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November 22, 2017: All Newsclips | Early Morning Clips

All - November 22, 2017

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Lindenberger: To keep DOJ from killing Time Warner merger, AT&T must do more than use Trump as bogeyman

Dallas-based AT&T Inc. is counting on history to see it through what is now officially a battle with the Trump administration over its plans to gobble up Time Warner Co. in a merger worth 13 figures. But it could be gambling in a game where all bets are off. The government's claims are strong enough that AT&T is going to have to reckon with them in ways that go beyond the bravura on display Monday when CEO Randall Stephenson dismissed the Justice Department's complaint by saying it "defies logic and is unprecedented." He's added that it's been decades since the DOJ had gone after a merger like this one.

E&E News - November 21, 2017

Can Trump nudge Texas to dip into its rainy day fund?

The Trump administration is trying to get Gov. Greg Abbott and the rest of Texas' GOP leadership to do something they've tried to avoid: tap into a $10 billion stockpile known as the rainy day fund. "We feel strongly that they should step up and play a role and work with the federal government in this process," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week. Sanders was defending a $44 billion aid proposal aimed at helping Texas and other areas in the aftermath of 2017 disasters. 

Los Angeles Times - November 21, 2017

Was Border Patrol agent beaten to death by immigrants in Texas? Or did he fall? The FBI is not sure

mysterious incident last weekend that left one Border Patrol agent dead in west Texas and another critically injured is being investigated as a possible attack, officials said. “There are a number of possible scenarios, but right now we are going to pursue it as an assault on a federal agent,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said during a Tuesday briefing in El Paso. "This is the most important investigation in the El Paso division of the FBI. We will be aggressively investigating all leads."

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Why Rep. Joe Barton sticks around as other Texans kiss Congress goodbye

A gaggle of Texas lawmakers has announced plans to retire from Congress after 2018. But not Ennis Rep. Joe Barton, the longest-serving member of the Texas House delegation, now prepping for his 18th congressional campaign. To hear him tell it, he missed a critical window of opportunity years ago when he decided to stay in Congress, when he could’ve capitalized on his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a position he lost after Democrats reclaimed the House in 2006.

State Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Texas AG Ken Paxton on Roy Moore allegations: 'Presumption of innocence is really important'

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton disagrees with Mitt Romney's stance on the allegations against Roy Moore, saying the "presumption of innocence is really important." Last week, Romney tweeted "innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections." He was referring to Moore's supporters, who are defending the Alabama Senate candidate against allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with teenage girls. Paxton, appearing on C-SPAN, was asked what he thought of Romney's stance.

Dallas Morning News - November 20, 2017

Dallas antique store owner to challenge Rep. Jason Villalba in March primary

Rep. Jason Villalba is getting a serious challenger for his seat in March. Lisa Luby Ryan will oppose the Dallas Republican in the March primary. Ryan, who operates an interior design firm and the antique home furnishings store Vintage Living in Dallas, announced her campaign Monday. “I’m simply overwhelmed at the initial support we have already earned and grateful for the caliber of individuals joining this campaign,” Ryan said in a news release.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Path to citizenship right for Dreamers and the economy, Texas business leaders say

Creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children isn't just morally right, it also makes economic sense, a group of Texas business leaders said Tuesday. It was one of those Dreamers, as the young immigrants are often called, who made the most impassioned plea to the bipartisan forum of about 100 people at the Dallas Regional Chamber event. “I am not owed anything,” Dallas resident Juan Carlos Cerda said. “But I do owe my country the best of me.”

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

With 'Hog Apocalypse' on hold, what do we do about the pesky wild pigs taking over Texas?

Mike Brewer has tried all kinds of corn bait to lure feral hogs into a $1,000 trap at his Sunnyvale pecan orchard. He even mixed the corn with strawberry gelatin because the pigs love strawberries. Nothing. The hogs dig around the trees and trample the earth. They eat his pecan harvest off the ground. It costs Brewer and his wife, Kathy, weeks and weeks of labor to patch up the soil around the trees. "It's a constant battle," Brewer said this month.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Leubsdorf: With court cases looming, the fight over voting rights will only intensify

In the coming weeks, high federal courts will hear important cases challenging two ways Republicans have sought since Barack Obama's election as president to restrict voting of Democratic-leaning groups. They come at a time when efforts initially focused on restrictive voter-identification laws in Texas and other GOP-controlled states have broadened to include purging voter rolls of people who hadn't lately voted and limiting early voting in areas with large minority populations.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

New Texas transportation group vows to fight tea party on how to ease traffic jams

Business groups, local elected officials and highway industry interests are launching a new group targeting commuters to raise awareness about the lack of funds needed to ease traffic congestion in Texas' four biggest metro areas, including Dallas-Fort Worth. Frustrated by tea party activists' vehement opposition to toll roads, such as the proposed "managed lanes" for Interstate 635 East in Dallas County, the transportation funding boosters have formed Texans for Traffic Relief. As motorists hit the road for the Thanksgiving holidays, the nonprofit will launch a website and begin educational efforts, said spokesman David White.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

DMN: Here’s why we can finally quit re-debating “does pre-K really help?”

There's a mountain of research that shows getting kids into quality pre-K gives them a leg up throughout their school lives. But, stunningly, some people are still not convinced. Sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to drive home something so important. That came this month in the form of a new study that advocates say is pivotal in putting a stop to the long-running "does early childhood education really work?" debate. Researchers from five universities, led by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, analyzed 22 well-constructed studies between 1960 and 2016. That's research published over 56 years.

Austin American-Statesman - November 21, 2017

Commentary: How young voters can bring truth back to politics

The way we pass laws in this state is failing young Texans. Elected officials use lies to pass bad laws. Turning lies into laws hurts our state and risks alienating a rising generation of Texans when we should be doing everything possible to encourage their participation in the political process. That politicians ignore or distort facts for the sake of their agenda is nothing new — in Texas or across the country. But it’s something that seemed to go into overdrive this year — with devastating effects. Here are a few examples: This year, Texas lawmakers passed a law allowing child-welfare providers that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBT families in foster care and adoption placements. The law’s supporters argued that the legislation would protect “religious freedom.”

Austin American-Statesman - November 21, 2017

PolitiFact: How Austin school district fares in per-student spending

An activist made his case against voters approving a record $1 billion Austin school bond proposition in part by saying the school district tops other big Texas districts in per-student funding. We wondered about that. “Austin ISD has the highest taxable property value per student of all school districts in Texas,” Roger Falk of the Travis County Taxpayers Union wrote in a commentary published in the American-Statesman before the bond won voter approval. “It also has the lowest tax rate of all districts in our area.” ... Considering all audited actual revenues for 2015-16, it looks to us like the Austin district trailed other high-enrollment districts in spending—ranking sixth or ninth among such districts depending on which ones you include. We rate this claim False.

Austin American-Statesman - November 21, 2017

Herman: The George H.W. Bush dilemma

Sadly, there’s much to be sad about as we’re fixin? to fix the fixings and preparing to check off what we have to be thankful for as we celebrate Thanksgiving 2017. On a micro basis, most of us have much good stuff for which to be thankful. On the mega basis, as always, there’s good for which to be thankful and bad for which to be concerned. The two sometimes overlap. It’s bad that there is so much evidence of men behaving badly. It’s good that there are victims courageous enough to force us to deal with something somehow ignored for far too long. (I’m in mind these days of a long-ago female colleague who used to say, “If they can send a man to the moon, why don’t they send all of them?”)

Texas Tribune - November 22, 2017

Days later, cause of Border Patrol agent's death still unclear

More than two days after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and another seriously wounded while on patrol in West Texas, exactly what happened to the agents is still unclear. Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, died Sunday after sustaining severe head and bodily injuries. His partner, who hasn’t been named, is recovering from his injuries and is in intensive care, according to federal authorities. During a press briefing in El Paso Tuesday, Emmerson Buie Jr., the FBI's special agent in charge of the El Paso division, said the agency is investigating the death as the result of an attack on federal officers but left the door open to other possibilities. The FBI is the agency bureau charged with investigating potential assaults on federal officers.

Texas Tribune - November 21, 2017

Houston Councilman Dwight Boykins exploring run for Texas governor

As Democrats look for a serious candidate to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018, another big-city official is surfacing as a potential contender: Dwight Boykins, a member of the Houston City Council. "I have had an opportunity to travel across our great state and meet a lot of hardworking people who feel no one is listening to their concerns or fighting for their families and I am humbled and encouraged by those who have asked me if I would consider running for Governor of Texas," Boykins said in a statement to The Texas Tribune on Tuesday.

Texas Tribune - November 22, 2017

Ramsey: Can Texas politicians police themselves?

It’s not going to be any easier to police sexual harassment in the Texas Capitol than it is to police ethics violations; the difference, at the moment, is that lawmakers have spent more time regulating ethical transgressions. It’s not easy to get arms-length enforcement of elected state officials. They don’t have bosses, the way the rest of us have bosses. The human resources departments in the House and the Senate can handle a lot of employee issues, but not a lot of officeholder issues.

Texas Tribune - November 22, 2017

How much damage did Harvey do to Texas homes? There may never be an exact answer.

As the state undertakes what could be the biggest housing recovery in American history after Hurricane Harvey, potentially thousands of Texas renters and homeowners trying to rebuild their lives are in danger of falling through the seams of a patchwork of agencies. But no one knows how many Texans could get lost in the shuffle — or how much personal wealth they stand to lose. That's because U.S. disaster recovery efforts are split between a number of government entities, so no single agency tracks the full extent of destruction the storm wrought on Texas homes. That leaves the Texas General Land Office, which is charged with overseeing the state’s housing recovery efforts, vying for limited long-term relief funds without an exact price tag for damage to private property.

Houston Chronicle - November 21, 2017

Professor explains why Texas executes so many prisoners

If Harris County were its own state, it would have a more active death chamber than the entire rest of the country - except for the rest of Texas. Of the 1,465 U.S. executions in the modern death penalty era, 125 have come from Harris County - roughly 8 percent. The next-closest executioner is Dallas County, with 55 death sentences carried out since the Supreme Court reinstated the ultimate punishment in 1976. Houston's reputation as ground zero for the death penalty, it seems, is well-earned - even though prosecutors here have been less apt to dole out capital sentences in recent years.

Houston Chronicle - November 21, 2017

Lawmakers and consumer groups want patients better protected

Two Texas lawmakers said Tuesday they would consider changing state law to better protect patients caught in the fight between doctors and insurers. The legislators joined a chorus this week of consumer and patient advocacy groups, along with national health policy experts, who are dismayed by a system that forces unsuspecting patients to pay significantly higher rates from out-of network doctors even at in-network hospitals.

Rio Grande Guardian - November 19, 2017

Burnett: Now is not the time to gut punch rural America

Rural communities represent a lot of Texas values. Whether we are working the land or serving the community in other ways, our neighbors in other parts of the state always look to us for the compass when it comes to what makes Texas great. ... One example of a crucial program you have probably heard little about is the 340B program. The 340B program is a critical lifeline for rural healthcare providers, such as community clinics and rural hospitals like Ward Memorial Hospital and the 400 plus other rural hospitals of which 82 hospitals are identified as Critical Access Hospitals in Texas.

Rio Grande Guardian - November 17, 2017

Port of Brownsville has added 847 jobs this year

The Port of Brownsville has added 847 jobs this year, Brownsville Navigation District Commissioner Ralph Cowen has announced. The uptick in economic activity coincides with a report from the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board to Congress which showed that Foreign Trade Zone No. 62 at the Port of Brownsville ranks second in the nation for the value of exports during 2016. “I just got the numbers last week and we are up 847 jobs for the year. That is great. It has been a long road to get there,” said Cowen, the immediate past chairman of BND.

City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 21, 2017

Austin school district chooses buyers for high-profile properties

Austin school leaders are moving forward with the sales of the district’s downtown headquarters, the Baker Center and the Millett Opera House (home of the Austin Club), among other surplus properties. The school board next Monday is scheduled to vote on the sales of these properties: • The Carruth Center, the 2.7-acre district headquarters on West Sixth Street, for $36.5 million to Schlosser Development of Austin. The minimum bid was $30 million. • The Millett Opera House, for $3 million to the Foundation for the Preservation of the Historic Millett Opera House, the only bidder on the property. The minimum bid was $5.4 million. • The Baker Center, a former school in Hyde Park, for $10.6 million to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The minimum bid was $10.6 million.

Dallas Morning News - November 20, 2017

Frisco woman is latest to accuse Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct

A Frisco woman is accusing embattled Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct, telling CNN that the Democrat grabbed her buttocks during a photo opportunity seven years ago. Lindsay Menz, 33, is the second woman in recent weeks to accuse the comedian-turned-politician of unwanted sexual advances. Menz says the senator inappropriately touched her while they posed for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, according to CNN. She and her husband, Jeremy, moved to Texas from Minnesota three years ago. She told CNN that they went to the fair because her father's business was sponsoring a local radio booth and that they met several politicians that day.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Here's a Thanksgiving debate: Who will be Dallas' next mayor?

It's the season when most of us have our eyes fixed on two things: turkey and football. And, traditionally, we don't like to mix those Thanksgiving staples with politics. It's like finding a buzzard leg in your Turducken. But in Dallas, this holiday happens to mark the beginning of a six-month soul-searching journey for potential candidates interested in replacing Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who's not a lame duck yet. His term expires in mid-2019. The most interesting name I've heard thus far is Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who didn't exactly slam the door shut.

Texas Standard - November 20, 2017

Water: A new export for Corpus Christi?

When you think about exports and Corpus Christi, fossil fuels typically come to mind. Since Congress lifted the U.S. ban on crude oil exports in 2015, billions of dollars worth of oil has been shipped out of the port there. Some in Corpus Christi have an idea to diversify the city’s export portfolio with a resource that’s available in abundance around the coastal city. Officials are investigating the viability of large-scale desalination, with a view toward selling water from the Gulf of Mexico to those who need it. Joe McComb, the mayor of Corpus Christi, says though he is uncertain when exactly a desalination plan might come to fruition, he is confident that his city has the resources and motivation to begin exporting water in the near future.

Texas Public Radio - November 20, 2017

Texas Coastal Bend Residents Continue To Rebuild After Hurricane Harvey

The sound of power saws and drills permeates the streets of Fulton — a town of 1,300 located about a half hour northeast of Corpus Christi. Some are calling this the DIY recovery because residents aren’t waiting around for aid. They’re picking up their tools and getting to work, including the mayor, Jimmy Kendrick. “I’m trying to build a fence back,” he said, while gesturing towards a half-completed project. Lumber, tools and other equipment are scattered around the yard. Kendrick said Hurricane Harvey gave his home a wallop and not many in Fulton were spared.

Temple Daily Telegram - November 21, 2017

Belton City Council moves forward on annexing 3 areas

Belton Independent School District’s 109-acre tract along Loop 121 sits heavily on this rapidly growing Central Texas city’s future. The land was referenced several times Tuesday evening during the Belton City Council’s two-and-half hour deliberation on how to move forward with the city’s proposed annexation of up to 1,358 acres spread over four areas near Interstates 35 and 14. In four 5-2 decisions, Belton’s seven-person legislative body approved 64 development agreements that delay annexation for 10 years. Councilmen John Holmes and Paul Sanderford dissented.

National Stories

Washington Times - November 21, 2017

Lerner, Paz say they fear physical harm from enraged public, want IRS testimony sealed permanently

Former IRS executive Lois G. Lerner told a federal court last week that members of her family, including “young children,” face death threats and a real risk of physical harm if her explanation of the tea party targeting scandal becomes public. Ms. Lerner and Holly Paz, her deputy at the IRS, filed documents in court Thursday saying tapes and transcripts of depositions they gave in a court case this year must remain sealed in perpetuity, or else they could spur an enraged public to retaliate. “Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” attorneys for the two women argued.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

DMN: Tax reform plans are a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly for the middle class

Tax reform is on an express train toward passage. Too many middle-class Americans could be left waiting on the platform, however. This is a major omission in what we would otherwise cheer as the first significant opportunity for tax reform since Ronald Reagan was in the Oval Office. In the years since the 1986 Tax Reform Act, the IRS code has become unbearable. Tax brackets have expanded, and countless new credits and deductions have turned it into a playground for special interests, often at the expense of middle-class Americans.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Families who get help paying for college would be taxed under GOP House plan

Parents and students already struggling to pay for college could be dealt another significant setback under the tax plan House Republicans approved last week. The proposal would eliminate codes that consider many assistance programs exempt from taxable gross incomes. That includes qualified tuition reductions colleges and universities often provide that allow employees, their spouses or dependents to enroll tuition free or at a reduced rate. Such reductions are generally tax free for undergraduate courses.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Trump breaks silence, backs Roy Moore despite sex abuse allegations

President Donald Trump broke his silence on embattled Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore on Tuesday, emphasizing doubts about sexual assault allegations and noting that Moore himself has denied sexual contact with a 14-year-old. Trump's stance is a marked contrast from the chorus of Republicans eager to block an accused child molester from joining the nation's most exclusive club. It also puts him at odds with his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, whose recent comment that "there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children" is featured in a new ad for Moore's opponent.

Bloomberg - November 21, 2017

Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers. Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said.

The Hill - November 21, 2017

Trump Jr. spoke briefly last year with Russian banker with Putin ties

Donald Trump Jr. reportedly spoke briefly last year with a Russian banker with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator and banker, was introduced to Trump Jr. at a May 2016 event hosted by the National Rifle Association (NRA), CBS News reported, according to a source familiar with the meeting. They spoke for two to three minutes, according to CBS.

Bloomberg - November 21, 2017

How Trump’s Rust Belt Voters Have Changed Since the Election

In the aftermath of November’s election, there was the sense in many East Coast circles that it wouldn’t take long for the voters of Middle America to regret their decision to put Donald Trump in the White House. Nine months later, we’ve found few signs of such remorse. We’ve been tracking a group of Trump supporters from the four key Heartland states that helped swing the election: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. True, there has been slippage in support for him in some cases, but what comes through clearly is that the emotional bond between the firebrand politician and his base remains very strong. Here they are–eight portraits in all–in their own words.

The Hill - November 21, 2017

Five new revelations in the Russian uranium case

Russia saw its purchase of Uranium One as part of a strategy to dominate global uranium markets, including making the United States more dependent on Moscow's nuclear fuel. Documents the informant gave the FBI clearly show that the purchase of Uranium One was seen by Russia and its American consultants as one tool in a strategy to "control" the uranium market worldwide. In the United States, that strategy focused on securing billions of new uranium contracts to create a new reliance on Russian nuclear fuel just as the Cold War-era Megatons to Megawatts program, which recylced Soviet nuclear weapons into fuel for American nuclear power plants, was ending.

Politico - November 21, 2017

Leading Trump Census pick causes alarm

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans. Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

USA Today - November 20, 2017

Sexual harassment troubles mount in statehouses around the country

When Kirsten Anderson submitted a memo detailing her concerns about sexual harassment at the Iowa Capitol, she expected comments about women in the office – their sex lives, breast sizes and the length of skirts worn by teenage pages – to stop. Instead, Anderson was fired seven hours later from her job with the Iowa Republican Senate Caucus. After four years of litigation that ended in September, the state agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle her claim, leaving taxpayers footing the bill.

Politico - November 21, 2017

Conyers scandal rocks House Democrats

House Democrats found themselves plunged into crisis on Tuesday, after reports surfaced that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a staffer in 2015 — an episode that will now be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Conyers acknowledged the settlement Tuesday, but forcefully denied he ever sexually harassed his former aide. "I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so," he said in a statement.

Politico - November 21, 2017

Congress speeds toward shutdown over Dreamers

Concern is growing in both parties that a clash over the fate of Dreamers will trigger a government shutdown this December. House conservatives have warned Speaker Paul Ryan against lumping a fix for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors into a year-end spending deal. They want him to keep the two issues separate and delay immigration negotiations into 2018 to increase their leverage — which both Ryan and the White House consider reasonable.

Washington Post - November 21, 2017

FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see and use

The Federal Communications Commission took aim at a signature Obama-era regulation Tuesday, unveiling a plan that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers see and use. Under the agency’s proposal, providers of high-speed Internet services, such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, would be able to block websites they do not like and charge Web companies for speedier delivery of their content. The FCC’s effort would roll back its net neutrality regulation which was passed by the agency’s Democrats in 2015 and attempted to make sure all Web content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers.

