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The Brief: June 19, 2015

Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Donna Bahorich as the new chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education. But the former staffer for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick drew criticism from one board member for not having enough experience.

Pre-K teacher Josefina Pineda teaches her students the concept of "push" by having them join hands and push back and forth...

The Big Conversation

The Texas State Board of Education, which oversees curriculum and textbooks for more than 5 million students, has a new leader.

Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Donna Bahorich — a social conservative who's worked for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — to chair the 15-member board. Bahorich has served on the board since 2013, sitting on committees whose responsibilities include charter school issues, certification and long-range plans for public schools.

The Tribune's Liz Crampton has more on Abbott's appointee — and why she drew some criticism:

Bahorich, who usually votes with the board's social conservative bloc, has close ties to Patrick. She was his campaign manager during his first run for the state Senate seat in 2006. After that, she served on Patrick's staff in varying roles including district director, campaign treasurer and communications director.

Board member Thomas Ratliff, a governmental relations consultant and lobbyist from Mount Pleasant, said he was disappointed to hear of Bahorich's appointment. Ratliff said he believes she does not have enough experience with public schools to qualify her for the job.

"She's a nice lady and a hard worker and I think her heart's in the right place," Ratliff said. "I just think it ought to be a fundamental requirement on the state board for someone to have had kids in public school."

But state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said in a statement that Bahorich's "commitment to our education system is admirable and the state will be well-served by her chairing the board."

Trib Must-Reads

Capitol May Finally Get African-American Monument, by Aman Batheja — After more than 20 years of efforts to place a monument to African-Americans on Capitol grounds "littered" with Confederate tributes, state lawmakers have approved $1.5 million that should bring the African American Texans Memorial Monument to fruition.

Law Allows More College Credits for High Schoolers, by Matthew Watkins — High school advanced placement students should be able to earn more college credits under a bill signed by Gov. Greg Abbott this month, a change that will save students and universities millions of dollars.

Cruz: Pray Supreme Court Doesn't Legalize Gay Marriage, by Abby Livingston — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz used the imminent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage to make his case to a socially conservative group on Thursday.

Prosecutor: Grand Jury to Hear Paxton Case in July, by Patrick Svitek – A case against Attorney General Ken Paxton is heading to a grand jury next month, according to one of the special prosecutors investigating him.

Ag Commission Rolls Back Ban on Deep Fryers, Soda Machines, by Liz Crampton — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Thursday restored the option for public schools to serve certain fried foods and soda by lifting a decade-old statewide ban on deep fryers and soda machines.

George P. Bush Steps Into Role as Dad's Surrogate, by Patrick Svitek — Land Commissioner George P. Bush made his debut this week as a surrogate for his dad's presidential campaign. The younger Bush hit the campaign trail in early-voting Nevada, making a pitch for his father in personal and political terms.

Supreme Court: Texas Can Ban Confederate License Plates, by Aman Batheja — In a 5-4 ruling released Thursday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court backed Texas’ decision to forbid specialty license plates sporting an image of the Confederate flag.

Law Extends Electric Bill Help for Poor Texans, by Jim Malewitz — Low-income Texans can enjoy a discount on their electricity bills for a little longer. Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed legislation ensuring that the remaining balance of the state’s “System Benefit Fund” would go toward that purpose.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at 12:45 p.m. at the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce's 35th Annual Award Luncheon

•    Abbott has a Sunday deadline to veto the bills lawmakers passed in the 2015 session. Anything he doesn't veto automatically becomes law.

Elsewhere

Supreme Court Says Texas Can Reject Confederate Flag License Plates, The New York Times

Texas’ specialty license plates have raised nearly $200 million since 1994; here’s a look at the numbers, The Dallas Morning News

More Texas abortion clinics on verge of closing, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Ag commissioner’s anti-obesity strategy frees schools to deep-fry, San Antonio Express-News

Perry moves up in latest Iowa caucus poll, The Dallas Morning News

Wal-Mart calls state liquor laws discriminatory, Austin American-Statesman

Houston legislator recalls fight for Juneteenth holiday, Houston Chronicle

Regent's fight with UT could reignite with lawsuit, The Dallas Morning News

Tom Benson found competent to rule estate, San Antonio Express-News

FreedomWorks head leaves for Rand Paul PAC amid turmoil, Politico

Quote to Note

 "Make no mistake. You're going to see a lot of Bushes."

George P. Bush telling an audience in Reno, Nevada, that his father, Jeb Bush, will use the Bush last name as an advantage as he seeks the 2016 GOP nomination.

News From Home

•    If you missed the event, here's the video of yesterday's conversation on Texas Monthly's biennial list of the best and worst legislators, with Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith and Texas Monthly's Erica Grieder and R.G. Ratcliffe.

•    By the end of the 84th legislative session, state lawmakers reached many compromises on the 2016-17 budget and tax cuts. See what lawmakers decided — and how they got there — with our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Conversation About Houston and the 84th Legislature on June 29 at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

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

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