The Brief: Top Texas News for June 18, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz outlines his objections to Medicaid expansion in Texas at a Capitol press conference on April 1, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz outlines his objections to Medicaid expansion in Texas at a Capitol press conference on April 1, 2013.

The Big Conversation

A major Supreme Court ruling on Monday drew a swift retort from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a 7-2 vote, the court struck down an Arizona law requiring potential voters to show proof of citizenship beyond an oath on a federal form. The justices wrote that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also called the Motor Voter Act, "precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself."

The ruling won't affect election laws currently in place in Texas, but the state's junior senator, Ted Cruz, said he would offer an amendment to the Senate immigration bill that would effectively counteract the Supreme Court's ruling.

"Today #SCOTUS ruled federal ‘Motor Voter’ law preempts AZ proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration," Cruz tweeted. "I’ll file amendment to immigration bill that permits states to require ID before registering voters & close this hole in fed statutory law."

In a statement, he added, "This amendment ensures that states can enforce the commonsense requirement that those registered to vote must actually be U.S. citizens."

As Politico notes, the measure was Cruz's first amendment to the immigration bill, a sweeping piece of federal legislation that Senate Democrats are hoping to pass by July 4. Though Cruz emerged as an early critic of the bill, especially its pathway to citizenship, his Texas colleague, John Cornyn, has recently become the pre-eminent lightning rod on the issue.

Whether the amendment will push Cruz back into the middle of the debate may depend on how much support he can gather for the measure.

Culled

•    Jockeying begins for GOP eyeing open statewide seats (The Dallas Morning News): "Jerry Patterson has weighed in, promising 'leadership without fear,' in his race for lieutenant governor. He said he’s always called him like he’s seen them, even if it’s ruffled a few feathers. 'I’ve always led where others fear to tread. If after a healthy debate we don’t see eye-to-eye, then I hope you’ll still support me because I was straight and honest with you. You have trusted me in the past to shoot straight and I intend to never disappoint you in that regard.'"

•    Sen. Cornyn Reveals Not One, Not Two, but Three Public Pensions Atop His Salary (National Journal): "Texas Republican John Cornyn supplemented his Senate salary with a trio of public pensions last year from his days as a Texas judge and elected official—a practice some fiscal watchdog groups have attacked as 'double dipping.' Cornyn, who is the minority whip and the No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate, reported collecting $65,383 in public retirement benefits in 2012 in addition to his $174,000 salary as a U.S. senator."

•    House returns for redistricting action, then hits snag (Austin American-Statesman): "As the special session headed toward its final week, the Texas House returned to the Capitol on Monday to finish its work on redistricting maps, but lawmakers were unable to stick to the plan to vote a trio of maps out of committee. The House Redistricting Committee will get another chance Tuesday to fix the mix-up."

•    Transportation funding ideas may have a bumpy road ahead (San Antonio Express-News): "The Texas Senate is poised to act on a proposed constitutional amendment to give some $900 million annually to neglected transportation needs, but the House may be looking at other ideas amid some grumbling about the lack of time to vet the issue in the special legislative session. 'There’s discussions in the House on various ideas related to transportation, which we largely failed to address in the regular session. We’ll see whether the House agrees with or whether we have ideas of our own,' said House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio."

Quote of the Day: "Maybe he can talk about Texas' higher crime rate, the higher murder rate, and higher assault rate. Also, low educational achievement." — Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy in response to Gov. Rick Perry bringing his job-poaching tour to New York and Connecticut this week

Must-Read

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