Associated Press - November 21, 2017

Pledge deaths at US colleges fuel reviews of Greek life

The deaths of at least four fraternity pledges this year have helped fuel a re-examination of Greek life at U.S. colleges, which have long struggled with how to crack down on hazing, alcohol abuse and other unwelcome aspects without disbanding organizations that have loyal members and alumni. Changing attitudes, increased public scrutiny and fears of facing lawsuits also have caused schools to take action, anti-hazing advocates say. Tracy Maxwell, founder of HazingPrevention.org and a longtime Greek life consultant, sees parallels with the national discussion about sexual harassment.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

San Antonio Express-News - November 21, 2017

Latinos confident about 2018 elections

Latino success in Virginia and across the country in recent elections continued a run of historic victories in 2017 and left leaders confident of their strategy heading into midterm elections next year. But the leading role of minorities Nov. 7 rekindled a debate among Democrats about how to appeal to moderate voters and raised questions about whether the victories can be replicated next year in Texas, which is notorious for low turnout among Latinos. Even before Virginia, which elected Latinas to the Legislature for the first time, victories by Hispanic candidates in special elections showed how well-financed, robust organizing can capitalize on fears generated by the Trump administration.

All - November 21, 2017

Lead Stories

Washington Post - November 20, 2017

Democrats see backlash over Republicans’ tax bill as a key to winning in the suburbs

For decades, the battle lines in New England’s most politically conservative state were clear. Republicans ran on tax cuts. Democrats ran on targeted tax credits. Both parties kept New Hampshire free of a state income or sales tax, blurring some distinctions for suburban voters. Then came the Republican tax plan in Congress. “Do you think it’s right to raise taxes on millions of hard-working Americans?” asked Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) at a Friday night Democratic fundraiser. “Do you want to risk a $25 billion yearly cut to Medicare to give the wealthiest few a tax cut?”

Associated Press - November 20, 2017

US declares NKorea a terror sponsor; new sanctions expected

President Donald Trump announced Monday the U.S. is putting North Korea's "murderous regime" on America's terrorism blacklist, despite questions about Pyongyang's support for international attacks beyond the assassination of its leader's half brother in February. Trump said the designation as a state sponsor of terror was long overdue, and he promised a new wave of sanctions as part of a "maximum pressure campaign" over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons that could soon pose a direct threat to the U.S. mainland.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

Austin American-Statesman - November 20, 2017

U.S. 183, I-35 projects waver after Abbott, Patrick trash tolls

Several key Central Texas highway projects — including expansions of U.S. 183 in North Austin, U.S. 290 in Southwest Austin and Interstate 35 through the heart of the area — are once again in limbo after Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last week staked out firm anti-toll positions. “Right now there’s a billion dollars worth of projects on hold, between 183 and Oak Hill,” said Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. The I-35 project, estimated to cost $8 billion to add toll lanes and other improvements from Round Rock to Buda, was still several years from construction.

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

Texas House member behind anonymous Facebook page that campaigned against local bond

In the weeks before a parks bond election in Fredericksburg this month, a Facebook page titled “Concerned Taxpayers of Fredericksburg” began to pop up on locals' news feeds. The anonymous page urged voters to oppose a $12.6 million bond measure aimed at adding new baseball, softball and soccer fields to a local park. Behind the page was one concerned taxpayer in particular: state Rep. Kyle Biedermann, a freshman Republican from Fredericksburg. The Fredericksburg Standard reported earlier this month that Biedermann filed a “Doing Business As” form for the Concerned Taxpayers of Fredericksburg at the county clerk’s office. The Facebook page does not list his, or any other, name.

State Stories

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

Ramsey: Politicians will take sexual harassment seriously when voters do

The 181 members of the Texas Legislature are not sovereigns — it just seems that way. Give them credit for giving the pent-up backlash against sexual harassment some attention. They’re trying to develop policies that will protect harassment victims and give them some recourse or, at a minimum, some way to report the transgressions of the overwhelmingly male Legislature without being punished professionally for doing so.

Texas Tribune - November 21, 2017

Harvey was three months ago. These displaced families are still in limbo

Almost three months have passed since Yashica Foster watched her Houston townhome flooded by Hurricane Harvey on TV. Foster, her husband Raymond and their three kids had rushed out in time to escape the 17 feet of water that ultimately invaded the complex. But the deluge forced the family apart: while the parents and their oldest daughter are staying in two hotel rooms at the Greenspoint Marriott — funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency — their 19-year-old son is living with a friend and their 15-year-old daughter is with family members so they can be close to their schools.

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

College tuition in Texas is poised to climb slightly in 2018

College in Texas will become a little more expensive in 2018. Following a legislative session in which major funding cuts were considered, five of the state's six big public university systems have signaled an intent to raise undergraduate tuition for the 2018-19 school year — or have already approved increases. The sixth, the Texas Tech University System, hasn't made a decision yet. The cost hikes will be modest, with few tuition bills rising more than 4 percent.

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

4 years later, Texas still not drug testing unemployment benefit applicants (video)

In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed a law allowing for the drug testing of certain out-of-work Texans applying for unemployment. Republicans say politics is the reason they haven't been able to start the testing. They are waiting on the Trump administration to launch new federal guidelines on who the state is allowed to test. Under Senate Bill 21, those who test positive would be ineligible to receive benefits for at least a month, until they passed another drug test. An applicant could also enroll in a treatment program to remain eligible for benefits within a week of receiving notice of a failed drug test.

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott calls for more resources following Border Patrol agent's death

State and national leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, said more resources should be devoted to border security following the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent Sunday. The agent died from injuries sustained while he was on patrol in southwest Texas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Sunday in a news release that offered sparse details. His partner was injured and was hospitalized in serious condition.

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

How Texans can get help if they’ve experienced sexual harassment at work

Former lawmakers and legislative aides have told The Texas Tribune that sexual harassment regularly goes unchecked at the state Capitol. And sexual harassment policies rely on officials with little incentive or authority to enforce them, particularly in cases of harassment by lawmakers. But what about men and women who work beyond the Capitol? Across the country, women are coming forward alleging that powerful men — including Alabama Senate GOP nominee Roy Moore, comedian Louis C.K. and film producer Harvey Weinstein — have made unwelcome sexual advances.

Texas Tribune - November 20, 2017

$1.85 million civil lawsuit follows new Texas special education director

Texas' new special education director is facing allegations that she tried to cover up sexual abuse of a 6-year-old student at her previous job as special education director for a small school district in Oregon. Laurie Kash, who was hired by the Texas Education Agency in mid-August, was sued Nov. 14 by Michelle Eastham and Terrianne MacEllven, two instructional assistants at Rainier School District, north of Portland on the Oregon-Washington border.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Thompson, Williams, Wells: Why churches shouldn't endorse political candidates

From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria to wildfires raging in at least six western states, the resources of our churches and community nonprofits have been stretched thin across the country. While Rep. Kevin Brady and others in the Texas delegation have done much to support our immediate recovery effort, the current tax bill threatens our long-term vitality by creating an exception in the tax code that could turn churches, and the entire charitable sector, into conduits for partisan campaigning. The so-called "Johnson Amendment" has worked more for than 60 years to ensure that our charitable sector remains nonpartisan, allowing churches and other organizations to focus on their missions to improve the common good.

Houston Chronicle - November 20, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott offering $20k reward for information in death of Border Patrol agent

Hours after Gov. Greg Abbott offered a $20,000 reward for information about an attack that left one Border Patrol agent dead and another injured, sources said there may not have been an attack at all. Rogelio Martinez, 36, was killed while on patrol in West Texas Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said. Martinez and his partner were responding to a call near the Van Horn Station, about 120 east of El Paso. It is not clear how Martinez died, though officials have said it was not in a shooting. His partner was in serious condition Sunday.

San Antonio Express-News - November 21, 2017

Union says border agent was ambushed; officials say don't jump to conclusions

A Border Patrol agent who died Sunday in West Texas was apparently attacked, and a second agent who also was attacked and injured has no memory of what happened, complicating an investigation, the president of the Border Patrol union said Monday. Federal officials have not said how Agent Rogelio Martinez died and warned that the investigation has not been completed. Martinez, 36, died from injuries suffered while on patrol Saturday night near Van Horn, according to the Border Patrol. Few details about his death have been made public.

San Antonio Express-News - November 20, 2017

Sutherland Springs gunman lied to DPS about convictions, military service

Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs on Nov. 5, lied to the Texas Department of Public Safety earlier this year when he applied for a private security guard license and claimed that he had no criminal convictions and hadn’t been discharged from the military. In his June application to be licensed in Texas as an unarmed security guard, Kelley answered “no” when asked whether he had ever been convicted of a felony; if he had been convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor within the past five years; and whether he had been discharged from the military.

Dallas Morning News - November 20, 2017

Gaspard: Latest tragedy a reminder that it's time to enact constitutional carry

When tragedy strikes, as it did recently in Sutherland Springs, people set aside their differences and unite. We pray, because we know it is powerful even when we feel powerless, and we work to find healing. Part of that healing is anger. We want to find someone to blame. Beyond just the perpetrator, people may blame the victims for not being prepared, or the police for not being faster, or the Legislature for not having more laws, or God for allowing it to happen at all.

Dallas Morning News - November 20, 2017

The more critical forensic science is to our justice system, the more essential it is that it be trusted

Call it the CSI effect, or just a smart evolution in fighting crime, but forensic evidence has never been more important to the integrity of the criminal justice system than it is now. It's become routine for prisoners alleging they've been wrongly convicted to point to DNA evidence to try to prove their innocence. Often, they're just grasping at straws. But in dozens of cases in Texas alone, they've been right — and walked out of prison as a result. But more often that that, it's the smart use of forensic evidence that helps put violators behind bars, as the power of DNA evidence to persuade remains potent in whichever way — toward guilt or innocence — the evidence points.

Austin American-Statesman - November 20, 2017

Union leader: Border agent might have been beaten to death with rocks

A U.S. Border Patrol agent who was killed while on patrol in West Texas might have been beaten to death by attackers wielding rocks, according to the president of the National Border Patrol Council. Brandon Judd, president of the labor union, said Agent Rogelio Martínez, 36, died Sunday of blunt force trauma to the head. “I have been told by several agents that it was a grisly scene, and that his injuries were very extensive,” Judd told The Washington Post on Monday. “We believe he was struck in the head with rocks, or multiple rocks.”

Austin American-Statesman - November 20, 2017

Congressman ‘shocked, outraged’ by Statesman report on Temple VA abuses

U.S. Rep. John Carter sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Director David Shulkin on Monday demanding answers regarding findings of abuse of veterans, equipment theft, abuse of power and possible financial crimes at the VA’s Temple campus. On Sunday, the American-Statesman detailed the results of an internal investigation into issues with the Temple VA’s motor pool and grounds crew, as investigators reported years of mistreatment of veterans undergoing substance abuse treatment, as well a “complex scheme” to profit from fraudulent purchase orders and questionable contracts.

Bloomberg - November 20, 2017

Texas Businesses Tell Congress They Want to Keep Nafta Largely Intact

At the border of Mexico, heads of Texas industries ranging from energy to farming are saying they’d like to keep Nafta largely intact with minor modifications.  Key business leaders talked up the economic benefits of the 23-year-old accord at a U.S. Senate committee field hearing in San Antonio, countering the message of U.S. President Donald Trump who called the pact a “disaster.” Trump has threatened to exit Nafta if current talks to update the deal don’t yield more benefits for American workers and companies.  “We believe in Nafta, it makes sense and we ask for your help in continuing to go forward,” Richard Perez, chief executive of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, said at the hearing on Monday, led by Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - November 19, 2017

FWST: Hey, Kay Granger, how do you explain cutting teachers’ tax deduction?

Republicans in the U.S. House, including Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, have just given teachers across the country a good reason to support their political opponents. If there’s an explanation for how the Republicans plan to make up for the tax deduction they just took away from teachers who spend their own money on school supplies, let’s hear it. The amount of savings the lawmakers can capture by dropping this deduction is just a blip in the overall scheme of things — an estimated $210 million to help pay for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to corporations and individuals.

Texas Observer - November 16, 2017

Lawmaker on State Tax Committee Also Works for Texas’ Corporate Welfare King

In early April, in a committee room hidden in the recesses of the Texas Capitol, Representative Drew Springer was explaining a rather dense bit of legislation he had authored. House Bill 2043 would have required county tax appraisers who testify in court during high-dollar property tax disputes to get additional certification. As a result, it would have forced appraisal districts to spend more money and perhaps settle on terms less favorable to the county. If your eyes just glazed over, you’re likely not a corporate tax consultant. County officials opposed the bill, calling it a needless financial burden, but the legislation had the backing of Ryan, LLC, a Dallas consulting firm that works to secure subsidies and tax breaks for its corporate clients.

Brownsville Herald - November 17, 2017

Valley congressman launches PAC

A new South Texas-focused political action committee has been filed with the Federal Election Commission by U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen. According to the filing, the committee is dubbed Fighting for South Texas and is classified as a leadership PAC designed to support or oppose federal candidates. It is not, however, a “separate segregated fund or a party committee,” the filing reads. Political action committees are created to generate financial support to help elect or defeat candidates.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times - November 17, 2017

Former Corpus Christi mayor Dan McQueen drops out of Senate race

Former Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen is no longer running for the U.S. Senate, and thrown his support behind Bruce Jacobson. McQueen announced earlier this year that he intended to run for the seat currently occupied for Sen. Ted Cruz. Since then he's traveled to cities and towns across Texas. But on Friday in a Facebook message to a Caller-Times reporter, McQueen said he’s “decided to put my support behind Bruce Jacobson for U.S. Senate in the Texas Campaign.”

County Stories

San Antonio Express-News - November 20, 2017

Immigrant with amputated leg who alleged mistreatment in detention released

Felipe Abonza Lopez, the 20-year-old immigrant from Mexico who said he was mocked while in detention because he had a leg amputated, has been released. Abonza still faces deportation because federal officials revoked his work permit under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama administration program that gives reprieves from deportation to some young immigrants in the country illegally. Abonza was arrested in October near Uvalde on suspicion of being involved in human smuggling, but he was never charged with a crime.

Dallas Morning News - November 20, 2017

Missy Shorey becomes first woman elected to lead Dallas County GOP

Missy Shorey on Monday became the first woman elected to lead the Dallas County Republican Party. Republican precinct leaders unanimously chose Shorey to replace North Texas businessman Phillip Huffines, who resigned as chairman this month to run for Texas Senate. She took the oath of office Monday night and will immediately take over the operations of the party. "We will be working tirelessly to elect conservative candidates committed to expanding opportunity, protecting liberty and life while defending democracy in Dallas County," Shorey said in a statement after her election.

City Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 20, 2017

Mesquite annexation effort takes second sidetrack through appeals court

For the second time in a week, the Mesquite City Council met Monday night without being able to pass the city's planned annexation of some 5.7 square miles. The dispute over the annexation process between Kaufman and Dallas county landowners and the city of Mesquite is fast-tracking through the legal system before a Dec. 1 change in the state's annexation law. There have been two restraining orders issued in district courts since Nov. 10 — one in Kaufman County and one in Dallas County — that have held up the annexations thus far. A second appeal awaits a ruling in Dallas.

Houston Chronicle - November 20, 2017

Houston police patrolling busy local airports with AR-15s

Police officers are toting AR-15 rifles at Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports this holiday season, the latest security enhancement as airports nationwide upgrade their firepower for an era of mass shootings using high-powered rifles. "We just want to be able to match, hopefully, whoever is coming in with the threat of violence," said Capt. Glenn Yorek with Houston Police Department's airport division at Bush Intercontinental.

National Stories

The Economist - November 4, 2017

New research suggests that effort at work is correlated with race

GIVEN the long history of making racial slurs about the efforts of some workers, any study casting black and Hispanic men as lazier than whites and Asians is sure to court controversy. A provocative new working paper by economists Daniel Hamermesh, Katie Genadek and Michael Burda sticks a tentative toe into these murky waters. They suggest that America’s well-documented racial wage gap is overstated by 10% because minorities, especially men, spend larger portions of their workdays not actually working. After rejecting a number of plausible explanations for why this might be, the authors finally attribute the discrepancy to unexplained “cultural differences”. ... Mr Hamermesh, an avowed progressive, who refers to Donald Trump only by amusing nicknames and resigned from a post at the University of Texas over a state law permitting the open carrying of firearms, finds this unfair.

Houston Chronicle - November 20, 2017

House GOP tax plan would fall $1.3 trillion short of paying for itself, study finds

The House Republican tax plan would add $1.3 trillion to the national debt over a decade, even after accounting for new economic growth from the bill, according to a nonpartisan study released Monday. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan organization, is the third outside group to conclude the bill would add to the deficit, contradicting Republicans' claim that the bill would effectively pay for itself via a surge in economic growth.

Morning Call - November 20, 2017

Tom Ridge improving following heart attack

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge’s health is improving following a heart attack last week in Texas, his wife said Monday. Ridge, who also served as the nation’s first Homeland security director, remains in intensive care but no longer needs “some of the assistive machines to keep him stable” at Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas. “We are cautiously optimistic that Tom can make a full recovery,” Michele Ridge said in a statement. “Doctors are encouraged by his progress and so are we — even though we realize there’s still a long road ahead.”

Los Angeles Times - November 20, 2017

Strong economy boosts Trump among otherwise skeptical voters

In 2016, the U.S. economy served as a punching bag for then-candidate Donald Trump. Today, it has become a lifeline for an otherwise embattled presidency. Trump has increasingly grabbed for that line, touting low unemployment, record high stock market values and healthy economic growth rates in speeches and his ubiquitous tweets. Reactions from voters, even some who are otherwise skeptical of the president, show how the economy’s strong performance has bolstered Trump’s standing.

The Hill - November 16, 2017

Meet the powerful group behind Trump’s judicial nominations

The Trump administration has been filling judicial vacancies in rapid succession, with the majority of nominees having one thing in common: ties to the Federalist Society. Groups on the left have accused the White House of outsourcing the nomination process to the Washington, D.C.-based group as it seeks to stack the courts with conservative judges. Of the 13 judicial nominees confirmed since President Trump took office, 10 are either current or former Federalist Society members or regular speakers at its events. Eight of the 10 appellate Trump nominees pending before the Senate have ties to the group.

Dallas Morning News - November 21, 2017

Mexican official: Country is safe for tourists despite U.S. travel warning

In an August travel warning that has roiled the Mexican tourism industry, the U.S. State Department advised visitors to exercise caution, citing reports of violence and rising homicide rates that encroached on some of Mexico’s most popular destinations, including Cancun and Los Cabos. Numbers and anecdotes paint a startling picture — murders have doubled in Cancun this year, according to a report from Bloomberg News, while in June, a cooler containing two human heads was found on the main hotel strip in Cabo San Lucas.

Reuters - November 17, 2017

Trump adds five conservatives to list of possible Supreme Court picks

In a move certain to please conservatives, President Donald Trump on Friday added five names to his list of candidates for a prospective U.S. Supreme Court vacancy as he presses ahead with a campaign to move the federal judiciary to the right. Two of them are appellate judges who were nominated by Trump earlier this year and confirmed by the Senate: Amy Coney Barrett and Kevin Newsom. Another, Brett Kavanaugh, sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, long viewed as a stepping-stone to the high court. The others were Britt Grant, a Georgia Supreme Court justice, and Patrick Wyrick, a Oklahoma Supreme Court justice.

The Hill - November 20, 2017

FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show

An FBI informant gathered extensive evidence during his six years undercover about a Russian plot to corner the American uranium market, ranging from corruption inside a U.S. nuclear transport company to Obama administration approvals that let Moscow buy and sell more atomic fuels, according to more than 5,000 pages of documents from the counterintelligence investigation. The memos, reviewed by The Hill, conflict with statements made by Justice Department officials in recent days that informant William Campbell’s prior work won’t shed much light on the U.S. government’s controversial decision in 2010 to approve Russia’s purchase of the Uranium One mining company and its substantial U.S. assets.

