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The Brief: April 28, 2010

Arizona’s new immigration law continues to make political waves in Texas.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Arizona’s new immigration law continues to make political waves in Texas.

The Houston Chronicle offers a preview of how it could affect the governor’s race, noting that it’s a “sensitive issue” for both Gov. Rick Perry and Bill White because they don’t want to alienate Hispanic voters. Perry, on the other hand, has a deeply conservative base that would like to see some Arizona-like legislative fireworks in Texas.

The governor’s camp has already used illegal immigration as campaign fodder: they’ve called Houston a “sanctuary city” under White’s tenure as mayor because local law enforcement officials did not check immigration status when people were arrested for other crimes. (This claim has been proven false). But if Perry swerves too far right on the issue, voters could perceive him as anti-Latino, something that could ramp up turnout for White. According to one political scientist, the Arizona law “is almost like a gift to [White] … What this does is make it harder for the governor to get back to the middle of the road.”

Texas lawmakers have also begun to react to the legislation of their fellow border state, largely along partisan lines.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, says the law is “extremely damaging and hateful.”

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, says: “If our federal government did their job, then Arizona wouldn't have to take this action, and neither would Texas.”

“I'm real proud of Arizona,” says David Swinford, R-Dumas. “A lot of this stuff we wanted to do, we just couldn't do because I didn't want Texas going bankrupt trying to defend it in the courts.

The debate isn’t anything new to Leo Berman, R-Tyler, who’s filed legislation with similarities to the Arizona law for the past decade. Berman told KUT that he thinks he’ll be more successful this legislative session, because the Arizona law will prompt Texas to do something about its own illegal immigration problems.

Meanwhile, in San Antonio, a protest march is already planned on May 1st.

CULLED:

· Former state Rep. Terri Hodge faces a year in prison for lying on her tax return in a Dallas City Hall corruption scandal. Before her sentencing, the Democrat told the court she was sorry and that “What I've done has contributed to some people's distrust of the political system.” Hodge resigned from the House in February after she pled guilty to the charges, which involved not reporting bribes from a developer as income on her tax return.

· The Republican Governors Association has a friend in Bob Perry. The Texas homebuilder and political donor donated $500,000 in February, making him the leading giver to the national GOP group. If history has anything to say about it, that means the governor will likely benefit in the fall — the last large gift Bob Perry gave to the RGA, $1 million in 2006, made its way back into his reelection campaign as a donation.

· News that Perry packs a pistol while jogging is making national headlines; yesterday an AP article revealed he shot a coyote who was “menacing” his daughter’s Labrador puppy in February. The reason for the gun? He’s afraid of snakes.

· Houston-area leaders aren’t pleased with the possibility of Continental Airlines’ merger with United, which could move the company’s headquarters from their city to Chicago. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, said Texas should “make it convenient for them to stay here in Houston.” State Rep. Garnet Coleman said it is “critical” the company’s headquarters remain in Houston, and that he was working with Gov. Perry and Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, to keep them there. A Perry spokeswoman said the governor’s office “stands ready” to help Continental stay in Texas.

“I hope they take into consideration that bigger isn’t always better, and dance with the one that brung ya. I wouldn’t overly worry, but I think that every employee, and every leader in the community would say we want Continental to stay, it shouldn’t be lost to Chicago…No disrespect to Chicago but I would say that Houston is the future, not Chicago.” — Coleman, on Continental’s move to Chicago after its possible merger with United.

MUST READ:

Military officials say wind turbines can stir up problems for basesFort Worth Star-Telegram

Laura Bush Opens Up About Fatal CrashNew York Times

How Arizona became center of immigration debateThe Associated Press

Wealth Care Reform — The Texas Tribune

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