The Week in the Rearview Mirror

More than 30 Texas legislators are hoping to cash in on the big Longhorn-Sooner rivalry game this weekend in Dallas, but they're not relying on bookies or their betting prowess. The annual SBC Red River Rivalry football game between the University of Texas and Oklahoma University is a fundraising hotspot for lawmakers in both parties, who can rely on plenty of deep-pocketed donors to be in Dallas for the game-day festivities.

Battleground Texas, the Democratic group trying to make the state politically competitive again, is relocating key staffers to Fort Worth as part of its increasingly energetic drive to help Sen. Wendy Davis in her race for governor. While Battleground has said repeatedly it is focused on resurrecting the moribund Texas Democratic Party over the long term, the moves highlight the extent to which those hopes rest on Davis’ run for governor in the short term.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the GOP front-runner for governor, is getting help from the Republican National Committee to reach Hispanic voters in Texas. At a press conference in Houston, the RNC announced the launch of the Texas Hispanic Engagement Team, a statewide grassroots outreach initiative aimed at wooing Latinos. Jennifer Sevilla Korn, the RNC's deputy political director, said the party's efforts to reach Hispanics would include visits to churches and Hispanic chambers of commerce as well as phone banking in Hispanic communities.

A majority of the candidates running to replace Texas Comptroller Susan Combs say that if elected, they would do what she has said her office cannot: update a key study on the economic impact of illegal immigration. Such an analysis — which hasn’t been conducted since 2006, the year before Combs became comptroller — would serve to inform lawmakers and guide them in their policymaking when the Legislature reconvenes in 2015, said the candidates who are in favor of the new study.

University of Texas scientists who led a study of methane gas emissions say both sides of the fracking debate are misinterpreting the results. The study, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, sought simply to measure how much methane leaks from natural gas production sites immediately following the process of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of gas drilling that has rapidly expanded statewide. But while oil and gas industry supporters have seized on the results to support their view that the technique is safe and has been overregulated, anti-fracking groups have dismissed the study as industry-funded. 

Among the many reforms in the massive education legislation that Congress passed in 2001 was a program that would provide tutoring to children from low-income families. Proponents hailed the program as an academic lifeline that would level the playing field for students trapped in underperforming schools. But after more than a decade and hundreds of millions in federal dollars spent on the initiative, it is difficult to find anyone willing to call the program — or the greater law that enacted it — an unqualified success.