Washington Post - November 20, 2017

Federal judge blocks Trump’s executive order on denying funding to sanctuary cities

A federal judge issued an injunction to permanently block President Trump’s executive order to deny funding to cities that refused to cooperate with federal immigration officials, after finding the order unconstitutional. The ruling by District Judge William H. Orrick in San Francisco comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the city of San Francisco and nearby Santa Clara County, and follows a temporary halt on the order that the judge issued in April. Orrick, in his summary of the case Monday, found that the Trump administration’s efforts to move local officials to cooperate with its efforts to deport undocumented immigrants violated the separation of powers doctrine as well as the Fifth and Tenth amendments.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

What You Need to Know About the New ID Law and Travel

In the past several months, there has been plenty of conversation about the Real ID Act and how it will affect air travelers. Passed by Congress in 2005, the act is intended to prevent identity fraud, and starting on Jan. 22, 2018, fliers who reside in some states, even if they’re flying domestically, will need identification other than a driver’s license to pass through Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints at airports. Who exactly is affected and what additional identification will the T.S.A. require? Here, answers to questions about what the Real ID Act means for travelers and why having a passport now may be more important than ever.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Kristof: Blue States Practice the Family Values Red States Preach

Nine of the 10 states with the highest teen birthrates voted Republican in 2016. And nine of the 10 states with the lowest teen birthrates voted Democratic. “Red regions of the country have higher teen pregnancy rates, more shotgun marriages and lower average ages at marriage and first birth,” Naomi Cahn and June Carbone wrote in their important 2010 book, “Red Families v. Blue Families.” The liberal impulse may be to gloat: Those conservatives thunder about “family values” but don’t practice them. But there’s also perhaps a measure of hypocrisy in the blue states.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

How churches are preparing for a mass shooting

Did they know how many rounds a gunman fired into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs? Did they know how many little boys and girls he killed? Did they know there was a second violent church attack that same day in Fresno, Calif.? Barry Young's voice rose as he led an "intruder awareness and response training" for church personnel on Nov. 11 at Prairie Baptist Church in Scotts, Mich. "What happened in Texas isn't new. It's just larger than normal," said Young, vice president of church security ministries at Strategos International, a Christian company based in Missouri that teaches people at schools, churches and other institutions how to deal with a violent, armed intruder.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work

Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job. Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work. As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans. Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.

All - November 20, 2017

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Wear: Why plans for Texas bullet trains are still mostly a dream

Not yet. Almost four years ago in this column, I raised the question of whether it was time to take seriously the prospects of a high-speed passenger rail line being built in this state. My conclusion at the time: No. Still is. Even with the Texas Department of Transportation’s release this month of a first-level environmental study on rail in the 550-mile corridor from the Red River to the Rio Grande Valley — and the ongoing privately funded study of a 240-mile Houston-to-Dallas line — I remain skeptical. And I am far from alone, at least in the case of that north-south connection between Oklahoma and Mexico.

New York Times - November 13, 2017

How the ‘Resistance’ Helped Democrats Dominate Virginia

In the months after Trump’s inauguration, there was no shortage of expressive opportunities for the left — protests, actions — but few electoral conduits for its new resolve. Virginia provided one of them. In what Sorenson unsentimentally called “16,” Hillary Clinton carried the state by more than five points, but the previous year’s election had preserved for the Republicans a considerable edge in the House of Delegates: 66 to 34. Not a single incumbent lost. Now, in advance of 2017, Democrats couldn’t help thinking it auspicious that exactly 17 of those Republican delegates came from Clinton districts. If the party could flip only those seats this year, it would come away with a 51-49 majority. This seemed like a totally fanciful possibility to Sorenson herself, but she wasn’t blind to its inspirational potency: Flip the Hillary districts, flip the house.

Politico - November 19, 2017

In Democrat-led state capitals, GOP tax reform push could scramble fiscal plans

The Republican tax reform push in Washington is setting off budgetary alarm bells in high-tax states like New York, California and New Jersey, in the latest political skirmish to pit national Republicans against Democratic state and big-city leaders. With Republicans intent on shrinking or repealing the state and local tax deduction, California officials are worried that the House-passed tax bill, and the emerging Senate measure, would force local governments to reduce taxes and make big cuts to schools and social services.

Washington Post - November 19, 2017

The Supreme Court has emerged as a critical partisan lever for Trump and Moore

On Friday, the White House released, without context, a list of the people whom President Trump might consider should a vacancy open on the Supreme Court. It was an updated version of a list that he has released before, with five new names added for a total of about two dozen jurists. The update was released in conjunction with a convention of the conservative Federalist Society, members of which made up the original list released by the Trump campaign in May 2016. (Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump’s actual Supreme Court pick, wasn’t on that original list.) But Trump’s update to the list served a broader purpose, as well: reminding his base — and Republicans in Alabama — that his presidency, plus a Senate majority, gives him the power to shape the judicial branch for decades to come.

State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Steve Bannon steps aside, but Ted Cruz picks up 2 primary rivals

In October, Steve Bannon, who had left his post as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist to return to the command of Breitbart News, announced that he was declaring war on all Republicans in the Senate who are up for re-election in 2018, with the exception of Ted Cruz, to create a Senate more amenable to Trump’s agenda. But, Bannon’s grace notwithstanding, Cruz not only will have a primary in March but will face two challengers, and Bannon himself might become a campaign issue. “I’ve taken to calling everyone that Bannon is backing ‘Bannon’s barbarians,’ ” said Stefano de Stefano, a Houston energy attorney who in July announced that he was going to leave his job with Diamond Offshore Drilling to challenge Cruz for re-election.

Austin American-Statesman - November 19, 2017

Repairs continue at Devereux site in Texas damaged by Harvey

Facing more than half a million dollars in damages, Devereux Advanced Medical Health Texas campus administrator Richard Perkins said the destruction left by Hurricane Harvey was not his biggest concern. “We are mainly focused on the well-being of the clients, to get them back into the normalcy of the program,” he said. Since 1958, Devereux has offered residential and vocational programs for children and adults experiencing a wide range of emotional, behavioral, developmental and psychiatric disorders.

Austin American-Statesman - November 19, 2017

Lluveras: How Texans suffer without office of minority health

During the past legislative session, Texas lawmakers canceled funding for the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement (OMHSE) beyond Sept. 1, 2018. In effect, this means Texas could soon become the first state in the nation without an office of minority health. This is a bad decision by our lawmakers because Texas institutions continue to operate inequitably. It may seem that inequity only impacts people of color, but it is important to remember that what affects one part of our state has an effect over all of us. Legislators need to ensure all Texans have access to programs and services that strengthen opportunity and should support initiatives that get people to work together to solve social problems.

Austin American-Statesman - November 19, 2017

Flamm: How NAFTA, immigration influence Texas’ economic future

Future challenges faced by the Texas economy with trade, immigration and border governance policies were the focus of a recent symposium convened by UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and its Texas 2030 Project. Some eye-opening facts emerged. Today’s Texas economy depends heavily on international trade and is built around technology, energy-related goods and professional services. Texas exports more goods than any other state by a large margin — 40 percent more than the next largest exporter, California. Yet the California economy is 50 percent larger than that of Texas. The flashpoint reshaping U.S. trade policy is NAFTA.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Castillo: How common sense can transcend ideology about guns

It seems outrageous now, but cruising New Mexico streets while tossing back a beer used to be as common as hatch chiles in August. It was the culture, pure and simple, says Doug Fritzsche, who used to live there. Not surprisingly, until the 1990s, New Mexico led the nation in alcohol-related deaths, the New York Times reported back in 2005. Carnage on the highways stirred outrage, which triggered new laws that reduced the number of deaths. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was out front trying to change the culture by latching on to a singular, strategic focus: “They said this behavior is killing people,” Fritzsche told me.

San Antonio Express-News - November 19, 2017

Fikac: Filibuster still making waves, this time with movie script

The leaked movie screenplay based on Wendy Davis’ abortion filibuster has stirred strong reactions on the right and the left, prompting accusations of literary license run wild and drawing condemnation from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who appears to be portrayed as a buffoonish bad guy. The screenplay makes no claim to being a faithful record of the 2013 event that riveted people around the nation and vaulted Davis into a Democratic race for governor, ending with a lopsided loss to Republican Greg Abbott.

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Garland crime lab analyst's misleading testimony leads to statewide changes

Misleading testimony from a Garland-based state crime lab analyst has led to statewide changes in how forensic testing gets handled in court. Texas Department of Public Safety lab analyst Chris Youngkin's conflicting statements under oath last year about his work jeopardized thousands of North Texas drunken-driving cases. Prosecutors refused to call him as a witness at trial. Any blood alcohol tests he had worked in seven North Texas counties couldn't be used. And cases that had been closed were subject to review.

KXAS - November 19, 2017

Border agent dies after being injured in Texas

An agent with U.S. Border Patrol was killed and another injured when the two came under attack, according to information released Sunday by the agency and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Border Patrol officials said the agents were on patrol in Culberson County in the Big Bend Sector of the Texas border. Agent Rogelio Martinez died Sunday morning as a result of injuries he and his partner sustained after responding to "activity" while on patrol on Interstate 10 near Van Horn, according to a statement from Border Patrol. It wasn't immediately clear when the incident occured.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Politico - November 19, 2017

Texas AG Paxton rejects Romney standard from Roy Moore case

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton isn't on board with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's approach to the allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. After Moore supporters said he was entitled to a presumption of innocence regarding claims that he had inappropriate contacts with teenage girls, Romney took to Twitter to say the standard used in criminal cases isn't the correct one to apply in the political realm. "Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," he said.

WFAA - November 15, 2017

Illegal voting complaint filed against GOP candidate

Days after Deanna Metzger officially filed to make her first run for public office, she is now on the defensive about whether she lives in the district she is running to represent. Metzger is a Republican who hopes to challenge freshman Democratic state Rep. Victoria Neave. Metzger registered to vote at 321 W. Grubb Drive in Mesquite, according to the online database provided by the Dallas County Elections Department. And on October 28, she cast a ballot in that district.

Washington Post - November 19, 2017

After border agent is killed and partner injured in Texas, Trump renews call for wall

Authorities were searching southwest Texas for suspects or witnesses after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner injured Sunday while on patrol in the state’s Big Bend area, officials said. ... President Trump tweeted about the incident, vowing to seek justice for the agents and plugging his plans to build a wall along the Mexico border. "Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!"

KVUE - November 18, 2017

Governor Abbott: 'No more tolls in Texas'

No more tolls in Texas. That's the message from Governor Greg Abbott this week after TxDOT revealed plans to add managed toll lanes to 15 of the state’s most congested roadways. That includes Interstate Highway 35. Just two months ago, the Texas Department of Transportation officials, along with Senator Kirk Watson, revealed plans to potentially expand I-35 from Williamson County to Hays County. The plan includes adding two managed toll lanes in each direction.

McAllen Monitor - November 17, 2017

Rep. Oscar Longoria tops list of pro-business Texas legislators

The largest business lobbying group in the state graded all Texas legislators and local state Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Mission, came out on top. The Texas Association of Business released a report card grading all state senators and representatives based on how they voted on bills during the 85th regular and special called sessions. In calculating the scores, the report looks at how House members voted on 17 bills and how senators voted on 15 bills.

County Stories

Rio Grande Guardian - November 19, 2017

SH 365 to remain a toll project, even though Legislature has changed policy

Even though opposition from state lawmakers and Texas voters to toll roads has grown in recent years, the State Highway 365 project from Mission to Pharr will remain a tollway. This is the view of Pilar Rodriguez, executive director of Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority. Rodriguez spoke about the 365 project at a recent luncheon hosted by the Society for Marketing Professional Services-RGV. Asked by a reporter about Texas Department of Transportation instructions not to proceed with tollway projects in El Paso and Laredo, Rodriguez acknowledged that toll roads were no longer in fashion among state lawmakers.

City Stories

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Houston police to start using new driving tactic to end vehicle pursuits

In an effort to end deadly high-speed chases, the Houston Police Department will begin allowing officers to use a controversial driving maneuver that they hope will stop fleeing motorists before they threaten others on the road. Chief Art Acevedo announced Friday that officers would begin using the Precision Immobilization Technique, or PIT maneuver, which was developed decades ago in Germany as an anti-terrorist tactic. "We're doing this because the safety of our officers matters to us — the safety of our community really matters to us," Acevedo said, "And then the safety of the suspects matter as well."

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Frustration mounts as city says there’s no explanation for water spikes

As soon as he saw his September water bill, O.T. Greer knew something was wrong. In the 44 years he’s lived at his house on Aspen Street in North Austin, he’d never seen a water spike like the one this fall when his bill jumped from $22 to $215 in a month. Greer and his neighbors pride themselves on water conservation. His yard is xeriscaped with cacti and rocks. He waters by hand, and he didn’t even do so in September, after he logged more than 10 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston Chronicle - November 19, 2017

'F--- TRUMP' car owner takes on Troy Nehls after arrest

The woman responsible for the "F--Trump" bumper sticker added a new decal on her white truck -- this time referencing Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, according to her Facebook post. "F--- Troy Nehls and f--- you for voting for him," reads the sticker, which is placed to the right of the initial sticker about Trump and his voters. Karen Fonseca was arrested Thursday, Nov. 16 for a previous outstanding warrant, according to Fort Bend County jail records.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Adoptive Families of Houston aims to educate about process, realities of adoption

Each year in November, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, focuses on the more than 6,000 children in foster care waiting to find their forever families and homes. It's a worthy cause during National Awareness Month that leads to many children finding a permanent home. But what happens after the adoption? Kathie Otte, president and founding board member for Adoptive Families of Houston, said the real work for adoptive families begins when the child finally comes home.

National Stories

New York Magazine - November 13, 2017

Kilgore: How the Democrats Can Make Inroads in the South

The election results on November 7 have reignited Democratic optimism about making big gains at the congressional and state levels in 2018. There are continuing signs of a nationwide pro-Democratic wave, but the Virginia results have renewed a very old debate: Is the South a lost cause for the Donkey Party? There are, of course, pockets of Democratic support across the South that are reflected in Democratic (or competitive) House and state legislative districts. But control of statewide office and legislative chambers is another matter.

Houston Chronicle - November 19, 2017

Bobby Baker, protege of Lyndon Johnson felled by influence-peddling scandal, dies at 89

Bobby Baker, a protege of future president Lyndon B. Johnson whose career of wealth and privilege came crashing down in an influence-peddling scandal, died Nov. 12 - his 89th birthday - in St. Augustine, Florida. The death of Baker, once the most influential staffer in the U.S. Senate, was confirmed in an announcement by the Craig Funeral Home in St. Augustine. No cause was reported. ... He would come to be known as "Little Lyndon," and he became the eyes and ears in the Senate for the man he would refer to simply as "Leader." As majority leader, a post Johnson was elected to in 1955, the Texas senator never wanted to be on the wrong side of a vote, and Baker developed an uncanny knack of giving him a precise head count for any upcoming tally.

Yahoo! News - November 20, 2017

German coalition talks trip over immigration stumbling block

Tough talks to form Germany's next government collapsed Sunday as the four parties in talks failed to bridge a yawning gap over immigration policy. Here are some of the thorniest issues that led to the failure. Immigration - Migrants and refugees have been Germany's toughest political issue since a mass influx from 2015 brought some 1.2 million asylum seekers, sparking a backlash that has seen the far-right AfD party enter parliament. Merkel's CDU and especially their more conservative CSU allies from Bavaria, where tens of thousands of refugees crossed over the border from Austria, are pushing to limit Germany's annual intake to a benchmark figure of 200,000.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Trump sends new $44 billion request for hurricane relief

The White House sent Congress a $44 billion disaster request Friday, falling far short of the aid officials in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have sought to recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Though administration officials said they plan to provide additional relief in the coming months as full cost estimates come in, Gov. Greg Abbott and several Texas lawmakers expressed mounting frustration that their requests continue to be reduced or pushed back.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Trump Wants More Big Infrastructure Projects. The Obstacles Can Be Big, Too.

President Trump says he is frustrated with the slow pace of major construction projects like highways, ports and pipelines. Last summer, he pledged to use the power of the presidency to jump start building when it became bogged down in administrative delays. “No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay,” Mr. Trump said in August. In an executive order, the president directed federal agencies to coordinate environmental impact reviews for major projects with the goal of completing them within two years. Such reviews can often take four years and, in some cases, even longer.

Politico - November 19, 2017

DACA backers move to avert Supreme Court fight over records

Advocates for so-called Dreamers made an unexpected move Sunday to head off a looming Supreme Court battle over their demands for more records on the basis for President Donald Trump's decision to end the program offering quasi-legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. The attempt to shelve the records fight came just three days after a federal appeals court panel sided, 2-1, with those seeking more details on Trump's move in September to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

Politico - November 19, 2017

The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow

It was 1984 and General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov had a problem. The general occupied one of the KGB’s most exalted posts. He was head of the First Chief Directorate, the prestigious KGB arm responsible for gathering foreign intelligence. Kryuchkov had begun his career with five years at the Soviet mission in Budapest under Ambassador Yuri Andropov. In 1967 Andropov became KGB chairman. Kryuchkov went to Moscow, took up a number of sensitive posts, and established a reputation as a devoted and hardworking officer. By 1984, Kryuchkov’s directorate in Moscow was bigger than ever before—12,000 officers, up from about 3,000 in the 1960s. His headquarters at Yasenevo, on the wooded southern outskirts of the city, was expanding: Workmen were busy constructing a 22-story annex and a new 11-story building.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Republican Governors’ 2018 Dilemma: What to Do About Trump?

AUSTIN, Tex. — For nearly a decade, meetings of the Republican Governors Association were buoyant, even giddy, affairs, as the party — lifted by enormous political donations and a backlash against the Obama administration — achieved overwhelming control of state governments. But a sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering in Austin this past week, as President Trump’s unpopularity and Republicans’ unexpectedly drastic losses in elections earlier this month in Virginia, New Jersey and suburbs from Philadelphia to Seattle raised the specter of a political reckoning in 2018.

Associated Press - November 18, 2017

US general says illegal nuclear launch order can be refused

The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command said Saturday an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told a panel at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday that he and Trump have had conversations about such a scenario and that he would tell Trump he couldn't carry out an illegal strike. "If it's illegal, guess what's going to happen. I'm going to say, 'Mr President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?'" Hyten said.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

Associated Press - November 19, 2017

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama's Roy Moore

Alabama's Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn't fit the evangelical mold. The Republican Senate candidate has long stood with them, and now, as he faces accusations of sexual impropriety including the molestation of a 14-year-old girl, they are standing with him. That steadfastness is shocking to many outside Alabama who wonder how any voter who claims to be Christian can stand with a man accused of such acts. The answer is both complicated and deeply rooted in the DNA of a state that prides itself on bucking norms.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Cordola: Congress should work together to regain healthcare momentum

The debate in Congress over whether to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been put aside, at least for now. It is time for our federal legislators to shift their focus to other pressing health care topics, providing the opportunity for progress and to work together across the aisle. At our facilities, we’ve succeeded by segmenting our challenges into their component pieces. This approach enables us to define and solve major issues step by step.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Falkenberg: Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable topic

Rape is not the same as a forced kiss. A U.S. Senate candidate and former state supreme court justice propositioning minor girls is not the same as a former president pinching rears. None are OK. All should be discussed and addressed as the victims see fit. But they should not be lumped together. In the past week, I've seen men remain mum in groups where women are discussing harassment. I saw one shot down and criticized when he tried to do so. This is not healthy and it is not productive. Like race, sexual harassment is an uncomfortable topic that requires people to listen to each other's experiences.

Politico - November 19, 2017

‘I Want This for George’

In December 23, 1990, President George H.W. Bush slept restlessly. The extended Bush family had gathered at Camp David for the holidays as they did every year of his presidency, boosting his spirits, but this year especially, he had a lot on his mind. A ground war in Kuwait looked increasingly likely as Saddam Hussein continued to ignore the warnings of the U.S. and allied nations. ... A dozen years later, during Christmastime of 2002, the extended Bush family once again found themselves at Camp David, as President George W. Bush was faced with the possibility of a war with Saddam Hussein, just as his father had been. But while 41 had unconsciously yearned for his father in 1990, 43 had his own father to lean on—and he was right there.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Chasnoff: Trump triggered #MeToo tsunami

These days, there’s major cognitive dissonance in watching sexual misconduct allegations ruin the reputations of powerful men on a near daily basis, while President Donald Trump continues to enjoy a position of impunity despite having faced similar accusations from more than a dozen women during his campaign. Why does the president seem to float above the moment? In fact, Trump is more entwined with the ongoing reckoning than he may know. His serial behavior as a sexual predator — and his utter lack of accountability for any of it — likely triggered the intensity of the “#MeToo” tsunami, and sooner or later it will come crashing back on the president.

