The Brief: Texas Political News for Dec. 18, 2013

The Big Conversation

The House select committee investigating possible articles of impeachment against UT System Regent Wallace Hall meets Wednesday. And indications are that it could be the last meeting as the investigation moves toward a conclusion.

As was reported Tuesday, Hall declined to testify before the panel. The Texas Tribune's Reeve Hamilton further reports that Hall's absence could truncate a scheduled two days of hearings into a single day with testimony from UT officials. 

“'Unless Wallace Hall has a change of heart and wants to show up, we won’t be there on Thursday,' Rusty Hardin, the Houston attorney who is serving as the committee’s special counsel, said Tuesday," wrote Hamiton.

Hamilton also quoted committee co-chairman Dan Flynn, R-Van, as saying he wants the investigation concluded by year's end. "Flynn said that after the committee concludes its investigation, members would determine the ultimate course of action," Hamilton wrote, "including a determination of whether Hall's actions are impeachable."

Culled

•    Same-sex benefits on hold after GOP leaders sue city (Houston Chronicle): "The city of Houston's recent policy change extending health and life insurance benefits to same-sex married couples is on hold after two Harris County Republicans, led by the county's GOP chairman, sued the city and Mayor Annise Parker on Tuesday."

•    Reports Detail Number of Minorities in "Coverage Gap" (The Texas Tribune): "Minorities make up nearly three-quarters of the uninsured adults in the 'coverage gap' created when Texas declined to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, according to new reports released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation."

•    The Case That Could Topple Obamacare (Newsweek): "Did the law provide subsidies for only state-run exchanges and not federal ones? The law requires that the federal government step in to create an exchange when a state declines to do so. But does it fail to give subsidies to the residents of those states? It may seem like a small problem, but if true, it spells disaster for the Affordable Care Act. Without subsidies, health care on the individual market becomes unaffordable."

•    Streusand’s deep pockets cast shadow in Stockman district (The Dallas Morning News): "An open U.S. House seat is always a huge prize. But of the dozen GOP candidates lined up to replace Rep. Steve Stockman in District 36, only one has already plunked down serious cash to try to win a congressional seat. Ben Streusand, a Houston businessman, spent $3.6 million in personal funds trying to win a spot in the House in 2004. The debt is still on the books, according to his latest FEC report."

Quote to Note: "They just decided to, unilaterally, as a lame duck, thumb their nose at the will of the people and just spit on the U.S. Constitution." — Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill, who is also the lead lawyer in a suit to prevent Houston from extending health and life insurance benefits to same-sex married couples

Must-Read

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