New in The Texas Tribune
• Officials Search for Answers After Explosion: "The day after an explosion at a fertilizer plant leveled parts of the Central Texas town of West, officials are still searching for answers about the tragedy that has left at least five people dead."
• Payday Lending Bill Pulled From Senate Floor After Raucous Debate: "Major payday lending legislation took a hit Thursday as heated debate ended in the bill's author pulling the measure from the Senate floor."
• Legislators Facing Charges Can Get Courtroom Pass: "While state code allows lawmakers due in court to delay their appearance while the Legislature is in session, most waivers for those charged with crimes result from simple agreements between the defense, prosecutors and judges."
• Legislators Dip Into Campaign Accounts to Boost Their Staff's Pay: "Lawmakers spend thousands of dollars from their campaign accounts to supplement the salaries of their staffs. It’s a legal and long-standing practice, but some ethics experts say it presents the potential for conflict."
• Report Recommends Strategy to Graduate College Students Faster: "Fewer than one-third of Texas students entering four-year universities graduate within four years. A new report released on Thursday offers some ideas for improving that and other sobering higher education statistics."
• Illinois Gov. Quinn, Chicago Mayor Emanuel dismiss Rick Perry’s job-poaching expedition (Houston Chronicle): "Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s famously blunt (and occasionally profane) mayor, doesn’t seem too threatened by Rick Perry’s two-day job-poaching expedition to the Windy City and environs. 'Imagine the jobs they’d bring in to Texas if they had a governor who could remember all three parts of his three-part plan,' the mayor told the Houston Chronicle in a statement relayed through a spokesman."
• Perry, GOP legislator have 'spirited' talk on term limits, travel bills (The Dallas Morning News): "Republican Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t like some of the legislation Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, filed this session limiting the governor’s terms in office and requiring the reporting of out-of-state travel security costs to the Texas Ethics Commission. This week, the three-term governor made his opinions clear when he called Larson to his office for a private meeting. 'For the first half hour, I didn’t speak,' Larson said of the hour-long 'spirited' discussion Wednesday that took place during House floor debate."
• Sen. Cornyn briefs Senate on the West tragedy; House remembers with a moment of silence (Houston Chronicle): "The morning after the nightmare explosion in West, Texas Sen. John Cornyn debriefed the Senate on the tragedy. Cornyn asked the floor for another prayer for the town of West. He said that although the official death toll has been released as '5 to 15,' authorities have told him they think it could be even more. In the midst of the disaster, Cornyn said he has seen the 'close-knit' community come together to help victims."
• Lawmakers leave global warming provision out of greenhouse gas permit bill (The Dallas Morning News): "A proposal to shift permitting for emissions of greenhouse gases from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality won preliminary approval in the House, but lawmakers agreed to leave out climate change and global warming language."