All - November 19, 2017

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2017

Texans blast Trump's $44B storm relief package as 'inadequate' as White House goes on defense

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and a host of bipartisan congressional lawmakers are slamming the new $44 billion White House disaster relief aid request as "inadequate." The request -- submitted Friday to Congress by the Office of Management and Budget -- is President Donald Trump's third since Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. It would bring the total appropriated for hurricane relief this fall close to $100 billion, but it falls well short of the demands made by officials from Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Democrats debate how best to seize anti-Trump election opportunity shown in other states

Texas Democrats are drawing hope from wins around the country, but they don’t agree on exactly how to apply those election lessons to reverse a losing streak that has left them without a statewide victory here for more than two decades. Do they run with a hard-left message to stir a Democratic base distraught over actions by President Trump and statewide Republican officials? Or do they present a moderate message to appeal to Republicans who may no longer see themselves reflected in the increasingly far-right GOP? For Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, the results in Virginia and elsewhere show Democrats here should “run with a truly progressive message that resonates with workers, with the middle class, with communities of color, with young people.”

The New Yorker - November 15, 2017

Karl Rove Has Seen the Enemy and He Is Steve Bannon

To readers of Breitbart News these days, Karl Rove is a familiar, sinister presence. The Republican strategist who twice helped George W. Bush win the Presidency is now, according to Breitbart, “the voice of the hapless Republican establishment,” “out of touch,” and “wrong in nearly every prognostication for the past ten years.” In one article this summer, Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, called Rove President Trump’s “arch-nemesis.” Invariably, the voluminous coverage of Rove on the conservative Web site, which is run by Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, notes that the President himself has labelled Rove “such a dishonorable guy,” “a total incompetent jerk,” and a “proven loser.”

Yahoo! News - November 17, 2017

One in three U.S. adults to avoid talking politics over holiday season: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Americans will sit down next week for what has become a holiday tradition in the United States: tiptoeing through a turkey dinner without mentioning the president. Nearly one-third of all adults will actively avoid political conversations when they see friends and family over the Thanksgiving and December holidays, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday. About half said they do not expect to discuss politics at all. The Nov. 8-13 poll found that a majority of Americans consider politics to be among their "least favorite" topics to discuss in mixed company over the holidays.

State Stories

San Antonio Express-News - November 18, 2017

PolitiFact: End of immigration protection won’t lead to the big GDP loss that Castro claims

“Ending (Temporary Protected Status) and deporting legal workers would cost the United States ~$164 billion in GDP over a decade.” — Joaquin Castro on Nov. 1, 2017 in a tweet. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, claimed the U.S. economy would be negatively impacted if the Trump administration eliminated an immigration protection mostly benefiting Central Americans. ... Castro accurately cited a GDP loss reported by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. But at least one other report pegged a GDP loss three times as small, $45.2 billion. The report Castro used calculated lost earnings and impact on industries, the other report only looked at lost wages. We rate Castro’s claim Half True.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

$5 billion in housing recovery aid heading to Texas

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will spend $5 billion in Texas to help rebuild damaged homes, businesses and other infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The funding, announced Friday, comes from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which received $7.4 billion for disaster relief in September. The remainder of the money will go to other disaster-affected areas, such as Florida and Puerto Rico.

San Antonio Express-News - November 18, 2017

Joint Base San Antonio has worst record of sexual assaults of all joint bases in the country

A new Pentagon study shows that Joint Base San Antonio tallied more sexual assault reports over the past several years than any other joint base installation in the Defense Department, with 881 cases from 2013 through 2016. The report tracks sexual assault claims by installation, which a former Air Force prosecutor said appears to be a first. It examined two types of claims filed by people who say they are sexual assault victims, but it did not break out the statistics by each base in San Antonio. A majority of those lodging complaints at Joint Base San Antonio, which includes Army and Air Force installations, were airmen.

San Antonio Express-News - November 18, 2017

Garcia: GOP chair launches congressional bid, with help from Parscale

Robert Stovall is running for Congress and he has a not-so-secret weapon. Stovall, 54, the chairman of the Bexar County Republican Party, will move from the sidelines onto the playing field by running for the U.S. District 21 seat being vacated by Lamar Smith. His prospects will be boosted by Brad Parscale, the local web-design entrepreneur who served as the digital director for Donald Trump’s victorious 2016 presidential campaign.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Canceling STAAR tests could wipe out federal funding, TEA leader warns

Texas could lose “essentially all” federal funding for public schools — about $6 billion in the past academic year — if state leaders cancel standardized tests in response to the disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath warned. Some parents and advocates have argued that the tests shouldn’t be administered because students are more likely to perform poorly after missing class time and suffering trauma from the hurricane and subsequent flooding. Classes were canceled across the Houston and Gulf Coast region after Harvey, with several districts missing two weeks of instruction. A change.org petition asking state leaders to drop the tests this year has collected about 240,000 signatures. But Morath told state lawmakers this week that unless the state secures a waiver, skipping the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, would put Texas in violation of federal law.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

AAS: How Texas should start assessing dam safety across state

Texas has made progress in addressing dam safety — there is no doubt. But more needs to be done to keep Texans who live near dams safe. Twenty years after the Austin American-Statesman reported on widespread shortcomings in dam safety, another Statesman investigation by Ralph K.M. Haurwitz published last week found hundreds of dams in Texas remain at risk of failure. It also found that, as more communities develop near dams, substandard dams increasingly put the lives of people at risk. Meaningful change at the state and local level, however, can ensure Texas has safer dams and that it protects more lives near dams.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Texas leaders unhappy with White House hurricane spending plan

Gov. Greg Abbott and several fellow Texas Republicans in Congress on Friday blasted a $44 billion disaster relief proposal by the White House, calling it inadequate to cover the destruction left by Hurricane Harvey. The White House Office of Management and Budget asked Congress on Friday to sign off on the additional money for states and U.S. territories battered by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as the California wildfires. Congress had already approved $51.8 billion in disaster relief. Calling Friday’s proposal insufficient compared with the federal money East Coast states had received in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Abbott said Texas needs the money to help protect against future hurricanes, among other things.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Kuykendall: My family fought for the Confederacy. They were heroes

All of my family fought for the Confederacy. My great uncle R. H. Kuykendall of the 6th Texas Infantry died in a federal prison in Illinois in 1863 at the age of 25. My great grandfather, Will Moore of Matagorda County, fought with the 8th Texas Cavalry and was desperately wounded in the Battle of Murfreeboro, Tenn., on July 13, 1862, when he was shot off of his horse by a Union soldier. He was pulled to safety by an old black man and his mistress of the plantation and hidden until the Union forces vacated the area. They nursed him back to health until he could mount his horse, at which time he sought out and rejoined his unit, then fought with them until the end of the war. My life will not be ruined if all the magnificent Confederate statues around Austin and the capital grounds are removed, but I will be saddened beyond belief because the blood stains of countless Texas families are symbolically sprinkled around the base of those statues.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Governor’s tweet: Inaccurate or a breach of confidentiality?

A tweet sent Wednesday by Gov. Greg Abbott might have violated rules on the confidentiality of workforce numbers prior to their official release. “The Texas unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been in 40 years & Texas led the nation last month in new job creation,” Abbott said in his tweet. The governor’s office dismissed the notion that the tweet violated any rules, saying its mention of “last month” referred to September, the latest publicly available data as of that day. And a spokeswoman for the Texas Workforce Commission said the agency did not send the governor’s office any “pre-release” data for October until Thursday afternoon.

Austin American-Statesman - November 18, 2017

Herman: Uncertain times in a media industry with an uncertain future

I recently manned a table at career day at North Austin’s Padron Elementary School. It didn’t take me long to confront, in my head, the stark reality that I was talking to kids about a career that (a) might not look like it does now or (b) won’t exist when they age into the labor force. I work at a newspaper, which these days means it also includes a robust online operation delivering news. Coincidentally, a headline leading the newspaper’s website I had on display for the kids as they came by to hear about what I do for a living read: “Statesman’s parent company puts newspaper up for sale.”

Austin American-Statesman - November 18, 2017

PolitiFact: Texas doesn’t have gun checks, but feds do

Actress Alyssa Milano drew attention to gun background checks after the Nov. 5 shooting at a Sutherland Springs church left 26 people dead. “There are no background checks on long guns (AR15s) in Texas,” Milano tweeted, crediting for the information Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, an organization seeking stronger gun laws. ... Federal law does require background checks when a firearm is sold or transferred by licensed gun dealers, importers and manufacturers. That includes long guns. But private, unlicensed sellers are not required to conduct background checks under federal or Texas law, even though other states have added requirements to that effect. Milano noted these distinctions in a follow-up tweet, but her original tweet lacked important context. We rate Milano’s claim Mostly False.

Texas Tribune - November 17, 2017

Texas Republicans spar with White House over latest disaster aid request

Texas Republicans on Friday panned the White House's latest disaster aid request, with Gov. Greg Abbott calling it "completely inadequate" for the state's needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. President Donald Trump’s administration was quick to respond, calling on the state to pony up its own dollars to help with the recovery. Unveiled earlier Friday, the request seeks $44 billion from Congress to assist with the Harvey aftermath, as well as the recoveries from other recent hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Lopez: Guns on campus are a lousy idea

On August 1, 2016, the law allowing concealed carry of loaded lethal weapons on all public college campuses in Texas took effect. Since then, those campuses have gone without major incident, if you don’t count the accidental discharge at Tarleton State, the shooting of a police officer at Texas Tech, and the police officer at the University of Texas at Austin shooting himself in the foot. It’s safe to say that we can expect more avoidable “mistakes,” like this one, all these ones, and, yes — probably that one. Excepting the constant threat of a ‘responsible’ 21-year-old gun owner’s .45 stuffed in a backpack accidentally discharging into the right leg of a lecture hall neighbor, it’s been business as usual at UT-Austin — the breeding ground of the infamous “Cocks Not Glocks” protest and faculty-led lawsuits.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Texas Republicans fret over possible anti-Trump 'blue wave' in '18

Republicans are beginning to worry that a "blue wave" of Democratic voters angry with the Trump administration could crash into the 2018 election, even in the deep red state of Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott's top campaign adviser and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are both sounding the alarm: Texas Republicans would be remiss to ignore sweeping Democratic victories on Election Day in Virginia. On Friday, The Cook Political Report, an independent nonpartisan election newsletter, weighed in, declaring Republican Congressman John Culberson's Houston district a toss up.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Feud between doctors, insurance companies leave Texas patients with surprise medical bills

Jason Pettit sat at his daughter's hospital bedside awash in fear. His only solace was knowing he had good insurance and was in the right place. Whatever care Ava needed, she would be covered. It happened so fast, a moment of play turned to blood and panic. Just before lunch 7-year-old Ava was on the floor with the family's German shepherd. Pettit held out a pizza roll, but the dog lunged just as his daughter popped it in her mouth. Two holes opened in the little girl's face where the dog's teeth had been and she started to scream.

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Flawed system let Sutherland Springs shooter buy a gun. A bipartisan bill by John Cornyn aims to stop that

Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday they say will improve the federal background check system that allowed the Sutherland Springs shooter to purchase guns, despite his criminal record. Lawmakers say the legislation will penalize federal agencies that fail to report records and incentivize states to send criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican, and Murphy, the most vocal Democrat on gun control, filed the measure after it was revealed that the Air Force didn't send Devin Kelley's court-martial and conviction for domestic violence to the FBI database used to approve gun buyers. They've dubbed the bill the "Fix NICS Act."

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Texas’ October unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is lowest in four decades

The Texas unemployment rate was on the rise early this year when it hit 5 percent. Now, at 3.9 percent, unemployment has reached its lowest level in four decades, according to Texas Workforce Commission. This sixth-consecutive monthly drop was fueled by the Lone Star State economy adding 71,500 seasonally-adjusted jobs in October. That’s also the largest number in recent years and comes just after job losses attributed to Hurricane Harvey. The leisure and hospitality sector lost 21,300 jobs in September. But the sector bounced back in October with a gain of 34,700 jobs, nearly half the state’s total.

Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2017

Bill and Hillary Clinton find hordes of supporters during first D-FW visit since election

In the same way music fans attend a live show to hear beloved anthems firsthand, a crowd of "I'm With Her" fans packed into Toyota Music Factory in Irving to soak up Hillary and Bill Clinton's wisdom and war stories. If fans of, say, the Flaming Lips or KISS might've brought raucous energy to the same venue, Hill and Bill fans arrived to dainty thumps of jazz and took their seats with polite excitement. LiveNation executive Danny Eaton introduced the two guests of honor as "not only one, but two, of the most important people in the world." Cheerful "HIL-LAR-Y, HIL-LAR-Y" chants erupted.

Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott calls for Roy Moore to drop out of Alabama Senate race if allegations true

Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that the allegations against Judge Roy Moore are "disgusting." Abbott spoke about Moore briefly at the Capitol during a news conference to announce a federal housing department grant of $5 billion for Harvey recovery. The governor did not say he believed the accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore, but if they are true, the Alabama Republican should leave the race, Abbott said. "I don't know the veracity of the allegations," Abbott said. "But I can tell you this: The allegations are disgusting. If they're true, he should not be in the race."

City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Clinton supporters cheer, cry at book signing in downtown Austin

For Lulu Flores, it still hurts. “I really feel for her,” Flores said as her eyes welled. “She did not let anybody down. I felt like we let her down.” On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, had been considered the favorite in the race. Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump bested her in the Electoral College. Clinton — who met with hundreds of supporters and readers at BookPeople on Friday to sign copies of her book, “What Happened,” about the 2016 campaign — seems to have moved on. Many of her supporters, though, were shaken again remembering Election Night.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Investigation finds corruption, intimidation at Temple VA campus

Veterans in the work program at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Temple campus had complained about being assigned to the motor pool for years. The complaints, made by veterans undergoing drug and alcohol treatment as they tried to get their lives back on track, alleged the unit’s boss— who was in charge of the grounds crew at the motor pool — had regularly subjected them to verbal abuse and tirades. Other complaints hinted at possible crimes; VA equipment like lawnmowers and expensive tools regularly disappeared.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Holley: Sutherland Springs residents hope tragedy doesn't define their town

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS - Like most Texans who don't live in Wilson County, I had never heard of this little town east of San Antonio until horrific tragedy struck Sunday morning a week ago. Finishing up at the Texas Book Festival in Austin that afternoon, an old reporter's instinct diverted me south on Interstate 35 instead of heading home to Houston. It was dark when I arrived. Knots of people loomed out of the darkness. Huge satellite trucks and police vehicles lined the highway. Rubberneckers clogged the intersection of Highway 87 and FM 539, where the town's one blinking yellow light is supposed to slow traffic. The small white-washed Baptist church, the site a few hours earlier of the worst mass shooting in Texas history, was bathed in lights brighter than day.

National Stories

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Douthat: What if Ken Starr Was Right?

There is a common liberal argument that our present polarization is the result of constant partisan escalations on the right — the rise of Newt Gingrich, the steady Hannitization of right-wing media. Some of this is true. But returning to the impeachment imbroglio made me think that in that case the most important escalators were the Democrats. They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country. And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism — feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation. For which, it’s safe to say, we have all been amply punished since.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Why a Firm Believer in Tax Cuts Could Derail the Senate Tax Cut Plan

On the eve of the House’s vote to pass a far-reaching $1.5 trillion tax cut, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin placed a hasty phone call to his state’s senior senator, Ron Johnson, in hopes of resolving an unlikely conflict in his own back yard. Mr. Johnson had become the first Senate Republican to say publicly that he could not vote for the Senate’s version of the tax bill. During the phone call on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Ryan, who had campaigned heavily for Mr. Johnson in 2016, posed an essential question, according to the senator: “What are you going to need?”

Politico - November 18, 2017

Tax reform: 7 Key players and how they could stop the bill

On Thursday, House Republicans passed their version of tax reform by a 227-205 vote. Now, the Senate is preparing to take up its own version of a bill, but several Republicans — from fiscal conservatives to moderates — are taking issue with several provisions. The bill needs 50 votes to pass the Senate — let’s take a look at what might get in the way. The deficit hawks Conservatives have long lamented the soaring national debt, insisting tax cuts be paid for.

Washington Post - November 18, 2017

A dying vet needed CPR. Hidden video shows his nurse laughing instead.

By the late winter of 2014, James Dempsey had served in a world war, raised children, buried a wife and seen the best of his health behind him. As he prepared for a stay at a nursing home on the outskirts of Atlanta, the 89-year-old began to feel nervous. So his family hid a camera in his room at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation, Dempsey’s son later told WSB-TV. His father knew about it, he said, but the nurses didn’t. James Dempsey died in that room Feb. 27, 2014, in front of the secret camera. What his family saw on the video made them sue the facility.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Grieder: Politicians work for us, not themselves

For a journalist, Houston offers an embarrassment of riches. Between the size of the city, its diversity, its eccentricities, the experiences it's recently endured; the fact that it's in Texas, and home to so many intriguing Texans from all over the world - you can see why I couldn't resist the chance to join the Houston Chronicle as a metro columnist and thus far, I'm very happy with that decision. My timing, however, could have been more fortuitous. I arrived in Houston in October, to take a job that would give me the opportunity to write about anything under the sun. But the issue that has dominated our national conversation, this past month, is sexual harassment and assault.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Jesse Jackson says he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, announced Friday that he has Parkinson’s disease. Jackson, 76, said he had found it “increasingly difficult to perform routine tasks” and get around in recent years. After initially resisting due to his work, Jackson said, he relented and sought medical testing. “Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” Jackson said in a statement released through the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, his social change group.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Susan Combs hits another roadblock on her way to Washington

Former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has hit yet another roadblock on the way to a U.S. Senate vote for a top position at the Interior Department. ... Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has put a “hold” on Combs and another Interior Department nominee — blocking them from getting a Senate vote — until he gets “clarification” of the agency’s plans to re-designate environmentally sensitive public lands known as national monuments. Combs, who also served eight years as Texas agriculture commissioner, was nominated in July by President Donald Trump and was confirmed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in early August.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Cornyn backs bill for better reporting for firearm background checks

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined seven other senators Thursday to introduce a bipartisan bill aimed at improving compliance with existing requirements for reporting background checks on firearms purchases. The Fix NICS Act penalizes federal agencies that fail to report relevant records to the proper authorities, while encouraging states to improve overall reporting. The legislation also directs more federal funding toward more accurate reporting of domestic violence records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Dowd: The Hillary Effect

Would the war against preying on women be blazing so fiercely had Hillary Clinton been elected? When I interviewed women in Hollywood about the ugly Harvey Weinstein revelations in The Times and The New Yorker, they told me that feelings of frustration and disgust at having an accused predator in the White House instead of the first woman president had helped give the story velocity. When I talked to Susan Fowler, after her blog post about sexual harassment at Uber that toppled its C.E.O., Travis Kalanick, she said that before Donald Trump’s election, women in Silicon Valley were speaking up but no one was listening.

Politico - November 17, 2017

Gillibrand remark on Clinton sends shockwaves through Democratic Party

Kirsten Gillibrand is having a moment, whether she meant to or not. Going where no other prominent Democrat had before on Thursday evening by declaring that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the New York senator and potential 2020 presidential contender yet again found herself the face of a national conversation with the potential to dominate headlines and divide her party.

The Hill - November 17, 2017

Trump to take fight over DACA documents to Supreme Court

The Trump administration plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up a case regarding the release of documents pertaining to President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Politico reported Friday. The decision to seek relief from the nation's highest court comes after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Justice Department's attempt to stop a federal judge's order to release emails, memos and other documents considered part of Trump's decision to end the program.

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Trump's accusers lied but Franken admits groping, says White House in defending president's attack

The White House defended President Donald Trump's aggressive attack on a liberal Democrat who admitted groping a woman a dozen years ago, even as Trump refuses to outright condemn Alabama Republican Roy Moore, the Senate nominee accused of illegal sexual contact with a 14-year-old and sexual assault on a 16-year-old. The selective attacks left detractors enraged. The president has faced sexual misconduct allegations and was caught on tape boasting that he grabs women by the genitals uninvited. But he maintains that his accusers are all lying, and aides insisted Friday that means there's no hypocrisy in him calling out Sen. Al Franken.

