Vol 33, Issue 10 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah on Thursday announced his support for Ted Cruz for president, giving Cruz his first endorsement from a colleague in the upper chamber. On Wednesday, former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina also announced her support for Cruz's bid for the White House.

The Texas Supreme Court has been asked by an Austin resident, who is supported by Uber, to weigh in on the ballot language for a new measure regulating vehicle-for-hire companies within the city, scheduled to come before voters on May 7.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday to take up the Texas voter ID case, adding another chapter to the law’s convoluted journey through the federal court system.

State Sen. John Whitmire said Thursday afternoon he believes the gun used in the predawn shooting of his Houston area-office was likely an AR-15 assault rifle. He said it's too early to speculate about a motive or possible suspect.

More than 18 years after killing five people with five shots from a hunting rifle, Coy Wayne Wesbrook, 58, was executed Wednesday evening.

After months of speculation that the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin could be canceled this year, organizers say the race is on — and they're bringing in Taylor Swift on race weekend to help shake off the organization’s financial woes.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday night won the the Idaho GOP presidential primary, and placed second to Donald Trump in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii.

He's taking calls from Mitt Romney. Adding Bushes to his finance team. Winning over Lindsey Graham. As he emerges as the chief alternative to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz is experiencing a twist of fate no one could have seen coming a year ago: He is drawing the attention — and support — of a Republican establishment he has built his political career brutalizing.

Texas saw record turnout numbers in last week’s presidential primaries, but it still had one of the lowest voting-age participation rates of the states that have held primaries so far. Even narrowing the analysis to groups who are eligible to vote doesn't improve the state's second-to-last ranking behind Louisiana.

Nearly three years after Texas enacted a law requiring some applicants for unemployment benefits to pass a drug test, the state has yet to test a single applicant, and it remains unclear when the program will get going. Texas and other states are stuck waiting on the federal government to implement rules needed to move forward.

With an escalating culinary battle threatening to destabilize the region, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor met Thursday morning to announce a taco truce in the great Breakfast Taco War of 2016.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — who caused a stir last year by pardoning a cupcake and reversing a longstanding ban on deep fryers and soda machines in schools — pushed back Thursday against those who say his policies encourage kids to eat unhealthily.

Corpus Christi will be the third city Uber has left this year in response to local laws. In February, the company ceased operations in Galveston and Midland after the cities voted to enact background-check requirements.

After a 20-month free fall, West Texas crude prices thudded to a milestone last month — one that could bring some tax relief to small-time producers in Texas, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar said this week. For the first time in 11 years, low prices have triggered a tax exemption for certain wells.

Disclosure: Steve Adler is a major donor and former board chairman of The Texas Tribune. Uber is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday a few appointments to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He named Arcilia Acosta of Dallas for a term to expire Aug. 31, 2019, reappointed Javaid Anwar of Midland for a term to expire Aug. 31, 2021, and named Ricky Raven of Sugar Land and Stuart W. Stedman of Houston to terms to expire Aug. 31, 2021.

Abbott also appointed Warren T. Ayres and Shelley Sweatt, both of Wichita Falls, and reappointed Tiffany Burks of Grand Prairie to the Midwestern State University Board of Regents for terms to expire Feb. 25, 2022.

Abbott made a handful of appointments on Tuesday to the Texas Animal Health Commission. Jim Eggleston of Weatherford and Stephen Selman of Woodway were appointed to terms to expire Sept. 6, 2021, while Leo Vermedahl of Dalhart was named to a term to expire Sept. 6, 2017. Coleman Locke of Hungerford was designated the board’s presiding officer and reappointed to a term to expire Sept. 6, 2021.

Abbott appointed Sandra “Lynn” Criner of Needville and Jessica Quillivan of Magnolia and reappointed Keith Pardue of Austin to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for terms to expire Aug. 26, 2021. He also designated Roland Lenarduzzi of Alvin as the board’s presiding officer.

Abbott announced on Thursday three appointments to Humanities Texas. Laurie Morian of Houston, Ellen K. Ramsey of Midland and Stephanie Tucker of Houston were named to terms to expire Dec. 31, 2017.

Chip Roy resigned this week as First Assistant Attorney General and took over as executive director for Trusted Leadership PAC, a super PAC supporting his former boss, Ted Cruz. Replacing Roy in the AG’s shop is Jeff Mateer, who was general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm.

John Specia Jr. announced last Friday afternoon that he will step down as Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner at the end of May. Specia, who previously served as a family law judge, took over as DFPS commissioner in December 2012.

Former Railroad Commissioner candidate John Greytok said Wednesday that he’s endorsing Wayne Christian in the May 24 Republican runoff for the open seat. Christian squares off against Gary Gates in the contest.

Republican GOP Senate hopeful Bryan Hughes announced an endorsement from Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith in his bid to win the open seat in SD-1.

And Mike Lee, the fourth-place finisher in the open SD-1 GOP contest, has endorsed David Simpson for the May 24 runoff election.

In the SD-24 runoff, outgoing state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, has endorsed his House colleague, Abilene Republican Susan King. Also endorsing King was Jon Cobb, who finished third in the first round of voting.

Former HD-33 candidate Lorne Liechty endorsed Justin Holland for the Republican runoff for the open House seat that represents Rockwall County and portions of Collin County.

Corpus Christi banker R. Scott Heitkamp was elected to serve as the next chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) for 2016-17.

Jim Grace and Jennifer McEwan, formerly of Greenberg Traurig, have formed their own consulting shop, Grace & McEwan Consulting LLC. According to a Monday announcement, Grace will have his office in Houston while McEwan will have her office in Austin. Their new venture will take clients at the federal, state and local levels.

Disclosure: Javaid Anwar is a major donor to The Texas Tribune. Stuart Stedman is a donor to The Texas Tribune. Greenberg Traurig is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.