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The Brief: Sept. 23, 2014

A three-week trial challenging Texas' voter ID law in federal court wrapped up on Monday amid speculation a decision could be handed down before Election Day.

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The Big Conversation

A three-week trial challenging Texas' voter ID law in federal court wrapped up on Monday amid speculation a decision could be handed down before Election Day.

"A ruling striking down the law could affect procedures for the Nov. 4 election," wrote The New York Times' Manny Fernandez. "Following the closing arguments Monday in a trial that began Sept. 2, the judge hearing the case — Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of United States District Court — did not say when she would issue a ruling. But lawyers expect a decision before the election from the judge, whom President Obama appointed to the court in 2011."

Voting rights expert Richard Hasen laid out for the Austin American-Statesman's Tim Eaton a scenario in which the parties challenging the law would lose at the appellate level following a favorable ruling from the district judge. They "could ask for emergency relief from the Supreme Court — all possibly within the next six weeks."

Former Bush DOJ staffer Hans von Spakovsky agreed that the Texas case might get fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, but it would likely be bundled with cases from other states, like North Carolina or Wisconsin.

In court on Monday, the two sides summed up their main arguments on the law. Attorneys fighting the law reiterated that it was intended to dilute minority voting power. The Tribune's Terri Langford wrote that an attorney for the DOJ called the law"serious solution in search of a problem."

An attorney for the state, meanwhile, argued that the plaintiffs failed to prove evidence of "intentional discrimination" in the law.

The Day Ahead

•    Democratic candidates for governor, Wendy Davis, and lieutenant governor, Leticia Van de Putte, are in Dallas to headline a luncheon for Annie's List.

•    The House Agriculture & Livestock Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss possible updates to the Right to Farm Act and other interim charges. (agenda)

•    The House committee on special purpose districts meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to review how these districts operate and their interactions with other jurisdictions. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: A Political Split Between Brass and Caution, by Ross Ramsey

EPA Backs Texas Disposal Well Plan, by Jim Malewitz

UT's Powers Calls for Rethinking How Tenure Is Used, by Reeve Hamilton

State, Feds Target El Paso Hospital Over TB Exposure, by Edgar Walters

Texas SpaceX Facility Might Land First Human on Mars, by Bobby Blanchard

Elsewhere

Migrant children, in limbo, settle across Texas, U.S., Austin American-Statesman

SAWS days away from pipeline decision, San Antonio Express-News

Lawmaker calls for change in oversight of Texas business incentives, Houston Chronicle

Congress has yet to extend popular Texas sales tax deduction, The Dallas Morning News

Perry asks to miss court date, cites overseas trip, The Associated Press

David Gonzalez, Austin attorney, joins Rick Perry prosecution, Austin American-Statesman

Texas Woman Denied Driver's License over Same-Sex Marriage, Texas Observer

Quote to Note

"People are going out and buying this ticket and they scratch it off, their hearts are fluttering, they're screaming everywhere, the store clerk says yes, yes, yes and then they scan it and it says not a winner."

— Lotto watchdog Dawn Nettles, on the confusion over a scratch-off game that has resulted now in litigation

Today in TribTalk

It's time for real eminent domain reform, by Calvin Tillman

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Panel Discussion on Demographic Change and the Digital Divide, on Sept. 30 at LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin

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

•    A Panel Discussion on Changing Population, Changing Health Care, on Oct. 6 at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston

•    A Conversation With Sam Houston, 2014 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, on Oct. 16 at The Austin Club

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