The Hill - November 17, 2017

Cook Political Report predicts Democratic 'wave' in 2018

Cook Political Report, a top nonpartisan election handicapper, is predicting a wave of Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections. In a new analysis, Cook editor Amy Walter says she feels a similarity to a wave of Democratic congressional victories in 2006, in which the party took control of the House, the Senate and a majority of governorships during former President George W. Bush's second term. “[B]ack in 2006 ... I argued that unlike the last wave election of 1994, the party holding the White House was much better prepared. Republicans in 2006 had significant financial advantages,” Walter writes.

PolitiFact - November 10, 2017

PolitiFact: Could Ted Cruz measure have prevented the Texas church shooting? Not likely.

Reacting to the church shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz said there could have been laws on the books to prevent what happened, had his opponents in Congress not defeated his proposal a few years ago. "The Democrats filibustered the legislation that would’ve resulted in this shooter being in federal prison instead of murdering those innocents in that Texas church," Cruz said on Fox News on Nov. 6. ... The amendment Cruz cosponsored, which was defeated largely by Democrats after failing to reach a 60-vote threshold, strengthened efforts to prosecute people who lied about their criminal histories to obtain firearms. But the shooter in this case wouldn’t have showed up as having lied because of the Air Force’s failure to report his felony. The Cruz proposal also aimed to facilitate reporting to the instant background check system with guidelines and deadlines for federal agencies, including the armed services. While similar action by the Obama Justice Department around the same time didn’t help, Cruz’s clarifications becoming law may have. But it’s impossible to say with any certainty. We rate this statement Mostly False.

All - November 17, 2017

Lead Stories

Washington Post - November 16, 2017

New analysis undercuts the White House argument that tax reform benefits the middle class

Shortly after the House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Republican majority’s version of President Trump’s tax reform effort, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about how that bill and one moving through the Senate accomplishes the president’s goals. “The tax bill passed by the House today: One of the things that the tax bill does is increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion,” a reporter asked Sanders. “I know the White House has argued that that will be paid by growing the economy, but if the economy doesn’t grow, how do you square that with the Republican view — or general principle that deficits are bad?”

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

Watchdog: Pastor reveals ‘dirty little secret’ to Texas educators, teaches them how to vote out ‘stupid’

A long-overdue war has broken out between the state's billion-dollar education establishment (Big Ed) and conservative state lawmakers who sometimes vote against Big Ed's wishes. The battlefield is the ballot box. Organizers of the anti-tea party campaign set a goal of getting every school district employee in every district to register and vote in next year's Republican primary on March 6. The movement is endorsed by the Texas Association of School Boards and many other pro-education groups.

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

UH regents OK creation of medical school

University of Houston System regents on Thursday unanimously voted to create a medical school, a long-time dream aimed at increasing the supply of primary-care doctors for Texas' most underserved areas. Under a proposal that must be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a national accrediting body, UH would begin enrolling its first class of medical students in fall 2020, and reach a full complement of 480 by 2027. It would ask the Texas Legislature for $40 million over 10 years to cover some of its expenses.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Amid blowback over accounting maneuver, TxDOT drops financing idea for several toll projects

State transportation leaders said late Thursday they will drop plans for using an accounting maneuver to get around a constitutional prohibition on some toll projects. That vow came after The Texas Tribune reported earlier in the day that the Texas Department of Transportation was eyeing tax dollars prohibited from funding toll lanes to cover other constructions of highway rebuilds and expansions that would also feature toll lanes. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told state transportation leaders after the initial report that they should abandon those plans. Patrick said the idea has left lawmakers "very unhappy" with Texas Transportation Commission members, who appear "to be going in a direction that opposes the will" of legislators and Texas drivers.

State Stories

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

State leaders can’t require sexual harassment training for lawmakers

Top Texas lawmakers have called for reviews of sexual harassment policies at the state Capitol following reports detailing how current procedures offered little protection for victims. Proposed solutions have included better training aimed at preventing harassment and informing victims of their rights. But legislative leaders will likely face a roadblock if they want to force lawmakers into any sort of anti-harassment training: They can’t require it of individual legislators, some of whom were behind the worst behavior recounted to the Tribune. A nearly 20-year-old law that orders training for all employees at other state entities — but not the Legislature — could offer a possible solution.

Texas Tribune - November 17, 2017

Texans driven mad as tolls burn holes in their wallets

The North Texas suburbanite uses the President George H. W. Bush Turnpike or Sam Rayburn Tollway to travel between her Lewisville home and Richardson workplace each day. Those roads are like many across Texas built in an era when transportation leaders said there wasn’t enough tax money to fund all the construction needed to keep up with population growth. Regional planners and state officials are also adding managed toll lanes alongside existing highway main lanes throughout the state’s urban areas. Those are used to partially finance road rebuilds and expansions — and to provide drivers with the option of paying to avoid congestion.

Texas Tribune - November 17, 2017

In search of a flood fix, one Houston community turned to a golf course

HOUSTON — In 50 years living in Clear Lake City, Spyros Varsos had never seen the floodwater get so high. During a historic rainstorm two years ago, he watched anxiously as it quickly accumulated in the street outside his three-bedroom home. So this summer when even heavier rains drenched the greater Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, he was even more fearful. But his home didn’t flood. For that, he credits some precautions he took of his own, like clearing debris from the drains on his street. What he said made an even bigger difference, though, was a nearby flood control project that wasn't even completed yet.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

State gives Alternatives to Abortion program $20 million more in funding

The Texas Legislature's budget for the next two years includes $20 million more in funding for a controversial program that seeks to discourage women from getting abortions in the state. Alternatives to Abortion uses contracted providers to offer services such as financial counseling and support groups for new parents, as well as children's items such as car seats and infant formula. The extra money puts the program's total operating budget at over $38 million, the highest it's been since it began in 2006.

Texas Tribune - November 17, 2017

Ramsey: The biggest threat to Texas Republicans? Texas Republicans.

The Republican big tent shares a risk with big family reunions; everybody shows up, and the name is sometimes the only thing they have in common. In the latest installment of the GOP’s family feud, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican whose own state representative is a Democrat, came out against a Republican Houston incumbent this week by backing the GOP challenger to state Rep. Sarah Davis in the lead-up to next year’s March 6 primary. This is a big deal. Texas governors generally don’t endorse against incumbents, never mind endorsing against incumbents in their own party.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Texas delegation offers party-line vote as U.S. House passes GOP tax overhaul

The U.S. House chamber erupted with cheers on Thursday afternoon as Republicans took their first major step to drastically change the country's tax code. The measure, which will lower the corporate tax rate and curtail some popular deductions, passed the chamber in a 227-205 vote. If the GOP succeeds here, it will mark a career capstone for U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, a Republican from The Woodlands who is overseeing the effort on the House side.

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

Steve Mostyn, Democratic megadonor and Houston trial lawyer, dies

Steve Mostyn, a high-profile Houston trial lawyer and a top Democratic Party megadonor who spent millions in a failed bid to turn Texas blue, has died. He was 46. In a statement Thursday, his family confirmed his death at his Houston home Wednesday "after a sudden onset and battle with a mental health issue." "Steve was a beloved husband and devoted father who adored his children and never missed any of their sporting events," the statement reads. "He was a true friend, and a faithful fighter for those who did not have a voice."

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Grieder: 'Normal' Republicans deserve a voice

It's a special occasion when the governor, Greg Abbott, gives his opinion. During his 12 years as attorney general, he was forthcoming enough, with a few notable exceptions. He did not, for example, endorse any candidate in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2012, even though one of the options was his onetime solicitor general, Ted Cruz. MOST POPULAR Declines in state prison populations across the country and the shifting politics around mass incarceration have created opportunities to downsize prison bed space.. (San Antonio Express-News File Photo) 'Mass exodus' of Texas prison guards leaves some units... Robert Griffin III last played during the 2016 season, starting five games for the Browns. Robert Griffin III thinks he could help Texans Cleburne Cafeteria owner George Mickelis greets longtime customer Tongula Steddum during the restaurant's soft opening Tuesday. Risen from the ashes, Cleburne Cafeteria is back Arkema's Hurricane Harvey ride out crew take one last look of the flooded facility as they evacuate the Crosby site on Aug. 29, 2017. Arkema documents: Planning, mechanical failures led to Harvey... David, left, with Dennis at their house in the Heights. David has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. My husband's dementia. His rage. And now, violence. State Rep. Armando Walle and State Sen. Sylvia Garcia Green's retirement means Houston could send first Latino to... Accelerated Intermediate Academy, a Houston charter school with about 275 students. Small Houston charter school pays top dollar to leader, owns... Since being sworn into the state's top office, however, Abbott has become increasingly discreet about his perspective on a number of issues.

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

DMN: Medicare fraud in Texas makes clear the need for Congress to crack down on it

The recent news surrounding federal prosecutors bringing Medicare fraud cases against doctors, pharmacies and marketers in Texas cities provides some justice where it is needed. The cases in Texas spotlight a scheme involving pharmacy owners and marketers paying kickbacks and bribes to doctors so they'd write prescriptions for unneeded pain and scar creams. One of the patients who received such a prescription died as a result of the toxic effects found in two of the drugs contained in the cream. She was only 22 years old. This shows that people entrusted with the care of patients aren't immune from the allure of greed.

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

Special report: How culture of hazing, bullying in high school sports is only getting worse

In the Dallas area, hazing and bullying have been reported in sports such as football, basketball, wrestling and soccer, and nearly 1 in 3 coaches surveyed by The Dallas Morning News knows of hazing that occurred at his or her school. Some schools, including Flower Mound and Hebron, have removed coaches after investigations into hazing. While the effects can be equally devastating to victims, hazing and bullying are not the same. Experts define bullying as an act that involves aggression and is repeated over time. Hazing has a group context, can be a single instance, and is done for the purpose of joining or maintaining membership in a group.

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

Leeson: Rural Texas is on the front lines of the GOP's war for its identity

The question at hand in Texas is: What is conservatism? And the difference of opinion on what conservatism means today is as big as all hell and most of Texas. Out in the countryside, which is most of Texas, where frugality and traditional values are integral to rural life, conservatism still means to conserve something. Namely, one's place. However, in Austin's new political establishment, conservatism means to pursue the politics of freedom — school vouchers as "school choice" and appraisal caps as "property tax reform and relief" — even if policies risk the demise of places.

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

Fights, sex, drugs: Texas juvenile lockup on the verge of crisis, reports show

Youths at the Gainesville State School say staff paid them with drugs and cash to assault one another. A psychologist at the campus gave pornography to a boy there to encourage the young man to masturbate in front of him. A youth attacked a guard and stole his radio so he couldn’t call for help. By the time help arrived, the officer had a broken nose and needed four stitches over his eye. The Gainesville State School for delinquent juveniles has been on the verge of crisis for more than a year, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News. The youths — and staff who are supposed to protect them — are often abused and victimized.

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

DMN: Time for lawmakers to end the culture of impunity surrounding sexual harassment in Austin

An investigative report this week by the Texas Tribune has revealed a culture in the state Capitol where sexual harassment is allowed to thrive and where its victims remain silent for fear of reprisal. The report follows a lengthy exposé the week before in The Daily Beast that includes harrowing examples of harassment told by legislative staffers, lobbyists and journalists whose work puts them in regular contact with male lawmakers. Changing this cancerous culture is the responsibility of the lawmakers who have created it and those, men and women, who have allowed it to continue. Voters should demand that lawmakers and other top leaders in Austin create a new system that encourages victims to report their abuse and provides clear, meaningful and lasting protection against reprisal when they do.

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

Christian TV producer challenging Sen. Ted Cruz in GOP primary

Christian TV producer Bruce Jacobson announced Thursday that he's running against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Republican primary. In a speech, Jacobson touted his conservative upbringing and values, calling Ronald Reagan his hero. "He brought honor back to our country, and in my mind, he brought honor to the term 'politician,'" Jacobson said. "Reagan went to Washington to serve, not be served, and he had the ability to draw coalitions together to move forward a conservative agenda."

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

Flawed system let Sutherland Springs shooter buy a gun. A bipartisan bill by John Cornyn aims to stop that

Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday they say will improve the federal background check system that allowed the Sutherland Springs shooter to purchase guns, despite his criminal record. Lawmakers say the legislation will penalize federal agencies that fail to report records and incentivize states to send criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican, and Murphy, the most vocal Democrat on gun control, filed the measure after it was revealed that the Air Force didn't send Devin Kelley's court-martial and conviction for domestic violence to the FBI database used to approve gun buyers. They've dubbed the bill the "Fix NICS Act."

Austin American-Statesman - November 16, 2017

Travis County GOP chairman announces re-election bid

Travis County Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak announced Thursday that he will run for re-election. Mackowiak was elected in June to finish one year of the unexpired term of James Dickey, who stepped down after being elected chair of the state GOP. If voters pick him in the March Republican primary, Mackowiak would serve a full, two-year term. “It has been an honor to serve as Travis County GOP chairman, and I am proud of what we have accomplished as an organization in a very short time,” Mackowiak said in a statement.

Austin American-Statesman - November 16, 2017

Texas Homes for Disabled: After $269M in reforms, a glint of hope

It was supposed to be over by now. In 2009, the State of Texas promised the U.S. Department of Justice that it would clean up its 13 institutions for people with developmental disabilities. Those homes — called state supported living centers — would have quality medical care, offer ample social activities, help residents become more independent and move as many people as possible into community settings. The Justice Department expected it to be done in five years. But after eight years, $269 million and unprecedented scrutiny by state and federal regulators, Texas living centers remain in the grip of the DOJ.

Austin American-Statesman - November 16, 2017

Caton: How ‘Jane Doe’ case reveals Texas’ glaring weakness

The “Jane Doe” case reveals Texas’ glaring weakness: reproductive decision-making for teenagers. Texas recently made headlines across the country when Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a federal judge to deny “Jane Doe” the ability to leave a federal detention center and receive an abortion. The news reverberated across the nation as an inhumane violation of rights. It highlighted Texas’ backward politics when it comes to adolescents’ reproductive health and bodily autonomy. Further, the 17-year-old was commonly referred to as a “young woman” when in she was actually a child. Some in the media didn’t emphasize this distinction and — in doing so, they projected more rights than the young adolescent would have in our state.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Apple served with search warrant in Sutherland Springs shooting

Texas Rangers investigating the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs have served a search warrant on Silicon Valley giant Apple Inc. and are seeking digital photos, messages, documents and other types of data that might have been stored by gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, who was found with an iPhone after he killed himself. Court records obtained by the San Antonio Express-News show Texas Ranger Kevin Wright obtained search warrants on Nov. 9 for files stored on Kelley’s iPhone, a second mobile phone found near his body and for files stored in Kelley’s iCloud account — Apple’s digital archive that can sync iPhone files.

KUT - November 16, 2017

New Demand, Same Old Story: West Texans And Their Water

In arid West Texas, where rain is infrequent and rivers and lakes are few, groundwater – water from sources beneath the surface of the earth – is key to survival. And as the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin demands more of this resource from the surrounding area, researchers are scrambling to study the systems of webbed aquifers that feed households, farms, ranches and industry in the region. But for residents there’s a familiar tension over who gets to decide the fate of their water. Jeff Williams manages his family’s 18,000-acre farm outside Fort Stockton. Their land sits on top of five different prolific aquifers on the southeastern edge of the Permian Basin. Standing by an irrigation ditch, shooting water to a fish pond, he acknowledges that his family isn’t the most popular in the neighborhood. They’re the biggest consumers of water in Pecos County. His grandfather, Clayton Williams Sr., is notorious for pumping nearby Comanche Springs dry in the '50s.

Texas Standard - November 15, 2017

Untapped -- The New West Texas

The Permian Basin in west Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable. That's where we begin a series of reports examining what all this means for the region and the state. Untapped: The New West Texas explores the impact of new energy exploration on the economy, the water table and the environment.

County Stories

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

'F--- TRUMP' truck driver has been arrested

The woman responsible for the "F--Trump" bumper sticker has been arrested for a previous outstanding warrant, according to Fort Bend County jail records. Karen Fonseca was arrested shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday for a fraud charge. Her bail is set at $1500. Her arrest comes after Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls on Wednesday created a social media firestorm with a Facebook post threatening to bring disorderly conduct charges against the driver of a truck displaying a profane anti-Trump message on its rear window.

Bloomberg - November 16, 2017

The U.S. Flooded One of Houston’s Richest Neighborhoods to Save Everyone Else

“Next contestant, come on down.” On Oct. 6, in a bright courtroom in downtown Houston, Susan Braden, chief justice of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, opens a preliminary hearing with a joke, beckoning a lawyer forward. Braden has flown in from Washington to oversee disputes involving the homes and businesses flooded in West Houston after Hurricane Harvey made landfall over Texas in late August. She has summoned attorneys interested in suing, to get their thoughts on how the proceedings should unfold. Almost 100 lawyers are present, combed and buzzing in anticipation of what promises to be some of the most complex and expensive litigation ever brought against the federal government. Observers speculate that thousands of plaintiffs could eventually join in, and that the total damages claimed could reach $10 billion or more, especially if the big energy and oil companies—whose presence in one section of West Houston gave it the nickname the Energy Corridor—sue over their flooded headquarters.

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

Galveston still struggling with public-vs-private beach issue

In December 1836, the Congress of the fledgling Republic of Texas agreed to convey some 4,600 acres of land - one league and one labor, in the real estate jargon of the time - to a Canadian entrepreneur named Michel B. Menard. The property on Galveston's east end included an area known today as Porretto Beach. Menard paid $50,000 to the new government, and President Sam Houston signed the deed on Jan. 25, 1838, according to the website of the Rosenberg Library. Within months, Menard and his partners were selling lots through their newly created Galveston City Company.

City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 16, 2017

Audit: Austin ordinances don’t help the homeless and might not be legal

Austin policies that seek to keep homeless people from sleeping in public aren’t doing any good — either for the city or its homeless population, according to an audit released this week. Such policies prevent people from pulling themselves out of homelessness by giving them criminal records, are not an efficient use of city resources and might put the city at legal risk, the audit said. The audit is the first of a series of city reviews on how Austin handles homelessness amid a debate over where to find resources to address the issue.

Austin American-Statesman - November 16, 2017

Phillips: How an environmental deal led to Austin’s gentrification

Austin environmentalist Robin Rather is apologizing for a deal heralded as historic 20 years ago when it was endorsed by business groups, developers and environmentalists as a solution to pitched battles over development of the Barton Springs watershed. Rather didn’t envision that the agreement would spur the gentrification that continues to oust African-Americans and Latinos from their East Austin neighborhoods. She is warning that CodeNext, the city’s proposed overhaul of land-use and zoning regulations, will result in similar unintended consequences to neighborhoods across Austin.

National Stories

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

GOP-led House passes landmark Brady tax bill

In a big victory for Houston-area Republican Kevin Brady, the House passed a sweeping tax overhaul Thursday on a narrow party-line vote, setting up a showdown in the Senate that will test the unity of the GOP's slim majority. The 227-to-205 vote brought President Donald Trump a step closer to a long-held GOP campaign promise: Dramatically cutting the rates for corporations, individuals and families, while taking away many deductions and credits. Taxes, on average, would go down, Republicans said. But Democrats and some independent analysts predicted uneven benefits from the GOP legislation, which they said would further enrich the wealthy, deepen deficits, and increase the overall tax burden on as many as 36 million middle-class Americans.

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

IRS starts to enforce health law's rule that employers offer insurance

As Republicans continue trying to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Service has begun, for the first time, to enforce one of the law's most polarizing provisions: the employer mandate. Thousands of businesses - many of them small or midsize - will soon receive a letter saying that they owe the government money because they failed to offer their workers qualifying health insurance. The first round of notices, which the IRS began sending late last month, are being mailed to companies that have at least 100 full-time employees and ran afoul of the law in 2015, the year that the mandate took effect.

Washington Post - November 16, 2017

A ‘proud resister’ called for Trump and Franken to resign and Moore to bow out. The Pentagon retweeted it.

The Defense Department’s official Twitter account retweeted a message Thursday calling for three politicians, including President Trump, to step away from politics amid sexual assault allegations, but quickly deleted it and said it was a mistake. The tweet, by a person using the handle “Proud Resister,” stated that Trump and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) should resign from their jobs and that Republican Roy Moore of Alabama should step aside from running for the Senate. It also blamed the Republican Party for “making sexual assault a partisan issue,” adding: “It’s a crime as is your hypocrisy.”

