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The Brief: June 30, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a win over a lawsuit on EPA regulations, but it also took other actions Monday that significantly affected Texas.

Steam rises from the stacks at the Martin Lake Coal-Fired Power Plant in Tatum, TX March 30, 2011.

The Big Conversation

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must redraft regulations on mercury emissions was just one of the court's actions on Monday significantly affecting Texas.

The high court also temporarily blocked a Texas law that would close 10 of Texas' 19 abortion facilities because they don't meet the law's standards. And it decided to — once again — hear a case challenging the admissions rules at the University of Texas at Austin, a case that it had previously sent back to lower courts.

But on the case challenging EPA regulations of power plants, the court sided 5-4 with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said the ruling was "a significant victory in our efforts to rein in an out-of-control EPA," as the Tribune's Jim Malewitz and Neena Satija report:

With other states, Texas argued that the EPA didn't properly consider the $10 billion annual price tag of its regulation, which “threatens to drive a number of coal-fired electric utilities out of business.” The rules target more than 50 coal- and oil-fired power plants across Texas, and industry and labor groups challenged them.

Many companies have already taken steps to comply with the standards.

The EPA countered that Congress never directed the agency to consider costs the way Texas and other states think it should. And in any case, the agency argued, the benefits far outweigh the costs. The agency asserted that the new limits would have prevented up to 11,000 premature deaths per year. Mercury, a highly toxic chemical that can build up in the human body, is linked to brain abnormalities and developmental disorders.

And fresh off his win in that case, Paxton filed another lawsuit against a new EPA rule out Monday — this one defining which bodies of water the Clean Water Act protects. This latest lawsuit marks Texas' 20th against the EPA since President Barack Obama took office.

Trib Must-Reads

For Astronomers' Sake, Some Drillers Cut Their Lights, by Jim Malewitz — As the glow from Permian Basin worksites hinders research and amateur stargazing at McDonald Observatory in far West Texas, some companies are calling on their colleagues to address the problem.

State Won't Track Gay Marriage Numbers, by Aman Batheja and Jolie McCullough — On the first day of legal same-sex marriage, more than 630 same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses in 10 of the state's largest counties. But keeping track of how many licenses are issued over time may prove difficult. 

With Marriage Decided, Adoption Rights Next, by Alexa Ura — Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage, family law attorneys in Texas are gearing up to make sure same-sex couples that adopt children get full parental rights.

Huffman Discloses Husband's Financial Holdings, by Jay Root — Houston state Sen. Joan Huffman, who tried to shield the spouses of elected officials from ethics disclosure rules, has now revealed a slew of business interests held by her husband on her personal financial statement.  

Cruz: "I Thought That Popularity Was the Holy Grail," by Abby Livingston — In his new memoir — and in an interview with the Tribune — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz talks about how his "cocky" nature has tripped him up in the past, and what he learned from getting passed over for a senior spot in George W. Bush's administration.

Feds Set New Policies for LGBT Detainees, by Julián Aguilar — Immigration and Customs Enforcement will implement new guidelines designed to better protect transgender people in immigration detention facilities, the agency announced Monday.

Some Counties Withholding Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, by Ally Mutnick — Three days after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, some Texas county clerks are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Gay Rights Activists: Fight is Only Just Getting Started, by Alexa Ura — Now that same-sex marriage is legal, gay rights activists are setting their sights on pushing for more protections for LGBT people. In front of the Texas Capitol, activists vowed to target discrimination in areas including employment and housing. 

TDCJ Official: Supreme Court's Ruling Won't Impact Texas Executions, by Terri Langford — A U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday that upheld the use of an execution drug used in Oklahoma will not change how death row inmates in Texas are executed, according to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman.


Ted Cruz: States should ignore gay marriage ruling, Politico

Supreme Court to consider University of Texas race-conscious admissions, The Washington Post

Citing Texas cases, Supreme Court justices question death penalty constitutionality, San Antonio Express-News

Ted Cruz disputes 'the knock' that he's 'too scary' to win, USA Today

Ted Cruz: John Roberts “Put On An Obama Jersey,” Justices Should Resign If They Want To Write Legislation, BuzzFeed

Rick Perry gets animated with new donation video, The Dallas Morning News

Chasnoff: Mayor Ivy Taylor supports Confederate symbolism at cemetery, San Antonio Express-News

Religion versus gay marriage debate rages in Texas, Austin American-Statesman

Politicians seek to boost donations on eve of reporting deadline, Houston Chronicle

Houston senator asks DOJ to protect rights of gay Texans, Houston Chronicle

Judges opt out of performing marriages, clerks to issue licenses, Wichita Falls Times Record-News

Some push for change at Austin campuses named for Confederates, Austin American-Statesman

Texas manufacturing slowdown continues, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"When I was in junior high and a geek, I thought that popularity was the Holy Grail."

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tells the Tribune's Abby Livingston that he's been unpopular in the past, but that he's learned it's better to "stick to your principles and maintain your integrity"

Today in TribTalk

The Texas Capitol's Confederate memorial problem, by Sanford Levinson — The debate over Confederate monuments in Texas won’t likely stop with UT-Austin. The true elephant in the room is the grounds of the Texas Capitol, which contain a handful of memorials to those who fought for the Confederacy.

News From Home

•    The Texas oil boom slowed during the 84th legislative session, creating implications for the state's budget. See how lawmakers responded to volatile oil prices, local drilling ordinances and other energy issues this session in the Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

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