Vol 32, Issue 16 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The House and Senate each named their budget conferees this week. The 10-member group now sets to work reconciling the differences between the two chambers' approaches to setting the state's spending priorities for the next two years. Among the sticking points are differing approaches to more than $4 billion in tax relief.

The chairman of the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee launched an official inquiry Monday into contracting practices at 11 state agencies. The action is aimed at finding out if contracting irregularities found at HHSC are more widespread in state government than currently thought.

The House this week passed legislation that would move investigation of corruption cases against public officials from an investigative unit in the Travis County DA's office to the official's home counties. In addition, Texas Rangers would be tasked with taking the criminal complaint.

Ina Minjarez captured the runoff special election on Tuesday to fill the vacant Bexar County-based House District 124 seat. The former prosecutor could be sworn in next week. She takes over for José Menéndez, who won election to the Texas Senate in February.

Two Houston attorneys will replace Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis as the Texas Rangers look into his friend and business partner Attorney General Ken Paxton. That relationship has figured into questions as to how an investigation into Paxton's failure to register with the state securities board would proceed.

Political People and their Moves

Lionel F. "Fred" Solis of San Antonio has been appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2021. Solis is a retired U.S. Army colonel.

Abbott also appointed a trio of appointments to the board of regents of Texas Southern University:

  • Wesley Terrell of Dallas
  • Derrick Mitchell of Houston
  • Marilyn Agatha Rose of Houston (re-appointment)

Their terms expire on Feb. 1, 2021.

Margaret Kripke will retire as chief scientific officer of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas on the selection of a successor, no later than Aug. 31. She was brought on two and a half years ago to help reform the grant awarding process at the then troubled agency.

The University of Texas at Austin has named a provost to replace Gregory Fenves, who was hired as the school's next president this week. Senior Vice Provost Judith Langlois will hold the interim job starting May 26. She currently oversees graduate studies.

Texas Civil Rights Project Director Jim Harrington announced this week his retirement from the organization he founded nearly 25 years ago. He said his plans include "speaking, writing, and perhaps co-counseling a case or two."

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.