The Big Conversation
The University of Texas at Austin’s president laid out on Wednesday how the state’s new campus carry law will be implemented there.
The Tribune’s Matthew Watkins has the rundown:
(University President Gregory) Fenves' rules will ban guns in dorms except for three specific exceptions: Concealed handguns will be allowed in dorms' common areas; people who work in the dorms will be able to carry; and family members visiting the dorms will also be allowed to carry.
While no classroom ban will be imposed, faculty members who don't share an office with anyone else can ban guns in their specific areas, Fenves said.
He also issued strict rules for how those guns can be carried.
In laying out the rules, Fenves made clear that he’s uncomfortable with guns on campus but that the law passed last year gives him no option but to move forward.
The rules — allowing guns in classrooms but requiring guns to be holstered — managed to anger both supporters and opponents of campus carry. Both sides let it be known they might take legal action against the new rules.
Private universities, meanwhile, have the ability to opt out of campus carry. So far, 24 private schools have chosen that path, with Baylor University announcing Tuesday it was banning handguns on campus, Watkins reported.
None have chosen to allow guns.
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
Democrats' Alliance with Battleground Texas Shows Strains, by Jamie Lovegrove — While many Democrats have mixed feelings about the group that helped lead the party's election efforts in 2014, Battleground Texas officials still believe in their long-term strategy to turn Texas blue.
Accused Laredo Killer Easily Shuttled Over Border, by Julián Aguilar — Martha and Kimberly Martinez would like to know how a man with Juan Francisco De Luna Vasquez's lengthy criminal history could be living illegally in the United States when he killed their sister. This story is part of our "Bordering on Insecurity" series.
Rep. Dan Flynn Faces Challenger From the Right, by Edgar Walters — In a race pitting an East Texas incumbent versus an upstart challenger endorsed by conservative activists, a pair of unlikely issues has commanded focus: toll roads and a controversy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Mechler, Woodfill Square Off Again to Lead Texas GOP, by Patrick Svitek — One says he's the most reliable steward of the Texas GOP's finances. The other says he'll make the party a more assertive voice for conservative values. Tom Mechler and Jared Woodfill meet again.
Pope Francis' Border Mass Awes El Paso Catholics, by Julián Aguilar — During a whirlwind, one-day visit to Ciudad Juárez on Wednesday Pope Francis delivered poignant remarks on immigration and corruption, keeping intact his reputation as a polite but no-holds-barred pontiff.
Senate Republicans Zero in on Religious Freedom Bills, by Alexa Ura — The next Texas legislative session is almost a year away, but Senate Republicans are already zeroing in on proposals to bolster legal protections for religious opponents of same-sex marriage.
West Texas Drillers Asked to Cut Light Pollution, by Jim Malewitz — The Texas Railroad Commission is asking West Texas oil and gas operators to curb light pollution — particularly around the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory — so astronomers can see the stars at night.
Cruz Challenges Trump to Sue Him Over Ad, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz is ratcheting up pressure on his Republican rivals to back up their accusations of dishonesty against his presidential campaign, challenging Donald Trump to follow through with an alleged threat to sue him.
The Day Ahead
• The Senate Health & Human Services Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol. Members will make recommendations on new methods and best practices to promote healthy aging, recommend ways to improve quality of long-term care facilities and examine the cause of "wrongful birth."
• The Senate State Affairs Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension. Senators will take a look at judicial salaries, whether Texas should separate legislators' retirement annuities from district judge salaries and examine the effect of eliminating straight-party voting for judicial candidates.
• The House Mental Health Select Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol extension to hear invited testimony.
Crystal City mayor in hot water again, San Antonio Express-News
U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess braves flames to make sure neighbors not in danger, The Dallas Morning News
Arsenic in Kenedy water supply exceeds EPA safety levels, San Antonio Express-News
Progress continues on Midland’s newest industry, Midland Reporter-Telegram
Borderland shares papal experience via social media, El Paso Times
Are Dual-Credit High School Programs Growing Too Fast?, Texas Observer
Appeals court’s rulings limit warrantless blood draws, Austin American-Statesman
Political rhetoric from Texans partly responsible for rise in hate groups, report says, The Dallas Morning News
UH one of many colleges considering tuition increases, Houston Chronicle
Quote to Note
“If using crass language and insults is really how we define leadership these days, well then, some of the people I served with in the Texas Legislature belong on Mount Rushmore.”
— Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, speaking in San Antonio about how he is unimpressed with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s cussing.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville
• Live Post-Primary TribCast on March 2 at the Austin Club
• Protecting Houston Before the Next Big Storm on March 3 at San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center in La Porte.
• A Conversation with Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner on March 10 at the Austin Club
• A Conversation with Reps. Craig Goldman, Stephanie Klick and Ramon Romero Jr. on March 29 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
• A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine
• A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston