Vol 32, Issue 26 Print Issue

Human Rights Campaign press conference at Texas Capitol on June 29, 2015 just a few days following the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality
Human Rights Campaign press conference at Texas Capitol on June 29, 2015 just a few days following the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality

Gay Marriage Ruling Might Mobilize Voters on Both Sides

Political consultants on both sides say same-sex marriage and religious liberty issues will play a significant role as electoral races develop — beyond just giving candidates a way to boost campaign coffers.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Special prosecutors said they’ll be seeking first-degree felony securities fraud charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton in the next few weeks. But Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm called them inexperienced prosecutors leading a “politically motivated effort to ruin the career of a longtime public servant.”

The state’s Democratic Party announced it's doing away with its longtime “Texas Two-Step” tradition of allocating primary voters, following objections from the national party. Both of the state’s parties will allocate all their national convention delegates based on the outcomes of their primaries, giving primary voters a bigger say in choosing a 2016 nominee.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, accused Gov. Greg Abbott of engaging in possibly illegal “pay to play” politics by promising to help a major donor move legislation pushed by insurance companies. Castro referenced an email exchange between Abbott’s office and Richard Weekley, CEO of Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz released his memoir, A Time for Truth, in which he bluntly expresses his thoughts on Washington and criticizes Republican leadership. One passage in the book, relating to an endorsement from the elder President Bush in 2009, led to public dispute between Cruz and Karl Rove, who said he didn’t suggest “that the elder Bush was too old to have good judgment anymore.”

Public employers including Texas agencies and universities began allowing current and retired gay and lesbian employees to enroll their same-sex spouses in the same benefit programs and services available to opposite-sex couples. That decision followed Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, which led to some county clerks refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses right away. Paxton wrote in an opinion that clerks can deny those licenses but should be prepared to face lawsuits over that.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of a coalition of states including Texas, which sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its regulations on mercury, acid gases and other toxic metals emissions that spew from power plants. Fresh off that win, Paxton sued the EPA over its new “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Texas abortion providers and temporarily put on hold a ruling that would have closed about half of the state’s abortion facilities. The law, which was set to take effect this week, would have required Texas' abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways and pipelines for anesthesia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it’ll implement new guidelines designed to better protect transgender people in immigration detention facilities. The announcement comes after 35 congressional Democrats wrote to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking ICE to change its policies.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the appointment of 10 student regents and a student representative to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for terms expiring on May 31, 2016. Those appointees are Megan Piehler (Midwestern State University), Ryan Brown-Moreno (Stephen F. Austin University), Alvaro “Gabe” Pereira (Texas A&M University System), Dominique Calhoun (Texas Southern University), Spencer Copeland (Texas State University System), Victoria Messer (Texas Tech University System), Neftali Gomez (Texas Woman's University), Garrett Hughey (University of Houston System), Courtny Haning (University of North Texas System), Justin Drake (University of Texas System) and Christina Delgado (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board).

Businessman Dwayne Stovall announced a challenge Wednesday against U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Woodville, saying the first-term congressman hasn’t fought enough against Washington. Stovall came in third in last year's GOP primary contest for U.S. Senate won by the incumbent John Cornyn.

Babin, meanwhile, endorsed GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz this week, making the congressman the fifth member of Texas' congressional delegation to back Cruz.

Heath City Councilman Justin Holland announced on Thursday that he is running for the HD-33 seat being left vacant by Scott Turner.

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, announced Tuesday that he’ll run for a fourth term. He said that he's running "not because of what we’ve advanced since I joined the Senate, I seek re-election due to the challenges that remain.”

State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, said he’ll run for re-election in HD-42, asking his constituents for “their vote, their input, their ideas, their concerns and their prayers.”

State Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, announced Tuesday that he's seek re-election to the Williamson County-based HD-136. He told supporters that he worked to pass a budget this session that “addresses education and transportation funding and delivers nearly $4 billion in tax relief.”

Mineola Republican Bryan Hughes, who's running for the SD-1 seat being vacated by Kevin Eltife, rolled out an endorsement Monday from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

Bill King, a businessman who’s running for Houston mayor, nabbed endorsements this week from Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel as well as from state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, and former state Rep. Al Luna.

Former General Land Office General Counsel Bill Warnick has hired on with the Kemp Smith law firm where he joins their public law practice. Warnick was GLO general counsel from 2003-15 and prior to that he was a member of the School Land Board.

Disclosure: Stephen F. Austin University, the Texas A&M University System and the Texas State University System are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.