Vol 30, Issue 40 Print Issue

Adan Gallegos relies on his service dog, Bootz, to cope with the effects of war. The duo helped to inspire legislation that come Jan. 1 will have state law more closely mirror federal ADA guidelines.
Adan Gallegos relies on his service dog, Bootz, to cope with the effects of war. The duo helped to inspire legislation that come Jan. 1 will have state law more closely mirror federal ADA guidelines.

Texas Businesses Prep for New Service Dog Regulations

Business leaders say they support the changes that will make state law more closely mirror federal guidelines, but see the legislation as “just one more thing that big government is telling business owners that they have to do.”

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Records requests that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall filed with the University of Texas at Austin were the subject of hours of testimony during a legislative committee hearing this week, as witnesses discussed the volume and legality of the requests, as well as the motivation behind the requests. The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations is mulling whether to file articles of impeachment against Hall, in part for the strain that he is accused of putting on UT-Austin’s staff. Barry Burgdorf, the former vice chancellor and general counsel for the University of Texas System, told the panel that some system regents' "clear intent" was to "get rid of" Bill Powers, the president of the University of Texas at Austin.

The state’s top Democratic donor, trial lawyer Steve Mostyn, is spearheading a new group of like-minded attorneys who want to shake up politics — and the storied Texas Trial Lawyers Association along with it. He and two heavy-hitter trial lawyers, Amy Witherite of Dallas and Kurt Arnold of Houston, have formed a new group called the Texas Association of Consumer Lawyers. Mostyn said the group was created in part out of frustration that dues being paid to the Texas Trial Lawyers Association are financing way too much overhead — leaving far too little money for campaign spending. 

Gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis are throwing their support behind the constitutional amendment that would fund projects designed to help the state meet its growing need for water. Abbott, the state's attorney general, has not been a vocal advocate of Prop 6 — which must get voter approval to go into effect — but his campaign said he intends to vote for it. So does Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth. Early voting in the constitutional amendment election started Monday and ends Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.

With days remaining until new abortion regulations take effect in Texas, attorneys for abortion providers and the state of Texas presented their final arguments on whether those restrictions meet constitutional muster. “The result is much more obvious to each side than it is to me,” said U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who is presiding over a case in which the abortion providers’ attorneys are seeking to block two of the provisions state lawmakers approved in July. “I recognize the clock is ticking toward October the 29th. I think both sides raised strong issues, and I will get a final judgment out as quickly as I can get a final judgment out.”

A year ago this week, a toll road opened in Central Texas that represented two milestones for the state. While its posted 85 mph speed limit — the highest in the country — drew international headlines, many state and local leaders were more interested in the road’s unique financing: A private consortium designed and built the road and agreed to operate and maintain it for 50 years in exchange for a cut of the toll revenue. But SH 130 has not been the immediate success story its backers had hoped. Last week, lower-than-expected traffic revenue prompted credit ratings firm Moody's Investors Service to severely downgrade the SH 130 Concession Company’s debt and warned that a default may not be far off. 

Political People and their Moves

Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, dropped out of the race for Texas Railroad Commission, saying she will instead run for reelection in HD-102. But her contest got busy while she was out, and three of the contestants quickly let the world know they will remain the race. The RRC contest is crowded too, with former state Reps. Ray Keller, R-North Richland Hills, and Wayne Christian, R-Center; Becky Berger of Schulenburg, a geologist; Malachi Boyuls, a Dallas attorney; Joe Pool Jr. of Austin, an attorney; and Ryan Sitton of Friendswood, an engineer.

Former state Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview, will run for agriculture commissioner. Other Republicans in that contest include former Rep. Sid Miller, Uvalde Mayor J Allen Carnes and Eric Opeila, a lawyer and former staffer at the Texas GOP. On the Democratic side? Kinky Friedman. And there is this: Miller announced that Ted Nugent will be his campaign treasurer.

Linda Vega, an attorney from Houston, announced she will challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the GOP primary.

Judge Carlo Key of Bexar County Court #11, swapped his red flag for a blue one, announcing he is leaving the Republicans for the Democrats.

Glenn Hegar picked up an endorsement from Comptroller Susan Combs in his race to succeed her in that office. Combs decided not to seek another term, or another office.

The Texas Restaurant Association endorsed Greg Abbott for governor.

Pete Geren of Fort Worth and Dr. Cynthia Mulrow of San Antonio to the board of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee. Geren (brother of Charlie, a state rep.) is president of the Sid Richardson Foundation and a former congressman. Mulrow is senior deputy editor of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Deaths: Grant Jones, an Abilene Democrat who served for eight years in the House and 16 in the Senate, where, among other things, he chaired the Finance Committee. He was 90.