to make the transition out of foster care, and instituted trauma-informed care across the child welfare system — died in large part because they carried hefty price tags.

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State Stories

San Antonio Express-News - June 8, 2019

Gilbert Garcia: Nirenberg gets victory, but no mandate in San Antonio runoff

Last Wednesday afternoon, a small group of Greg Brockhouse supporters gathered outside the Municipal Plaza building during a City Council B-session. The group included a young couple who explained to me why they supported the District 6 councilman in his race to unseat Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

They said the city was growing too fast, changing too much — in danger of losing its distinctive flavor. To them, Nirenberg — with his ambitious multi-modal transportation plan, his climate-change initiative, his support for the removal of downtown Confederate statues and monuments and his vote to block Chick-fil-A from an airport concessions contract because of the fast-food chain’s support for organizations resistant to LGBTQ rights — symbolized that change.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 8, 2019

Gilbert Garcia: Legislative session provided San Antonio some big wins

Councilman Rey Saldaña called it “140 days of hair pulling.” Mayor Ron Nirenberg offered this tepid congratulations to the participants: “It could have been a whole lot worse.”

That’s the way city officials commemorate the end of state legislative sessions in Texas; with a complicated mix of frustration, weariness and gratitude that the sky didn’t collapse on their heads. Even when things go well, they’re probably too emotionally drained to fully appreciate the good news. That’s true even this year, when the 86th Legislature made remarkable policy breakthroughs and worked with a sense of bipartisan focus rarely seen at the state Capitol.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 7, 2019

TEA recommends replacing entire Harlandale ISD board; naming conservator

Texas Education Agency officials recommended on Friday the commissioner lower the accreditation of Harlandale Independent School District, appoint a conservator and replace all of its trustees with an appointed board of managers, reiterating the same recommendation of a scathing report agency investigators issued in November.

The decision now rests with Education Commissioner Mike Morath. TEA officials launched the investigation in August 2017, saying it was spurred by complaints about governance, contract procurement and alleged nepotism and conflict of interest. November’s preliminary report recommended lowering the district’s accreditation and suggested trustees and Superintendent Rey Madrigal might have broken laws involving contracting, procurement and secret meetings.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 7, 2019

More legal spats erupt between Taco Cabana founder’s heir and financial adviser

The acrimony is ratcheting up between an heir to Taco Cabana founder Felix Stehling and Stehling’s longtime financial adviser. Stehling’s stepson Lynn Moody previously sued James C. Worth, who advised Stehling for nearly 20 years until his death in 2012, for allegedly squandering Stehling’s fortune. Assets once valued at about $20 million are “worthless,” the suit alleged.

Worth’s lawyer has said the action is just a money-grab by Moody. This week, Worth moved to evict Supreme Meat Purveyors — a wholesale meat processor headed by Moody — from its Southtown plant for allegedly failing to pay rent for more than two years. The eviction action followed a May 21 lawsuit by Moody accusing Worth of threatening to foreclose on the Supreme plant at 222 E. Cevallos. Supreme’s customers are food distributors Sysco Corp. and the Ben E. Keith Co.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 9, 2019

Jonathan Tilove: Beto may be for term limits, but he is an argument against them

A few days ago, Beto O’Rourke unveiled an ambitious agenda to expand voting. It also includes his proposal for term limits — 12 years for members of the House and Senate and 18 years for members of the Supreme Court, who now have lifetime tenure.

Term limits would have crippled Sanders’ and Biden’s congressional careers. Meanwhile, O’Rourke has to explain why a tepid three terms in the minority in Congress prepared him to be president. His contemporary, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, who didn’t run for U.S. Senate in 2016, is finally tasting power in his fourth term and decided to forgo a run for Senate in 2020 to stay there. But if he were term limited, to what end?

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Austin American-Statesman - June 7, 2019

UT open to ending Texas Cowboys’ hazing suspension early

The Texas Cowboys spirit group at the University of Texas has accepted a six-year suspension for hazing at an off-campus retreat that preceded a student’s death in September, but the university is open to reinstating the group as soon as 2022.

In a letter obtained Friday by the American-Statesman, the university’s vice president for legal affairs, James E. Davis, informed the Cowboys that the UT president will hold a meeting in January and August of each year beginning in 2022 to “evaluate whether the Texas Cowboys student organization may be reinstated at a point in time prior to the completion of the sanctioned suspension.”

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

The Great LNG Debate: A growing industry faces stiff, organized opposition in the Rio Grande Valley

Flora Gunderson’s eyes filled with tears and her hands shook as she recalled the March 2005 day when she nearly lost her husband. That’s when a vapor cloud ignited at the BP Refinery in Texas City, sparking an explosion that killed 15 people and injured 180 others.

