The Brief: Sept. 2, 2015
Word came Tuesday evening from the lieutenant governor's office of an agreement to continue operations for three months at the state agency that oversees the horse racing industry.
The Big Conversation
Officials in the horse racing industry reacted cautiously to news announced by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that an agreement had been struck to keep the Texas Racing Commission operating for another three months.
Such an agreement would give negotiators added time to sort out the disagreement between the industry and lawmakers over the commission's move to install a new form of gaming at racetracks, which would allow people to bet on past races with unidentified horses.
The impasse led to a cutoff on Tuesday in funding to the commission, which oversees the horse racing industry in Texas. As a result, tracks were unable to operate.
As of late Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Tribune were reporting on Patrick's announcement of a deal. There wasn't immediate confirmation from House Appropriations Chairman John Otto, R-Dayton, who was handling negotiations for the House.
House Speaker Joe Straus has recused himself from talks because of his family's ties to the horse racing industry.
The Tribune's Sophia Bollag wrote, "It was unclear Tuesday if the deal was official, or when it would take effect. Patrick’s announcement, however, came a day after he sparked erroneous reports with a similar statement Monday that a deal had been reached."
The Chronicle's Brian Rosenthal and Fauzeya Rahman reported that the announcement was being received cautiously by Andrea Young, president of the Sam Houston Race Park. In a statement, Young said, "We haven't seen the funding agreement being reported and we remain skeptical about the way it has been handled. ... A decision to provide the agency only three months of funding does not give the Texas racing industry the stability it needs to be successful."
Disclosure: Sam Houston Race Park LLC is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Texas Farmers Brace for New Clean Water Rule, by Ally Mutnick – Texas farmers and ranchers say they've been given little guidance and aren't sure what to expect as new federal regulations protecting drinking water supplies kick in.
Plummeting Peso Hurting Border Economy, by Julián Aguilar – The Mexican peso is well below its exchange rate against the dollar compared to a year ago, and store owners on the border are bracing for a prolonged drought of Mexican shoppers. In some cities that could mean a loss of up to 45 percent of business.
Well Explosion Could Put Pressure on Texas Regulators, by Jim Malewitz – A Palo Pinto County family is suing two oil and gas operators, alleging that gas from their wells migrated into the family's water well, which exploded and burned them. While the Texas Railroad Commission has been quietly investigating over the past year, the family's attorney said he has gathered concrete evidence to prove his case.
In Houston, Cruz Forecasts Another Tumultuous Fall for Congress, by Patrick Svitek – Speaking at a Greater Houston Partnership event Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said that stopping the nuclear deal with Iran and defunding Planned Parenthood are "likely to be major battles" when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week.
State Asks Supreme Court to Drop School Finance Lawsuit, by Kiah Collier – “Money isn’t pixie dust” when it comes to improving public schools, lawyers for the state of Texas told the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, arguing an appeal in what has been described as the most far-reaching school finance case in state history.
The Day Ahead
• Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will make presidential campaign stops in Dallas and San Antonio. He will also be in Midland on Friday.
• Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, and Mayor Ivy Taylor will be in San Antonio to recognize the 84th Legislature's support and state appropriations for the Alamo.
Suspect in deputy's death spent time in two mental hospitals, Houston Chronicle
DPS says it was responsible for 30 percent of drugs captured in border surge, The Dallas Morning News
Rep. Pete Sessions’ radio remarks about diversity draw fire, The Dallas Morning News
Texas examiners find no clear link between quakes and disposal well, San Antonio Express-News
Abbott urges Texas congressional delegation to oppose nuclear agreement with Iran, San Antonio Express-News
State lawyers defend broad attack on school finance, Austin American-Statesman
Texas grid manager says it can meet winter demand, Houston Chronicle
Massive explosion disfigures Texas landowner, and he blames fracking, Houston Chronicle
Quote to Note
“Money isn’t pixie dust.”
– A lawyer for the state of Texas, arguing an appeal regarding school finance before the state Supreme Court
News From Home
• The Texas Tribune held its first trivia night Sunday, and the top contestant scored an inimitable 90 percent in our current events round. Think you can beat that? Now's your chance to try.
Today in TribTalk
It's time to lift the crude oil export ban, by John Cornyn – In order to keep production going, and our economy growing, energy producers need access to the global market. The crude oil export ban represents an outdated, protectionist policy that negatively impacts our national security interests.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin
• The Ticket: A Live Recording and GOP Primary Debate Watch Party on Sept. 16 in Austin
• A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont
• A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin
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