TribWire

Rick Perry Is One Lucky Dude

Man, Rick Perry is one lucky guy, isn't he? It's true that the "Texas Miracle" may not be quite the miracle Perry would like us to believe. As the chart below shows in a nutshell, the Texas unemployment rate has fared only slightly better than the average of all its surrounding states.

For the state and fracturing opponents, a clash extends

Retrenchment in the oil business "makes it more important," said King, a Republican who lives west of Fort Worth and sits on the House Energy Resources Committee. "If it's getting more difficult to hit that break-even point on an oil and gas well, you certainly don't want other impediments. And fracking bans are a significant impediment."

Analysis: The Tax That Consumers Are Ignoring

When an out-of-state retailer doesn't add Texas sales and use taxes to your bill, it's not because no taxes are owed — and it's not because the retailer is doing something illegal. Texas consumers fail to pay almost $1.8 billion annually.

As Statewide Smoking Ban Stalls, Cities Go It Alone

Next year will mark the fifth legislative session in a row where Texas lawmakers have considered a statewide ban on smoking in public places. More than 100 Texas cities haven't waited for them, despite pushback from some businesses.

A Push to Award a Degree to a Symbol of Injustice

Texas Tech University expelled Tim Cole after he was arrested in 1985 and charged with rape. Cole died in prison in 1999, but DNA evidence cleared the way for a posthumous pardon in 2009. Now there's a push for Tech to award Cole an honorary degree.

The Brief: Could Low Oil Trigger a Texas Recession?

Could low oil trigger a Texas recession? A push to award a degree to a symbol of injustice; As statewide smoking ban stalls, cities go it alone; Analysis: The tax that consumers are ignoring; At alma mater, Perry hints at 2016; Whitmire seeks inquiry Into HHSC/21CT contracts; Easing sanctions on Cuba could be boon for Texas.

Retiring Rep. Ralph Hall to pull in $139,000 annual pension

Rep. Ralph Hall is leaving office this year, but taxpayers will still be sending him checks. Hall, a 34-year congressional veteran, qualifies for an annual pension of about $139,000, pension experts say. The Rockwall Republican is eligible to draw it immediately after his term ends in early January.

Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue

The partnership is part of a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs’ lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies, a collaboration that has set off a furious competition between trial lawyers and corporate lobbyists to influence these officials. Much as big industries have found natural allies in Republican attorneys general to combat federal regulations, plaintiffs’ lawyers working on a contingency-fee basis have teamed up mostly with Democratic state attorneys general to file hundreds of lawsuits against businesses that make anything from pharmaceuticals to snack foods.

Experts: Lower oil prices a threat to Texas economy

Austin economist Brian Kelsey, concerned about the potential impact of falling oil prices on the state’s economy, is examining what could happen to the state’s revenue and jobs under a continued decline for the energy industry. If oil and gas industry earnings in Texas fall 20 percent, Kelsey estimates, the state could lose 212,000 jobs and $13.5 billion in total earnings. In turn, the Austin metro area could see a loss of 4,200 jobs and $210 million in earnings.

Texas officials call for investigations into state deal with 21CT

State officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, called Thursday for investigations into a no-bid contract that Texas health officials awarded to 21CT, an Austin data analytics company whose multimillion-dollar deal with the state’s massive health agency — canceled last Friday — has been the subject of an American-Statesman investigation.

Khabele School suing founders, accusing them of rent gouging

The Khabele School, which has three campuses in downtown and South Austin, filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court. The 22-page suit accuses founders Letsie “Khotso” and Jennifer “Moya” Khabele of charging the school two to three times the fair market value for its downtown location from 2006 to 2013.

Texas Senate candidate Romo admittedly out of bounds

Texas Senate District 26 candidate Sylvia Romo on Thursday conceded that she doesn’t live in that district and may have to legally challenge state law requiring senators to reside in their jurisdictions for at least a year before election. The Democrat, who filed for office Wednesday, said she lives just outside District 26 but is determined to seek the office in the Jan. 6 special election even if her eligibility is in dispute.

Garcia: Von Ormy mayor found in contempt of court

A sheepish Martinez de Vara turned up at 9:15, and apologized to Arteaga. She dropped the arrest warrant, but preserved the contempt order against him, and ordered him to pay court costs for the three councilwomen he’s battling, which came out to $696.34. “I didn’t forget,” Martinez de Vara told me after his tardy court appearance, by way of explanation. “I had family in town, but that’s not a good excuse. First time I’ve ever been late for a hearing.”

Of $1.7B for Texas roads, 15% going to shale areas

That leaves 15 percent — $261 million — for roads in the shale areas. The figure is bound to disappoint communities in South and West Texas, where the truck traffic from the energy boom has badly damaged roads that were built to handle a few dozen farm trucks per day.

Suit seeks to void Bandera mayoral election result

Claiming that the official results of this city’s mayoral election Nov. 4 are inaccurate, Brian Black has filed suit in a bid to overturn his narrow defeat to John Hegemier in the three-way race. Black, a local saloon owner who is country singer Clint Black’s brother, claims that “illegal” ballots were improperly tallied in the contest, in which Hegemier was credited with 117 votes, Black 111 and Maggie Schumacher 32.

The Greatest Lawyer Who Ever Lived

OR SO SAYS JOE JAMAIL. BUT AT THE AGE OF 89, THE STATE’S MOST FAMOUS ATTORNEY—AND ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST—IS STILL DROPPING F-BOMBS AND CRUSHING HIS OPPOSING COUNSEL. CAN SOMEONE GET THIS MAN ANOTHER SCOTCH?

Archdiocese takes issue with Dilley center for immigrants

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller’s statement that he is “deeply troubled” by the new facility, created to hold women and children from Central America, came as lawyers representing detainees at a similar center in Karnes County filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s policy of holding even those who are seeking asylum.

Tesla gears up for Texas lobbying blitz

Locked in a brawl with auto dealers, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is unleashing some of the most powerful lobbyists and consultants in the state to persuade lawmakers to make it easier for his company to sell electric cars in Texas.

Islands of the Oil Kings: Reach for the Stars

Three miles down his private road toward San Jose Island, a modified Minuteman missile stood on a launch pad under a steel A-frame gantry. Nearby on a flatbed trailer, a diesel generator was wedged between two dish antennas and cables ran into a cluster of mobile homes. This was mission control, and Wynne had paid for much of it.

Perry declines offer to name A&M Academic Building after him

A controversial plan to rename one of Texas A&M University's most storied buildings for Texas Gov. Rick Perry came to a quick end Thursday. Speaking at a commencement ceremony on campus, Perry rejected the idea of changing the name of the Academic Building to the "Governor Rick Perry '72 Building."

Oil crunch could cost Texas 128,000 jobs, Fed model shows

Plunging oil prices may grease the wheels of the U.S. economy, but a prolonged shakeout could hurt in the oil-soaked state of Texas. If U.S. benchmark crude remains cheap at around $55 a barrel, the state could lose 128,000 jobs by the middle of 2015, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas model of how oil prices impact U.S. jobs.