Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas.
Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas.

Analysis: The Hunt for a Different Spot to House Political Watchdog

Lots of people want to take prosecutions of state officials away from the Travis County district attorney's office. But agreeing on a nonpartisan place to put it is not going to be easy. Almost every possible alternative has political baggage of its own. 

 
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, explains HB627 to the Select Committee on Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility on March 13, 2013.
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, explains HB627 to the Select Committee on Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility on March 13, 2013.

Commissioners OK Betting on Historical Horse Races

UPDATED: The Texas Racing Commission is moving forward with a plan to install machines that simulate historical horseraces at racetracks despite opposition from a Fort Worth lawmaker.

Commissioners OK Betting on Historical Horse Races

State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, explains HB627 to the Select Committee on Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility on March 13, 2013.
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, explains HB627 to the Select Committee on Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility on March 13, 2013.

UPDATED: The Texas Racing Commission is moving forward with a plan to install machines that simulate historical horseraces at racetracks despite opposition from a Fort Worth lawmaker.

 

Secretive Group Launches Pro-Perry Site

Gov. Rick Perry leaves the Blackwell-Thurman Justice Center in Austin after his booking on Aug. 19, 2014.
Gov. Rick Perry leaves the Blackwell-Thurman Justice Center in Austin after his booking on Aug. 19, 2014.

A secretive nonprofit, which until recently has been known solely for its efforts to unseat New York Democrats, has launched an online campaign in support of Gov. Rick Perry in light of his recent legal troubles.

 

Critics Say Bond Elections Lack True Transparency

Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.
Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.

Texas voters approve billions of dollars in new local debt each year. A growing group of critics argues that voters wouldn't be so agreeable if they were more clearly informed of the debt that's already owed in their name.

Davis Draws Praise, Criticism for Education Reform Plans

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, speaks to crowd during a campaign stop at East Austin restaurant Juan in a Million on May 6th, 2014
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, speaks to crowd during a campaign stop at East Austin restaurant Juan in a Million on May 6th, 2014

While receiving praise from education leaders in Austin and fending off fresh criticism about her tax return, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis promoted the latest additions to her education reform proposals.

Swelling School Districts Find a Costly Way to Grow Within State Debt Limits

Leander ISD's Whitestone Elementary School, shown on Aug. 21, 2014, has six portable classrooms to help with increased student enrollment.  District officials say If the district couldn't use capital appreciation bonds to borrow money, it would have to put more students in portables.
Leander ISD's Whitestone Elementary School, shown on Aug. 21, 2014, has six portable classrooms to help with increased student enrollment. District officials say If the district couldn't use capital appreciation bonds to borrow money, it would have to put more students in portables.

Leander and other fast-growing school districts have relied heavily on a controversial financing tool called capital appreciation bonds to borrow money to expand even as they bump up against state limits on school district debt. 

Texas Hospitals Say They've Lost Insured Patients to Urgent Care

Eighth-grader Montanique DeShay waits as Ashlyn Brooks, medical assistant at MedSpring Urgent Care in Austin, comes to check on her on Wednesday. Like many patients visiting urgent care facilities at this time of year, Montanique is having a physical evaluation performed to allow her to participate in sports this school year.
Eighth-grader Montanique DeShay waits as Ashlyn Brooks, medical assistant at MedSpring Urgent Care in Austin, comes to check on her on Wednesday. Like many patients visiting urgent care facilities at this time of year, Montanique is having a physical evaluation performed to allow her to participate in sports this school year.

The increasing number of urgent care centers in Texas is proving problematic for hospitals, which say they are competing with the clinics for the same pool of insured Texans at a time when they are also getting less money to cover the cost of treating uninsured patients.

The Brief: Aug. 29, 2014

It's a good thing that Judge John Dietz dropped his school finance ruling before a three-day weekend, because interested parties could use that extra day to go over his 400-plus page decision.

Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional

District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin is shown in his courtroom on Feb. 4, 2013, before he ruled that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.
District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin is shown in his courtroom on Feb. 4, 2013, before he ruled that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.

Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state's school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor. 

Analysis: Despite the Calendar, Campaigns Are Taking a Back Seat

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after her April 2013 drunken driving arrest, and Gov. Rick Perry vetoed funding for the public integrity unit, which is housed in the Travis County DA's office.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after her April 2013 drunken driving arrest, and Gov. Rick Perry vetoed funding for the public integrity unit, which is housed in the Travis County DA's office.

This is the time of a political year when voters start — slowly — to pay attention to the candidates, issues and arguments ahead of a general election. But this year, there is something else to watch instead. 

Guard's Arrival on Border Brings Relief, Concerns

Texas Department of Public Safety officers patrol Anzalduas Park as part of Operation Strong Safety. Texas National Guard soldiers deployed to the area on Monday will help DPS in its mission, officials said.
Texas Department of Public Safety officers patrol Anzalduas Park as part of Operation Strong Safety. Texas National Guard soldiers deployed to the area on Monday will help DPS in its mission, officials said.

The arrival of the Texas National Guard to the border has been met with praise by some who say the state is taking the lead in securing the border. Others say the deployment is overkill that only serves to hamper the local economy.