Vol 31, Issue 15 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro traded barbs in a televised debate on Tuesday. The topic ostensibly was immigration, but the exchange touched on other hot-button topics such as abortion.

Lawmakers held a hearing on what can be done a year after the fertilizer explosion in West to avoid a similar disaster in the future. Some potential reforms were put forward, but big changes would be difficult in Texas, where new regulations are viewed skeptically.

A report on alleged wrongdoing by UT System Regent Wallace Hall in handling private student information was referred to Travis County prosecutors. The director of the Public Integrity Unit said he would need a week to determine whether his office would move forward with a case.

The Boats 'N Hoes PAC, the creation of an employee of GOP political consultant Allen Blakemore, was swiftly shut down after news reports surfaced of its formation. Democrats seized on the PAC name, attempting to associate it with GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

A federal judge denied an El Paso abortion clinic temporary relief from a new state requirement that physicians who provide abortions obtain hospital admitting privileges. The abortion provider had claimed the law placed an "undue burden" on women by forcing them to go to New Mexico for the procedure.

Two abortion doctors sued a Dallas hospital, claiming their admitting privileges were revoked after they became the target of anti-abortion protests. The doctors were given back temporarily their admitting privileges with a hearing on the matter scheduled for April 30.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick has been tapped to lead the Republican Party of Texas' Victory 2014 effort. The prime fundraising vehicle for the party, Victory 2014 raises the resources to support the party's get-out-the-vote activities for the fall general election.

Former Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin has been named executive director of the Texas Dental Association. He begins his new job on May 1.

Former state Rep. Aaron Peña was hired on at the Texas Department of Agriculture as assistant general counsel.

Oscar Garza is leaving state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's office for a job with Estrada Hinojosa Investment Bankers. His first day is May 1.

Strategic Public Affairs has hired a new manager, Libbie Krueger, and a new director, Ashley Kaden. Krueger worked in the Minnesota state Senate. Kaden has worked in the office of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus as well as for state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.

Linda Estrada, campus secretary for Donna ISD's Runn Elementary School, was named to the National Education Association's board of directors. Her three-year term begins Sept. 1. Texas has three seats on the NEA's 160-member board.

Texas redistricting expert Michael Li has been hired by the Brennan Center at the NYU Law School. Beginning May 19, he will serve as counsel with responsibility for redistricting projects. He will also work on voting and election law issues. He said he plans to continue his blog on Texas redistricting, although it may change some in scope or presentation.