The Gundersons and their neighbors are part of the fierce opposition to proposed LNG plants that are dividing residents of the impoverished border region along the familiar lines of growth versus quality of life, jobs versus the environment and change versus preservation. Those fault lines have taken a particularly sharp edge in this debate, with the nearly $40 billion that the LNG projects promise to invest juxtaposed against one of the poorest metropolitan areas in the country, where nearly one in three people live in poverty and the unemployment rate, 4.7 percent in April, is the highest in Texas.

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

Romancing the shale: How Oxy won over Anadarko

Occidental Petroleum’s pending $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum is a tale of nearly two years of unrequited love, a Jane Austen-type romance of proposals and rejections, disappointment and jealousy, until a determined suitor ultimately bests a rival and wins over the object of desire, culminating in matrimony.

The two companies, in a regulatory filing, on Friday revealed the details of their on-again, off-again flirtation — a flirtation that was disrupted when the California energy major Chevron made its own proposal to Andarko. The filing describes the increasingly tense series of back-and-forth talks between Anadarko and its two pursuers that continued until the seemingly dramatic conclusion of April 11 when — after a night of long discussions — The Woodlands-based Anadarko agreed to a lesser, but potentially safer offer from Chevron.

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SE Texas Record - June 3, 2019

Texans for Lawsuit Reform calls 86th legislative session one of the most successful ever

With the 86th Texas Legislative Session now in the books, Texans for Lawsuit Reform says its just completed one of its “busiest and most successful legislative sessions ever.” A number of measures impacting the Texas legal system were passed this past session, including a bill designed to bring transparency to contingency fee contracts private lawyers enter into with local governments.

“A number of important bills supported by TLR passed the Legislature and either have already been signed by the governor or are awaiting his signature,” states a June 3 email TLR sent out. “These bills strengthen our legal system, protect consumers, and ensure the right to speak freely, among other things.”

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SE Texas Record - June 5, 2019

Paxton tells education commissioner that civil remedies still exist for violations of Texas Open Meetings Act

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in a recent response to an inquiry from Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath regarding the state's Open Meetings Act, said a governmental body is in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) if it “deliberates about public business within the jurisdiction of the body outside of a meeting authorized by the (TOMA) through multiple communications each involving fewer than a quorum.”

Paxton's May 24 response was in regard to Morath's April 24 letter to Paxton asking “whether civil remedies continue to exist” for violations of the TOMA. Morath said in the letter “it has been a longstanding principle of Texas law that when members of a governmental body meet in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, their actions are subject to civil consequences as provided by Texas law.”

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Dallas Morning News - June 9, 2019

Abbott endorsement lifts pair to seats on Plano city council

A pair of candidates backed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in two Plano city council races won their elections Saturday night. Shelby Williams took incumbent Ron Kelley’s Place 5 seat after getting 53% of the vote.

And Lily Bao, who ran against Ann Bacchus for an open Place 7 seat on the council, won her race with 57% of the vote. Each winning candidate had an edge in early voting totals and kept their leads in their races throughout the night. Both Williams and Bao were endorsed by the state’s Republican governor — an unusual move for a nonpartisan election, and a first for Plano, according to Collin County Republican Party executive director.

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KUT - June 7, 2019

The world's first zero-carbon oilfield could be coming to Texas – maybe?

Experts say carbon emissions need to be reduced and even removed from the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic climate change. Could carbon-neutral oil be a part of that? One company setting up shop in the West Texas oilfields says yes.

The Canadian firm Carbon Engineering recently announced a partnership with oil giant Occidental Petroleum to create what they say could amount to a carbon-neutral oilfield. The plan is to build a facility in the Permian Basin to filter carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

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County Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 8, 2019

Kim Ogg says she will use asset forfeiture funds for crime prevention programs

Days after police detailed an ongoing gang war in south Houston, the county’s top prosecutor said she plans to funnel money seized from criminals into intervention programs in afflicted communities.

“We need prevention programs and intervention programs and effective prosecutions,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said, during a community engagement forum Saturday morning at the Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Midtown. “We’re going to fund some of those intervention and prevention programs, and I’m going to do it with money we seize from criminals who committed crimes. … I want to invest that money back into communities that are being hurt.”

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 8, 2019

Dwight Boykins kicks off campaign for Houston mayor

Houston City Councilman Dwight Boykins formally kicked off his mayoral campaign Saturday afternoon, jumping into the race by promising to lead with “courage and compassion” in a speech laden with references to Houston firefighters and implicit critiques of Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Under sweltering heat in a parking lot across the street from Fire Station 46, located in the heart of Boykins’ southeast Houston council district, the new mayoral candidate pitched his candidacy for the first time, citing his experience on council and support for the fire union during the months-long Proposition B dispute. "We need leadership that has the courage to stand for what's right, even if you have to stand alone, as I have,” Boykins said. “...For me, standing with the men and women of the Houston Fire Department wasn't just talk. It was action.”

