Vol 31, Issue 3 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The constitutional challenge to the state's school finance system was back in court with arguments over whether the Legislature's restoration of some of the $5.4 billion in cuts from 2011 were enough to satisfy school districts' demands. The court heard testimony first from school finance expert Lynn Moak, who said funding remains inadequate.

The Texas Department of Insurance finalized rules on enhanced training requirements and background checks on health care "navigators." The number of state-required training hours was reduced to 20 hours from an original proposal of 40 hours. A $50 registration fee for each navigator was also eliminated.

The execution of a Mexican national in Texas despite pressure by the Mexican government grabbed headlines. All three GOP candidates for attorney general — Dan Branch, Ken Paxton and Barry Smitherman — later said they supported the decision by Texas officials to go ahead with the execution.

Former death row inmate Anthony Graves, who who spent 18 years behind bars before being exonerated, announced that he was filing a grievance against the man who prosecuted him, alleging prosecutorial misconduct.

Texas' recent designation as one of six test states for a federal project that seeks to expand the use of drones is spotlighting how far apart border lawmakers are on using more unmanned aircraft for border security. Some argue in favor of using drones as alternative to fencing while others worry about the potential to violate Texans' civil liberties.

The Texas comptroller's office will use $5 million appropriated by state legislators to fund university-centered research on three species — freshwater mussels, the spot-tailed earless lizard and the desert massasaugas — at risk of being classified as endangered or threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

An Arizona-based company plans to build a 22-megawatt solar plant in West Texas. When it's up and running — officials say the plant could be online as soon as June — it will rank among the state's largest.

Political People and their Moves

The Texas Association of Realtors released a list of endorsements for these top-of-the-ticket contests:

•    Greg Abbott for governor

•    David Dewhurst for lieutenant governor

•    Glenn Hegar for comptroller

•    George P. Bush for land commissioner

•    Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jeff Brown and Phil Johnson for the state Supreme Court

The Texas Hospital Association released its first round of endorsements, including the following top-of-the-ticket selections:

•    Greg Abbott (R) and Wendy Davis (D) for governor in their respective party primaries

•    David Dewhurst (R) for lieutenant governor in his party primary

•    Dan Branch for attorney general

•    Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jeff Brown, Jeff Boyd and Phil Johnson for Supreme Court

State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, has been endorsed by the gay rights group Equality Texas. The San Antonio Express-News reported she is the first Texas Republican to be given the advocacy group's backing in a primary contest. The HD-134 representative also announced endorsements from the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association.

Mike Hasson was named Americans for Prosperity-Texas' state director, replacing Peggy Venable, who is assuming the role of senior states policy advisor for AFP. Hasson was director of business communications for United Development Funding and also spent time in the Office of the Staff Secretary under President George W. Bush.

Homero Lucero has been named the new senior vice president for government affairs and communications with the Texas Travel Industry Association. As part of his duties in the newly created position, he will head up the group's PAC and grassroots functions.