Vol 33, Issue 15 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz laced into Donald Trump Thursday morning in Maryland for the billionaire's suggestion that North Carolina should back down from a law that says individuals must use the public restroom that corresponds with one’s birth certificate gender.

Thousands of retired Texas state workers are essentially stuck in 2001. Though health care, food and pretty much everything else keep getting more expensive, they haven't seen a cost-of-living increase in their monthly pension checks since Gov. Rick Perry’s first year in office, and their purchasing power has dropped by about 25 percent.

Pro-Ted Cruz forces raised nearly $23 million in March and spent almost as much, showing a presidential effort in full swing as the U.S. senator from Texas navigated the thick of the primary season, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services faces a $40 million budget shortfall, a critical shortage of good homes for foster children and overwhelming caseloads for staff, agency leaders told state lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.

The Texas State Teachers Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to block the state from implementing a controversial system that for the first time ties assessments of educators to student performance on standardized tests for the first time.

After a bruising defeat in New York, Ted Cruz is officially retooling his outlook on how the Republican Party will pick its nominee. The U.S. senator from Texas, once hopeful he could win the nomination without a contested convention, is now conceding a floor fight is his only hope.

Texas has become the top destination for people moving from other states, according to a report from the Office of the State Demographer. Leading the way are Californians, who have come in the largest numbers to Texas in recent years.

Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is being "disingenuous" by claiming in administrative records that her jail declined 11 "detainers" seeking custody of undocumented immigrants. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told the Texas Department of Criminal Justice it is tentatively barred from importing a drug used in executions.

UnitedHealthcare, a major health insurer, will no longer sell insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Texas next year, according to a letter filed with state regulators.

State health officials confirmed Tuesday they have asked the Obama administration to keep a 15-month lifeline of Medicaid money flowing into Texas to help hospitals treat the uninsured — despite the state's refusal to offer subsidized health insurance to the poor.

Nearly one month after Texas regulators approved — with major stipulations — Ray L. Hunt’s plan to buy Oncor and reshape it into a real estate investment trust, the Dallas oilman and his investors want a do-over. The development casts serious doubts over whether investors can close the high-stakes deal.

The Texas state auditor's office has referred its investigation into possible misuse of state workers by state Rep. Dawnna Dukes to Travis County prosecutors, the Austin American-Statesman reported late last week. 

Disclosure: The Texas State Teachers Association, Oncor and UnitedHealthcare are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed three people last week to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists — Bereket Derie of Round Rock and Steven Fleming of Midland, who are both licensed professional geoscientists, and Lindsey Bradford of Edna, owner of The Car Lot and L2 Cattle Company. All three will serve terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021.

Abbott appointed Lesli Ginn of Austin as Chief Administrative Law Judge for the State Office of Administrative Hearings, effective May 1. She has worked in the Texas Attorney General’s Office for a decade, and is currently chief of the financial litigation and charitable trusts division.

Brad Livingston, who's led the Texas Department of Criminal Justice since 2004, plans to retire in August, he announced last Friday. He began at the department in 1997 as deputy director of the financial services division. He was appointed interim executive director for TDCJ in 2004 and formally given the job in 2005.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, announced last week that he was promoting legislative director Lauren Young to chief of staff. Young will replace Mary McClure, who will transition into a new role as district and communications director.

The Texas Hospital Association announced last week it’s hired Sara Gonzalez, formerly chief of staff for state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, as vice president of advocacy and public policy. Prior to her stint with Garcia, Gonzalez worked for state Sens. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

Emerge America, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office across he country, announced last week that former state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth has joined the group’s board.

Railroad Commission runoff candidate Wayne Christian has won endorsements from state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, and state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls.

SD-24 runoff candidate Dawn Buckingham has been endorsed by the Texas Home School Association, Llano County Commissioner Peter Jones and former Bandera County Chair and former SREC member Kim Hesley.

SD-24 runoff candidate Susan King was endorsed by the political arm of the Texas Hospital Association.

HD-54 runoff candidate Scott Cosper has been endorsed by state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, the current occupant of the seat.

HD-139 runoff candidate Kimberly Willis was endorsed by state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

CD-19 runoff candidate Glen Robertson received an endorsement from the Texas Home School Association.

CD-19 runoff candidate Jodey Arrington received an endorsement from former Gov. Rick Perry.

Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler has had his re-election campaign endorsed by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and the Texas Alliance for Life PAC.

Vision America founder Rick Scarborough announced Thursday that he’s endorsing former Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill in his challenge to Mechler for Republican Party of Texas chairman.

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