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

‘Gang war’ spreads in southeast Houston with dozens killed in recent years

Two aspiring rappers saw their dreams cut short when they were fatally shot through the windows of a Mercedes-Benz. A big-talking teenager fell dead without a fight, hit by a barrage of bullets outside his River Oaks high school. An 8-year-old died after rounds blasted through the car as he waited for his mother to finish a trip to the nail salon.

The deaths are among recent casualties in a violent “gang war” that has erupted in the streets of southeast Houston, where gangs are snarled in a territorial and cultural clash that has left more than 50 people dead in almost eight years. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg — a former anti-gang czar for Houston Mayor Bob Lanier — said clash is the worst she’s ever seen.

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Houston Chronicle - June 8, 2019

MD Anderson relocating Smithville research park to Houston

MD Anderson Cancer Center will relocate its nearly 50-year-old research facility near Austin to Houston, a decision that’s upset business and political leaders in the central Texas area.

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape has gone so far as to try to enlist Gov. Greg Abbott’s influence to convince MD Anderson to keep its Science Park in Smithville, site of Jim Allison’s earliest immune system research that last year culminated in the Nobel Prize. MD Anderson officials Friday met with employees to provide more specifics on the plan, which calls for the park to be shut down in two years. They said the decision is already final.

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Dallas Morning News - June 8, 2019

David Blewett cruises to win over Philip Kingston, but other Dallas City Council runoffs were tight

David Blewett didn't blow it. After finishing 221 votes shy of an upset over three-term Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston in May’s municipal elections, Blewett cruised to a convincing win in Saturday’s runoff, unofficially claiming the seat by 7 percentage points.

Kingston’s loss — coupled with Scott Griggs’ defeat in the Dallas mayoral race — marked the end for their group of self-styled progressives at City Hall. While several of their allies remain on the council, including Adam Medrano and Omar Narvaez, and acolytes have joined the fold — such as District 1’s new council member Chad West — Griggs and Kingston served as its policy and political backbone.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 8, 2019

Fired Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald files whistleblower lawsuit against city

Fired Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city, alleging that a confrontation in Washington, D.C., was orchestrated by union presidents and also criticizing the mayor’s five-person security team.

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Fitzgerald’s Dallas attorney Stephen Kennedy, said the former chief was hired to “clean up the department.” Kennedy said,that during his time at the department, Fitzgerald disciplined more than 50 officers for violations ranging from drug use, DUI’s, harassment and use of force.

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Texas Public Radio - June 9, 2019

Women run away with San Antonio City Council seats, forming first female majority council in a decade

Ron Nirenberg returned to a familiar mayoral seat on Saturday. But he will sit alongside three new council members – all women. Jada Andrews-Sullivan will represent District 2, Adriana Rocha Garcia will represent District 4 and Melissa Cabello Havrda will represent District 6. Together, they form the first female majority on the council in a decade.

When early voting numbers for District 2 were released, Andrews-Sullivan and Keith Toney faced a long night. Only 99 votes separated those early voting numbers. But she ended the night ahead, and her supporters erupted when the tight race was called in her favor. Andrews-Sullivan beat Toney by fewer than 300 votes. District 2 has had five different representatives in five years. Andrews-Sullivan said it needs consistency now, and she promised she would be in it for the long haul.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 7, 2019

Lakefront tax break: Why mansions on Lake Austin are exempt from city taxes

While the average Austin homeowner paid $1,343 to the city in property taxes last year, Gregory paid nothing for police, emergency medical services and other city services. Gregory, who declined to comment on this story, owns one of an estimated 400 Lake Austin waterfront properties with an average value of $2.1 million that are in the city limits but have never generated a dime for the city’s tax rolls.

How did so many of Austin’s elite get exempted from paying city property taxes? It started more than a century ago when the state authorized the city to annex the Colorado River’s shores extending roughly 22 miles from the city’s center to maintain the shores in hope of improving the river’s water quality. When Austin annexed those properties in 1891, city leaders included a concession that the city would never be able to provide basic services to those living there. So, anyone who chose to live there would not be subject to city taxes.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 9, 2019

Sunday proclaimed 'Maleah Davis Day' in Houston

The search for missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis captured the attention of Houston and the nation. And the eventual confirmation that her body was found tossed along an Arkansas roadside put the city in collective mourning. On Sunday, June 9, the City of Houston will honor her memory by declaring it "Maleah Davis Day."

As part of the commemoration, the lights of City Hall will be turned pink, which was Maleah's favorite color. "Although the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of Maleah Davis were heartbreaking, the community is united in creating lasting changes in her honor and vowing to safeguard all children in our community," Mayor Sylvester Turner stated in the proclamation.

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National Stories

New York Times - June 8, 2019

Mexico agreed to take border actions months before Trump announced tariff deal

The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.

Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.

