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The Brief: Sept. 16, 2014

University of Texas System regents moved quickly Monday to keep two lawmakers from sitting in on interviews conducted by an external investigator into admissions procedures at the system's flagship Austin campus.

Chairman Gene Powell gavels in the meeting April 10, 2013 where the UT Board of Regents voted to turn over records to lawmak…

The Big Conversation

University of Texas System regents moved quickly Monday to keep two lawmakers from sitting in on interviews conducted by an external investigator into admissions procedures at the system's flagship Austin campus.

State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, said in a letter last week that they intended to attend the interviews. The lawmakers "are particularly interested in the goings-on at the university system," wrote the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton, "because they were appointed to monitor it by their colleagues on the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, which voted to admonish and censure one of the system's regents, Wallace Hall, earlier this year."

At Monday's meeting, though, board of regents vice chairman Gene Powell called the lawmakers' gambit "an unwarranted, inappropriate and unprecedented legislative intrusion into a core executive branch function," and one that "would compromise the independence and integrity of the interviews and of the investigation."

Larson told the Houston Chronicle's Lauren McGaughy that the regents could "probably" investigate the matter well without input from lawmakers. But, he added, "My preference is if they're going to pursue this, we're given the prerogative to see what the findings are and if they're leaving some things out that we can weigh in to the chancellor, or to the people that are actually doing the invest, about our concerns."

He also strongly hinted that the regents' decision doesn't end the matter. "There's a lot of legislative recourses that we can take," he told the Chronicle.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Rick Perry gives the keynote address to the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) annual meeting being held in Austin.

•    The House Select Committee on Health Care Education & Training meets at 10 a.m. in Houston to discuss the state's mental health care workforce. (agenda)

•    The House Ways & Means Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss changes to the franchise tax and the state's economic outlook. (agenda)

•    The Senate State Affairs Committee meets at 8 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to look at the collection of personal data and safeguards to personal privacy. (agenda)

•    The Senate Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures & Finance meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to examine alternative ways of increasing funding for transportation projects. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: The Voter ID You Won't Need at the Polls, by Ross Ramsey

Nicole Guidotti-Hernández: The TT Interview, by Reeve Hamilton

With Pre-K Grant, Texas Switches Gears on Federal Cash, by Morgan Smith

At Hearing, Advocates Warn of Unexpected Medical Bills, by Edgar Walters

Drillers, but Not Fracking, Tied to Tainted Water, by Jim Malewitz

Elsewhere

PolitiFact: Ad goes too far in saying Abbott did nothing in abuse case, Austin American-Statesman

U.S. Pushes Back Against Warnings That ISIS Plans to Enter From Mexico, The New York Times

Questions about ICE contract in Dilley, San Antonio Express-News

Back to school — even in Texas immigration prison, The Associated Press

BP, Transocean take their fight to Texas' high court, Houston Chronicle

4 contenders for Republican Study Committee post, Politico

McAllen business leader wants Texas lege to pay RGV for bad press, McAllen Monitor

Quote to Note

“If they show their ugly head in our area, we’ll send them to hell. I would like for them to hit them so hard and so often that every time they hear a propeller on a plane or a jet aircraft engine that they urinate down both legs."

— Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, to Fox News on the much discussed possibility that ISIS militants could be crossing the Texas-Mexico border

Today in TribTalk

Texas must set the compass for energy realism, by Kathleen Hartnett White

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    3 DAYS TO GO: The Texas Tribune Festival is this weekend — register today!

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, on Sept. 24 at the UTSA Downtown Campus in San Antonio.

•    A Conversation on Demographic Change and the Digital Divide with Mark Strama, former state representative and head of Google Fiber in Austin; state Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock; Juanita Budd, executive director of Austin Free-Net; and Don Shirley, executive director of Connected Texas, on Sept. 30 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin.

•    A Conversation With Kathie Glass, 2014 Libertarian Nominee for Governor, on Oct. 2 at The Austin Club

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