POLITICS

The Brief: Dec. 18, 2014

Jack Stick, the top lawyer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Jack Stick, the top lawyer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The awarding of a no-bid Medicaid fraud detection contract to the 21CT company continues to draw scrutiny with three separate news reports published Wednesday evening.

New Leaders Hope to Burnish Laredo's Image

Laredo has become the state's 10th-largest city, but it grapples with a reputation for corruption, crime and poverty.
Laredo has become the state's 10th-largest city, but it grapples with a reputation for corruption, crime and poverty.

After eight years of growth, change and public corruption scandals, new leaders in Laredo and Webb County are greeting 2015 with a sense of optimism. 

Analysis: The Court of Public Opinion, Revisited

Tom DeLay, shown after his trial in 2011. DeLay, who was convicted of conspiracy and money-laundering, was found innocent of all charges by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2014.
Tom DeLay, shown after his trial in 2011. DeLay, who was convicted of conspiracy and money-laundering, was found innocent of all charges by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2014.

High-profile public figures exonerated after prosecutions for violations of state ethics and election laws paved the way for public skepticism about those kinds of cases — like one now pending against Gov. Rick Perry.

The Brief: Dec. 12, 2014

Pipes used for fracking are shown in front of a Fasken OIl and Ranch drilling rig outside of Midland on Oct. 8, 2013.
Pipes used for fracking are shown in front of a Fasken OIl and Ranch drilling rig outside of Midland on Oct. 8, 2013.

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed Thursday below $60, "a level of great psychological significance," according to the Washington Post, and a price not seen in five years.

Future of CHIP Funding Looms Over State Budget

Dr. Javier Saenz checks the ear of Viviana Escareño, 6, for infection. The young girl’s mother, Claudia Escareño, has brought “Vivi” to Saenz’s clinic since she was born.
Dr. Javier Saenz checks the ear of Viviana Escareño, 6, for infection. The young girl’s mother, Claudia Escareño, has brought “Vivi” to Saenz’s clinic since she was born.

With federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program set to expire next year, children’s health advocates and Gov. Rick Perry are urging Congress to reauthorize it as soon as possible.

The Brief: Dec. 11, 2014

A Pre-Kinder student works to learn syllables and word identification in his class, part of the Summer Bilingual Academy at Wilson Elementary School, in San Antonio, TX on Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
A Pre-Kinder student works to learn syllables and word identification in his class, part of the Summer Bilingual Academy at Wilson Elementary School, in San Antonio, TX on Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

A couple of popular government programs for children — one helping with early education and the other providing health care — are facing funding questions.