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The Brief: Dec. 3, 2015

The state of Texas filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday afternoon to block placement of Syrian refugees, arguing that the federal government and a refugee resettlement group are not living up to their obligations to consult with the state.

Group gathers at Wooldridge Park in Austin to protest Gov. Abbott's decision not to accept at Syrian refugees on November 22, 2015

The Big Conversation

The state of Texas filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday afternoon to block placement of Syrian refugees, arguing that the federal government and a refugee resettlement group are not living up to their obligations to consult with the state.

The suit, as the Tribune's Alexa Ura reports, "argues that federal officials violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which requires that the federal government 'shall consult regularly' with the state regarding the placement of refugees. Texas also alleges that the International Rescue Committee violated a separate provision of the act requiring the nonprofit work 'in close cooperation and advance consultation' with the state."

The legal action is the latest step in the standoff between Texas and the federal government over the resettlement program after last month's terrorist attack in Paris where a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the attackers. Ura wrote that the federal government said last week that governors cannot reject refugees, "telling them they would be breaking the law if they denied benefits or services to refugees based on their country of origin or religion."

On Tuesday, Texas officials "asked the U.S. State Department for demographic, medical, security and other case information for Syrian refugees expected to resettle in Texas in the next 90 days." The state also asked for a delay in the resettlement of two Syrian families to the Dallas area early this month.

The head of the state's health and human services agency wrote in a letter to the refugee resettlement group that the resettlements should wait "until we have received the requested information and our concerns with screening procedures have been appropriately addressed."

Trib Must Reads

Legal Teams Fight For, and Over, Death Row Inmate, by Johnathan Silver – Two sets of attorneys who believe their client doesn't belong on death row are fighting not only the state of Texas but also each other as his case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Targeting Child Abuse, Panel Pushes for State Advisory Board, by Luqman Adeniyi – At the state Capitol on Wednesday, a group of medical, law and child welfare experts recommended new policies to help prevent child abuse fatalities in the state of Texas.

Video: Outtakes from Ted Cruz Ad Campaign Shoots, by Alana Rocha – Earlier this year, U.S. Sen Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign posted hours of video on its YouTube channel of interviews and other footage that has since been used in ads. According to this CNN post, many candidates quietly post raw videos on public websites as a way to share material legally with Super PACs.

Largest Power Company in Texas Settles Uranium Mine Dispute, by Jim Malewitz – Energy Future Holdings, mired in bankruptcy, has agreed to pay up to $2 million to help clean up long-abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico — a sum far lower than the federal government originally sought.

Whitmire Calls UT System's New Campus Plan an "Affront", by Matthew Watkins – In a letter sent Wednesday to University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven, state Sen. John Whitmire joined a growing number of legislators asking the UT System to pause and reconsider its plans to open a branch campus in his hometown of Houston.

The Day Ahead

•    The Senate subcommittee on border security meets at 11 a.m. at the Capitol to discuss statewide policies on sanctuary cities

•    Before the hearing, a collection of lawmakers, law enforcement officers and community leaders hold a 9:30 a.m. press conference in the Lieutenant Governor's Press Room to discuss immigrant rhetoric and proposals. 

•    Outgoing Houston Mayor Annise Parker announces her endorsement of former state Rep. Sylvester Turner for mayor at a 10:30 a.m. press conference at City Hall.

•    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, files paperwork to put Cruz on the Texas presidential ballot at 2:30 p.m. in Austin. 

•    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Texas Faith, Family and Freedom Gala starting at 6 p.m.


Cruz uses family company to court small business ownersThe Dallas Morning News

Greg Abbott’s pension board pick draws protests from laborAustin American-Statesman

Controversial Iowa ad calls Ted Cruz ‘hypocrite’ on energyThe Dallas Morning News

Ted Cruz, Raw and Uncut, New York Magazine

Fewer Texans enrolling in health-care exchangeHouston Chronicle

SCOTUS ruling keeps immigration case on track for possible rulingSan Antonio Express-News

Texas governor wants more Cuban trade but mum on embargo, The Associated Press

Ted Cruz Vows to Put Hard-Core Conservatives on Supreme Court, Bloomberg

City leaders release video related to deadly shooting by HPDHouston Chronicle

Alamo Plaza buildings acquired by stateSan Antonio Express-News

Lawmakers call for 'clear language' on ballotsHouston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"In all candor, in my 42 years of service in the Texas Legislature, I have not seen such an affront to the legislative process and the conservative deliberations of the higher education community."

— State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, in a letter to UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven about the System's plan to build a new campus in Houston.

Today in TribTalk

Why I am thankful for the Affordable Care Act, by Manuel Avila Jr. –  This year, I was especially thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with my family, as a recent cancer diagnosis taught me the importance of getting health insurance coverage.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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

•    A conversation with state Reps. Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez and Paul Workman on Jan. 14 at St. Edward's University in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin

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