Vol 32, Issue 9 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

After grilling Gov. Greg Abbott’s three University of Texas System regent appointees last week, the Senate Committee on Nominations on Thursday recommended all of them to the full Senate for confirmation. Two of the nominees received "no" votes from Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, who had pressed them on the UT Law School Foundation.

After meeting behind closed doors for almost seven hours, the University of Texas System Board of Regents did not name a finalist to replace Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday.

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday tentatively approved $105 million in funding for hundreds more DPS troopers, but not before some border lawmakers on the panel questioned how the DPS would prove the money is being spent wisely.

The 8,900 U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed on Texas’ border with Mexico can clock in next week knowing they’re still going to get paid after Congress on Tuesday voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September.

If voters approve, some of the taxes collected on car sales would be dedicated to building and fixing highways under the first two pieces of legislation to clear the Senate this session. Teachers might also see a pay boost under the measures.

Texas public high school seniors who failed the state's mandatory exams might still get to graduate this May under a bill pushed by state Sen. Kel Seliger, which passed Senate Education Wednesday.

Doctors, law enforcement officers, and family members of crash victims gathered Thursday at the Capitol to testify in support of a statewide texting-while-driving ban. Supporters are hoping the third time's the charm. Similar legislation was vetoed in 2011, and another bill in 2013 failed to gain traction.

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

Political People and their Moves

The Texas House Republican Caucus has named two members to its leadership team. State Rep. Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs was named chairman of the Caucus Fundraising Committee and state Rep. Rick Miller of Sugar Land was named chairman of the Caucus External Communication Committee.

Ahead of Saturday's election of the next Republican Party of Texas chairman, candidate Jared Woodfill announced his endorsement by conservative grassroots leader JoAnn Fleming. Woodfill, a former Harris County GOP chairman, is one of four candidates.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush has named six appointees to the Alamo Endowment Board, which will raise money for the state historic site. They are: Ramona Bass of the Fort Worth Bass family, engineering executive and former UT System Regent Jim Dannenbaum, Clear Channel Communications co-founder Red McCombs, Rackspace executive Lew Moorman, real estate broker and current UT System Board of Regents Vice Chairman Gene Powell and Houston real estate developer and University of Houston System Regent Welcome Wilson Jr.

Texas Medical Association has named Dave Spalding to be the chief operating officer of TMA PracticeEdge, the new physician services organization launched by the medical society. He most recently served as board chair of Availity, LLC, a company which facilitates information exchange between physicians, providers and health plans.

Deaths: Bob Armstrong, 82, who counted stints as state representative, land commissioner, candidate for governor and a presidential appointee at the U.S. Department of the Interior on a long and distinguished resume of public service.

•    Mike Higgins, chief of staff and legislative director for the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters.

•    Dudley Thomas, 76, who served as Department of Public Safety director from 1996-2000 as a capstone to a 40-year career with the agency.

Disclosure: The Texas Medical Association is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Red and Charline McCombs are major donors to the Tribune. Linda Aaker and Bob Armstrong were donors to the Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.