The Evening Brief: Texas Headlines for Feb. 4, 2013

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.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Updated: School Finance Ruling Favors Districts: "In a decision sure to be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, state district Judge John Dietz ruled Monday in favor of more than 600 school districts on all of their major claims. He declined to find either the state cap on charter contracts or their lack of access to facilities funding unconstitutional."

•    Piers Morgan to Hold Show at Texas Gun Range: "CNN host Piers Morgan, who has been fiercely critical of U.S. gun laws since the elementary school killings in Connecticut, is bringing his show to Texas on Monday to debate gun policy."

•    In Radio Ads, Perry Reaches Out to California Businesses: "On radio stations throughout much of California, Gov. Rick Perry is promoting the business climate in Texas and encouraging Californians to move."

•    South Texas Delegation Files Bills for New University: "The South Texas delegations of the Texas House and the Senate announced the filing of bills to create a Rio Grande Valley university that would include a medical school."

•    Liveblog: Ken Anderson Court of Inquiry: "Sixteen months after Michael Morton was released from prison, where he spent nearly a quarter-century wrongly incarcerated for his wife's murder, the prosecutor who sent him there faces a public inquiry."

•    Lege Could Ban Drones Over Private Property: "State Rep. Lance Gooden says he will carry legislation to make it illegal to use a drone to capture video or photographs of private property without the consent of the property’s owner or occupant."

•    Good Times or Bad, the Budget Remains Tight: "When money was tight two years ago, the state's top budget writers employed cutbacks and accounting tricks to balance the budget. Money is flowing again, but the budget folks are still finding it easy to say no."

Culled

•    Is Medicaid a ‘rich’ program? Topic roils House panel (The Dallas Morning News): "House budget writers are squabbling over whether the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor offers plush bennies and is gobbling up the state budget. The squabble began late Monday morning when Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, asked state Health and Human Services Commission overlord Kyle Janek to characterize the range of medical services covered by Medicaid."

•    Lawmaker: “Soda tax” would raise $2 B for public ed (Houston Chronicle): "A San Antonio lawmaker has filed a bill that would levy a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks, a move he says would raise up to $2 billion in public education funding. State Rep. Joe Farias filed HB 779 last week in hopes of establishing a new recurring funding mechanism for public schools in the state. He said he is 'willing to take the heat' of levying a new tax in a conservative state in order to fund student health initiatives."

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