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The Brief: May 30, 2014

Attorney General Greg Abbott reversed himself Thursday on whether the Texas prison system can withhold information about companies that make drugs used by the state in executions.

Attorney General Greg Abbott declares victory in the Republican primary on March 4, 2014 in San Antonio.

The Big Conversation

Attorney General Greg Abbott reversed himself Thursday on whether the Texas prison system can withhold information about companies that make drugs used by the state in executions. In doing so, Abbott was swayed by a DPS assessment that found threats made against a Houston-area compounding pharmacy "should be taken seriously."

The Tribune's Terri Langford wrote: "The ruling allowing secrecy is noteworthy because it was made in the midst of Abbott's campaign for Texas governor against Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and because in three prior rulings, Abbott has ruled for transparency when it comes to execution information."

Information on the execution drugs is being sought in connection with challenges to the constitutionality of this method of execution. The issue has only gained momentum following the botched execution in Oklahoma that drew national scrutiny. Prison officials, wrote the Austin American-Statesman's Chuck Lindell, wanted to guard the identity of the drug manufacturers so they wouldn't be subjected to pressure to discontinue supplying the drugs to the state.

Langford reported that "McCraw declined to say how many threats had been made to pharmacies, how many were investigated or whether they were credible. ... McCraw's statement and letter seems to contradict an Associated Press report last April which found scant evidence of threats to Texas pharmacies. The AP reported then that spokesmen for the TDCJ and Abbott's office would not answer questions about whether they were investigating any threats..."

Today in the Trib

For Texas Royalty Owners, Not All Money Comes Easy: "For landowners and mineral owners in Texas’ hottest drilling plays, the state’s boom means long-lasting windfalls — if those lessors know what to look for in negotiating contracts. With new educational efforts, advocates for royalty owners hope to bolster their position."

More Emergency Centers Are Gearing Up to Receive 911 Texts: "In an effort to modernize the emergency call system, a national initiative looks to increase the use of text-to-911 technology. And with such service available at 27 call centers in 12 counties, Texas is a key participant in that effort."

Analysis: Voters Tilt the Senate to the Right: "Republican primary voters have already decided one thing for the rest of the state's citizens: The Texas Senate that takes office in January will be more conservative than its predecessor."


Doctor Shortage Is Cited in Delays at V.A. Hospitals, The New York Times

Cornyn seeks FBI probe of VA, Houston Chronicle

Texas U.S. Reps push back against pollution rules, The Dallas Morning News

Officials embrace SpaceX progress, Valley Morning Star

Unaccompanied children in country illegally still lack federal protection, Houston Chronicle

California city votes to end hot sauce dispute, The Associated Press

Rick Perry campaigns for Branstad with another election in mind, Des Moines Register

Steve Blow: Democrats won the GOP primary vote, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"They’re here, and the vast majority are productive ... At some point the political process, the legislative process, needs to recognize that and deal with it."

— U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, on the need for immigration reform that eventually allows for legalization and a path to citizenship for children brought to the country illegally

Today in TribTalk

To grow our economy, democratize it, by Bo Delp: "What goes unsaid is that the environment for working families in Texas is decidedly unfriendly. Texas lawmakers should incentivize more worker control over a company’s assets through cooperative ownership."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. Tickets are on sale now.

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Energy Environment Health care Politics Greg Abbott Henry Cuellar Joe Barton John Cornyn Rick Perry Wendy Davis