TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 4/18/11

The rogue antics of freshman state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview — knocking three bills, including veteran Democratic state Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s contentious puppy mill bill, off of a fast-track House calendar — are attracting glares and backlash from his colleagues, some of whom are considering returning the favor.

Mexican cattle are now examined in Laredo before being cleared for shipment to the rest of Texas and beyond — part of an effort to eradicate a fever tick infestation that has plagued ranchers along the border for more than a century. Until last year, the inspections took place in Mexico. But a ruthless battle between the drug cartels is complicating matters.

A nasty drought is gripping all of Texas, but Midland's situation is especially precarious. Since the beginning of October, barely one-tenth of an inch of rain has fallen, and regional reservoirs are getting close to empty.

"It was not my choice to depart at this time," says controversial higher education reformer Rick O'Donnell, whose hiring by the University of Texas System Board of Regents sparked an outcry at the University of Texas at Austin.

The U.S. Census Bureau collected 2010 population totals for Texas counties, providing a snapshot of the adult populations of each county. With that data, we've built an interactive application to visualize Texas' voting age populations.

 

A new phone scam has highlighted the possible trouble ahead for Texans who had their personal information exposed — and, as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, for Comptroller Susan Combs, whose office mistakenly leaked the data.

The Comptroller of Public Accounts has been ducking responsibility ever since revealing that her agency had put the names and Social Security numbers of 3.5 million people in a publicly available spot on its website. For a year.

At Monday's TribLive conversation, Evan Smith interviewed U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, about the President's plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the perpetual fight between Texas and Washington and what's likely to happen in 2012 Senate races — including the one to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Sen. John Cornyn will not be “taking the nickel tour” of any Planned Parenthood branch, his office said Wednesday, in response to an offer by one of the organization’s Texas branches to arrange an informational visit.

We’ve annotated the contracts of the 10 highest-paid school superintendents, along with those who lead the state’s 10 largest districts, so readers can view their pay in the context of retirement benefits, performance incentives, and perks like automobile and cellphone allowances.

A proposed map for redrawing Texas House district boundaries could help fortify the Republicans' majority in the lower chamber in 2012.

Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, has dropped the news many have been waiting to hear: He wants to attach a contingency provision to the 2012-13 budget that would withdraw $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

 

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