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The Brief: March 2, 2015

The Tribune's Jay Root and Neena Satija filed a story over the weekend on the problem of deferred maintenance at state government buildings in multiple agencies. It makes for some grim reading.

The Texas School for the Deaf in Austin.

The Big Conversation

The Tribune's Jay Root and Neena Satija filed a story over the weekend on the problem of deferred maintenance at state government buildings across multiple agencies. It makes for some grim reading. Here's some examples:

•    The comptroller's office: 

Newly elected Comptroller Glenn Hegar has seen it firsthand. In his earliest days on the job, he learned that a hole in the bathroom wall at the Lyndon B. Johnson building had to be patched with toilet paper. He found out a female employee had to get rabies shots not long ago after coming into contact with one of the numerous bats flying in the building. And he discovered the real purpose of a quilt on the wall of an employee’s office.

“I thought it was decoration, but, no, that’s to muffle the sound of the bathroom behind her wall, so you can’t hear people that are on the toilet,” Hegar told The Texas Tribune on Friday.

•    The attorney general's office:

“We have leaking roofs that have caused damage to servers. We have elevators that don’t work,” Attorney General Ken Paxton, who recently took over the top state attorney job from Gov. Greg Abbott, testified recently. “I’ve been surprised at some of the issues that we’ve already had to deal with.”

•    The Texas School for the Deaf:

To keep it open, the Texas Facilities Commission agreed to patrol parts of the campus 24 hours a day to ensure buildings don’t go up in flames — a sort of human fire alarm system to replace a mechanical one that doesn’t work in a wide swath of the campus.


Last year, after responding to a complaint about wet ceiling tiles in one building, the agency went out to investigate and found rodents on top of and underneath the building — "some alive, some dead," Maass recalled. There were raccoon, squirrel and possum carcasses in the crawlspace, along with rats and rat feces.


A December 2014 report from the commission describes even more urgent problems, such as "catastrophic electrical failures," collapsed sewer lines, deteriorating roofs, and "asbestos-laden floor tiles."

The Day Ahead

•    It's Texas Independence Day. State agencies operate with skeleton work crews today.

•    The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m.

•    House budget subcommittees meet at 7:30 a.m. — Articles VI, VII & VIII (JHR 100) — and at 9 a.m. — Article II (JHR 131) and Article III (E1.030). The House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will take invited testimony at 10 a.m. on efforts to mitigate climate change (E1.014).  House Human Services meets on final adjournment to talk with new HHS Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. (E2.030).

•    Senate Finance meets at 11 a.m. to consider Chairwoman Jane Nelson's tax relief legislation as well as other proposed exemptions from the property tax (E1.036).

•    State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, and other senators join Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for a 12:30 p.m. press conference to call for flexibility in administering the Medicaid program.

•    Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announce at 2:30 p.m. at the Governor's Mansion the state's receipt of a major economic development award. 

•    Houston attorney and businessman Bill King announces his candidacy for mayor at 11:30 a.m.

Trib Must-Reads

The Top GOP Donors and Bundlers in Texas, by Abby Livingston and Annie Daniel

Texas Advocate Helped Mold Americans With Disabilities Act, by Christine Ayala

Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll; Cruz Finishes Third, by Abby Livingston


Texas GOP looks to cut influence of heavily Democratic Travis County's judges, The Dallas Morning News

Third-party forces lining up behind Perry, San Antonio Express-News

Nurse Nina Pham after Ebola: Terrible side effects, lawsuit against employer, The Dallas Morning News

Student loan debt weighs on state, national economy, Austin American-Statesman

GOP: 'We have a plan' for ObamaCare, The Hill

Uber spending big to push its case around the country, San Antonio Express-News

Austin’s Freescale being sold in $11.8 billion deal, Austin American-Statesman

Failing Marci: Investigation raises questions about care and oversight for disabled woman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

“If this is the end of my political career, so be it. It’s not going to keep me from talking about the problems of the state.”

— State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, on his view that other state needs must be addressed before lawmakers can talk about tax cuts

Today in TribTalk

Let schools, not the travel industry, set start dates, by Mike Feinberg and Robert Sanborn

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club

•    On the Road: A Symposium on Water on March 10 at Texas State University in San Marcos

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

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

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Explore related story topics

Health care Higher education Politics Charles Schwertner Dan Patrick Glenn Hegar Greg Abbott Jane Nelson Ken Paxton Ted Cruz