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The Brief: July 29, 2015

Waller County officials have released Sandra Bland's booking video to dispel online rumors that she was already dead when she was booked.

Waller County Jail booking video showing Sandra Bland appearing before Justice of the Peace Delores Hargrave.

The Big Conversation

Waller County officials have released Sandra Bland's booking video to dispel online rumors that she was already dead when she was booked. 

The rumors have led to a cyber-attack on the county and death threats, said Waller County Judge Carbett “Trey” J. Duhon. The Tribune's Terri Langford has more

Duhon said county officials opted to release the booking video three days after Anonymous, a loose but dedicated network of computer programmers, released a video calling upon citizens worldwide to organize a "Day of Rage" on Aug. 8 for Bland. ...

Duhon said the threats reached such a level that by late Monday, Waller County officials decided to release the jail booking video after discovering that they could make copies from the internal digital recording system that the jail uses. Earlier attempts to do so had failed, Duhon said.

“When it comes to correct information, social media cannot be relied upon," Duhon told reporters.

And in the Legislature, the House Committee on County Affairs will hold a hearing Thursday to evaluate jail standards and how state troopers are trained. Those invited to testify include Steve McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety director; Brandon Wood, the executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards; and Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith. McCraw and Wood have confirmed they will attend.

That's not the only legislative committee hearing going on this week. Today, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will meet at 9 a.m. over Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donations, as the Tribune's Alexa Ura reports.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must-Reads

Groundwater District Seek Help Tracking Disposal Wells, by Jim Malewitz — As oilfield waste disposal wells proliferate in Texas, groundwater managers are keenly interested in where they are going and how carefully they construct them. And they're asking the industry and regulators for further help.

Legal Experts Question State's Immunity Claim, by Julián Aguilar — The state of Texas can't hide behind sovereign immunity to escape a lawsuit for denying birth certificates to U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants, some legal experts contend.

Uber Expanding Options for Disabled Riders in Austin, by Aman Batheja  Uber is adding Austin to a small list of cities in which it will offer more wheelchair-accessible vehicles among its transportation options, the company confirmed Tuesday

In Latest EPA Ruling, Both Sides Claim a Win, by Kiah Collier and Jim Malewitz  Texas’ Republican leaders and environmentalists are both claiming victory Tuesday following an appeals court ruling that requires the federal government to ease limits on certain emissions for Texas and a dozen other states.

Grand Jury Looming, Paxton Assails Prosecutors, by Patrick Svitek — A grand jury will soon decide whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton should be indicted for securities fraud, but the battle for public opinion is already kicking into high gear.

Cruz Taps Fleming as Campaign's Texas Tea Party Chair, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has picked up the endorsement of one of his home state's most prolific Tea Party activists.

Audit Finds "Significant Weaknesses" in GLO Contracting, by Jim Malewitz — The General Land Office’s contracting process is riddled with “significant weaknesses” that threatened the agency’s ability to ensure it is wisely spending its dollars, State Auditor John Keel said in a report made public Tuesday.


Ted Cruz more alienated in Senate than ever, Politico

Cruz attacks McConnell at pro-life rally, Washington Times

Protests slam Planned Parenthood ahead of state Senate hearing, San Antonio Express-News

Martinez Fischer urges mayor, city council to confront Abbott on G.J. Sutton veto, San Antonio Express-News

Council Member Don Zimmerman sues Austin over campaign finance rules, Austin American-Statesman

AG to investigate possible voter fraud in Weslaco city elections, San Antonio Express-News

Climate change expected to take heavy toll on Texas, San Antonio Express-News

Houston oil jobs being axed, Houston Chronicle

Cheap natural gas spurs more chemical investment, Houston Chronicle

Boy Scouts accept possibility of gay leaders, but not all churches agree, Houston Chronicle

Local troop-sponsoring churches confront Boy Scout policy change, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"To find out that this culture of death is now leading to the sale — this is no different than what happened in Nazi Germany. No different than doing the experiments on the old men and old women and now doing them on the babies."

— State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, speaking at an anti-abortion rally at the Capitol, a day ahead of a legislative hearing on Planned Parenthood practices

Today in TribTalk

Climate change could devastate the Texas economy, by Henry Cisneros and Annise Parker — Rising temperatures, driven by climate change, threaten to undo much of our state’s hard-won economic growth. Let’s fight these risks with a Texas-sized response.

How the fastest-growing city in the U.S. is planning for its future, by Daniel Guerrero — We can’t guarantee there won’t be growing pains in San Marcos, the fastest-growing city in the U.S. But we can assure our residents that we’re doing everything we can to plan for that growth. 

News From Home

•      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 with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin

•      A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

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

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