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New York Times - June 9, 2019

World economic leaders warn of fallout from trade war between US and China

Global finance leaders meeting in Japan this weekend said they were increasingly worried that the trade dispute between the United States and China, which shows no signs of abating, could propel the world economy into a crisis.

The sense of gloom at the gathering of the Group of 20 major economies came amid increasing evidence that global economic growth is slowing amid President Trump’s renewed trade war with Beijing. In a closing statement, or communiqué, officials at the G-20 warned that trade tensions have “intensified” and agreed to address the risks.

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CBS News - June 7, 2019

University of Alabama rejects $26.5 million from donor critical of state's abortion ban

The University of Alabama board of trustees voted Friday to give back a $26.5 million donation to Hugh Culverhouse, who recently called on students to boycott the school over the state's new abortion ban. Later that day, a maintenance crew removed his name from the campus's law school.

The 70-year-old real estate investor and lawyer has already given $21.5 million to the university after his pledge last September with the rest still to come. But in a news release last week, he urged students to participate in a boycott of the school. "I don't want anybody to go to that law school, especially women, until the state gets its act together," Culverhouse said. The Alabama ban would make abortion at any stage of pregnancy a crime punishable by 10 years to life in prison for the provider, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

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Washington Post - June 9, 2019

ICE deported veterans while ‘unaware’ it was required to carefully screen them, report says

On the same day the White House heralded veterans on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a federal watchdog said the government had violated its own rules on deporting former service members — and immigration authorities have no idea how many they have removed.

Although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required to especially consider a veteran’s health, deployment record and other circumstances and must elevate decisions of veteran removal to senior officials, the agency often did not because it was “unaware of the policies,” the Government Accountability Office said in a Thursday report.

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Wall Street Journal - June 8, 2019

Frackers scrounge for cash as Wall Street closes doors

Shale drillers are scrambling to raise cash as financing from Wall Street dries up. The companies behind the U.S. fracking boom are turning to asset sales, drilling partnerships and other alternative financing to supplement their cash flow.

These forms of funding often come with higher interest rates or carry other downsides, such as giving outside investors a hefty share of future oil and gas production, but are gaining traction as drillers face dwindling access to traditional sources of capital. Fracking companies are feeling intense pressure from investors to live within their means after years of losing money. Most are still struggling to generate positive returns, a situation now compounded by weak oil prices.

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Barron's - June 7, 2019

NASA is opening the International Space Station to (wealthy) visitors

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is going commercial. NASA is creating a new B2C, business-to-consumer, business model, opening up space to individuals. The result could mean more space launches and that’s good news for companies that make rockets.

Some of those companies are private, such as Tesla Chairman Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon.com President, Chairman, and CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Several, however, are public and include: Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings. That handful of aerospace innovators make the boosters, engines and vehicles which lift people and cargo off the face of the planet.

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Associated Press - June 9, 2019

2020 Democrats take aim at student debt crisis

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg knows firsthand the burden of six-figure student loan debt. He and his husband, Chasten, are far from alone, though, and their personal college indebtedness is helping to keep the issue on the national stage. With loans totaling more than $130,000, they are among the 43 million people in the United States who owe federal student loan debt.

The debtors are so numerous and the total debt so high — more than $1.447 trillion, according to federal statistics — that several of the Democratic candidates have made major policy proposals to address the crisis. Their ideas include wiping away debt, lowering interest rates, expanding programs that tie repayment terms to income and making college free or debt-free.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 9, 2019

Authorities arrest two Mexican businessmen with San Antonio ties

Two Mexican businessmen with financial ties to San Antonio — one who faces fraud charges and one who moved to Texas after he was accused of pilfering millions from his savings and loan — have been arrested.

Spanish police arrested Alonso Ancira — a mining empresario known as Mexico’s steel king who splits his time between his home country and a Boerne ranch — on the Spanish island of Mallorca last week as part of a corruption sweep by Mexico’s new president. Ancira, the cousin of San Antonio auto dealer Ernesto Ancira Jr., faces allegations that he defrauded Mexico’s state-run oil company, Pemex, according to a news release from the Mexican federal prosecutor.

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Bloomberg - June 8, 2019

Hillary Clinton's brother Tony died Friday night

Hillary Clinton’s youngest brother Tony Rodham died Friday night. The former U.S. senator, Secretary of State, first lady and Democratic presidential candidate announced the death Saturday on Twitter.

Clinton remembered her brother as a kind and generous person who could walk into a room and “light it up with laughter.” She didn’t say how he died but said he was survived by his wife, Megan, and three children, Zach, Simon and Fiona. Tony Rodham was born in 1954 to parents Hugh and Dorothy Rodham. He was raised in the Chicago suburbs along with his older siblings, Hillary, who is now 71 years old, and Hugh, who is 69.

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Newsclips - June 7, 2019

Lead Stories

Associated Press - June 7, 2019

Boom in electric scooters leads to more injuries, fatalities

As stand-up electric scooters have rolled into more than 100 cities worldwide, many of the people riding them are ending up in the emergency room with serious injuries. Others have been killed.