Politico - November 16, 2017

Franken apologizes after woman says he groped her

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) apologized Thursday after a female broadcaster said the lawmaker groped and kissed her without her consent during a 2006 trip overseas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately called for an ethics investigation, and Franken vowed to cooperate. Multiple Democratic senators quickly broke with Franken after Leeann Tweeden, a radio anchor for Los Angeles’ KABC, wrote Thursday about the senator's admitted misconduct. Tweeden described harassment by Franken while she and the comedian, then a host on liberal talk radio, toured the Middle East to entertain military personnel in 2006.

San Antonio Express-News - November 16, 2017

Garcia: No room for tribalism with Moore or Franken allegations

Over the past week, Democrats have been astounded at the stubborn, revolting tribalism of Alabama Republicans. Dems have expressed disgust at the way many GOP loyalists in that state continue to support special-election Senate candidate Roy Moore despite numerous allegations of Moore’s predatory behavior with teenage girls. That kind of tribalism shouldn’t be hard for Democrats to comprehend, though, given the lesson of the 1996 presidential race.

Associated Press - November 16, 2017

White House to submit $44 billion disaster request Friday

The White House is sending Congress a $44 billion disaster aid request Friday that will fall short of demands from hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Congressional aides briefed on the request required anonymity to discuss it in advance of its release. The request, President Donald Trump's third since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria slammed the Gulf Coast and Caribbean, would bring the total appropriated for hurricane relief this fall close to $100 billion.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

CBS News - November 16, 2017

Tom Ridge in critical condition after cardiac procedure

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is in critical condition after he underwent a cardiac catheterization procedure Thursday morning, according a statement released by a representative. Ridge, 72, a former governor of Pennsylvania, was attending the Republican Governors Association conference at a hotel in Austin, Texas, when he called hotel staff seeking medical assistance, the statement said. "The Governor's friends and family are grateful to the Marriott Hotel's emergency services team, the paramedics who quickly responded, and to the hospital's cardiac staff, nurses and ER physicians for their tremendous professionalism, caring and concern," it said.

The Hill - November 16, 2017

Informant in GOP uranium probe identified as ex-lobbyist

The former federal informant at the center of the Senate GOP probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's role in the Obama-era sale of a uranium company was identified Thursday as an ex-lobbyist for a Russian firm. The former lobbyist, William Campbell, told Reuters he's the secret witness in the investigation into the 2010 sale of Canada-based Uranium One to Russia's Rosatom. He is planning to testify and give Congress documents about the sale, he told Reuters.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle - November 9, 2017

Battle for the Stars: How states use your money to lure Hollywood

Some states have increased public spending to bring in shows and films, creating a competition among New York, California, Georgia, Louisiana and other states with big incentives. But other states like Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan have done away with their programs, concluding the tax breaks weren't producing enough of a return on investment. Either way, while you are relaxing at home watching your favorite TV show or having a date night at the movies, one state or another may be paying for what you are seeing with taxpayer-funded incentives. The USA TODAY Network surveyed every state in the nation on its film-incentive program and created the first national database that shows how much each film and show received in tax breaks and incentives.

Dallas Morning News - November 11, 2017

Floyd: Could the tactics we used against drunken driving work against gun violence?

Maybe the most disheartening fallout during this sad week has been a terrible, empty sense of futility. We feel helpless. We feel there are no good antidotes to the savagery that erupted in a little Texas church last Sunday, and at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas in October, and on an ever-growing list of similar atrocities. A vocal chorus on one side takes the dark view that we're surrounded by monsters, that no place is safe, that every church or preschool or movie house is a potential target for mass killers. It's an every-man-for-himself hellscape out there, and our only shot at survival is to arm ourselves as heavily as possible.

Politico - November 16, 2017

Hope Hicks may hold the keys to Mueller's Russia puzzle

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is preparing to interview the woman who’s seen it all: Hope Hicks. She’s been part of Donald Trump’s inner circle for years, first at Trump Tower and then as an omnipresent gatekeeper and fixer who could get emails or other communications directly to the boss during the 2016 campaign. As a senior White House adviser and now as communications director, she’s been in the room for moments critical to Mueller’s probe, which has grown to include the president’s response to the Russia investigation itself.

Fox News - November 16, 2017

California government mandates send electricity prices skyrocketing, but Texas free market policies keep prices low

California’s rush to impose harsh government mandates cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the generation of electricity is raising the electricity bills of families and businesses across the state. Poor families are suffering the most. In sharp contrast, Texas is successfully taking a free-market approach that is increasing the use of clean renewable energy and lowering electricity bills in the state. The far-left Democrats who control state government in California have doubled down on their extremist campaign to cut carbon dioxide emissions – regardless of the cost and the pain they inflict on Californians, who are already struggling to pay some of the highest electricity bills in the nation.

Vox - November 10, 2017

Roberts: Conservatives probably can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what?

For Democrats, raising intensity would mean making it a fight, staking a claim, defining the core values involved, telling vivid stories with heroes and villains and repeating them frequently. It would mean making climate change and clean energy tier-one priorities — organizing around them, talking about them at every opportunity, pushing them into the news and popular culture. It would mean, rather than begging Republicans for assent or small scraps of policy assistance, doing everything possible to publicize their intransigence and make it core to their identity. Tie it around their necks every time a microphone appears; make them own it.

The Atlantic - November 16, 2017

Meyer: Democrats Are Shockingly Unprepared to Fight Climate Change

There’s a wrinkle in how the United States talks about climate change in 2017, a tension fundamental to the issue’s politics but widely ignored. On the one hand, Democrats are the party of climate change. Since the 1990s, as public belief in global warming has become strongly polarized, the Democratic Party has emerged as the advocate of more aggressive climate action. The most recent Democratic president made climate policy a centerpiece of his second term, and the party’s national politicians now lament and oppose the undoing of his work. Concern for the climate isn’t just an elite issue, either: Rank-and-file Democrats are more likely to worry about global warming than the median voter. On the other hand, the Democratic Party does not have a plan to address climate change.

Politico - November 15, 2017

Markovich: I Ran the Worst 5K of My Life So I Could Explain Gerrymandering to You

ASHEVILLE, N.C.—The Gerrymander 5K wasn’t even a 5K. It was a quarter mile too long. It wasn’t timed. There was no exact finish line. The beginning was improvised. “I’ve never done this before,” shouted the starter, “so let’s just do 1-2- 3 go, OK?” I knew going in the race wasn’t meant to be competitive. It was a publicity gimmick, dreamed up by the League of Women Voters in Asheville, North Carolina, to draw attention to what it considered an egregious example of gerrymandering by Republicans after the 2010 census. The race course, which featured a slightly sadistic series of speed-sucking hills and tight turns, followed the meandering dividing line between North Carolina’s 10th and 11th congressional districts. The route might have been challenging for runners, but it was perfect if you were running a campaign as a Republican.

Washington Post - November 15, 2017

She led Trump to Christ: The rise of the televangelist who advises the White House

It was an early afternoon in late July, and Paula White was holding court before an audience of about 25 Southern Baptist ministers in an ornate diplomatic reception room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The televangelist was recounting one of her favorite stories — about when Donald Trump reached out to her in 2011 for guidance on a possible White House run. “Would you bring some people around me to pray?” she said he asked her. “I really want to hear from God.” White recalled that she and another pastor gathered about 30 ministers from different evangelical Christian traditions at Trump Tower in Manhattan. After the prayer session, when Trump asked her what she thought, she responded: “I don’t feel it’s the right timing.”

Houston Chronicle - November 13, 2017

FBI: Hate crimes rose US in 2016

Americans carried out more hate crimes in 2016 than in 2015, according to new data from the FBI, which shows an uptick against Jewish people, Muslims and the LGBT community. Last year, law-enforcement departments across the country reported 6,121 criminal incidents, according to FBI statistics. That compares to 5,818 such crimes reported in 2015. More than 70 percent of the incidents stemmed from bias based on race or religion, the FBI said.

New York Times - November 16, 2017

Hidden in the Senate Tax Bill: Surprise Gifts for Breweries and Start-Ups

The revised Senate tax bill that arrived late Tuesday night brought unexpected gifts for craft breweries, tech start-ups and certain growers of citrus trees. Companies that house and maintain private aircraft and residents of the Mississippi River Delta who were harmed by flooding on August 11, 2016, also got special treatment. Those were not the headline provisions of the amendment, which also kills the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and sets expiration dates on all of the individual tax cuts contained in the Senate bill released last week. They were pet issues of special-interest groups, championed by some members of the Senate Finance Committee, and the rare example thus far of lobbyists breaking through in their efforts to shape a tax proposal that is hurtling through Congress at warp speed.

All - November 16, 2017

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Leaders of Republican Governors Association want Roy Moore out

Republican Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida did not hesitate for a second Wednesday when asked what Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore should do amid accusations that he was engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with teenagers as young as 14 when he was in his 30s. “He should get out,” said Walker, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which is holding its annual meeting a the JW Marriott Austin Wednesday and Thursday. “This is way above partisan politics,” said Scott, the association’s vice chairman.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Abbott adviser: Va. Dem wins should be 'wakeup call' for Texas GOP

After months of assurances from top Republicans that they still hold a firm grip on Texas voters, a top campaign adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott is warning that recent Virginia elections should be a "wakeup call" to the Texas GOP. MOST POPULAR Declines in state prison populations across the country and the shifting politics around mass incarceration have created opportunities to downsize prison bed space.. (San Antonio Express-News File Photo) 'Mass exodus' of Texas prison guards leaves some units... Robert Griffin III last played during the 2016 season, starting five games for the Browns. Robert Griffin III thinks he could help Texans Cleburne Cafeteria owner George Mickelis greets longtime customer Tongula Steddum during the restaurant's soft opening Tuesday. Risen from the ashes, Cleburne Cafeteria is back Arkema's Hurricane Harvey ride out crew take one last look of the flooded facility as they evacuate the Crosby site on Aug. 29, 2017. Arkema documents: Planning, mechanical failures led to Harvey... David, left, with Dennis at their house in the Heights. David has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. My husband's dementia. His rage. And now, violence. State Rep. Armando Walle and State Sen. Sylvia Garcia Green's retirement means Houston could send first Latino to... Accelerated Intermediate Academy, a Houston charter school with about 275 students. Small Houston charter school pays top dollar to leader, owns... In a private memo to Abbott's aides, senior political adviser Dave Carney cautions that despite the fact that Texas is solid red in recent statewide voting patterns, suburban voters could pose significant problems for Republicans in next year's mid-term elections.

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Pence pledges ‘across the board’ tax cuts by year’s end at Republican governors conference

AUSTIN — Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday promised Texans still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that the federal government will be with them until the recovery is complete, working closely with the state and local governments. And in a year when Republicans in control of Congress have made little progress on their agenda, Pence later in the day pledged passage of “across the board” tax cuts by year end. “President Trump is absolutely committed to passing tax cuts for working families and businesses across America and passing tax cuts this year,” Pence said in a 20-minute speech to the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference.

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

Texans Willett and Ho grilled by Democrats for appeals court posts

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett took the brunt of senators' questions Wednesday in a joint confirmation hearing with former state Solicitor General James Ho for posts on a powerful appeals court. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Willett about his popular Twitter feed, pointing to tweets they say show that he would discriminate against transgender and gay people if he were confirmed to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said he was concerned about a 2014 tweet, in which Willett said "Go away, A-Rod" along with a Fox News story about a California law that allowed a transgender woman to join the girls' softball team.

State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Bathroom bills put Texas at risk, business leaders tell Straus panel

Texas faces a challenging and expensive list of demands if the state is to remain an economic powerhouse, but the fight over transgender bathroom policies repeatedly crept into the conversation when House Speaker Joe Straus’ competitiveness committee held its opening hearing Wednesday. With leading conservatives vowing to continue making bathroom regulations a priority, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and other business leaders said the issue is putting Texas at risk of long-term economic harm, discouraging companies from relocating and some of the “best and brightest” workers from moving to the state.

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Lobbyist initiated MLS to Austin talk with city in late July

MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle began pushing professional soccer to the Austin City Council in late July, records show. Suttle sent council members links to stories about the explosive growth of professional soccer in the United States, the American-Statesman has learned from e-mails gathered and reviewed as a result of an open records request. “I wanted to share this article in the Austin American-Statesman: Sport is thriving across country’s pro landscape,” Suttle wrote on July 23. An Austin attorney, Suttle works on behalf of Precourt Sports Ventures, the Columbus Crew SC ownership group that’s exploring a move to Austin.

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Texas State fraternity was under investigation before pledge’s death

The death of a Texas State University student who attended an off-campus social event hosted by a fraternity could result in criminal charges, but no decision will be made until an extensive investigation is completed, San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp told the American-Statesman on Wednesday. “Any death in our community we take seriously, and especially the death of a young person like this who had so much ahead of him,” Stapp said. “Once we know the complete picture, we will have to have discussions with the district attorney on the most appropriate course of actions.”

Austin American-Statesman - November 13, 2017

Herman: The Hollywood version of a Texas filibuster

On Monday, while others still were reporting that Bullock (one of the few local women named Bullock who never were married to the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock) was to play Davis, Tilove told us about the script, a copy of which he has procured. My two basic gripes about the Davis filibuster have been about the filibuster, not Davis. Filibusters are dumb, unfair and should be verboten. If we didn’t have filibusters and they had them in Slobovia (Upper or Lower) we’d laugh and say, “Wait a minute, the legislative process can be brought to a halt by somebody who can stand and talk for a long time while wearing clandestine equipment allowing one to answer nature’s call while standing and talking for a long time?” Oh, those wacky Slobovians (Upper or Lower), we would say.

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Woman at Hutto immigration detention says guard sexually assaulted her

An immigrant from El Salvador being held in an immigrant detention center in Williamson County is alleging that a guard sexually assaulted her several times over a span of months. Laura Monterrosa made a report with the Williamson County sheriff’s office after authorities learned of possible assaults Nov. 3, according to the immigrant advocacy group Grassroots Leadership, which is assisting Monterrosa in her attempt to be granted asylum in the United States.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

TxDOT eyeing accounting trick to get around toll road prohibition

Toll lanes were supposed to stop popping up alongside Texas highways. At least, that’s what voters who approved billions of dollars for new state transportation projects thought. Yet the Texas Department of Transportation’s latest plans to unclog congestion in the state’s largest urban areas call for building a bevy of managed toll lanes as the agency rebuilds and adds new lanes to existing highways. “It’s a mess,” said State Rep. Joe Pickett, who is seeking an attorney general’s opinion on whether a controversial new TxDOT financing idea is constitutional.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Cities race to annex land before new Texas law goes into effect Dec. 1

On a recent afternoon, Michelle Singleton played with her dogs behind her house. The pets' barks and the chirps of crickets were the only sounds on the 15-acre property, which Singleton and her husband, Stan, bought more than 30 years ago. There, outside the North Texas city of Mesquite, they have hosted bonfires, hunted doves and watched their three children grow up. But now, Mesquite plans to annex their land, and the Singletons are afraid it will ruin their way of life. Mesquite is among several cities across Texas, including McKinney and Pearland, that have tried to annex land before a new law goes into effect Dec. 1, requiring certain cities to get the consent of a majority of property owners before annexing their land.

Texas Tribune - November 15, 2017

In Austin, Pence makes pitch for "across the board" tax cuts

Vice President Mike Pence pressed the White House's case for a major tax code overhaul by the end of the year during a speech Wednesday to Republican governors in Austin. "We're going to take a decisive step — before the end of this year ... to cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses," Pence said at the Republican Governors Association's annual meeting. "I know this room knows all about tax cuts because these Republican governors have been busy cutting taxes in recent years and making a real difference in their states."

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Texas college leaders worry about the effect of federal tax overhaul

The proposed federal tax overhaul could affect large university endowments and graduate student tuition costs, leaving higher education groups worried about the potential impact on student costs and university finances. The measures in both houses of Congress would tax large private university endowments, including those of Trinity University in San Antonio and Rice University in Houston. The House plan would also impose a tax on student tuition waivers, potentially burdening graduate students with high fees. The Senate plan does not include that provision. A House vote is expected Thursday.

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Government revoked DACA of young immigrant who alleged mistreatment in detention

Immigration authorities on Wednesday said they have revoked the legal status of a 20-year-old man who is being detained for deportation, but isn’t receiving treatment for a leg that was amputated when he was a child, according to activists. Border Patrol officials arrested Felipe Abonza Lopez, a Mexico native who lives in San Marcos, as part of a human-smuggling investigation. Immigration activists say the government is trying to tar Abonza as a criminal without any proof he was involved in smuggling.

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Chasnoff: #MeToo descends on state Capitol

As more harassed men and women speak out across the country, exposing sexual predators from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, the state Legislature is finally having its own overdue “#MeToo” moment — and the reckoning has snared at least one local lawmaker. On Tuesday, both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for a review of sexual harassment policies at the state Capitol. The move followed a report by the Texas Tribune that found “pervasive” and “unchecked” sexual harassment under the Pink Dome, as well as a report last week in the Daily Beast that revealed the existence of an anonymous, crowdsourced spreadsheet that has circulated among women at the state Capitol for the past year and warns of alleged transgressions by male lawmakers, campaign workers and legislative staffers.

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Homeless youth in Texas not getting help they need, advocates say

The needs of homeless and runaway youths in Texas aren’t being adequately addressed, and the problem is especially serious in Bexar County, which has some of the worst numbers regarding these two populations, a study by two advocacy groups found. The study, conducted by Texas Appleseed and Texas Network of Youth Service, which focus on social justice and children’s rights, examined the root causes of youth homelessness, the myriad negative consequences that flow from it and possible solutions.

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Van de Putte reacts to being snubbed in Davis filibuster movie

“I would like to see history portrayed accurately, if only for the fact that there are very few times when history portrays Latinos as the ones who speak out and set something in motion,” Van de Putte said in an interview. “It was a Latina senator who said that, and it should try and be accurate.” Davis texted her “sweet sister” this week after hearing people were upset and assured Van de Putte the movie would get it right. After speaking with Mario Carrea, the movie’s writer, the script will be reworked for accuracy, Davis said. “Please keep in mind that this is a very early draft and there will be more improvements to come,” Davis said.

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

HC: The smell of political change -- Election-year turbulence and turnover is the kind of development voters should welcome.

Like long-quiescent kernels inside the popcorn machine at River Oaks Theater, local politicos are suddenly beginning to feel the heat. For reasons not altogether clear - Donald Trump craziness? A broken system of governance? - elected officials or would-be elected officials are beginning to hop, crackle and pop. Those are signs and sounds of a healthy democracy, a welcome portent of invigorating change. There's no great mystery about Houston Congressman Gene Green's decision to retire. At 70, he's served in the U.S. House since 1993, preceded by 20 years in the Texas Legislature. His retirement opens the door yet again for a Latino to represent the 29th Congressional District.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Texas leaders pledge to enhance, enforce sexual harassment policies

Gov. Greg Abbott and other top officials are vowing to work with the Texas Legislature to make improvements to the Capitol's sexual harassment policies. Their commitment comes after state Rep. Linda Koop, R-Dallas, asked Abbott for changes because the staff was not "fully educated as to where to report misconduct or harassment." Her request was prompted by multiple media reports in recent weeks about sexual harassment at the Texas Capitol and around the country.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

New report shows how Mexican cartels are infiltrating Texas

Mexican cartels smuggle more drugs into the U.S. than any other criminal group, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said in a new report. The 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment released in October lists six cartels as having major influences across the country and Texas. Cartels' influence in Texas is far-reaching, affecting cities hundreds of miles from the state's border with Mexico.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

'Mass exodus' of Texas prison guards leaves some units understaffed

"A lot of these guys don't want to work in a prison," said Lance Lowry, a spokesman for the Huntsville-based Texas Correctional Employees union. "There's other job opportunities opening up in rural Texas." Data from the Texas State Auditor's Office show a marked increase over the previous year, when 22.8 percent of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's roughly 26,000 officers left for other jobs. At the same time, department vacancy rates have crept up again to over 12 percent, with 3,207 jobs unfilled.

Dallas Morning News - November 16, 2017

In Texas, VP Mike Pence details the billions the state has received to recover from Harvey

The federal government has distributed more than $1 billion in housing assistance for Hurricane Harvey victims, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday. Pence came to Austin to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott for a briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Along with housing assistance, the federal government has also approved $2.26 billion for small businesses across Texas and dedicated more than $490 million to public assistance programs. The National Flood Insurance Program has paid out more than $4.4 billion to Texans after Harvey, Pence said.

