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The Brief: Feb. 3, 2015

The state representative at the center of a controversy over treatment of visitors to the Capitol for Texas Muslim Capitol Day last week told the Tribune on Monday that she didn't expect her Facebook post to raise such a ruckus.

Rep. Molly White R-Belton in her Capitol office on February 2nd, 2015

The Big Conversation

The state representative at the center of a controversy over treatment of visitors to the Capitol for Texas Muslim Capitol Day last week told the Tribune on Monday that she didn't expect her Facebook post would raise such a ruckus.

In that post, state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, said she instructed her staff to ask visitors to her office "to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws."

"I never thought it was going to go viral," White told the Tribune's Neena Satija. "And I thought it was just to folks that were in my district. I didn't know that there [were] fringe groups out there watching every word you say and things you do."

White added that she should have made it clear that her comments were directed more at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has organized Texas Muslim Capitol Day for more than 10 years.

"When I hear CAIR, I get red flags," White said, because the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has designated CAIR as a terrorist group. The United States government does not. White said Muslims themselves need to become more educated about the group, adding, "If you're not diligent into finding out who these folks are and what their beliefs are, then I believe you're being careless."

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m.

•    Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. to lay out the general government portion of the budget. Slated to be heard are the governor's trusteed programs, the ethics commission, the Department of Information Resources and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (E1.036)

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will give a 12:30 p.m. speech at the NFIB/Texas Small Business Day event at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol. Other invited speakers include: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Joe Straus, Comptroller Glenn Hegar and state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.

•    State Reps. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, Jim Murphy, R-Houston, and state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, will speak at a 7 a.m. legislative breakfast held by the Texas Association of Business and Texas Association of Workforce Boards at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Austin.

•    The Texas Association of Counties holds its Counties at the Capitol event, which kicks off with an 8 a.m. breakfast at the TAC building at 1210 San Antonio Street.

Trib Must-Reads

Texas Bearing Brunt of Drop in Oil Drilling, by Becca Aaronson and Jim Malewitz

A Look Back at the Health Commission-21CT Contract, by Terri Langford

News App: Texas Hospitals Explorer, by Annie Daniel, Becca Aaronson and Ryan Murphy

Public Integrity Unit Chief Testifies Before Senators, by Aman Batheja

Filings Hint Which U.S. House Members Are Targets, by Abby Livingston

Consultant Firm With Perry Ties Heads to Bush Team, by Abby Livingston

Elsewhere

Popular state purchasing program lacks oversight, competition, Houston Chronicle

Some senators not so gung-ho for tax cuts, The Dallas Morning News

Effort to ban texting while driving in Texas may hit roadblock — again, Austin American-Statesman

Falling oil prices lower the boom in Texas, Houston Chronicle

Xerox fined by state for continued TxTag issues, KXAN-TV

Search for Fisher’s replacement at Dallas Fed picks up momentum, The Dallas Morning News

A Seller's Market: GOP Campaigns Racing to Lock Down Qualified Staff, National Journal

A Discredited Vaccine Study’s Continuing Impact on Public Health, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“I don’t know shit about procurement. At the time, I did not know physically what to do. I didn’t know how to buy something.”

— Now departed HHSC Deputy Inspector General Jack Stick, telling the Tribune that he followed the lead of others at the agency in purchasing fraud detection software from 21CT. The awarding of a no-bid contract to the company helped spur a closer look at the state's procurement practices.

Today in TribTalk

As measles threat rises, we can keep Texas safe, by Anna C. Dragsbaek

News From Home

During the legislative session, we're compiling "hot lists" of issues across several policy areas. This week, our Lege page's featured hot list is Public Education. Use it to stay updated during the session, and subscribe to our Trib+Edu newsletter for more education news. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Adm. William McRaven, UT System Chancellor on Feb. 5 at The Austin Club

•    Houston & the Legislature: Previewing the 84th Session on Feb. 12 at the Wortham Center in Houston

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro on Feb. 19 at The Austin Club

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

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