TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Mar. 14, 2011

Criminal justice advocates say proposed cuts from rehabilitation and treatment programs would reverse years of reforms in Texas that have helped reduce recidivism and drive down the size of the prison population.

Our latest TribLive conversation featured Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus, to talk about budget cuts, possible sources of revenue, hot-button social issues and more.

Top officials at the University of Texas System say that they are moving quickly to allay the concerns regarding the direction of UT, starting with the reassignment of Rick O'Donnell.

Lobbyists spent more than $1.2 million in the first two months of 2011 trying to influence lawmakers and state officials, according to the latest ethics filings, which are now accessible in our new lobbying data application.

Tribune readers, wondering what was personally at stake for the state’s education policy makers, asked us to check where lawmakers send their children to school. We obliged, and posed that question to all 181 members of the Legislature and 15 members of the State Board of Education.

 

In its first hearing since an earthquake and tsunami crippled Japan and threatened nuclear meltdown at several reactors, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission heard testimony today on whether to give early-stage approval to a new nuclear plant in Texas.

Calling on Washington to fix the country’s “discriminatory” immigration system, Hispanic Republicans in the Texas Legislature also fired off the first salvos in what could be a divisive battle within the party over immigration legislation.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards, on Republican lawmakers’ efforts to defund her organization, a Texas attorney general’s opinion she says will keep low-income women from preventative care, and how her mother would’ve handled all of this.

Does tapping the Rainy Day Fund have 90 House votes to move on to the Senate — and how much will the process of getting there damage the even bigger task for lawmakers of setting the next biennium's budget?

Despite tough economic times, San Antonio is continuing an unusual and aggressive program to protect its aquifer, by using public money to purchase land or easements to prevent development in critical areas.

 

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