The Brief: An Unlikely Figure Emerges in Campus Carry Debate

The spotlight continues to shine brightly on Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg after he announced this week his intent to defy the state’s new campus carry law.

On Nov. 10, 2015, University of Texas at Austin faculty and students protested the new campus carry law that will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry handguns into campus buildings. On Nov. 10, 2015, University of Texas at Austin faculty and students protested the new campus carry law that will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry handguns into campus buildings.

On Nov. 10, 2015, University of Texas at Austin faculty and students protested the new campus carry law that will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry handguns into campus buildings. Shelby Knowles

The Big Conversation

The spotlight continues to shine brightly on Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg after he announced this week his intent to defy the state’s new campus carry law.

But, as the Tribune’s Madlin Mekelburg reports, the attention brought to the University of Texas at Austin’s only Nobel Prize winner makes him uncomfortable.

“I hadn’t been trying to become a local hero,” he said Tuesday. “I didn’t do it for that reason, and I’m a little embarrassed by it.”

Saying his stance stems from safety concerns, Weinberg said “he will stand by his decision if faced with a lawsuit from an angry student, or even one from the state. He said he has not considered pursuing legal action of his own against the university if he is forced to allow guns,” but would instead consider retirement.

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“I’m way past the age of retirement,” he said. “I love teaching, I want to go on teaching, but I can quit teaching.”  

Weinberg won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, and is the only Nobel Prize winner currently employed at UT. He said he typically teaches one upper-level undergraduate class each semester.

Campus carry laws go into effect Aug. 1 and universities are currently in the process in drawing up rules to govern concealed weapons on campus. While some rooms or buildings can be declared gun-free, those declarations can’t have a cumulative effect of banning guns campus-wide.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Game Warden Killer Set to be Executed Wednesday, by Jolie McCullough — James Garrett Freeman shot and killed Justin Hurst, a game warden, following a high-speed chase in 2007. Barring a last-minute stay, Freeman will be executed Wednesday evening, the second execution in Texas this year.

Analysis: Hard Advice for Texas Democrats From One of Their Own, by Ross Ramsey — A new book, written by a veteran of the last days when Texas Democrats were winning statewide elections, takes a hard look at what hasn't been working for the last 20 years, and what might get the party's candidates out of their long, long slump.

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Clinton Has Edge Among Texas Democratic Insiders, by Abby Livingston — Texas matters when it comes to deciding the Democratic presidential nominee, and so far Hillary Clinton is way out in front of Bernie Sanders on one score — locking up superdelegates to the party convention.

Lujan Edges Uresti in HD 118 Runoff, by Jamie Lovegrove — Lujan becomes the 99th Republican in the Texas House, one short of a supermajority, but will need to win again in the March primary and November general election to serve in the 2017 legislature.

Paul Bettencourt Named Texas Senate GOP Caucus Chairman, by John Reynolds — Senate Republicans unanimously selected state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, as the next chairman of their caucus at a meeting of the group Tuesday night.

Cruz Sees a Heightened Urgency to Iowa Win, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and some of his allies are increasingly signaling that they see more urgency than usual in prevailing in the Hawkeye State, where a win by Republican rival Donald Trump could snowball.

State Rep. Ruth McClendon Submits Letter of Resignation, by Jamie Lovegrove — State Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, has submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Greg Abbott, effective Feb. 1, the governor's office confirmed Tuesday.

Indictment Sheds Light on Planned Parenthood Sting, by Alexa Ura — As more details come to light about the criminal charges against the videographers that infiltrated a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston, it appears anti-abortion activist David Daleiden was indicted for the very crime he accused Planned Parenthood of committing.

Texas Again Seeks to Bar Syrian Refugees, by Edgar Walters and Alexa Ura — In the latest controversy over Syrians seeking refuge in Texas, the state’s top lawyer on Tuesday again asked a federal judge to halt the resettlement of people fleeing the war-torn country.

As Oil Prices Plunge, Hegar Asked if Budget Outlook Too Rosy, by Jim Malewitz — While Comptroller Glenn Hegar tried to assure lawmakers that plummeting oil prices do not mean the Texas economy is headed for a nosedive, some worried Hegar was being overly optimistic.

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Rick Perry: Iowa Trip Aims to "Add to the Edge" Ted Cruz Has in State, by Patrick Svitek — Long accustomed to traversing Iowa with a cast of local Republicans, presidential candidate Ted Cruz received some new company Tuesday in the form of a fellow Texan: former Gov. Rick Perry.

New Texas Handgun Law Is Confusing for Many, Senators Hear, by Morgan Smith — Continued uncertainty over the provisions of a new state law allowing the open carry of handguns may prompt future legislative tinkering, Texas lawmakers said Tuesday.

Police Group Upset Over DPS Director's "Spit" Comment, by Johnathan Silver — When asked about escalations with law enforcement, Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said last week that officers need to respond professionally and added, "Anybody that’s been spit at ... you just take it."

Facing Felony Charges, Anti-Abortion Group Cites Free Speech Protections, by Alexa Ura — As more details about the charges against anti-abortion activists who secretly-recorded Planned Parenthood staff come to light, the videographers are vowing to fight back — setting up a possible legal battle over First Amendment protections.

Analysis: Planned Parenthood Critics Trapped Themselves, by Ross Ramsey — What started as an effort to shame Planned Parenthood has set back that organization’s foes, when a Harris County grand jury looking at the organization's actions instead indicted its accusers.

Texas Lawmakers: Don't Single Out College Students Who Carry Guns, by Matthew Watkins — State senators on Tuesday urged Texas' six university system chancellors not to single out students who carry guns on campus when the state's new campus carry goes into effect this August.

The Day Ahead

•    The Senate Transportation Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension to hear testimony on the state’s vehicle inspection program and the driver responsibility program.

•    The Senate Property Tax Reform & Relief Select Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. at the University of Texas at San Antonio to hear testimony about property taxes.

•    Seven candidates running to replace state Sen. Troy Fraser in Senate District 24 are set to meet at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg at 6:30 p.m. for a forum.


Governor Abbott: The right choice for VP, The Hill

Cruz: A ‘gremlin’ stole Trump’s Twitter account, The Washington Post

When Ted Cruz Wanted to Be Part of the Establishment, Politico

Abbott asks Obama to declare disaster in N. Texas counties hit by tornadoes, Dallas Morning News

State comptroller: Oil prices aren’t wrecking Texas budget, Austin American-Statesman

Who Needs Megyn Kelly? Ted Cruz Says He'll Debate Donald Trump One on One, The New York Times

Rick Perry joins Ted Cruz in hopscotch across Iowa, Austin American-Statesman

Cruz backer Steve King suggests Trump is buying endorsements, Politico

Duncan: Texas Tech trying to follow 'spirit of the law' with campus carry, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Republican Lujan captures South Side special legislative election, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“Be real people, Lujan will never cast a vote in the legislature — he is San Antonio's version of the Walking Dead.”

Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, on the special election runoff in San Antonio between Republican John Lujan and Democrat Tomas Uresti.

News From Home

•    If you've received a campaign mailer, let us know about it. You can loop us in by sending an electronic version to this email address. Help us collect campaign communications ahead of the vital March 1 primary elections.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation on Health Care: Bending the Cost Curve on Jan. 28 at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth

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

•    A Conversation with Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer on Feb. 4 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation with Sen. José Menéndez on Feb. 11 at the Austin Club

•    The Ticket: A Live Recording and Democratic Primary Debate Watch Party on Feb. 11 at KUT Public Media Studios in Austin

•    A Conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on March 23 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    Symposium on Transportation on March 29 at Texas A&M University in College Station

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