There are no comprehensive statistics available but a rough count by The Associated Press of media reports turned up at least 11 electric scooter rider deaths in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018. Nine were on rented scooters and two on ones the victims owned.

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

Banned from guns, Texas gave him a license anyway. Citizens paid the price.

If you wanted to invent an avatar to represent the type of person who should not have easy access to firearms, you might come up with someone like Heon “Hank” Yoo.

In 2013, after threatening to shoot his resident counselor at Rutgers University, the then-19-year-old Yoo was committed to a New Jersey psychiatric hospital, where he was diagnosed with “aggressive homicidal ideation and explosive personality disorder.” A year later a friend was alarmed enough at Yoo’s behavior at a shooting range to alert police. He “would shoot at the head of the target every time, even though range policy specifically prohibited such contact,” he reported. Even after warnings, Yoo “continued to shoot at the head.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 6, 2019

Court rules audio of police encounter with ex-Rep. King not public

Siding with former state Rep. Susan King, a state appeals court ruled Thursday that Abilene police cannot disclose audio recordings of King’s interaction with officers during a 2015 incident in and outside of her home.

King has a right to withhold the audio accounts, recorded by microphones carried by police officers, that had been requested by a TV station under the Texas Public Information Act, the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals said. However, the appeals court rejected King’s request to withhold police reports of the incident, saying they pertained to a matter of public interest involving the behavior of a public official.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 6, 2019

Ken Herman: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick banned a journalist over tweets

In a dangerous, petty and thin-skinned move, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this year banned from the Senate floor a credentialed Capitol journalist whose tweets didn’t meet with Patrick’s approval. Patrick’s spokesman said the move (unprecedented, best I can recall) was sparked not by anything Scott Braddock tweeted about the lieutenant governor, but by an unspecified something Braddock tweeted about a Patrick aide.

Yes, this is the same lieutenant governor who, in another unprecedented move, this year allowed Senate press credentials for a conservative organization that, through its political action committee, uses money to try to sway elections and public policy. It was for that reason that the House, in a decision upheld by a federal judge, continued to deny press credentials to the group, Empower Texans.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

Oil executives: Time for Houston to embrace clean energy

Houston’s position as the energy capital of the world is based on fossil fuels, but the nation’s fourth-largest city must embrace new technologies and cleaner energy if it wants to lead the way for decades to come, energy executives said Thursday at the first Houston Low-Carbon Energy Summit.

Executives from Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Houston’s Occidental Petroleum and others said Houston and local industry have the opportunity to drive the energy sector forward, not by abandoning oil and gas, but by embracing stricter environmental policies, emission-reduction technologies and other measures.

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

Congressman Henry Cuellar: Imposing tariffs will not address roots issue of migrant crisis

A border congressman called on President Donald Trump and other leaders in Washington to address the root issues of the Central American migrant crisis, rather than imposing tariffs on Mexico that could disrupt commerce with United States’ biggest trading partner and hurt American consumers and businesses.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, opposes the tariffs based on the grounds that they will raise prices for American consumers and manufacturers. He believes that addressing causes of the mass migrations — gang violence and extreme poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — would do more stem the flow of migrants than imposing tariffs against Mexico.

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Houston Chronicle - June 6, 2019

Texas ready to arm more teachers with law lifting cap on school marshals

An unlimited number of school district teachers and staff can now go armed on campus to help guard against future school shootings, a change spurred by the 2018 massacre at Santa Fe High School that brought the reality of school violence home to Texas.

In the year since a student gunned down his classmates and two substitute teachers, killing 10 people and injuring 13 others, several Texas school districts have embraced the program that allows school staff to undergo training to become marshals certified to keep handguns on campus. Roughly half of Santa Fe high school employees have expressed interest in the program, although school officials have not yet decided whether they want more armed staff, said school board president Rusty Norman.

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Houston Chronicle - June 7, 2019

As takeover of Anadarko looms, The Woodlands waits, watches and tries not to get hysterical

When Luis Padilla opened The Refuge Bar & Bistro, just a short walk from Anadarko Petroleum’s headquarters in The Woodlands, it quickly became a spot for the oil and gas crowd to congregate after work. Now, it’s more a place for Anadarko workers to drown their sorrows as they update résumés and contemplate the future of The Woodlands without its flagship employer, which recently agreed to be acquired by Occidental Petroleum.

“It’s a big scare for the employees,” Padilla said. “A lot of them are just waiting and seeing and not wanting to get hysterical just yet.” Occidental last month agreed to buy Anadarko for $38 billion, outbidding the much bigger oil company Chevron. The looming question is whether Oxy will maintain a presence in The Woodlands or move out entirely, relocating the Anadarko employees it opts to keep on the payroll to Oxy’s new headquarters in Houston’s Energy Corridor.

