The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Thousands of illegal immigrants in Texas became eligible this week to apply for “deferred action” under a policy change the Obama administration announced in June. Being accepted would grant them relief from deportation proceedings and allow them to work for two years if they meet certain guidelines. 

State workers scooped up $122 million in overtime last year, according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle. A member of the governor’s protective detail led the pack, earning slightly more in overtime than he got in regular salary; he was one of 40 state employees with more overtime than regular time. And 1,988 earned more than $10,000 in overtime.

Impersonation voting — the kind of fraud that voter ID bills aim to stop — is relatively rare, according to an analysis of more than 2,000 fraud cases over the past 12 years.  News 21, an investigative reporting project, found more fraud in absentee ballots and in voter registration than in any of the other categories, accounting for almost half the cases. And almost half of the cases — 46 percent — ended in acquittals, dropped charges or with no charges filed. 

This one’s back: Small tobacco companies could face a tax hike after the 2013 legislative session if three large tobacco companies get their way. Lawmakers met this week to talk about an extra tax on small tobacco companies to equalize what the big companies call a competitive advantage because of pricing. A similar bill that failed to pass in the last session would have raised $25 million for the state.

Former state lawmaker and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels is fronting a group that wants to build high-speed rail projects in Texas without public funding. Their target, at least for talking purposes, is to open a Houston to Dallas-Fort Worth train in 2020.

In several months, if the plaintiffs in one of the six current school finance lawsuits against the state get their way, a court will order a study to determine what that word — “efficiency” — means in the context of public education. How districts manage the largest strain on their budgets — personnel costs — will be increasingly monitored as the efficiency debate progresses — as will the ways they have coped with the loss of roughly 25,000 employees they shed before the 2011-12 school year, after more than $5 billion in state financing cuts.

In McAllen, reproductive health providers tell stories of women going to pharmacies across the border in Mexico in search of a drug they hope will terminate unwanted pregnancies. But the providers say that the pharmacies, which are largely unregulated, often fail to give proper instructions for the drug, misoprostol, and that it does not always give the women the result they seek.

Austin Sen. Kirk Watson’s Republican opponent, Guy Fielder, dropped out of the race, leaving Libertarian Ryan Dixon to face the Democrat. 

Tom DeLay is now a lobbyist on sex-trafficking issues, according to paperwork he filed in Washington. The former Texas congressman told Roll Call that will probably be his only lobbying client and that he registered out of an abundance of caution.