Vol 30, Issue 33 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Before a crowd of hundreds at City Hall, the San Antonio City Council adopted a controversial ordinance aimed at preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. San Antonio had been one of the only major Texas cities that did not offer protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston all have similar policies in place. The ordinance, which goes into effect immediately, prevents local businesses from discriminating against LGBT people. Before the ordinance, proponents claimed, they could be kicked out at a business owner’s discretion.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told congressional leaders in a letter that the Obama administration would no longer enforce a law banning same-sex spouses of veterans from receiving military benefits. He said the Justice Department had chosen to extend the Supreme Court's rationale in its decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act to Title 38, the public law that governs veterans' benefits, calling the definition of marriage in both cases "substantively identical." The news a very different announcement by the Texas National Guard that it will not provide benefits for same-sex couples. Maj. Gen. John Nichols, adjutant general of Texas Military Forces, a state agency, said in a memo that the Texas National Guard was prohibited from enrolling same-sex families in its benefits program at state-supported facilities, citing the state Constitution's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Nichols encouraged couples affected by the policy to request benefits at one of Texas' federal installations instead.

As Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature shot down efforts this year to boost fees statewide for transportation, they also granted exceptions to three Texas counties. Under two bills that passed with little debate, Bexar, El Paso and Webb counties were given the authority to raise their vehicle registration fees by $10, with the extra revenue going toward local transportation projects. Drivers in those three counties will start paying the higher fee starting Jan. 1. The total cost of registration in the three counties will rise from around $65 to $75.

In addition to their regular mid-year reports, Texas officeholders and candidates have to report money they raise during special legislative sessions, like the three this summer. Now that the third of those reports are available, the Texas Tribune has combined disclosures in our analyzer for all three sessions to show you what statewide candidates and officeholders were doing while the Legislature was in special session. These cover contributions from May 27 to Aug. 25, broken down by biggest donors, donor location, by size of donation and by the dates the money came in. 

Wallace Jefferson, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court and a member of that court since 2001, will resign at the end of this month. Jefferson, the first African-American to lead the court, was an appellate lawyer in San Antonio before Gov. Perry appointed him in 2001. Perry named him chief justice nine years ago this month. Jefferson hasn’t said what he will do next, but said he won’t seek elected office. And the governor hasn’t said who he will appoint to replace the judge.

Political People and their Moves

Rep. Dan Branch picked up endorsements for his attorney general bid from former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips and former Justices Craig Enoch, Harriet O’Neill and Alberto Gonzales

Marissa Patton joins the Austin legislative staff of the Texas Farm Bureau after stints with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Christina Wisdom joins the government affairs group at Gardere Wynn Sewell after several years as veep and general counsel at the Texas Chemical Council.

Joe Peters will head the Driver License Division at the Department of Public Safety. He first started as a state trooper in 1968, retired in 1998 and came back in 2012.

Ann Beeson started as the new executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities this week, replacing Scott McCown, who resigned earlier this year to take a teaching post at the University of Texas law school. Beeson is an attorney most recently posted at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas. She was previously executive director of U.S. programs at the Open Society Foundations and a lawyer in the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed:

Ada Brown of Plano as justice on the 5th Court of Appeals. Brown is a lawyer with McKool Smith, and a former judge and prosecutor.

John Crain of Dallas and Gilbert “Pete” Peterson III of Alpine to the Texas Historical Commission. Crain is president of the Summerlee Foundation. Petterson is an exec at West Texas National Bank. Both are being reappointed.

J. Winston Krause of Austin to chair the Texas Lottery Commission. He’s a lawyer with Krause and Associates.

Deaths: Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson, during his first year in office and just three months after he announced he was fighting cancer. He was 57.