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The Brief: July 2, 2014

Lawmakers had a busy Tuesday, with the safe storage of ammonium nitrate and the alleged influence of criminal cartels in the current immigration crisis among the topics addressed.

L to R: Larry Phillips (R) Sherman and Joe Pickett (D) El Paso during the Transportation and the 83rd Legislature section of The Texas Tribune's symposium held on the SMU campus.

The Big Conversation

Lawmakers on the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee had a busy Tuesday, with the safe storage of ammonium nitrate and the alleged influence of criminal cartels in the current immigration crisis among the topics addressed.

With the ammonium nitrate explosion that devastated West still fresh in lawmakers' minds, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, El Paso Democrat Joe Pickett, already has draft legislation that "would require businesses to store ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound used in fertilizer, in noncombustible buildings or in buildings equipped with a sprinkler system," according to the Austin American-Statesman's Chuck Lindell.

Republicans, though, were not thrilled at the prospect of greater regulation in the bill, according to The Associated Press' Paul J. Weber. “It seems like we’re out there with a power grab,” Republican state Rep. Dan Flynn said. Raising their ire were proposals to require facilities to be open to inspection by all certified firefighters as well as a requirement for all storage facilities to meet standards formulated by a national group, the National Fire Protection Association.

Meanwhile, DPS Director Steve McCraw told the homeland security panel that most of the 52,000 children who have crossed the border since October had "the assistance of Mexican drug cartels and other criminal gangs," the El Paso Times' Marty Schladen reported.

Lindell reported that McCraw told the committee that "saturation patrols" are being done to "create a hostile environment for the criminal cartels." He acknowledged that moving that many personnel to the border has left the agency stretched thin elsewhere. “There is no question we are doing less in other areas of the state because of it. No question,” McCraw said.

The Day Ahead

•    The House Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures & Finance meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss TxDOT's budget request for the upcoming fiscal biennium, among other topics. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

Injured, Dead Workers are Casualties of "Texas Miracle", by Jay Root and Texas Tribune Staff

In UT Regent Controversy, Echoes of Texas History, by Nicole Shealy

Central Texas Access to Airport PreCheck is on the Way, by Eli Okun

Ethics Fight With Empower Texans Leader Far From Over, by John Reynolds


Money from Koch interests flows to governor candidate Greg Abbott, The Dallas Morning News

Border Patrol stations concern Texas health chief, The Associated Press

Republicans propose halting foreign aid until border surge stops, The Hill

U.S. to limit payments to states for road, transit projects, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rick Perry political rehabilitation tour heads to South Carolina – home of the first Southern primary in 2016, The Dallas Morning News

Sex offender agency head tests ankle monitor – on herself, Houston Chronicle

Congress Quietly Deletes a Key Disclosure of Free Trips Lawmakers Take, National Journal

Former Wilco DA John Bradley takes job in Palau, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"If I don't win, I don't care who does, because Texas isn't going to be able to survive, I'm afraid. I know it sounds pretty dire. But I've read the last chapter of the book. I've seen the end of the movie. I know how it turns out."

— Libertarian candidate for governor Kathie Glass, making the best possible argument for why Texans should vote for her

Today in TribTalk

The contraception ruling is bad for Texas, by Heather Busby

The contraception ruling is good for Texas, by Ken Starr

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 Dan Flynn Greg Abbott Joe Pickett Rick Perry