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The Brief: Nov. 6, 2015

Houston Mayor Annise Parker hinted on Thursday that she might try to bring back in some form the controversial nondiscrimination ordinance that was soundly defeated this week by the voters.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker speaks to pro-Proposition 1 supporters in Houston, Texas on Nov. 3, 2015.

The Big Conversation

Houston Mayor Annise Parker hinted on Thursday that she might try to bring back in some form the controversial nondiscrimination ordinance that was soundly defeated this week by the voters.

The Houston Chronicle's Mike Morris reported that Parker is looking at taking a different approach next time. That could mean introducing protections against discrimination in stages, "such as banning discrimination in employment, then housing, then public accommodations."

"I'm going to sit down with the council members and see how they want to proceed," Parker told the Chronicle. "We will also, of course, evaluate what the national and international response from the business community is, because that certainly will make a difference."

A reintroduced ordinance also "could mirror some other cities' wording to exempt bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities from coverage under the 'public accommodations' section of the ordinance," Morris wrote.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, whose opposition to HERO generated headlines in the weeks before the election, warned Parker against trying to revive the ordinance in the last months of her administration.

Speaking to reporters in Lubbock where he was attending the Texas Federation of Republican Women Conference, Patrick said, "You can’t find any women who want men in the bathroom beside Annise Parker and a few people who voted for her ... I think Annise Parker needs to realize she’s going to be out of office in a few months, and she ought to take her bad ideas to wherever she’s going after she leaves office."

Meanwhile, the Chronicle's Alyson Ward and Andrew Dansby reported that at least a few places in Houston have already begun making accommodations in their restrooms for transgender people.

They wrote, "Although voters expressed considerable unease at the thought of a transgender woman in a woman's bathroom, Houston restrooms are way ahead of politics. No Houston establishments are required by law to offer unisex bathrooms, yet some already do. ... The restroom signage might say All Gender, Gender Neutral, Unisex, or something more whimsical. The signage might say nothing at all, offering an image to explain what words cannot. At North Italia restaurant on Post Oak, three of the five private restrooms are marked Either/Or."

Trib Must Reads

Feds Worry Power Giant Will Ditch Mine Cleanup, by Jim Malewitz – As Energy Future Holdings continues what it hopes will be the final leg of messy bankruptcy proceedings, a recent dispute with the federal government highlights just how far a mammoth corporate reorganization can reach.

Analysis: Texas Racing Pines for Political Fix, by Ross Ramsey – A pending set of gubernatorial appointments could end the current round of brinksmanship over what kinds of gambling are allowed in Texas, but it won’t solve the long-term problem facing the state's troubled racing industry.

Texans Pitch In to Support New Colleague Ratcliffe, by Abby Livingston – Not so long ago, John Ratcliffe might have felt like he was running against the entire Texas GOP House delegation. But these days, Ratcliffe is a part of the family.

Prosecutors: Paxton Engaged in "Pre-Trial Shell Game", by Morgan Smith – In a 19-page court filing, the special prosecutors pursuing the financial securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton delivered a scathing response to Paxton's latest efforts to dismiss his three felony charges.

Appeals Court Backs Ethics Commission Over Activist, by Aman Batheja – A state appeals court ruled Thursday that conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan lives in Austin despite his claims otherwise, so his dispute with the state Ethics Commission will play out in Travis County.

New Texas House Committee to Examine EPA Rules, by Jim Malewitz – House Speaker Joe Straus announced Thursday that a new House Committee on Federal Environmental Regulation will examine a litany of new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts that have roiled Texas leaders and industry.

UT System Plans to Open a New Campus in Houston, by Matthew Watkins – The University of Texas System plans to build a new campus on 300 acres in the southwestern part of Houston, an initiative its leaders say will drastically expand the system's presence in the state's biggest city.

UT System to Require Interviews with Minority Candidates, by Matthew Watkins – Chancellor Bill McRaven said Thursday he will require that a woman or minority candidate be interviewed for every high-level position at the UT System's 14 universities and medical schools.  

The Day Ahead

•   Gov. Greg Abbott will speak at the Texas Federation of Republican Women Awards Luncheon at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center at noon.

•   The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss two of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's interim charges – issuing recommendations on the use of Texas Emission Reduction Plan funds and addressing oil field theft problems. 


Kevin Brady takes Ways and Means gavel with high expectationsThe Dallas Morning News

DA: Marijuana now means a citation, not a ride to jailHouston Chronicle

Texas agency: 4 districts violated law on disabled students, The Associated Press

The Prince of Darkness returns to S.A.San Antonio Express-News

Immigrants plan visit to Texas Gov. Abbott’s mansion to plead their caseThe Dallas Morning News

Mexican consulate, local nonprofit launch scholarship programAustin American-Statesman

A&M announces ambitious fundraising goalSan Antonio Express-News

UT sets its sights on HoustonHouston Chronicle

Governor orders ‘immediate funding’ for flood prevention after KXAN Investigation, KXAN

Elder Bush Says His Son Was Served Badly by Aides, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“This is my first time here, not his."

Jack Osbourne, son of Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, on his father's visit to the Alamo where he apologized for relieving himself on a stone monument in 1982.

Today in TribTalk

Houston Should be Ashamedby Rebecca Pfeffer — On Tuesday, Houston chose bigotry over equality. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance sought to prohibit discrimination against many types of people, including those with disabilities, veterans, people of color, foreign-born Americans, and people of every gender and sexual orientation. By voting against this act, we voted in favor of continued institutional oppression of our fellow community members and loved ones.

Chutes, ladders and budget battles in Texas, by Eva DeLuna Castro and Dick Lavine – The Texas state budget — because it affects health care, education and other services for the state's 27 million residents — is certainly no game, and there is certainly more than just luck at play. But like Chutes and Ladders, there are many spots in the budget process where the state's advancement can be suddenly thwarted as well as opportunities for big leaps forward.

News From Home

•    Tune in for the latest episode of The Ticket, a co-production of the Tribune and KUT. Ted Cruz and Chris Christie were two of the winners from the last GOP debate. What does that mean for their campaigns? The Texas Tribune’s Jay Root and KUT’s Ben Philpott talk with New Jersey Public Radio's Matt Katz and WNYC's David Furst to find out.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation on Transforming Texas Hospitals at the Texas Medical Center in Houston on Nov. 10

•    A discussion about Public Education: The Next Five Years on Nov. 13 at the University of Texas at El Paso

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

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