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

Barton seeks $84 million favor for Texas Rangers stadium before GOP tax plan kills subsidies

Ennis Rep. Joe Barton is rallying to prevent the GOP's sweeping tax revamp from costing the city of Arlington millions of dollars on its voter-approved plans to finance the new Texas Rangers ballpark. The Republican, whose district includes the stadium, is trying to exempt the new Globe Life Field from a provision in the House GOP bill that would prevent local governments from using tax-exempt municipal bonds to fund the building or renovation of professional sports stadiums. Arlington voters last year approved a $500 million bond package to help fund the stadium. Ground broke on the project in late September.

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

Texas wind energy projects worth about $11 billion threatened by U.S. House tax vote Thursday

The wind energy industry is warning that $10.9 billion worth of Texas projects could be threatened by a U.S. House vote Thursday. The House is scheduled to decide on tax reform that includes retroactively slashing the wind energy production tax credit. And, that's worrying industry leaders in Texas, which has lead the U.S. in electricity produced by wind farms and has a large percentage of the nation's wind projects currently in the pipeline.

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

Bad data on a single student almost sank a Dallas school in state ratings

Dallas ISD got some good news on Tuesday — thanks to a single student and one hyperobservant principal. The Texas Education Agency released its final 2017 accountability ratings, setting them in stone after hearing appeals from 66 schools and districts. DISD won one of the 13 appeals granted by the TEA, changing the rating for Mount Auburn Elementary School from “Improvement Required” to “Met Standard.”

KUT - November 14, 2017

Children's Health Program In Texas Is Weeks Away From 'Chaos,' Advocates Warn

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending. Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September, and Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the program. Legislation aimed at shoring up the program has bipartisan support, but there's disagreement in Congress about how to pay for it.

Wichita Eagle (KS) - November 13, 2017

Has the window already closed for North Texan’s Cruz primary challenge?

Establishment Republicans once dreamed of replacing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with a less bombastic alternative in 2018. Those dreams now appear out of reach, even as a North Texas Republican with ties to state’s old political guard is on the verge of launching a challenge to the first-term senator. A Fort Worth-based super PAC aimed at replacing Cruz with a Republican in the “leadership style” of President Ronald Reagan has barely raised any money. Its favored candidate, Christian television executive Bruce Jacobson, last week stumbled in the early stages of a possible campaign rollout.

Texas Observer - November 13, 2017

Human Rights Lawyer on How Government is Complicit in Mexico’s Drug War

More than a decade into a violent conflict that seems nowhere near being resolved, Mexico is a country haunted by the missing. The Mexican government estimates that more than 32,000 people have disappeared in the last decade — a statistic that is likely far too low, since it comes from a federal database that relies on flawed data. In 2010, University of Texas law professor Ariel Dulitzky was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to a five-person working group tasked with investigating the spike in kidnappings. What he found was a government unwilling to tackle the growing problem, which was highlighted by the unsolved 2014 mass kidnapping of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College.

Texas Observer - November 15, 2017

Top 1 Percent of Texas Commodity Farmers Get Quarter of $1.6 Billion in Subsidies

Last year in Nueces County, sorghum farmers raked in $10.9 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies. Corn farmers in Castro County took $12.6 million. In Deaf Smith County, the kingpins of cotton were paid $32.5 million, according to new farm subsidy data released last week. But as the state’s biggest farms drew lucrative paydays, the pocketbooks of small family farmers got thinner. Now, critics of federal farm subsidy programs are calling for reform of a system they say overwhelmingly favors big agribusiness. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a long list of subsidy programs for farmers, and though the payment schemes are complex, they generally involve giving farmers taxpayer money to compensate for low market prices and weather-related crop damage.

County Stories

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Sheriff's warning to 'F--- TRUMP' truck owner draws outrage on Facebook

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls is threatening disorderly conduct charges against the owner of a white truck bearing a large "F--- TRUMP" sticker on the back window. The truck's sticker goes on to read "AND F--- YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM," according to a photo posted Wednesday on Nehls' official Facebook page. Nehls said he's responding to calls from concerned residents in trying to identify the truck's owner. "I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359," Nehls said in his post.

Houston Chronicle - November 16, 2017

'F--- TRUMP' truck driver has been arrested

The woman responsible for the "F--Trump" bumper sticker has been arrested for a previous outstanding warrant, according to Fort Bend County jail records. Karen Fonseca was arrested shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday for a fraud charge. Her bail is set at $1500. Her arrest comes after Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls on Wednesday created a social media firestorm with a Facebook post threatening to bring disorderly conduct charges against the driver of a truck displaying a profane anti-Trump message on its rear window.

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Travis County DA declines to take 2 police shootings to grand jury

The Travis County district attorney’s office decided not to take two Austin police shootings to a grand jury for review, the officials announced Wednesday. Prosecutors determined that the officers’ use of force was justified in each case, the DA’s office said in a statement. District Attorney Margaret Moore, who took office in January, decided that she would no longer take all Austin police shootings to a grand jury, breaking from a practice under the former DA. Now, Moore has said, prosecutors will decide whether to present the incidents to a grand jury on a case-by-case basis.

Texas Public Radio - November 13, 2017

Slow And Upbeat EPA Response To Hurricane Harvey Pollution Angers Residents

Juan Flores and his family live in Galena Park, Texas, which is bordered on three sides by pipeline terminals, oil refineries, fertilizer plants and rail yards. Flores has lived in the town of about 11,000 people just east of downtown Houston since he was 4 years old. For a while, he even served on the City Council. After all these years, he is accustomed to the rhythms of life among the industrial plants. Strange smells and occasional warnings to shelter in place don't bother him too much. "I live so close to [one] company that I can hear their alarms," he says. "The thing is, you hear it so much you get immune to it, and it's like background noise." But there are also times when he takes notice. "If I smell something out here, it's bad," he says, "and I can tell you during Harvey, it smelled real bad."

City Stories

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Simulation: Harvey-level storm flooding would inundate central San Antonio

If a storm with the ferocity of Hurricane Harvey hit San Antonio, the river and creeks would swell and inundate the Broadway corridor, Mahncke Park, River Road, Tobin Hill, the River Walk and South Town. Neighborhoods around Apache Creek and Elmendorf Lake on the West Side would flood as that creek jumped its banks. MOST POPULAR San Angelo Central quarterback Maverick McIvor throws a pass against Midland High on Nov. 3, 2017, at Grande Communications Stadium. Son of legendary UT QB now making his mark San Antonio’s kickoff of its 300th birthday is set for New Year’s Eve. Finger-pointing, calls for responsibility come in wake of... Churchill's Matt Elizondo, left, gives chase to O'Connor quarterback Roel Sanchez during the second half of a non-district high school football game at Comalander Stadium on Sept. 7. No overlooking Sanchez’s value for O’Connor The cross at the front of the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church was not hit by a single bullet during the mass shooting that killed 26 congregants. Help arrived from all corners to transform Sutherland Springs... Felipe Abonza Lopez, 20, was put in immigration detention after his arrest on Oct. 12, 2017, near Uvalde. Border Patrol agents said Abonza was arrested as part of a human smuggling investigation, but he was never charged with a crime. Abonza is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He wrote from a Pearsall detention center that he’s not getting treatment for pain he has in a leg he lost part of as a child. DACA recipient held in immigration detention These are just a few examples of what could happen in such a severe and increasingly likely rainstorm, according to computer simulations released by San Antonio River Authority officials Wednesday.

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

Owners hope 8-foot tall Ten Commandments inside Lewisville's Vista Ridge mall inspires shoppers

The new owner of Vista Ridge Mall has lots of ideas to make the shopping center attractive to families and even for people who don't care about shopping. Odessa businessman John Bushman wants to turn the mall into a community space where people can find some "peace and love" in the Ten Commandments, hear some local musicians perform live and take in a giant wave of a 30-foot-by-60-foot American flag outside. All of Bushman's other businesses — hotels in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, other shopping centers and a Chickn4U restaurant in Odessa — display the Ten Commandments engraved on 800-lb stone tablets.

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Austin students protest, accuse teacher of saying ‘go back to Mexico’

At least 60 students walked out of a South Austin middle school and circled the school building Wednesday afternoon in protest of a teacher’s culturally insensitive comments to a student, according to students and school officials. Several Fulmore Middle School students who participated in the walkout Wednesday told the American-Statesman they were protesting because a teacher in a social and emotional learning class had told a student, who was speaking Spanish at the time, to “go back to Mexico.”

National Stories

Associated Press - November 15, 2017

Cards Against Humanity buys border land in play to block Trump's wall

The party game Cards Against Humanity says it's bought U.S.-Mexico border land and hired a lawyer to try to stop President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. A promotion called "Cards Against Humanity Saves America" offered 150,000 subscribers to its game a map of the land and a "certificate of our promise to fight the wall." To build sections of the existing border fence, the U.S. government took hundreds of private landowners in Texas to court. A wall will likely require new lawsuits.

This article appeared in the Dallas Morning News

Dallas Morning News - November 15, 2017

Russell: Mark Cuban has an idea to make government more efficient (if he runs for president)

Recently at The New York Times DealBook conference, Shark Tank investor and Dallas resident Mark Cuban said he would consider running for president, if he could convince his wife to get on board. One thing's for certain: If Cuban ran, he'd likely do so on a multifaceted platform. One that includes championing, among other ideas, the concept that government should be more efficient and rely on technology to do so. Cuban has certainly voiced his concerns about President Donald Trump and his administration. Yet Cuban, who studies the latest in technology trends like entrepreneurs study his investment advice, thinks a bigger problem in America is how wildly inefficient and outdated government happens to be. (To be fair, he had this same problem with the last administration, too.)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - November 13, 2017

Heat, mold, rats and spiders: Former workhouse inmates sue St. Louis over 'hellish' conditions

Seven former inmates of the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, commonly known as the workhouse, sued the city Monday claiming that inadequate ventilation, medical care and sanitation create “hellish and inhumane conditions” and violate inmates’ constitutional rights. The suit, filed by the nonprofit ArchCity Defenders law firm in U.S. District Court, says that St. Louis officials have ignored the problems for years. It seeks a judge’s order that would close the workhouse or fine the city $10,000 per day until problems are fixed.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Perry says renegotiating NAFTA needed because of U.S. energy bounty

At appearances in Houston this week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said it makes sense for the United States, Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, in part because of the enormous new supply of U.S. oil and gas locked in once-inaccessible shale rocks. Asked whether renegotiating NAFTA – a thorny and potentially yearlong process that the Trump Administration began this summer – would affect energy trade between the three countries, Perry said the renegotiation was a "good process; it's a healthy process."

New York Times - November 13, 2017

What Red States Are Passing Up as Blue States Get Billions

For years, red states have effectively been subsidizing part of health insurance for blue states. By declining to expand their Medicaid programs as part of the Affordable Care Act, many of those states have passed up tens of billions of federal dollars they could have used to offer health coverage to more poor residents. That means that taxpayers in Texas are helping to fund treatment for patients with opioid addiction in Vermont, while Texans with opioid problems may have no such option.

Wall St. Journal - November 14, 2017

Senate Republican Plan to Repeal Mandate Risks Higher Premiums

Republican plans to end the Affordable Care Act’s rule that most people must have health insurance would allow consumers who don’t want coverage to shed it, but it could drive premiums higher for those who keep it. Eliminating the so-called individual mandate would increase the number of people without insurance by four million, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a number that it says would rise to 13 million by 2027. But those who buy private insurance, rather than getting it at work or through a government program, would see their premiums rise by about 10% in most years of the coming decade, the CBO has forecast.

The Hill - November 14, 2017

Mueller puts spotlight on foreign lobbying

The cottage industry of foreign lobbying is taking center stage as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates the activities of people in President Trump’s orbit. Foreign advocacy work in Washington is common, lucrative and occasionally controversial, but has rarely received the front-page scrutiny it’s attracting now. That’s mostly because of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, two high-level figures from the Trump campaign who have been indicted as part of Mueller’s investigation.

Washington Post - November 13, 2017

Will: Roy Moore is an embarrassment. Doug Jones deserves to win.

Moore campaigns almost entirely about social issues — National Football League protests, the transgender menace — and the wild liberalism of Jones, a law-and-order prosecutor and deer and turkey hunter who says he has “a safe full of guns.” Jones’s grandfathers were members of the mineworkers’ and steelworkers’ unions: Birmingham, surrounded by coal and iron ore, was Pittsburgh — a steel city — almost before Pittsburgh was. Jones hopes economic and health-care issues matter more. Evangelical Christians who embrace Moore are serving the public good by making ridiculous their pose as uniquely moral Americans, and by revealing their leaders to be especially grotesque specimens of the vanity — vanity about virtue — that is curdling politics.

San Antonio Express-News - November 15, 2017

Despite 7 women's statements, Bush unlikely to be prosecuted

Allegations that former President George H.W. Bush inappropriately touched seven women involve potential crimes punishable by fines or jail time, if they had been prosecuted. All but one of the cases is ineligible under state laws that limit when a prosecution can begin after an alleged crime, and several lawyers interviewed said that it would be difficult to win a conviction against Bush, who has vascular parkinsonism, a rare syndrome that mimics Parkinson's disease. "You're still going to be facing prosecuting a 93-year-old man in a wheelchair that's a former president," said Toby Shook, a lawyer who previously served as a prosecutor in Dallas. "I doubt if you could ever find a jury that would ever want to convict him."

Austin American-Statesman - November 15, 2017

Herman: Republicans, in control and on the run

These are such great days to be a Republican in America. The GOP has the White House, both congressional chambers and five of the nine Supreme Court justices (though one of the GOP appointees is not as dependable as you’d like an appointee to be). And Republicans have got more governors than ever, 34. Just like you tell your kids, the Republicans can do anything they set their minds to. Odd then, isn’t it, that they haven’t done much of anything? How does a political party on a winning streak engineer things to a point at which it seems always to be playing defense? Let me suggest two current reasons: Donald J. Trump, formerly of New York, and Roy Moore, formerly of the Gadsden Mall in Alabama.

Politico - November 15, 2017

How Cotton brought Obamacare repeal back from the dead

Sen. Tom Cotton was about to enter the White House early this month to discuss immigration policy when he got an unexpected call from President Donald Trump to talk about a different topic. For days, the Arkansas senator had been working behind the scenes to convince Republicans that reigniting a battle over repealing Obamacare in the tax fight wasn’t as crazy as it seemed. But Trump, still smarting from GOP’s failures to dismantle the law whom Cotton had first pitched on the idea four days prior, needed little persuading.

Politico - November 16, 2017

GOP strategists worry incumbents aren't ready for a blue wave

Republican strategists are warning that some of the party’s veteran House incumbents aren’t adequately preparing for the 2018 election, putting the GOP majority at risk by their failure to recognize the dangerous conditions facing them. Nearly three dozen Republicans were outraised by their Democratic challengers in the most recent fundraising quarter. Others, the strategists say, are failing to maintain high profiles in their districts or modernize their campaigns by using data analytics in what is shaping up as a stormy election cycle.

Politico - November 16, 2017

Clinton hits back at possibility of Uranium One special counsel

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has slammed President Donald Trump for suggesting that a special prosecutor investigate her role in the Uranium One deal, a current cause célèbre among conservative commentators and some House Republican lawmakers. “Taking myself out of it, this is such an abuse of power and it goes right at the rule of law,” Clinton told Mother Jones in an interview posted Wednesday night. “As secretary of state, I went around the world bragging about America’s rule of law. … If they send a signal that we are going to be like some dictatorship, some authoritarian regime where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract that we have that we can trust our justice system.”

CNBC - November 16, 2017

House Republicans pass tax reform bill

House Republicans on Thursday passed a monumental bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals, the biggest step yet in the GOP's once-in-a-generation effort to overhaul the American tax system. The tax reform plan passed the chamber with 227 votes in favor and 205 against. To pass the bill, the House GOP had to overcome opposition from several of its members who live in high-tax blue states. Those lawmakers objected to the proposal's curb on popular state and local tax deductions.

Washington Post - November 15, 2017

GOP tax plan in trouble after Republican senator says he won’t back it

The Republican effort to overhaul the tax code suffered serious setbacks Wednesday after a conservative senator unexpectedly said he opposed the Senate plan and a GOP moderate raised major concerns about it. The announcements cast doubt whether Republicans would be able to quickly pass what would be their first significant legislative achievement under President Trump. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he opposed both the Senate and House versions of the tax legislation because they benefited corporations at the expense of other, typically smaller companies.

All - November 15, 2017

Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal - November 14, 2017

Sessions Recalls Adviser Mentioning Contacts With Russia

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he now recalls a 2016 meeting with a Trump campaign adviser at which the aide spoke about contacts with Russians, after earlier saying he knew of no such contacts. Mr. Sessions’ comments, in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, highlighted the challenges facing investigators, lawmakers and others in assembling a precise account of the communications between Trump campaign officials and people connected to the Russian government.

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Texans Willett and Ho prepare for Senate grilling for appeals court posts

Two Texas nominees for a powerful appeals court — Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and former state Solicitor General James Ho — will have a confirmation hearing Wednesday. President Donald Trump named Willett, known as the state’s “Tweeter Laureate,” and Ho, a prominent Dallas attorney, on Sept. 28 to serve on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are likely to grill the two conservatives, but they’re expected to be approved by the committee, where Republicans hold the majority. Confirmation requires approval by the full Senate.

Politico - November 14, 2017

Poll: 40 percent of voters believe Trump is fit to be president, a new low

Only four in 10 registered voters believe President Donald Trump is fit for office, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. The 40 percent mark is a new low for respondents to the Quinnipiac survey, which asked the same question in September and October. Fifty-seven percent of respondents to the latest poll said Trump is not fit for the office he holds. While 86 percent of self-identified Republicans said Trump is fit to serve, an overwhelming 93 percent of Democrats said the opposite. And nearly 60 percent of independents agreed with Democrats who said Trump is not fit to serve as president.

Houston Chronicle - November 14, 2017

More 'biblical" rain coming to Texas? A leading scientist says it is almost guaranteed...

Is more 'biblical" rain coming to Texas? Experts say not to be surprised if it happens more frequently, thanks to global warming. A study released by Kerry Emanuel, meteorology professor and hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dived into what Houston was faced with earlier this year, namely "biblical" rains that came with Hurricane Harvey and soaked the city to the bone and beyond. Emanuel's study was released earlier this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He said it was fast-tracked so that officials in Houston could get a grasp on the data and his findings.

State Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Henson, Blank: How the Sutherland Springs good guys with guns transformed the politics of mass shootings

The fact that a bystander armed with his own rifle chased and shot at the perpetrator in Sutherland Springs crucially transforms the terrain of the political interpretation of the shootings. The presence of an armed citizen "shooting in the opposite direction," as President Donald Trump put it in the hours after the killings, activates partisan attitudes about guns in Texas that advocates and political leaders can use to stifle discussion of adding even the mildest restrictions to guns. That's because the thought that the best antidote to gun violence is good people with guns resonates sufficiently with the right audience of Republicans.

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Business group to Texas lawmakers: Stop focusing on issues like the 'bathroom bill'

Texas lawmakers spent too much time this year debating bathrooms and immigration, and took their eyes off some matters vital to economic growth, such as phasing out the business-franchise tax and easing road congestion, the head of the state's top business lobbying group said Tuesday. Texas Association of Business chief executive Jeff Moseley, releasing a scorecard that rates each lawmaker based on selected votes, said his group was pleased to help block a bill that would require transgender Texans to use restrooms that match their gender at birth. It was sorry lawmakers went too far in adding a "show me your papers" provision to a new law banning sanctuary city policies that prohibit police and sheriff's deputies from asking people about their immigration status.

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Naranto: I love immigrants but their liberal supporters, not so much

While I love immigrants, I have little patience for some of their supporters. Continually, the media and universities portray American immigrants as oppressed. Only endless diversity training for European Americans like me can expunge guilt for our alleged collective sins. An example is Cristina Henriquez's The Book of Unknown Americans, which received flattering reviews from National Public Radio and other media outlets. While powerful, Henriquez's novel, set in part in a Pennsylvania mushroom farm, paints an unremittingly negative portrait of American-born Americans, who torment immigrants in every possible way, including murder. Henriquez leaves one questioning the sanity of immigrants: Why would so many people willingly enter a nation as awful as the U.S.?

