The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The state’s 2014 primaries will be held in March — using the congressional and legislative maps approved by lawmakers this summer, a federal panel of judges ruled, at the same time rejecting the state’s request to drop legal challenges to the House and congressional maps approved by lawmakers earlier this year. The San Antonio-based judges said they didn't have time to finally settle the legal disputes over the state’s redistricting maps before those elections, which are scheduled for March, but told the state to proceed with those maps until the lawsuits have played out.

Former Texas Attorney General Dan Morales wants the state to reopen the tobacco litigation that ended his public career and landed him in federal prison, saying the state might be entitled to some of the billions of dollars that were awarded to outside attorneys in that case. In a letter to current Attorney General Greg Abbott, Morales said that documents sealed after his conviction and the settlement of the state’s tobacco litigation might contain information that “may well entitle the state to seek the forfeiture of the attorney fees awarded in the Texas tobacco lawsuit.”

Sixteen Democratic state lawmakers have called on the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) to process veteran benefits claims for same-sex spouses. The state representatives sent a letter to Maj. Gen. John Nichols asking him to allow the Texas National Guard to enroll same-sex spouses in its veteran benefits program at state-operated installations. Currently, Texas National Guard members who wish to enroll same-sex spouses must travel to federally operated campuses within the state, which now offer such benefits following a recent directive from the U.S. Department of Defense. Earlier, TXMF requested an opinion from the state attorney general; statutorily, the AG has 120 days to issue an opinion.

Amid fears that systematic cheating on state standardized exams could extend beyond an embattled West Texas district — and doubts about its own ability to investigate allegations of improper practices — the state agency charged with overseeing Texas public schools is stepping up its scrutiny of accountability violations. The Texas Education Agency’s new Office of Complaints, Investigations and School Accountability is slated to open Sept. 30. It was created after the State Auditor’s Office released a highly critical report that concluded the agency had failed to fully review past claims of cheating and lacked a process to adequately address them in the future.

The University of Texas System has hired Hilder & Associates, a Houston-based law firm, as outside counsel to assist in its dealings with the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations. The legislative committee is conducting an investigation and considering filing articles of impeachment against one of the System's regents, Wallace Hall, though its charge is broad enough to allow for the filing of such articles against any of the regents or, for that matter, any gubernatorial appointees.