Vol 32, Issue 11 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The Texas Senate passed two handgun measures this week. The bills — one to allow permitted handgun owners to carry openly and another to allow permitted handgun owners to carry on college campuses — passed on party-line votes.

Texas House members overwhelmingly gave approval this week to a sweeping border-security measure that would increase the number of state troopers on the border and establish a catchall intelligence center in Hidalgo County.

Senate Finance voted Tuesday to send proposals cutting property taxes and business taxes to the full Senate, though some senators questioned whether the property tax cuts could be better spent in other ways. Taken together, the proposals would provide more than $4.5 billion in property and business tax relief.

Amid an ongoing scandal over how the state awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a private company, the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday approved legislation that would overhaul the state’s contracting processes.

House budget writers would add $433 million to the current two-year budget with a supplemental bill laid out Thursday, though some lawmakers expressed concern with plans for millions in leftover funds from some state health programs.

Time to cross that name off the short list: The leading candidate to be the next president of the University of Texas at Austin, University of Oxford Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, has been named the next president of New York University.

San Antonio U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has landed a spot as a chief deputy whip, making him one of the House Democratic leadership's top vote counters on the House floor.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Monday opened the Austin outpost of his likely 2016 presidential campaign after spending the weekend courting SXSW crowds. An announcement is expected sometime in the next few weeks.

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.

Political People and their Moves

Tryon Lewis of Odessa has been named chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission by Gov. Greg Abbott for a term to expire at the pleasure of the governor. Lewis is a former state representative, having served House District 81 from 2008 to 2015. He is currently a partner at Atkins, Hollman Jones, Peacock, Lewis & Lyon Law Firm.

Andrew Cobos of Houston was appointed by Abbott to the Veterans Land Board. Cobos, an attorney in McKool Smith’s Houston office, replaces Alan Sandersen. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Arthur Roger Matson of Georgetown was reappointed by Abbott to the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners Board. Matson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, is currently an admissions liaison officer for the United States Air Force Academy. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

State Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, has received a White House appointment to the board of directors for the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB).

Former state Comptroller Susan Combs and Fort Worth attorney Jay Rutherford have been named to the board of the Texas Institute for Education Reform (TIER). In addition to her time as comptroller, Combs has served as agriculture commissioner and state representative. Rutherford, meanwhile, has served previously as chairman of the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Lyceum.

The Texas Democratic Party announced Emmanuel Garcia as its new deputy executive director. He is transitioning back to the party from former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte's San Antonio mayoral campaign. According to the announcement, Garcia will assist the party's executive director, Crystal Kay Perkins, in party and infrastructure building.

Texas Medical Association CEO and Executive Vice President Louis J. Goodman has been named CEO of TMA PracticeEdge, LLC, a company created by the medical society to offer physicians tools to make the most of the latest health care payment models.

Disclosure: The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Institute for Education Reform and the Texas Association of Business are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.