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

DMN: Science has taught us juries rely on flawed evidence for convictions; that's why the death penalty must go

After leading the nation for decades in recommending death sentences, juries in Dallas County and Harris County have apparently cooled to the idea. In Dallas, prosecutors have asked juries to condemn a murderer to death just two times since 2014, and in both cases the juries declined. That's good news for anyone concerned about how justice is meted out in Texas. While there are crimes that probably deserve death, the defining characteristic of an execution is its irreversibility. Once carried out, there is no possibility for mistakes to be corrected. That's a problem for a criminal justice system whose mistakes are being brought to light more often than ever by advances in science and technology.

Austin American-Statesman - November 14, 2017

Texas Association of Business ranks best, worst state legislators

The state’s largest business lobbying group vowed Tuesday to help mobilize support for pro-business candidates for the Texas Legislature in the wake of this year’s regular and special sessions, where it often found itself on the defensive while social conservatives steered the agenda. “The business community is motivated to become very involved in the primaries,” said Jeff Moseley, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business. “Our members are more energized than they’ve ever been.” The issue is likely to loom large for the business group leading up to the next legislative session in 2019 because a powerful business ally — House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio — recently announced he will not seek re-election.

Austin American-Statesman - November 14, 2017

Abbott calls for improved sexual harassment guidelines at the Capitol

After media reports of sexual misconduct at the Capitol, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he will work with lawmakers to improve policies related to sexual harassment. “Gov. Abbott believes in and enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment,” Abbott spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement. “No victim should ever fear reprisal or retaliation for rejecting unwanted advances or for filing a sexual harassment complaint.” The Daily Beast and The Texas Tribune detailed claims of sexual harassment and assault by male lawmakers and others at the Capitol. The reports mostly relied on anonymous sources.

Austin American-Statesman - November 14, 2017

Officials don’t budge on pleas for STAAR reprieve to Harvey-hit schools

Despite pleas by some officials from school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, the state education commissioner told lawmakers Tuesday that it will be difficult to delay student testing or suspend testing requirements altogether this school year. Commissioner Mike Morath told members of the House Public Education Committee that he doesn’t have the authority to permit students in Harvey-affected areas not to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The test is tied to federal funding, which makes up about 10 percent of the state’s education budget.

Texas Tribune - November 15, 2017

Ramsey: Changing the boys club culture at the Texas Capitol

Hey, Texas legislators, how about setting an example once in a while? It could be something simple, like getting rid of — or perhaps, at least, editing — that historically false Confederate war marker in the extension to the Texas Capitol. It might’ve been easier to do it 24 years ago, when the extension opened and the plaque in question was moved to its new location. But there’s always time to correct a mistake.

Texas Tribune - November 13, 2017

Shriver: An opportunity for Texas on intellectual disability

Many families have loved ones with intellectual disabilities. Our family members and neighbors with intellectual disabilities — like everyone else — are able to do some things on their own, but need help doing other things. ... But look at how the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) handled Bobby Moore’s case. Moore is a man with a lifelong, documented intellectual disability who has been on death row since 1980. Two years ago, the CCA erroneously concluded that, since Moore could play pool and mow lawns, he must not have an intellectual disability.

Texas Tribune - November 14, 2017

Report: Texas Republicans among top spenders in Congress at Trump properties

Three Texas Republicans are among the 11 politicians who spent the most in campaign-related funds at President Donald Trump’s privately owned properties over the past year, according to a Washington Post report Tuesday. And one Texan — U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington — has spent more at Trump-branded properties than any national Republican official other than Trump himself. Arrington spent $16,602 in campaign funds on a January reception at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel for more than 100 supporters, the most expensive campaign event held by another GOP politician at the Trump hotel, the Post reported. A spokeswoman for the Lubbock Republican told the Post the hotel “happened to offer the best combination of size, price point, along with a convenient and historic location.”

Texas Tribune - November 15, 2017

Texas' homeless youth slip through cracks of disjointed support system, new report says

Gage Kemp was 17 when he first became homeless. “The home I grew up in, there was a lot of drug abuse and violence, and I got bullied a lot,” Kemp said. “My parents were on hard drugs, and my dad told me to get out. It was in that moment I realized I was free, in a sense.” Over the next several years, Kemp spent his days in Dallas hitchhiking and finding work while spending nights on streets or under bridges — relying on the charity of others for food and supplies.

Texas Tribune - November 14, 2017

Texas leaders call for reviews of Capitol sexual harassment policies

Texas leaders are calling for a review of sexual harassment policies at the state Legislature following a Texas Tribune story detailing how current procedures offered little protection for victims. Lawmakers in both chambers on Tuesday said they would look at how to improve the process for reporting sexual harassment at the Capitol. The push follows reports on a wide range of harassment at the Capitol, including degrading comments and gestures, groping and unwanted sexual advances, that regularly goes unchecked.

Texas Tribune - November 14, 2017

Harvey-affected superintendents want Texas to waive school ratings

Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers described a common scene since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas: teachers glued to their cellphones in hallways outside classrooms of students, working through insurance claims for flooded homes. Staff and students, all suffering from post-traumatic stress, engaged in "cussing matches." That probably means students' grades and state test scores will take a hit.

San Antonio Express-News - November 14, 2017

Wendy Davis says it would take a ‘lobotomy’ for her to run for governor in 2018

Wendy Davis slammed the door on the idea that she might make another run for governor in 2018 in an interview Tuesday with the San Antonio Express-News. She earlier had offered a slight chance she might run again, saying she would rule it out “99 percent” but not entirely since no other major Democratic candidate has stepped forward. MOST POPULAR Emma Koehler, holds the first bottle of beer produced by Pearl Brewery after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Beside her is general manager B.B. McGimsey. For more than 25 years, Emma Koehler was one of the most powerful businesswomen in Texas. The true little-known story of the three Emmas of San... Tricentennial CEO Edward Benavides cited ‘negativity’ surrounding the celebration in his resignation. He will be reassigned to another position in the city government. Benavides flubbed more than one contract Certain San Antonio residents — those near Westover Hills and around West End Park on the near West Side — can now sign up for Google Fiber. First Google Fiber offerings arrive in S.A. San Angelo Central quarterback Maverick McIvor throws a pass against Midland High on Nov. 3, 2017, at Grande Communications Stadium. Son of legendary UT QB now making his mark Janet Trevino and her client Amanda Gomez see each other on a regular basis. Janet is a professional platonic touch specialist, one of San Antonio's most notable "professional cuddlers." This is S.A.: A Healing Touch Davis followed that up last week by saying it would take “a brainwash, maybe,” for her to run. On Tuesday, she told the Express-News, “I probably should have said it might take a lobotomy.”

San Antonio Express-News - November 12, 2017

Despite popular stereotype, Texas isn’t the Wild West

Long steeped in Wild West lore, Texas often evokes images of horses clip-clopping down city streets and residents with guns strapped on their hips as they go about their daily business. But the Lone Star State was among the first to bar residents from carrying handguns in public — that was back in 1871. It was one of the strictest prohibitions at the time and would remain in place for more than a century. Even now, as state lawmakers continue to steadily remove gun restrictions, Texas doesn’t allow permitless carry, which is allowed in at least 10 other states.

Houston Chronicle - November 14, 2017

Byrne: Why are our ballots so poorly designed?

In Los Angeles County – the most populous county in the U.S. – the county clerk came to the conclusion that none of the commercially available systems met the needs of his voters and the county embarked on an ambitious multi-year design process. Information used in the design of L.A. County’s voting system was gathered from many stakeholders. A professional design firm was contracted, with oversight from a technical group made up of experts from many relevant disciplines, including usability, security, election administration and technology policy. While this system is computer-based, the computer produces a paper record that voters can verify before casting their vote. The county clerk in Travis County, Texas – with input from usability experts – is also leading an effort to design a voting system with even more sophisticated security mechanisms.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Asarch: Tax reform bill would stifle affordable housing in Texas

Low-income Texans have been struggling for years to find an affordable place to live, a struggle intensified by the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, and we must devote every resource we have to changing that trend. On top of that, we must ensure that the post-Harvey recovery push is not left without the sources of capital necessary to finance the rebuilding effort. Congress simply cannot brush these issues aside. They are far too important. The tax-exempt Private Activity Bond program is one of the most effective tools that we have for financing new affordable housing. Unfortunately, while debate over tax reform generally has been focused on corporate and individual tax rates, the House of Representative bill is set to kill this critical program, which would put the future of affordable housing construction in Texas and across the nation at risk and unintentionally but severely harm efforts to repair and rebuild the homes of Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Texas Observer - November 15, 2017

A ‘Blue Wave’ with No One to Ride It: Will a Big-Name Democrat Run in Texas?

With a massively unpopular Republican in the White House, Texas GOP elected officials cracking down on immigrants and a progressive election sweep in Virginia and New Jersey last week, the Texas Democratic Party is predicting “the beginnings of a blue wave.” But it’s hard to win elections without exciting candidates, especially at the top of the ballot, and political observers and even high-profile Texas Democrats — who themselves aren’t running — are skeptical of the statewide slate so far. “It has been a tough cycle to recruit candidates,” said former housing secretary Julián Castro at a panel hosted by Voto Latino earlier this month.

Texas Observer - November 14, 2017

Hooks: Greg Abbott Declares War on Moderate Republicans

In the latest episode of Texas Politics, God’s dumbest reality show, Governor Greg Abbott celebrated the beginning of Republican primary season by going to war — against a popular incumbent lawmaker in his own party, in a district that Hillary Clinton won by 15 points. On Monday morning, Abbott issued a fatwa of sorts, calling for the replacement of state Representative Sarah Davis, a moderate pro-choice Republican, with primary challenger Susanna Dokupil, a right-wing lawyer and board member of the Seasteading Institute, which exists to build libertarian cruise ships and permanently station them in international waters, free from the laws of man.

County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 14, 2017

Williamson commissioners vote no on plaque about slavery

Williamson County commissioners voted Tuesday against submitting an application to the state for a plaque mentioning slavery to be placed next to a Confederate statue. Some of the commissioners, however, said they would consider other proposals, including a statue honoring the Civil Rights era. “There needs to be a conversation and exploring what else can be done,” Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis said before the vote.

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

One in five Dallas-area children live in poverty, report finds

One in five children in North Texas lives in poverty, with more than 260,000 kids in the area considered food insecure, according to a biennial study released Tuesday from Children’s Health and the University of Texas-Dallas. A 97-page report — ‘Beyond ABC’ — offered a comprehensive look at the well-being of children in Dallas County and its five northern neighbors: Collin, Cooke, Denton, Grayson and Fannin counties. "The challenges aren't going away,"said Timothy Bray, the director of the Institute of Urban Policy Research at UT-Dallas, and one of the authors of the report.

Washington Post - November 15, 2017

'Who are they gonna believe you or me?’: Texas prosecutor fired after drunken Uber tirade

In what is probably Exhibit A for a one-star passenger rating, a Dallas assistant district attorney was fired after she drunkenly insulted and threatened an Uber driver, then said police officers the driver summoned would believe her side of the story and “f— you up.” In a flash, Jody Warner’s intoxicated tirade — recorded by the driver and shared widely — made the Dallas prosecutor the latest example of someone with a very public job who was suddenly humbled after demeaning a blue-collar worker. Warner had worked for the Dallas County district attorney’s office for the past six years as a prosecutor in the crimes against children unit.

City Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Texas State suspends all fraternity, sorority activities following pledge's death

A Texas State University student died after being found unresponsive Monday — the morning after his fraternity initiation — and on Tuesday the school suspended all Greek activities. Matthew Ellis, 20, a sophomore from Humble, wasn't breathing when officers arrived at an apartment 2 miles from the San Marcos campus around 11:30 a.m. Monday. He was pronounced dead about an hour later. According to The University Star, the college's student newspaper, Ellis had been initiated into the campus chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity the previous night.

National Stories

New York Times - November 15, 2017

Senate Plans to End Obamacare Mandate in Revised Tax Proposal

Senate Republicans have decided to include the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most people have health insurance into the sprawling tax rewrite, merging the fight over health care with the high-stakes effort to cut taxes. They also have made a calculated gamble to help speed their bill to passage on a party-line vote: Republicans revealed late Tuesday they would set all of their tax cuts for individuals to expire at the end of 2025, to comply with a procedural requirement. Their deep cut in the corporate tax rate would remain permanent.

Houston Chronicle - November 14, 2017

Business groups pessimistic that new talks can save NAFTA

U.S. business groups are pinballing between despair and panic as negotiations over a new North American Free Trade Agreement resume, with the Trump administration's hard-line demands risking a worsening standoff and perhaps the eventual collapse of the talks. Corporate concerns were only inflamed by President Donald Trump's Asia trip, which showcased his "America first" trade policy and left the United States isolated as 11 other nations agreed to new trade liberalization measures. On the eve of this week's NAFTA talks, the fifth of seven scheduled rounds, the uncompromising U.S. stance now risks scuppering a 23-year-old treaty that helped knit together a colossal continental economy, business groups said.

Texas Tribune - November 14, 2017

A "glitch" on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's website asked for visitors' Social Security numbers

An error on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's website last night required constituents to submit their Social Security number when filling out the comments box on the website. Normally, Cornyn's website only requires people to submit their Social Security numbers when they are requesting help with a federal agency. The error last night required it, along with their name, address and contact information, even when leaving the Texas Republican a comment. A spokesperson for Cornyn said the required field was a "glitch."

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Trump picks immigration hardliner Tom Homan as ICE director

President Donald Trump on Tuesday named immigration hardliner Tom Homan, who has served nearly 10 months as acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to run ICE on a permanent basis. Homan has run the agency since Obama appointee Sarah Saldaña — the former U.S. attorney in Dallas — stepped down when Trump took office in January. He has been a public face of the administration's crackdowns on immigrants and border security, a tough-talking law enforcement careerist who is unapologetic about being "heartless" when it comes to deporting even the most sympathetic longtime U.S. residents.

Houston Chronicle - November 15, 2017

Republican tax plan grapples with winners and losers

Asked to define the "middle class," Texas U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, the top tax-writer in Congress, told reporters recently that there is no precise answer because much of it depends on where you live. The landmark GOP tax bill headed for a House vote Thursday reflects that nebulous and hyper-local calculus. It would distribute promised middle-class tax relief unevenly among different states and even zip codes. Those regional disparities – based largely on how communities handle state and local sales taxes – account for much of the political friction over Brady's tax plan.

The Hill - November 14, 2017

Air Force faces serious 2,000-pilot shortage

Top Air Force leaders and lawmakers are warning that a pilot shortage of 2,000 could cripple the service, leaving it unready to handle its responsibilities. “With 2,000 pilots short, it’ll break the force. It’ll break it,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Thursday during the annual State of the Air Force news conference. The Air Force needs 20,000 pilots minimum to fly its wide range of aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters, transport planes, support attack planes and cargo aircraft. At the start of the year, it said it had 18,500 pilots, well short of its minimum.

The Hill - November 13, 2017

Norpoth: The Democratic sweep of 2017 is by no means a catastrophe for Trump

The answers come from exit polls. Asked about their opinion of Donald Trump as president, Virginia voters this year split 40 percent to 57 percent between approval and disapproval. One could call it a repudiation. But what was the opinion about Trump in Virginia last year on Election Day? It turns out to be a 37 percent to 61 percent split between favorable and unfavorable. Quite a repudiation, too. But no change for the worse in voter opinion about Trump in Virginia. It is hard to see the vote in Virginia as signaling a growing backlash against Trump.

New York Times - November 13, 2017

House and Senate Are ‘Among the Worst’ for Harassment, Representative Says

A senior Senate staff member is accused of trying to tug open a junior aide’s wrap dress at a bar; she said he asked why she was “holding out.” A former aide says a congressman grabbed her backside, then winked as he walked away. A district worker said a House member told her to twirl in a dress for him, then gave her a bonus when he liked what he saw. As the nation at large deals with lurid stories of sexual harassment, Congress is only beginning to grapple with tales of sexual aggression that have long been fixtures of work life on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, the Committee on House Administration will convene a hearing on harassment in Congress, putting the halls of the Capitol under scrutiny alongside the hotels of Hollywood, the kitchens of New Orleans, the board rooms of Silicon Valley and the suites of New York’s media giants.

Wall St. Journal - November 14, 2017

Senators Support Rollback of Bank Oversight

Dozens of banks received the biggest signal yet that they may soon be freed from some of the most onerous rules put in place after the financial crisis, as lawmakers from both parties agreed to a plan that would enact sweeping changes to current law. The bipartisan Senate agreement released Monday would relieve small and regional lenders from a number of restrictions meant to limit the damage firms could cause to the economy in the event of another crisis. In what would be the biggest step to ease the financial rule book since Republicans took control of Washington, the proposal could cut to 12 from 38 the number of banks subject to heightened Federal Reserve oversight by raising a key regulatory threshold to $250 billion in assets from $50 billion.

Medical Xpress - November 13, 2017

Left-brained: Study suggests conservative Democrats don't compute for liberal voters

Political partisans would like you to believe voters' heads will explode if faced with candidates crossing party lines on key policies - a Democrat who opposes abortion, say, or a Republican who supports gun control. In a new study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers found that self-identified liberals were more likely to notice when candidates deviated from the party line. Liberals also tended to take longer to react to inconsistent positions from Democrats. And in the majority of instances, they evaluated those inconsistent positions as "bad."

Dallas Morning News - November 14, 2017

Trump budget chief unfazed by Cornyn's job freeze aimed at boosting Harvey funds

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney is shrugging off a pressure tactic by Sen. John Cornyn aimed at prodding the administration to send more storm relief funds to Texas, indicating Tuesday that he's in no hurry to get a deputy confirmed. "I don't feel squeezed by the senator. The senator and I have a great working relationship," he said. Nearly a month has passed since Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate leader, began blocking the nomination of Russell Vought as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. One reason for Mulvaney's patience: Vought is already serving as a senior adviser, an arrangement that government watchdog groups have questioned.

Texas Public Radio - November 5, 2017

There's An Immigration Gap In How Latinos Perceive Discrimination

Valery Pozo still gets angry thinking about it. It was about a decade ago, and the immigrant communities in her hometown, Salt Lake City, were on edge because of recent immigration enforcement raids in the area. Pozo's mother, an immigrant from Peru, was on the sidelines at her son's soccer game when another parent asked whether she was "illegal." "To me, that was clearly a racist question and a racist assumption," Pozo recalled. ... A survey conducted by NPR, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that Latinos born in the U.S. — those like Pozo — were nearly twice as likely as immigrant Latinos — those like her mother — to say that someone had used a racial slur against them or had made negative assumptions or comments toward them because of their race or ethnicity.

Politico - November 14, 2017

House passes flood insurance renewal in wake of massive storms

House Republicans overcame bipartisan opposition Tuesday to pass a bill that would reauthorize and overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program, which has strained to pay out billions of dollars to policyholders after this year's run of devastating hurricanes. The House passed the bill in a 237-189 vote following months of debate and dealmaking over how much to scale back the primary tool that millions of homeowners rely on to protect themselves from the financial risks of flooding.

Politico - November 14, 2017

How Roy Moore’s Misdeeds Are Forcing an Awakening on the Left

Are liberals having a moral awakening? Watching the political contortions of Republicans to defend a candidate accused of sexually molesting teenage girls, Democrats and liberal pundits are reckoning publicly with their own history of fervid rationalizations on behalf of a recent president. But this should be just the beginning of a painful re-examination. This new consciousness was glimpsed first in a tweet from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, a commentator of stoutly progressive persuasion. “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right's ‘what about Bill Clinton’ stuff is,” he wrote, “it's also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

Washington Post - November 14, 2017

We have some questions about this flowchart, Rep. Gohmert

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, answering questions about his duties as head of the Justice Department (from Republicans) and his interactions with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign (from Democrats). One member of the former group, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), brought a visual aid. His goal was to press Sessions into agreeing to investigate questions surrounding the sale of Uranium One, a mining company, to Russia’s nuclear energy agency — an issue that arose during the 2016 campaign and has regained traction as a conservative counterweight to the Russia question.

Washington Post - November 14, 2017

‘It’s grotesque’: Justice Dept. veterans recoil at idea of another special counsel

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s public suggestion that he may appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton has alarmed current and former Justice Department officials who fear he will further politicize the embattled agency. Sessions said at a congressional hearing Tuesday that he will weigh recommendations from senior prosecutors on whether to appoint a special counsel over a 2010 uranium company deal and other issues, including donations to the Clinton Foundation. Such an appointment could give President Trump and Republicans a political counterweight to the ongoing work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is probing whether any Trump associates coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in last year’s presidential election.