Vol 31, Issue 28 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst filled the long-standing vacancy at the head of the Senate Finance Committee, naming Jane Nelson to the post. She is now positioned to be one of the lead budget writers in the 2015 legislative session. She succeeds Tommy Williams, who left in October for a job with Texas A&M University.

The two major-party candidates for governor — Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis — released their latest campaign finance numbers with each claiming historic numbers. Abbott said the $35.6 million sitting in his campaign's account is a record sum for any gubernatorial candidate, while Davis said the $27 million raised by her campaign this election cycle is unmatched by any Democrat.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday — for the second time — that the University of Texas at Ausin may use race as an element of its admissions decisions for candidates not admitted via the state's top 10 percent law. Attorneys for the plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, said they planned to appeal the ruling.

After a lengthy hearing on Wednesday, a co-chair of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations said members were "very close" to reaching a consensus on what to do about UT Regent Wallace Hall.

Voters will decide whether Denton will become the state's first city to ban hydraulic fracturing after the City Council rejected a proposal to ban the method of oil and gas extraction.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

House Speaker Joe Straus named three legislators — Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; John Otto, R-Dayton; and John Zerwas, R-Simonton — to spots on the Legislative Budget Board. They replace three members — Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie; Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville; and Dan Branch, R-Dallas — who will not be returning to the Legislature in January.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst named three senators — Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls; and Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler — to join Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa on the LBB.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is promoting Ranger Wende Wakeman to the rank of lieutenant, which would make her the highest-ranking female in Texas Ranger history. The promotion is effective Aug. 1.

Wesley "Scott" Smith of Murphy was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Texas Funeral Service Commission for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2017.

Perry has appointed 12 members to the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. They are Joe Bontke of Houston (chairman); Marilou Fowler of Katy; Rames Gonzalez Jr. of Palmview; Linda Millstone of Austin; David Ondich of Fort Worth; and Shawn Saladin of Edinburg for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2015. Aaron W. Bangor of Austin; Rodolfo "Rudy" Becerra Jr. of Nacogdoches; Heather Griffith of Fort Worth; Faye Kuo of Austin; Margaret Larsen of Austin; and Marco Trevino of Edinburg for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2016.