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Inside Texas Politics: The Elephant in the Room

On this week's edition of WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics, we talked about the new head of the Senate Finance Committee, the border surge, campaign finance reports, the ongoing UT-Austin saga and more.

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on July 20, 2014.

On this week's edition of WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics, I talked with host Jason Whitely and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy about state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, the first woman to ever chair the powerful Senate Finance Committee — by naming her to the post, exiting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst heeded the stated wish of his potential successor, state Sen. Dan Patrick, who defeated him handily in last May's runoff; Patrick also came up in the context of the ongoing surge of Central American children to our border — the positions he and his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, have staked out have mainly differed in emphasis, with Patrick stressing the possible criminal element within the surge, Van de Putte the humanitarian aspect.

We also talked about recent developments in the continuing higher ed struggles between the University of Texas System and UT-Austin — with the university's president, Bill Powers, stepping down next June, further resolution may be at hand as the state Legislature's transparency committee wraps up its investigation of Regent Wallace Hall; campaign finance reports, which came out last week — there were questions about the accuracy of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis' accounting, but the elephant in the room was her Republican opponent Greg Abbott's enormous, apparently unprecedented $35.6 million war chest; the Denton City Council's vote to punt the decision about regulating fracking activity to the voters in November — while the final say on the matter probably lies with the state Legislature, there are signs the issue is becoming increasingly politicized; and, finally, we discussed Democratic proposals to lawyer up those kids flocking to our border — it may speed their outcomes up, but should we foot the bill?

Also: Jason and Bud interviewed U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, who led a delegation to Guatemala and Honduras, where most of those kids are from; Inside Texas Politics regular Mark Davis touted his new book; protesters surrounding the Central American children on their way to various holding facilities reminded one commenter of an ugly chapter in American history; and the question was debated of whether our border, with 20,000 agents stationed along it, is actually secure.

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