Vol 30, Issue 15 Print Issue

A Hearing for Water, and Growth for Wind

A landmark water case pitting North Texas against Oklahoma goes to the U.S. Supreme Court next week. The Tarrant Regional Water District, which serves Fort Worth and the surrounding area, has sought more water from Oklahoma, but the Sooner State isn’t selling.


The Week in the Rearview Mirror

A fertilizer plant in West caught fire and then exploded Wednesday night, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens more. The fatalities, according to early reports, included volunteer firefighters who were trying to control a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. plant when it exploded. The plant was located near a nursing home and an apartment complex in the community north of Waco.

Kim Lene Williams, in a confession to officials in Kaufman County, said her husband, former Justice of the Peace Eric Lyle Williams, shot and killed two prosecutors and one of their wives, while she drove him to and from the shootings. Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were killed in their home; Mark Hasse was killed in January. Eric Williams had been found guilty of stealing computer monitors after a prosecution by the two men he later killed. 

Three days after Gov. Rick Perry raised the possibility of new revenue streams — including the issuing of 100-year bonds — to fund transportation, members of Texas Tea Parties warned legislators against caving on conservative principles. Perry wasn't finished, though; after the Tea Partiers had their say, he unveiled a four-point, $1.6 billion business tax relief plan that includes an across-the-board rate reduction of the business franchise tax. Perry told lawmakers later in the week that he's not against them tapping the state's Rainy Day Fund so long as they leave $7 billion or so in that account, and also told them he is not opposed to lawmakers breaking the constitutional limit on growth in state spending.

Despite the governor’s continuing opposition to expanding Medicaid, a House panel considered legislation that would expand coverage to poor adults under the Affordable Care Act.  Amid hours of testimony from advocates in support of Medicaid expansion this week, state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, described his proposal for an alternative program to provide health coverage for the poor and uninsured.

After a day of testimony in the Senate Education Committee, comprehensive legislation reducing state standardized tests and restructuring high school graduation requirements has now cleared its first hurdle in the upper chamber. That session included Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, slamming national media coverage that accused lawmakers of "dumbing down" the state's graduation standards.

A troubled cancer-fighting charity paid a tobacco lobbyist to represent its interests in the Legislature, even as it was winding down its operations and facing the wrath of lawmakers. Lobbyist Jay Maguire and the charity’s executive director, Jennifer Stevens, both said they saw no conflict in the arrangement. But some former board members said they were unaware of Maguire’s tobacco ties when he was hired.

Political People and their Moves

Carolina de Onís is the new general counsel for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. She’s a former regulator with 15 years of Wall Street experience; according to the agency.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is sending these five senators into the conference committee on the budget: Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands; Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound; and John Whitmire, D-Houston.

Speaker Joe Straus appointed former U.S. Rep. Pete Geren, D-Fort Worth, to the oversight committee of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Geren is president of the Sid Richardson Foundation and served for eight years at the U.S. Department of Defense. 

Gov. Rick Perry appointed

William Lucas of Center to the Finance Commission of Texas. Lucas is president and COO of Shelby Savings Bank.

Manuel “Manny” Cavazos IV of Austin to chair the Credit Union Commission and named three others to that board, including Allyson “Missy” Morrow of San Benito, Barbara “Kay” Stewart of Daingerfield, and Vik Vad of Austin. Cavazos is a rancher, attorney and CPA. Morrow is CEO of the Harlingen Area Teachers’ Credit Union. Stewart is president and CEO of the North East Texas Credit Union. Vad is a real estate broker and president of Om Capital Management.

Deaths: Dr. Joe Thigpen of Haskell, father of Texas First Lady Anita Perry. He was 92.

Bob Perry, Houston homebuilder and a conservative mega-donor on both the state and federal levels for more than three decades. He was 80.