The Week in the Rearview Mirror

With record heat taking hold, the state of Texas has to balance encouraging conservation to avoid rolling blackouts this summer and assuring residents and businesses that all is well. The Public Utility Commission is also debating how much reserve power the state should keep: the higher the reserve, the lower the chance of rolling blackouts — but the cost to consumers could amount to hundreds of dollars per year.

The Supreme Court's ruling against most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law created some openings for conservatives otherwise disappointed with the outcome. Gov. Perry’s official statement decried the federal government for depriving the states of their sovereign power. But he said later that the ruling bolsters his resolve to pass legislation banning sanctuary cities, something he was unable to accomplish in the last legislative session.

Texas officials who hoped to circumvent Environmental Protection Agency rules on greenhouse gases were handed a defeat this week by an appeals court in Washington. The three-judge panel validated the agency’s authority to use existing federal law to regulate the gases blamed for global warming. Industry groups and several states challenged the regulations in court, protesting that the rules would hurt businesses and ultimately consumers. But their arguments about the science of the rules got no traction with the court. Environmental groups hailed the ruling.

A Supreme Court ruling on mandatory sentences could impact some Texas prisoners. The high court ruled against mandatory life sentences for juveniles under the age of 18 as a violation of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Texas changed its law in 2009 to prohibit mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for anyone under 17. The one-year age gap allowed 27 people to receive a life without parole sentence. But it’s unclear what the state will do to address the provisions of the ruling. Gov. Rick Perry’s office is working with state legal and justice officials to determine what the state will do with the affected individuals.

Law enforcement officials in the coastal town of Portland are trying to determine whether the shooting of a lesbian couple in a public park was motivated by their relationship. One of the girls was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other was hospitalized for her injuries. Investigators hope she will be able to provide information about the attacker.

Texas A&M announced plans to expand its footprint with the addition of a law school in downtown Fort Worth. The system will pay Texas Wesleyan about $25 million for its law school, which will be renamed the Texas A&M School of Law at Texas Wesleyan University. The proposal still needs to be finalized, but if it is approved in its current form, the handover would happen in June 2013.

A proposed rule requiring more extensive questioning of women seeking abortions has drawn the attention of some Democratic senators. In its original form, the rule was House Bill 1602, which failed to even get out of committee during the 2011 legislative session. Its author, Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, then tried to tack it on to Senate Bill 7 as an amendment on the health reform bill, which did not pass in the session. It’s now being floated as a rule that requires clinics to collect more detailed information about the women it’s serving, including their birth year, race, marital status and level of education. Ten Democratic senators banded together to send a letter of protest to Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs asking him to kill the rule.

Following a call for the El Paso Independent School District to institute stronger internal controls, district trustees are calling for lawmakers to grant stronger investigative powers to the Texas Education Agency. The district has been grappling with former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia’s admission of fraud on state and federal testing, and has been criticized for not having stronger oversight in place. Garcia was investigated by both the internal auditor of the district and the TEA, but the board never saw the auditor’s report — Garcia kept it from them. And the TEA cleared the district in 2010 when it was accused of cheating. Charges against the former superintendent were detailed in the suppressed report.

Councilman Robert Rivera of Arlington has disclosed that he’s been helping the FBI gather evidence against a Grand Prairie man convicted of wire fraud. Halid Amer pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to defraud banks and was due to be sentenced by a Dallas federal judge. Amer approached Rivera and asked for his help in bribing the judge, who is also Hispanic. Amer has now been charged with public corruption in the attempt, and Rivera testified in federal court this week, revealing that he’s been working undercover with FBI agents seeking to charge Amer in the bribery scheme.