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The Brief: Nov. 24, 2015

In the latest development in the standoff between the state government and Planned Parenthood over the future of its involvement in the Medicaid program, the women's health provider filed suit on Monday to stay in the program.

Planned Parenthood supporters rally outside the Texas Capitol on July 29. State health officials announced they want to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program, but the organization is still receiving funds to provide health care for about 13,500 low-income women a year.

The Big Conversation

In the latest development in the standoff between the state government and Planned Parenthood over the future of its involvement in the Medicaid program, the women's health provider filed suit on Monday to stay in the program.

The move by the state to cut the group off entirely from Medicaid dollars comes after a series of undercover videos were released earlier this year by an an anti-abortion group that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the donation of fetal tissue.

The Tribune's Alexa Ura and Edgar Walters wrote in their coverage of Monday's legal action, "The state’s move wouldn’t just end state funding for Planned Parenthood services like pregnancy tests, contraception and cancer screenings. It would also end the allocation of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood through Medicaid, the joint state-federal insurer of last resort that is administered by Texas. In 2015, Texas spent $310,000 of its own money on the women’s health organization while distributing $2.8 million in federal dollars.

"Republican state leaders have long worked to cut taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions at some of its Texas clinics — but none that receive state or federal dollars."

Ura and Walters note that Planned Parenthood affiliates in Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas have all initiated legal action to keep access to Medicaid dollars and that federal health officials have previously warned Texas that kicking Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid program could violate federal law.

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

Statewide Officeholders Staying Put in Austin, by Alana Rocha – Four of the five statewide elected officials eligible to move out of the capital city following the Nov. 3 passage of Proposition 3, which repealed the state capital residency requirement, said they'll continue to call Austin home. 

Judge: No "Emergency" to License Detention Centers, by Julián Aguilar – The state of Texas can't claim an emergency to quickly grant licenses to two private detention centers holding undocumented immigrant families for the federal government, a state district judge has ruled.

State Wants More Time for Immigration Appeal, by Julián Aguilar – The Texas Attorney General’s office is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for an extra 30 days to respond to the Obama Administration's appeal of lower court rulings that have blocked controversial changes in immigration enforcement.

Commission Will Address Texas "Justice Gap", by Jordan RudnerA large number of Texans — mostly middle class — fall into a "justice gap" where they aren't poor enough to receive free legal aid provided to indigents but can't afford basic legal services on their own.

Campaign Won't Say if Cruz Still Wants to Ax the TSA, by Aman Batheja – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is touting a list of agencies that he plans to eliminate if he’s elected president. But the Transportation Security Administration is not on it, even though Cruz has previously called for its abolishment.

State Rep. Reynolds Guilty of Ambulance-Chasing, by Ross Ramsey – State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, convicted of five counts of illegal solicitation of legal clients last week, was sentenced Monday to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.


Report: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says ‘multi-purpose’ city buildings can’t ban guns, The Dallas Morning News

Questions over concealed weapons in government buildings remain, Houston Chronicle 

Would you bring Ted Cruz to Thanksgiving? Early primary voters weigh in, The Dallas Morning News 

Four years after a historic fire, a new approach at work in Bastrop County, San Antonio Express-News

Austin Mayor Steve Adler joins White House call on Syrian refugees, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas mayor says he fears white mass shooters more than Syrian refugees, The Houston Chronicle 

Ahmed Mohamed Seeking $15 Million in Damages, WFAA

Songbirds Bring Exotic Strain of Ticks to Texas, Medill News Service

Quote to Note

"Nothing I did was criminal. I wish I had 100 percent satisfaction with my clients, but I'm not perfect."

– State Rep. Ron Reynolds, who was sentenced Monday to one year in jail following his barratry conviction, in his closing arguments

Today in TribTalk

Smoking ban in federal housing is a bad idea, by Jill Bellinger – The Department of Housing and Urban Development's latest attempt to crack down on public housing rules by proposing a smoking ban will only add to the barriers many people face in finding secure housing. Simply put, if the rule goes through, the restrictions could make it more difficult for those in public housing to maintain housing stability, and their quality of life would suffer. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation about Health Care: The Next Five Years on Dec. 2 at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock

•    A series of conversations about Bridging the Digital Divide on Dec. 4 at Houston Community College

•    A daylong symposium on Cybersecurity and Privacy on Dec. 9 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

•    A conversation with former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove on Dec. 17 at the Austin Club

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