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Houston Chronicle - June 6, 2019

Texas D-Day veterans presented with France’s highest honor

On Thursday, 75 years after the start of that pivotal battle, ten World War II Texas veterans were awarded France’s most distinguished award — the French Legion of Honor — aboard the Battleship Texas, which was stationed off the coast of Normandy during the invasion. The Legion of Honor is France’s highest award for merit for military and civilian achievements.

Alexis Andres, France’s consul general in Houston, said in recent years his country actively has searched for foreign veterans who helped liberate France to present them with the medals. French President Emmanuel Macron, Andres and French officials gave dozens of the awards to U.S. veterans in ceremonies held in Normandy, France and across the United States Thursday.

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Houston Chronicle - June 6, 2019

As Texas oil production surges, crude imports plunge

The Permian Basin is producing more oil than estimated by government analysts and pushing U.S. output even higher than the record levels projected by the Energy Department, according to a report released Thursday.

U.S. oil production likely hit a record of 12.5 million barrels per day in May — about 200,000 barrels per day above Energy Department estimates — and should grow to 13.4 million barrels a day by the end of this year, according to the Norwegian energy research firm Rystad Energy. By the end of next year, U.S. oil production should hit 14.3 million barrels a day, Rystad said.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 7, 2019

San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board: Special session needed on plumbers’ licensing issue

Gov. Greg Abbott must call a special session of the Texas Legislature to deal with the unresolved issue of how plumbers in this state are licensed and regulated.

The State Board of Plumbing Examiners came under review under the Sunset Act this year, but the 86th Texas Legislature failed to pass the necessary legislation to keep it going beyond Sept. 1 or transfer the board’s functions to another agency. The governor then announced plans to deal with the problem without a special session. We urge against that. Allowing the governor to correct what amounts to a legislative oversight on a legislative duty sets a bad precedent and undermines the intent of the law.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 6, 2019

Most Texas voters say abortion should be legal in at least some cases

As the debate over abortion reignites nationwide after several states passed laws restricting access to it, a new poll shows most Texans agree that it should be legal in at least some cases.

A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,159 Texas voters showed that 57 percent agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. “Texas voters are not easy to categorize,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the poll. “Even on hot-button matters, they are not necessarily predictable. And, in fact, many might be surprised that the liberal position sometimes predominates.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 6, 2019

Beto O’Rourke flip-flops, expresses support for Gina Ortiz Jones

In an abrupt 180-degree reversal, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke expressed his support for Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones over his friend U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, in the 2020 race for the 23rd Congressional District. “I will very likely support the nominee in that race,” O’Rourke said in an interview with CBS News Wednesday. “I’m a big fan of Gina.”

That’s not what the former congressman from El Paso said last year when he, in a move that irked Texas Democrats, declined to endorse Jones in a race in which Jones lost by fewer than 1,000 votes. Asked why he flipped, O’Rourke said that Hurd has not done enough to confront President Donald Trump. “Will Hurd is a very good friend across the aisle, but the challenges that we face and the fact that our democracy is under attack by our very president, who welcomed the involvement of a foreign power and has sought to obstruct the investigation into what happened — this is on the line,” O’Rourke said.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 6, 2019

Abbott signs into law school safety bills

Starting as early as the fall, Texas school districts will have access to more mental health resources and money to better secure schools. Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law three bills meant to address school safety, drafted in response to last year’s Santa Fe High School shooting that left 10 people dead. The bills would give districts about $10 per student to pay for safety measures.

Many of the provisions of the bills were part of Abbott’s recommendations, drafted after his office held a series of roundtable discussions last summer that included victims of mass shootings. SB 11, which will cost the state $110 million over the next two years, will create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to provide access to psychiatric professionals associated with the state’s medical schools to improve the mental health needs of children.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - June 7, 2019

Cynthia Allen: Fort Worth teacher’s immigration tweets will unfairly hurt conservatives

There are a lot disappointing elements in the story of Georgia Clark, the Fort Worth Carter-Riverside High teacher whose recent social media tirade about unauthorized immigrants prompted FWISD’s board of trustees to recommend that she be terminated.

Clark, an English teacher, was apparently quite concerned by the number of students at the high school where she teaches (whom she believed) to be in the country illegally. She was so alarmed that she personally took her pleas that these students be “removed” to President Donald Trump, via her Twitter account, and even supplied her phone number so someone on his staff could call her to discuss the problem.

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McAllen Monitor - June 6, 2019

Ruben R. Cardenas, first Mexican-American DPS Chairman, dies at 88

Ruben R. Cardenas, a McAllen attorney who was appointed as the first Mexican-American chairman of the Texas Department of Public Safety and who was known for his humor and commitment to community development, died Sunday. He was 88.

