Vol 33, Issue 9 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The newly elected chair of the Republican Party in Travis County, Robert Morrow, spent most of election night tweeting about former Gov. Rick Perry’s sexual orientation and former President Bill Clinton’s penis. Members of the Travis County GOP are split about their feelings toward the controversial incoming chairman — some are pledging mutiny, while others embrace him as an agent of change.

Two of the closest races in Tuesday’s Texas Republican primary may not be over yet. State Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, is requesting a recount after she lost her re-election bid to Hugh Shine by 118 votes. In Senate District 1, state Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, fell short of the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff. State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, is in the runoff but by just 13 votes over third-place finisher Red Brown.

More voters chose Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Hillary Clinton than their leading primary challengers in almost every county in Texas, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State.

During oral arguments Wednesday in a case challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ abortion restrictions, U.S. Supreme Court justices focused on what role the rules played in closing dozens of clinics, and probed the state’s justifications for the law.

Republican Mary Lou Bruner, who once claimed President Barack Obama used to be a gay prostitute, appears to be headed for a May 24 primary runoff against Lufkin school board president Keven Ellis in the race to represent District 9 on the State Board of Education.

House Speaker Joe Straus sailed to victory in his re-election bid and he avoided a significant net loss in fights between hard right conservatives and his lieutenants elsewhere in the state.

The University of Texas at Austin and all seven other schools in the University of Texas System won approval to increase tuition Monday, a move that will eventually tack on between $148 and $361 to the cost of students' schooling each semester. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from Texas and 19 other states to block a landmark federal rule requiring power plants to slashes emissions of mercury, acid gases and other toxic metals emissions.

A private company that operates part of the Texas toll road with the highest speed limit in the country filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, fewer than three years after the section of the road it oversees first opened.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin 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 three appointments — Kenneth Bateman of Richardson, Rachel Logue of The Hills and Evelyn Husband Thompson of Abilene — to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists for terms to expire on Feb. 1, 2021. He also named Jennifer Smothermon of Abilene as the board’s presiding officer.

Abbott on Monday made two new appointments — Shawn Sparrow of Beaumont and David L. Meaux of Orange — and two reappointments —James M. Scott of Beaumont and Brad Taylor of Orange — to the Jefferson and Orange County Board of Pilot Commissioners. They were named for terms to expire Aug. 22, 2017, with the exception of Meaux, whose term expires Aug. 22, 2016.

Abbott named Guy “Tony” Fidelie, Jr., of Wichita Falls to the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Grant Program Advisory Board for a term to expire June 19, 2017.

Abbott made four appointments to the Texas Diabetes Council on Wednesday, naming Joan Colgin of Dallas, Aida “Letty” Moreno-Brown of El Paso and William “David” Sanders of Dallas to the board and designating Kathy Ann LaCivita of San Antonio as the board’s chair. They were all named to terms set to expire Feb. 1, 2021.

Clyde Siebman of Pottsboro was reappointed presiding officer of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority by Gov. Greg Abbott for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2018.

Abbott also appointed Rad Weaver of San Antonio presiding officer of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2018. Weaver, CEO of McCombs Partners, is chairman elect of the San Antonio Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, have been given awards for Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform in 2015 from the D.C.-based Tax Foundation. They were highlighted for their work to reform the business margins tax.

Longtime Abbott staffer Stacey Napier has been named the next executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources. Napier is currently the director of administration at the Office of the Governor. She held an equivalent position at the Office of the Attorney General before that.

Association of Electric Companies of Texas President and CEO Julia Rathgeber announced on Wednesday the hiring of two new policy directors: former Joe Straus policy adviser Erika Akpan and former Charles Perry Chief of Staff Scott Hutchinson.

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