Vol 31, Issue 29 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Gov. Rick Perry followed through on his threat to do something about border security, activating up to 1,000 National Guard troops. He said the Guard, which has strict limitations on what it can do in a law enforcement capacity, would serve as a "force multiplier" to state troopers already at the border as part of a surge operation. The federal government has plans to review Perry's action.

Perry's Guard announcement had one immediate impact: a planned binational border governors conference will be scaled back to only a dinner with the elected officials.

Two conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts cast some doubt on whether the federal government will be able to subsidize health care coverage purchased through the federally-run exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. Texas could be impacted because the state never set up an exchange but things will remain as is until the matter is settled by the courts.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams told federal education officials the state would take an additional year to pilot a new teacher evaluation system based in part on student standardized test performance.

A new study concluded that abortions in Texas decreased by about 13 percent statewide and 21 percent in the Lower Rio Grande Valley after strict abortion regulations went into effect last November.

The Texas Ethics Commission has ordered Michael Quinn Sullivan, leader of the conservative advocacy group Empower Texans, to pay a $10,000 fine for failing to register as a lobbyist in 2010 and 2011. The ruling will be appealed in state district court and a final decision is not likely for a long time.

Two years after a national polling consortium opted to scale back its survey of Texas voters, the group plans to increase its exit polling in the state during this year's November elections.

Political People and their Moves

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst appointed three new Senate committee chairmen:

•    State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, was named chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. He succeeds Jane Nelson, who was chosen to lead the Finance Committee.

•    State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, was named chairman of the State Affairs Committee. He continues as chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

•    State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, was named chairman of the Business & Commerce Committee. He continues as chairman of the Senate Administration Committee.

House Speaker Joe Straus appointed five members to a new legislative committee set up to review the Texas Lottery and Lottery Commission. Those members are: John Kuempel, R-Seguin (co-chairman); Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake; Garnet Coleman, D-Houston; Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land; and Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston.

Straus named 11 members to a newly created select committee that will focus on health care education and training. They are: Susan King, R-Abilene (chair); Cecil Bell, Jr., R-Magnolia; Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches; Garnet Coleman, D-Houston; Myra Crownover, R-Denton; Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen; Donna Howard, D-Austin; Joe Moody, D-El Paso; Chris Paddie, R-Marshall; John Raney, R-Bryan; and Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio.

Taylor Coffey joined the Texas Hospital Association as the group's vice president for federal affairs. She comes from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission where she was a federal affairs liaison.

Deaths: Phil Cates, a Democratic state representative who represented Shamrock from 1971 to 1979. After his legislative career, he lobbied for Tenneco and the Texas Association of Business. Most recently, he opened and ran his own lobby firm, Texas Stakeholders. He was 67.

Disclosure: The Texas Hospital Association and the Texas Association of Business are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.