His was a personality that, even after his death, brought laughs to friends and family when they recounted memories of Cardenas. “Whenever you called him, whether it was for business or for pleasure, he always had a joke or something clever to say,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. Cardenas is survived by his wife, Dardanella, whom he met during his second year at the University of Texas School of Law. Before moving to Austin, Cardenas grew up in the ranchland of northern Hidalgo County where he rode a school bus for 64 miles — roundtrip.

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Rio Grande Guardian - June 7, 2019

Valley delegation pleased with Cornyn’s stance on Mexican tariffs

A delegation of leaders from the Rio Grande Valley visited Washington, D.C. on Wednesday and one of the top issues on their mind was President Trump’s plan to impose a five percent tariff on Mexican imports.

The delegation included Cameron County Commissioner David Garza, Willacy County Commissioner Edward Gonzalez, and Hidalgo County Commissioners David Fuentes and Ellie Torres. Among the people they met was U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. “Senator Cornyn was excellent. He basically gave us a report on the tariff situation and how he might be able to navigate through that process,” said Commissioner Garza.

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Associated Press - June 7, 2019

US opens new mass facility in Texas for migrant children

The federal government is opening a new mass facility to hold migrant children in Texas and considering detaining hundreds more youths on three military bases around the country, adding up to 3,000 new beds to the already overtaxed system.

The new emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, will hold as many as 1,600 teens in a complex that once housed oil field workers on government-leased land near the border, said Mark Weber, a spokesman for Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency is also weighing using Army and Air Force bases in Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma to house an additional 1,400 kids in the coming weeks, amid the influx of children traveling to the U.S. alone.

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Dallas Morning News - June 6, 2019

Speakers at Young Women's Leadership Summit celebrate conservative values in Dallas

Many prominent conservative figures from around the country who gathered in Dallas for the fifth annual Young Women's Leadership Summit agree: Being a conservative in America is hard.

The conference began Thursday evening at the Hyatt Regency Dallas with a series of speakers, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch. The four-day conference also provides leadership training and networking opportunities for conservative women, as well as sessions with dozens of conservative leaders. The summit is hosted by Turning Point USA, a nonprofit organization that encourages college students to advocate conservative ideals on their college campuses.

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City Stories

Associated Press and Dallas Morning News - June 6, 2019

Dallas police reviewing officers' social media after report alleges bigoted, violent posts

The Dallas Police Department has joined several law enforcement agencies nationwide that are reviewing officers' social media activity after a report alleged current and former officers in the city had made more than 1,000 bigoted or violent public posts.

Researchers with The Plain View Project compiled the posts by examining the personal Facebook accounts of police in Dallas and seven other cities, including Denison. The posts include some that equate Muslims with terrorists, make light of claims of police brutality and support killing refugees and criminals. Other posts identify with right-wing militia groups and employ racist stereotypes. The Dallas Police Department said Thursday that it's working with the project's leader and reviewing every post to see whether department policy was violated.

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Dallas Morning News - June 6, 2019

Fight intensifies in second round of East Dallas City Council race between David Blewett, Philip Kingston

David Blewett nearly pulled off an upset last month that would’ve shaken Dallas politics. Largely unheralded before the May 4 general election, Blewett — a mortgage banker and former SMU football player — finished 221 votes shy of ousting Philip Kingston from his Dallas City Council seat.

Blewett, who bettered Kingston by seven percentage points, will have another chance to unseat the three-term incumbent in Saturday's runoff. But the race's dynamics have changed significantly in the last month. More than 6,300 residents voted early in the runoff, highlighting the District 14 race as the highest-profile council race in the shadow of the mayoral runoff between Kingston ally Scott Griggs and state Rep. Eric Johnson. The district's early vote total reflects a 30% increase from May, the biggest jump in any Dallas runoff.

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Associated Press - June 7, 2019

Dallas school speech interrupted when shooting victims named

School officials in Dallas say they're investigating why a high school valedictorian had her graduation speech interrupted after she said the names of shooting victims Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice.

Conrad High School valedictorian Rooha Haghar told KXAS-TV that her school principal ordered her mic to be shut off during her speech Saturday. Haghar said she was previously told that her speech shouldn't be political. Officers in Cleveland fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir in 2014. A neighborhood watch volunteer shot 17-year-old Martin in 2012. Both were black.

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Houston Chronicle - June 6, 2019

Houston firefighters’ union endorses Boykins for mayor

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association on Thursday voted unanimously to endorse Councilman Dwight Boykins in the race for Houston mayor, according to a news release from the union.

Though Mayor Sylvester Turner secured the fire union’s endorsement during the 2015 cycle, he since has become embroiled in a bitter feud with the union over a long-running pay dispute, producing a political headache for the mayor as he seeks a second four-year term.

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Rivard Report - June 5, 2019

San Antonio’s budget takes significant hits in legislative session

It wasn’t all bad news on Wednesday, as San Antonio City Council was briefed on the high and low points in the recently concluded Texas legislative session, but two losses, in particular, could end up costing the City millions in lost revenue.

Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign both Senate Bill 1152, which will let telecommunication companies off the hook for millions in right-of-way fees they pay to the City, and Senate Bill 2, which caps the number of increased revenue cities can collect from property taxes without asking for voter approval. Abbott has until June 16 to sign, veto, or allow automatic approval of the 1,434 bills that were approved by the state House and Senate.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 7, 2019

Outside groups spend more than $500k on San Antonio’s municipal runoffs

Outside groups have poured more than a half-million dollars into San Antonio’s municipal runoffs, according to new financial reports that shed a final light on spending activity before Saturday’s elections.

The external influence has been visible in the month since Mayor Ron Nirenberg and challenger Greg Brockhouse advanced to another round of voting May 4. There are down-ballot runoffs in three council districts as well. Block-walkers wearing shirts emblazoned with the firefighters union logo have been talking to voters on Brockhouse’s behalf. Those in teal shirts with “TOP” — Texas Organizing Project — also are in San Antonio neighborhoods, advocating for Nirenberg.

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National Stories

Associated Press - June 7, 2019

Beto O'Rourke stumps with his wife amid struggles with women

Beto O'Rourke stumbled with women from the start, featuring his wife sitting silently in his presidential campaign launch video and joking repeatedly about being a part-time parent.

But with his campaign at risk of stalling, O'Rourke is attempting to improve his standing with female voters. His wife, Amy, will begin a rare string of campaign appearances on Friday in Iowa, speaking at joint events and making herself available to chat and take pictures with would-be supporters. Her presence will be an important test of whether Beto O'Rourke can reverse his less-than-favorable first impressions with women.

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Los Angeles Times - June 3, 2019

The vote-by-phone tech trend is scaring the life out of security experts

With their playbook for pushing government boundaries as a guide, some Silicon Valley investors are nudging election officials toward an innovation that prominent coders and cryptographers warn is downright dangerous for democracy.

Voting by phone could be coming soon to an election near you. As seasoned disruptors of the status quo, tech pioneers have proven persuasive in selling the idea, even as the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine specifically warn against any such experiment. The fight over mobile voting pits technologists who warn about the risks of entrusting voting to apps and cellphones against others who see internet voting as the only hope for getting most Americans to consistently participate on Election Day.

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Houston Chronicle - June 6, 2019

Amid darker economy, lower mortgages a glimmer

Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty spurred by a trade war with China and the looming imposition of tariffs on goods imported from Mexico, one modest glimmer has shone through for consumers: mortgage rates have fallen to a nearly two-year low.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.82 percent as investor confidence has slipped and money has moved to the relative security of debt and out of equities. It’s likely that mortgage rates will continue to slide further in the coming weeks, according to Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com, as Mexico and the U.S. face a June 10 deadline to come to terms on a plan to limit immigration to the U.S. or have tariffs implemented.

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Dallas Morning News - June 7, 2019

Mitchell Schnurman: One more reason to reject Trump’s tariffs: Hurting Mexico hurts us

What’s wrong with the president’s plan to levy tariffs on Mexican imports? There are so many reasons that it’s hard to decide where to start. The proposed tariffs — opening at 5% and eventually rising to 25% on all goods from Mexico — would amount to billions in new taxes on American consumers and American producers. That’s because Mexican imports have a lot of U.S. parts, and vice versa.

Top international companies would have to rework factories and supply chains, incurring expenses and delays. One study projected the tariffs’ direct costs would reach $28 billion annually and lead to 406,000 job losses — with over a quarter of those occurring in Texas. President Donald Trump’s penchant for weaponizing trade could have another unintended consequence: tipping Mexico into recession.

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New York Times - June 7, 2019

Trump allows high-tech US bomb parts to be built in Saudi Arabia

When the Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia, it did more than anger members of Congress who opposed the sale on humanitarian grounds.

It also raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs — weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago. The emergency authorization allows Raytheon Company, a top American defense firm, to team with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia. That provision, which has not been previously reported, is part of a broad package of information the administration released this week to Congress.

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Washington Post - June 7, 2019

The fate of Trump’s economy now hinges on the Federal Reserve, the agency the president called ‘crazy’

President Trump has pummeled the Federal Reserve with insults in recent months, calling it “crazy” and blaming it for any stock market dives or ugly economic data. But now the president has thrust the fate of the economy into the hands of the organization — and the man — he has suggested he doesn’t trust.

Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell and other Fed officials have signaled this week that they may have to cut interest rates in coming months to keep the economic expansion going — and counter any economic harm from Trump’s escalating trade war. Such a move would be highly unusual. It would come at a time when the economy has been growing quickly, and inflation and unemployment are low. And it could serve almost as an insurance policy on the impact of actions taken by the president, potentially facilitating his use of tariffs in unpredictable ways.

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