The Brief: Head of Embattled Sex Offender Agency Leaves

Head of embattled sex offender agency leaves; Voters could approve billions in debt in May elections; Third chief in a month to Be named at Juvenile Justice Department; El Paso struggles with lack of English-speaking foster homes; U.S. Border Patrol agents ramp up efforts in Valley.

The Growing Revolt Against The Secure Communities Deportation Program

WASHINGTON -- Last Wednesday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) announced a significant change to the city's law enforcement policies. Going forward, Philadelphia officials would no longer acquiesce to the federal government's requests that they hold certain undocumented immigrants for extra time solely for deportation purposes.

Time 100 — Pioneers — Katharine Hayhoe

  • suggested by Evan Smith

There’s something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype. That’s what makes my friend Katharine Hayhoe — a Texas Tech climatologist and an evangelical Christian — so interesting.

Cruz endorses Sasse for Nebraska Senate

  • suggested by John Reynolds

Cruz will attend a rally for Sasse, along with former Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), on Friday. Sasse has picked up the endorsements of nearly every national conservative group or leader to have weighed in on the race, and recent polling has shown him gaining on the other front-runner, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn.

FEC backs bitcoins for campaigns

  • suggested by John Reynolds

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Wednesday indicated support for a request to allow campaigns to accept bitcoins ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. The commission delayed a formal vote on a petition to be able to accept up to $100 worth of the money, but commissioners seemed optimistic that they could draft a compromise to allow a limited amount of contributions in the virtual currency.

Study: Sales taxes took bite out of Amazon's sales

  • suggested by John Reynolds

The study, from three Ohio State researchers, found that Amazon got around 10 percent less business in five states – California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia – that installed a new sales tax on online purchases.

Editorial: Abbott’s reluctance to ban texting while driving is familiar and unfortunate

No wonder, then, that most states now prohibit texting while driving. Texas is one of seven that do not. An Abbott spokesman explained that the attorney general is against more government mandates that “micromanage adult driving behavior.” Such a statement seems long on political gamesmanship (gubernatorial opponent Wendy Davis co-authored one of the texting-while-driving bans in the Texas Senate) and short on Texans’ best interests.

Patrick airs TV ad rebutting Dewhurst’s, slamming his budget

On Wednesday, Patrick began airing a TV ad that partially rebuts an attack spot by his opponent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Patrick’s ad then tries to put Dewhurst on the defensive for the current two-year state budget, though Patrick cites a widely debunked study as his evidence that the budget was profligate.

New Ann Richards film holds lessons for Greg Abbott-Wendy Davis race

A new documentary about Ann Richards arrives this political season just as another woman is facing long odds and slaughterhouse politics in her bid to become the next governor of Texas. For all the differences between then and now, the film offers some fresh reminders — and striking parallels for today — about how a woman got elected. And how four years later, she didn’t. Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis’ Republican opponent, should take notes.

Does the Rick Perry grand jury lean Democratic?

Democrats appear to outnumber Republicans on the grand jury that will consider criminal charges against Gov. Rick Perry. But four members of the 12-member panel have no party primary voting history and two others don’t appear to be registered voters. Travis County voting records examined by the American-Statesman show that three, and possibly four, members of the racially diverse grand jury have voted in Democratic primaries. Only one — or maybe two — of the grand jurors have voted in Republican primaries.

18 protesters arrested in demonstration against UT’s job-cutting plan

Eighteen students were arrested on Wednesday afternoon after they refused to leave the office area of the University of Texas president. Several students started the sit-in outside of Bill Powers’ office about 3:30 p.m. and were warned three times by the dean of students’ office to leave by 5 p.m. or face criminal trespass charges, UT officials said. Those that refused were arrested and transported to Travis County Jail.

Texas drops in college attainment rankings

While the percentage of adult Texans with at least a two-year college degree has increased a smidge, the state hasn't kept pace with improvement in other states and still lags behind the national average, according to rankings released this week by the Lumina Foundation. Texas' ranking fell from No. 37 to No. 40 among the 50 states. The Indianapolis-based foundation, a private endowment focused on higher education issues, produced the rankings from 2012 U.S. Census data.

Judge: Texas can't bar gay marriage — or divorce

In a move that follows suit with a federal ruling issued in February, a state district judge has deemed Texas' restrictions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional — paving the way for a San Antonio couple's divorce proceedings and subsequent child custody battle to continue.

Eagle Ford could last decades

Eagle Ford production quickly outstripped the demand of local refineries. Now there's $22 billion in investment at the port, much of it driven either by the Eagle Ford directly or the availability of a long-term supply of natural gas to fuel manufacturing plants. Starting last summer, more crude oil left Corpus Christi for other U.S. ports and Canada than foreign oil arrived.

Abbott proposes state takeover of low-performing schools

In the 27-page, footnoted report that accompanied the press conference, he proposed to "create a swift, automatic process under which the very worst schools would be removed from the control of their local school districts each year" and instead run through the Texas Achievement School District.

Chairman of sex-offender board quits amid controversy

The chairman of the embattled state agency that supervises hundreds of sex offenders deemed too dangerous to live in society has submitted his resignation, amid a growing controversy and a criminal investigation into the secretive placement of those offenders in the Houston area, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Towboat owner accuses ship of speeding in lawsuit over crash

The Houston-based owner of the towboat and barge struck and sunk by a Liberian bulk carrier last month in one of the biggest Texas oil spills in two decades alleges in a federal court filing that the Liberian vessel was speeding in Galveston Bay despite heavy fog, did not take evasive action and proved itself both "dangerous" and "unseaworthy."