Vol 33, Issue 33 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Texas is appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of its lawsuit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement agency over the placement of Syrian refugees in the state.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump lost a key Hispanic supporter in Texas after his speech Wednesday night on immigration. Houston immigration lawyer Jacob Monty said early Thursday morning that he had decided not only to resign from Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council but also to stop raising money for the nominee in Texas.

Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will try to convince a federal judge on Friday to throw out the federal civil fraud case filed against him for allegedly misleading investors in a technology startup.

Texas on Wednesday kicked off a voter education campaign ahead of the November elections. The state is required to spend $2.5 million to educate voters about its voter ID requirements. In March’s presidential primaries, Texas saw a record number of voters. Despite this, the state's turnout of voting-age residents — 21.5 percent — lagged behind that of many other states.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has listed several ideas for the University of Texas at Austin to make its campus safer. The proposals are in response to the slaying last year of a student, whose body was found on campus.

Within a decade, Texas will lead the nation in sicknesses linked to ozone-forming pollutants from oil and gas activity, according to a new analysis from a pair of environmental groups released Wednesday.

With the likely election of a new Democratic sheriff in November, Austin is poised to become the first true “sanctuary city” in GOP-ruled Texas if Travis County stops cooperating with federal immigration policies. Such a move would defy not just Republican orthodoxy but also the Obama administration’s policy on deporting criminal immigrants.

As Texas lawmakers consider filing legislation next year related to ride-hailing companies, they learned Tuesday that more than 30 states have passed laws calling for some level of regulation of companies like Uber and Lyft.

Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Waller County over its ban on guns at its courthouse. The suit was filed Monday afternoon in district court in Travis County. The state argues that an exemption in the law does not apply to the courthouse in Waller County, northwest of Houston, because the building has non-judicial areas, such as the county clerk's office.

Former Gov. Rick Perry will appear on the upcoming season of "Dancing With the Stars," explaining that he's going on the show to promote veterans’ awareness and to learn to dance ahead of his daughter’s fall nuptials.

Texas has deemed an increasing number of schools as property-wealthy, requiring them to give up a share of their local tax dollars to help buoy poorer districts. The frustration is particularly rife in the state’s largest school district, Houston, which is making its first-ever “recapture” payment this year because the state now considers it too property-wealthy.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday called for a review of its current policy of detaining undocumented immigrants in private, for-profit facilities — several of which are in Texas.

A state representative who has passed legislation aimed at reeling in Texas’ standardized testing regime is calling on the state to ditch required STAAR exams while it “tries to iron out STAAR’s many kinks.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, Uber and Lyft have been financial supporters 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 to a business promotion fund. He named Clement Marcus of El Paso, Kelli Frias of Lubbock and Jimmy Mize of Nacogdoches to the Product Development and Small Business Incubator (PDSBI) Board for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021.

Abbott also appointed Joe Martino of Marshall, Greg New of Waxahachie and Steve Squier of Cleveland to the Texas Crime Stoppers Council for terms set to expire on Sept. 1, 2020.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced three new hires last Friday:

•    Kelly Garcia was named director of government and stakeholder relations where she will serve as liaison between the state agency and elected officials and their staff.
•    Carrie Williams was named the system's chief press officer. Previously the director of media relations at the Department of State Health Services, she was the public face of the response to appearances in Texas of Ebola, H1N1, West Nile virus and, most recently, Zika.
•    Molly Czepiel, who previously held the position for which Garcia has been hired, was named associate commissioner for policy and performance.

Victoria Neave, the Democratic challenger to state Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, in HD-107, announced Tuesday an endorsement from the Texas State Teachers Association.

George Gooch has been named CEO of the Texas Health Services Authority. The organization coordinates implementation of health information exchange in Texas. He’s served as CEO on an interim basis since April.

After nearly 10 years at the Texas Education Agency, serving in various roles and most recently as chief deputy commissioner, Lizzette González Reynolds has gone to work for Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) as vice president of policy. She will remain in Austin and commute to D.C.

The Texas AFL-CIO has hired Mark Maldonado as its first digital strategist. He worked previously for the Texas State Teachers Association. In his new job, Maldonado will be responsible for expanding the labor federation’s use of social media in its communications with its members and with the public.

The Fast Growth School Coalition has named former Humble ISD Superintendent Guy Sconzo as its new executive director. Sconzo, who retired from the Humble school district in May, starts his new job Sept. 1. He takes over for Michelle Smith, who served as executive director of the fast growth schools advocacy group for five years. She is moving to HillCo Partners, according to the FGSC, where she will still work on issues important to those school districts.

Uber has hired Beth Huddleston as its new general manager for its operations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as well as North and West Texas. She previously worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Company in Atlanta. She takes over for Leandre Johns who will now handle external affairs for Uber’s Texas operations.

Bobby Bowling of El Paso was elected by the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers to be its next president of the board of directors. He is president of Tropicana Building Company of El Paso and is a past president of the Texas Association of Builders.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities announced the awarding of its Future of Texas honor to Brianna Brown. She currently serves as deputy director of the Texas Organizing Project.

Deaths: Former state Sen. Bill Sims, 84, passed away Monday at his home in San Angelo. He served in the Senate from 1983 until 1997, serving as the chamber's president pro tempore for the 1991 Legislature. He was buried at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Texas State Cemetery. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at San Angelo First United Methodist Church.

Disclosure: The Center for Public Policy Priorities, the Texas State Teachers Association, the Fast Growth School Coalition, HillCo Partners, the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers, the Texas Association of Builders and Uber have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.