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Appeals Court Judge Updates His Dissent in Rick Perry Case

Also, the state details the effects of low oil prices on the state economy in its annual financial report issued this week.

Former Gov. Rick Perry visits Sandy's Hamburgers in Austin after the state's highest criminal court rules that his remaining…

Judge Lawrence Meyers of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a fresh dissenting opinion Wednesday on the now-dismissed abuse of power case against former Gov. Rick Perry.

In it, he asserts that “it is clear” that Perry tied his veto power to demands that Rosemary Lehmberg resign following her drunken driving arrest, “thereby misusing his right.”

For anyone who doesn’t recall, the court last week dropped the remaining charge related to Perry’s 2013 threat to veto funding for the Travis County district attorney’s public integrity unit. In a 6-2 vote, the majority ruled that prosecuting Perry would violate the Texas Constitution’s separation of powers, and the governor’s First Amendment rights to free speech.

Meyers, the court’s lone Democrat, joined Cheryl Johnson in dissenting. Each wrote separate opinions, asserting — with other criticisms — that the majority gave Perry special treatment by letting him off the hook before evidence was presented.

Geary Reamey, a professor at St. Mary’s University School of law, told the Tribune that there was plenty out of the ordinary about last week’s ruling, particularly related to the second point Meyers raised — that the majority sought to dismiss Perry’s charges immediately, rather than giving the lower court guidance.

“It seems a little odd that they’re dismissing it,” he said.  “It’s not likely to have broad applications, but people who are legal scholars and practitioners and judges always seem to raise eyebrows when something out of the ordinary happens in a case like this.”

Reamey said it was clear that the majority was treating public officials differently than it would treat ordinary Texans facing felony charges. He wasn’t convinced, though, that the judges were showing favoritism to Perry specifically.

“They’re going to get a different kind of review than you or I,” he said of public officials.

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It’s certainly no secret that the sustained drop in oil prices has already had an effect on the economy in Texas. The comptroller is putting some numbers to that impact in his latest annual financial report for the state, which was released this week.

Some highlights:

•    The state’s economy is expected to continue to grow but the rate of growth will be cut by more than half. The overall economy, as measured by the Gross State Product, grew by 5.2 percent in 2014. The comptroller now says the GSP grew by 2.2 percent in 2015 and will grow by the same amount this year.
•    Another key indicator of the economy’s health, personal income, shows a similar trajectory, dropping from 6 percent growth in 2014 to 4.2 percent growth in 2015 and 4 percent growth this year.
•    The state’s unemployment rate, which dropped from 5 percent in 2014 to 4.3 percent last year, will rise to 4.5 percent this year.
•     Job losses over the past 12 months have been concentrated in the goods-producing sector, led by manufacturing (36,000 jobs lost) and mining and logging (30,300 jobs lost)
•    Falling oil prices and a strong dollar also has had the effect of hurting Texas exports, which were running 13 percent below 2014.
 
For the report, click here.

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