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The Brief: May 4, 2015

Texas officials continue to investigate an incident Sunday night in Garland where two men shot a security guard outside a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Police returned fire, killing the two men.

Austin Police Officer Cory Ehrler monitors the entrance to Ridgetop Elementary School after classes start on the Monday following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. As the 83rd legislative session approaches, Texas lawmakers are considering making firearms more available to teachers and other school personnel.

The Big Conversation

Texas officials continue to investigate an incident Sunday night in Garland where two men shot a security guard outside a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Police returned fire, killing the two men.

The two gunmen had not yet been identified as of late Sunday night, The Dallas Morning News reported, which also reported the security guard, who worked for Garland ISD, was treated and released for a wound to his ankle. The event was being held at an events center owned by the school district.

The contest has been a source of controversy by design. The organizers of the event were offering a reward for the best cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. The organizers had defended the contest as an expression of free speech after the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are offensive, though, to many Muslims. The News reported that someone placed a post on Twitter just before the attack that "mentioned '#texasattack': 'May Allah accept us as mujahideen [those engaged in jihad].'”

Shortly before midnight, Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement:

“Texas officials are actively investigating to determine the cause and scope of the senseless attack in Garland, Texas. This is a crime that was quickly ended thanks to the swift action by Garland law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those affected tonight.”

Trib Must-Reads

Judge in Perry Indictment Faces Recusal Questions, by Patrick Svitek — More than a week after a judge who once worked for Rick Perry was tapped to hear an appeal in the former governor's indictment, it's still unclear whether he'll see the case through.

Analysis: For Legislation, May is the End of the Line, by Ross Ramsey — May is the final full month of the 140-day regular legislative session, which concludes June 1. And the deadlines that start in a week form a bottleneck that will ultimately block most proposed legislation.

Antagonist-in-Chief Stickland Faces His Foes, by Morgan Smith — Sophomore state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, has poured a seemingly inexhaustible supply of populist indignation into exposing what he sees as ideological hypocrisy within his own party.

Rep.: Harris Co. Officials Derail Online Voter Sign-Up, by Patrick Svitek — A bill to let Texans register to vote online is dead, its sponsor said Saturday, five days after a small but vocal group of Harris County officials voiced their opposition to it during a committee hearing.

Protesters Want Family Detention Center Shut Down, by Ryan McCrimmon — On the side of a dusty highway about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio on Saturday, more than 500 protesters gathered in front of the largest immigration detention center in the U.S. and chanted "shut it down."

Without Stadium Home, Bats Invade Texas A&M Buildings, by Matthew Watkins — A&M's football stadium, Kyle Field, has long doubled as one of the region's biggest bat habitats — or at least it did until recent renovations began. Now, the bats have spread across the rest of campus, showing up in swimming pools, offices and other campus buildings.

The Complicated Politics of Red Light Cameras, by Aman Batheja — State Rep. Jonathan Stickland's ejection from a House Transportation Committee hearing aside, activists devoted to purging Texas of red light cameras say they aren't thrilled with the bills under consideration this session.

A&M's New President Says No "Bloodletting", by Matthew Watkins — On his first day, Texas A&M President Michael K. Young lauded the school's students and faculty, and said he is thrilled to be in College Station. And, of course, Young had to answer questions about football.

Perry Eyes June 1 Date to Announce Presidential Plans, by Patrick Svitek — Former Gov. Rick Perry said Friday he will announce "around the first of June" whether he is launching a second bid for the White House.

State Supreme Court Punts on Major Water Case, by Jim Malewitz — The murky rules for regulating groundwater pumping aren't going to get any clearer after the state Supreme Court declined to take a case that might have helped clarify when a property owner's right of capture can be restricted.

The Day Ahead

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

•    Senate State Affairs meets at 9 a.m. On the agenda is SB 2065, the chamber's freedom of religion bill filed last week and fast-tracked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (Senate Chamber).

•    House Energy Resources meets at 8 a.m. to take invited testimony on seismic activity. The hearing comes after a report by an SMU-led research team concluded that gas industry activity "likely caused" earthquakes that shook the towns of Reno and Azle and in late 2013 and early 2014 (JHR 140).

•    Gov. Greg Abbott and First Lady Cecilia Abbott will take part in the Texas National Day of Prayer Breakfast at 7 a.m. in north Austin.

•    Beginning at 8:30 a.m. , the Tribune will host a series of panel discussions on health care in Texas. Topics of discussion include health care policy and the 84th legislative session as well as the mess at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and how to fix it. The event takes place at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin. We will livestream the event for those unable to attend in person.


With a month to go, Texas Legislature races to pass bills, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In Valley, some residents fear crime is tinged by cartels, San Antonio Express-News

How California’s drought crisis has Texas on guard, Austin American-Statesman

After reforms, is electric co-op transformed?, Austin American-Statesman

Legislature effort to ban late-term abortions for fetal problems hits home for Dallas couple, The Dallas Morning News

Villarreal, Adkisson dip into personal funds for campaigns, San Antonio Express-News

F.E.C. Can’t Curb 2016 Election Abuse, Commission Chief Says, The New York Times

Cruz consultant Jeff Roe thrives in the school of hard hits, Houston Chronicle

Mamas do let your babies grow up to be cowboys, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

“I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”

— Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel to The New York Times on the stalemate that has developed at the agency charged with oversight of the federal election system

Today in TribTalk

2 bills that could save lives, by Jamie Schanbaum, Patsy Schanbaum and Greg Williams — Our families have been touched by preventable diseases. The Texas Legislature should help make sure no family shares our experience.

News From Home

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Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With John Sharp on May 7 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dennis Bonnen on May 13 at The Austin Club

•    How'd the House Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 21 at The Austin Club

•    How'd the Senate Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 28 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club

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