George P. Bush, the Republican candidate for Texas Land Commissioner, in Austin on Aug. 27, 2014.
George P. Bush, the Republican candidate for Texas Land Commissioner, in Austin on Aug. 27, 2014.

On Environment Issues, Younger Bush Takes a More Moderate Tone

On the campaign trail for a little-known statewide office, George P. Bush is generally toeing the Republican Party line. But in his first in-depth interview on environmental policy, the land commissioner hopeful's views on global warming and renewable energy set him apart from the Tea Party conservatives he has aligned himself with. 

 

 
 

Citing Format Issues, Abbott Changes Gears on Debate

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UPDATED: On Friday morning, Republican candidate Greg Abbott pulled out of a Sept. 30 gubernatorial debate to be broadcast statewide on television, citing format issues. In the afternoon, his campaign announced he has agreed to another debate for the same date.

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. 

Abbott Opinion Murky on Plastic Bag Bans

An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.
An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.

Plastic bag bans in Texas cities such as Austin and Laredo may be legally sound, according to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott's office handed down on Friday afternoon — that is, as long as they didn't ban bags for the purposes of "solid waste management."

Judge Strikes Down Texas Abortion Regulation

An abortion procedure room at the Whole Woman's Health ambulatory surgical center in San Antonio.
An abortion procedure room at the Whole Woman's Health ambulatory surgical center in San Antonio.

A federal judge on Friday struck down new requirements for Texas abortion facilities — a decision that could have shuttered all but a few abortion clinics in the state. The standards were set to go into effect Monday.

 

Space Travel Companies Compete for NASA Contract

SpaceX CEP Elon Musk, right, shows his delight on the return of the Dragon spacecraft as NASA chief Charles Bolden, left, listens on June 13, 2012.  SpaceX is considering building a spaceport in south Texas for future launches.
SpaceX CEP Elon Musk, right, shows his delight on the return of the Dragon spacecraft as NASA chief Charles Bolden, left, listens on June 13, 2012. SpaceX is considering building a spaceport in south Texas for future launches.

Four private space travel companies, including two with ties to Texas, are competing for a NASA contract that will have them ferrying astronauts to space "like a taxi." NASA will announce the winner of the contract in the coming weeks.

Taxpayer Tab Grows for Perry's Defense

Gov. Rick Perry talks with New Hampshire voters at a morning GOP rally in Stratham, NH on Aug. 25, 2014.
Gov. Rick Perry talks with New Hampshire voters at a morning GOP rally in Stratham, NH on Aug. 25, 2014.

The state tab for Gov. Rick Perry's criminal defense, previously thought to be $80,000, has hit $133,000. Perry has said he will pay for his lawyers with campaign money from now on.  

On Border, Questions Over National Guard Troops' Needs

Governor Rick Perry gives a pep talk to National Guard troops training for deployment to the Texas border at Camp Swift on August 13, 2014.
Governor Rick Perry gives a pep talk to National Guard troops training for deployment to the Texas border at Camp Swift on August 13, 2014.

Democrats say media reports that some National Guard troops on the border haven't been paid and can't afford basic necessities are infuriating. Republican Gov. Rick Perry's office says the National Guard is fully equipped to help them. 

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.

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.