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The Brief: June 10, 2015

A federal appeals court upheld a key segment of the 2013 Texas law adding requirements on abortion facilities in the state.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals building in New Orleans.

The Big Conversation

A federal appeals court upheld a key segment of the 2013 Texas law adding requirements on abortion facilities in the state.

The Tribune's Alexa Ura has the rundown:

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state's requirement that abortion clinics meet ambulatory surgical center standards — which include minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia and other infrastructure — did not impose an undue burden on a "large fraction" of Texas women seeking abortions.

Only a handful of Texas abortion clinics — all in major metropolitan areas — meet those standards, which are costly to implement. Immediately following the ruling, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Texas women's health care providers announced their plan to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law's backers have repeatedly justified the new standards as aimed at further safeguarding women who undergo an abortion. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday released a statement in which he said the law "both protects the unborn and ensures Texas women are not subjected to unsafe and unhealthy conditions."

Abortion rights advocates, however, saw the law as intended to shut down abortion clinics. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Heather Busby said the ruling would leave open only eight clinics statewide. (Check out this interactive map that shows the location of abortion facilities from August 2013 onward.)

"The 5th Circuit has once again put their political ideology above the law and failed to recognize that HB 2 is an undue burden on Texans' access to safe, legal and timely abortion," she said. "Your zip code should not determine your health care."

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: In Voting Rights, Who's a Person?, by Ross Ramsey — A Texas case accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court could decide just who a "person" is when voting rights are concerned. The phrase in question is a famous one: "One person, one vote."

Questions Grow About Handling of Waco Biker Cases, by Terri Langford — More than three weeks after Waco police arrested 177 bikers following a deadly shootout, none have been charged in the killings, nearly half remain in jail and legal experts — including some former prosecutors — wonder what McLennan County is doing.

Ted Cruz Goes Hunting in the Valley of Democrats, by Patrick Svitek — Long used to enrapturing friendly crowds in the reddest parts of beet-red Texas, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz came to the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday with a less familiar task: finding a receptive audience in one of the state's few remaining Democratic bastions.

Hegar Sounds Alarm on Franchise Tax Ruling, by Liz Crampton — Texas stands to lose up to $1.5 billion a year in tax revenue — and could be forced to refund another $6 billion to businesses — unless the state wins its appeal of a recent court decision, Comptroller Glenn Hegar is officially warning top officials.

Abbott Signs Sweeping Border Security Bill, by Julián Aguilar — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed House Bill 11, capping off the final piece of a massive effort by lawmakers to bolster the ranks of state police, increase technology and establish intelligence operations units on the Texas-Mexico border.

Porter Takes Over as Railroad Commission Chairman, by Jim Malewitz — The Texas Railroad Commission has a new leader. The state’s three-member oil and gas regulator on Tuesday unanimously elected David Porter as its chairman. He replaces Christi Craddick in the largely ceremonial role.

Straus: A Cautious, Conservative Session, by Ross Ramsey — In a wide-ranging interview with The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, House Speaker Joe Straus touted the new state budget, franchise tax cuts and the Legislature’s slow but steady pace this year.

The Day Ahead

•    Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is in Abilene, Wichita Falls and Tyler on his "Bold New Day in Texas" tour.

•    The Railroad Commission of Texas begins the first of two days of hearings in which XTO Energy has to provide information to show that its Reno/Azle-area disposal wells did not cause earthquakes in the area. The 9 a.m. hearing will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.


McKinney officer's resignation leaves critics relieved, supporters disappointed, The Dallas Morning News

Texas Gov. Abbott won't say whether he will sign DPS bill, El Paso Times

Report: Post bag-ban Austin uses 200 million fewer plastic bags a year, Austin American-Statesman

Racing commission takes step that could halt new form of betting, Austin American-Statesman

Galveston judge hits commissioners with restraining order in power struggle, Houston Chronicle

Guardrail Maker to Pay $663M for Not Revealing Design Change, The Associated Press

Brown journeyed a long road from death row to freedom, Houston Chronicle

Rick Perry and the Hazards of One-Party Rule, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“We get a little cranky early in the morning.”

— House Speaker Joe Straus making light during a conversation Tuesday with Tribune CEO Evan Smith of a widely covered mid-session blowup during a regular breakfast meeting of top state leaders

News From Home

While lawmakers reached an agreement to boost transportation funding during the 84th legislative session, other issues stalled. See what happened on all transportation issues from this session using our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Conversation About Health Care and the 84th Legislature on June 24 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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Glenn Hegar Greg Abbott Joe Straus Ken Paxton Rick Perry Ted Cruz