The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 31, 2013

Aides follow Gov. Rick Perry into a West Austin early voting station on Oct. 30, 2013.
Aides follow Gov. Rick Perry into a West Austin early voting station on Oct. 30, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Rick Perry performed a civic duty Wednesday and turned it into a news twofer, making pronouncements on the new voter ID law and the House investigation into one of his appointees.

Here's how Perry described his first time voting under new requirements to present photo identification at the polling place, as reported by The Dallas Morning News' David Barer“I gave them my driver’s license and it went as advertised.”

Perry doesn't get the style points earned by Agriculture Commissioner — and lieutenant governor hopeful — Todd Staples, who let his Twitter followers know on Oct. 25 that he used his concealed handgun license as proof of identification to vote. But Perry didn't have to sign an affidavit to vote like the two leading candidates to succeed him as governor.

Both Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott have had to submit affidavits because the names on their photo ID were "substantially similar" but did not exactly match their names on the voter roll. As the Austin American-Statesman's Tim Eaton reports, the affidavit provision was put forward by Davis as an amendment to the voter ID law.

 

The Davis campaign subsequently suggested that Abbott has Davis to thank for being able to cast a ballot without any further problems. The Abbott campaign wasn't buying that, responding in Eaton's piece that even without the Davis amendment, voters like Abbott would still be able to cast their votes.

Perry agreed with that assessment Wednesday, according to Barer:

"Perry said the need to sign an affidavit is the result of [a] piece of legislation Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, wrote. 'As far as I know this wasn’t an issue until the legislature made it an issue this session,' Perry said."

Perry made further news with a full-throated defense of Wallace Hall, whom Perry appointed to the University of Texas System Board of Regents. A House committee is investigating Hall's open records requests as well as omissions on his application for appointment as regent to determine if they constitute grounds for impeachment.

If he is impeached, that would mark the first time such an action has been taken against an appointed official in Texas.

Perry on Wednesday called the investigation “extraordinary political theater” and — perhaps more significantly — sided with Hall on whether the regent was justified in requesting hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Hall and his lawyer have said the request for information was done to look at possible wrongdoing on UT's-Austin campus.

"At the end of the day, we'll find out whether there are things that are being hidden, there are things individuals don't want to have out in public. And at that particular point in time, the public will make a decision on whether or not Regent Hall is correct," Perry said, according to The Associated Press' Jim Vertuno. "I happen to support him."

Culled

 

•    CPRIT Operations Moratorium Lifted Following Reforms (The Texas Tribune) : "State leadership decided on Wednesday that the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has restored enough public trust to resume grant operations and finalize remaining contracts following a review of the agency’s processes and major reforms passed in the last legislative session."

•    Cruz quells GOP annoyance as Cornyn snipes with tea party groups (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. Ted Cruz privately assured Republican senators Wednesday that he won’t help push any of them from office – a gesture meant to mend fences after an Obamacare fight that has left him something of an outcast. But Cruz won’t disassociate himself entirely from the Senate Conservatives Fund, a tea party group that has endorsed a challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky."

•    Pasadena voters to face redistricting measure (Houston Chronicle): "Pasadena voters on Tuesday will decide the fate of a charter amendment prompted by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to weaken the Voting Rights Act — a vote that reflects a power struggle between wealthier and whiter sections and poorer and predominately Hispanic neighborhoods. The measure, Proposition One, is among the first litmus tests for the high court's June ruling in a Southern state, and if successful could trigger similar redistricting efforts elsewhere."

•    Guards at state youth lockup fired after engaging in fights (Austin American-Statesman): "Guards at a state youth lockup designed to calm aggressive youths instead engaged them in fights, throwing the incarcerated teenagers down on concrete floors and punching them — in what state officials initially wrote off as 'horseplay.' The revelation marks the latest sign of continued trouble at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, already facing intense legislative pressure to correct lingering problems in the aftermath of a sex-abuse scandal six years ago that brought sweeping reforms."

•    Texas AG Abbott touts need to protect jobs and money (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott came to a local business Wednesday to talk about jobs — an issue he said will be a top priority in his campaign to become the state’s next governor. That’s why he is proposing changing the Texas Constitution to give the governor the power of a line-item veto, put more limits on state spending and curtail lawmakers’ ability to dip into the rainy-day fund."

Quote to Note: “I think the idea that a regent or an appointee at any place in government is being stymied from asking questions about the operation of a particular agency is very, very bad public policy. I think it is sending a horrible message to the public.” — Gov. Rick Perry, defending UT System Regent Wallace Hall, who is under investigation by a House committee

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