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The Brief: When Legislating Yields Unintended Consequences

The Tribune over the weekend took a look in a couple of must read pieces at legislating and its consequences when it comes to the hot button social issues of abortion and vaccines.

The Texas Capitol, May 15, 2015.

The Big Conversation

The Tribune over the weekend took a look in a couple of must read pieces at legislating and its consequences when it comes to the hot button social issues of abortion and vaccines.

— The Tribune’s Alexa Ura had the tragic story of an Austin couple where a series of events ended with the mother giving birth to a stillborn baby boy.

Attempts to help the couple earlier ran up against the 2013 law passed by state lawmakers that banned abortions on or after 20 weeks of gestation.

Ura wrote, “The tragic ordeal appears to be one of the side effects of House Bill 2, and several doctors say such consequences are not limited to the Mahaffey’s case. The 2013 restrictions — and the larger, intense political climate in Texas surrounding abortion — are overwhelming the physician-patient relationship and holding some doctors back from acting on medical judgment that balances professional protocols and compassionate care, they say.

— The Tribune’s Morgan Smith took a look at efforts by parents to organize against proposed legislation from last year that would have made it more difficult for parents to get non-medical exemptions from school immunization requirements for their children.

Dallas state Rep. Jason Villalba filed the bill and told the Tribune that he was surprised to find he had touched such a sensitive topic.

“The animus that was leveled against me for that was very surprising to me,” said Villalba, who drew opposition from the group but still won his primary race. “These people, they literally said it to my face — they hate me. That was troubling. Because I get it, they care about their children — but I care about my children too, and the children of the community.”

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Texas Government's Shrinking Financial Buffer, by Ross Ramsey — State revenue could easily take some big hits this year — from a sliding oil and gas industry and from a series of potentially adverse court rulings. The message from the top to lawmakers: Don't get too spendy.

Cruz Launches Final Push Ahead of Wisconsin Primary, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday launched his final push ahead of the crucial primary in Wisconsin, where his supporters are hoping to deliver the most decisive rejection yet of frontrunner Donald Trump. 

Ted Cruz Claims Victory after North Dakota Delegates Selected, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz's presidential campaign claimed a "resounding victory" in North Dakota on Sunday after the state's GOP finalized its list of delegates to send to the Republican National Convention, with many viewed as supportive of the U.S. senator from Texas.

Texas Supreme Court Rules on Who Owns Dog, by Jordan Rudner — The dog days are over for a Houston family who successfully affirmed their ownership rights over a German Shepherd after a three-year legal battle that ended up at the Texas Supreme Court.

Texas Supreme Court Upholds Tax on "Small Tobacco”, by Jordan Rudner — A state tax that imposes a 55-cent fee on each pack of cigarettes produced by small tobacco manufacturers is constitutional, even though Big Tobacco manufacturers do not pay the tax, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday.


Women and minorities in Texas state government make less than white men — and the gap is growing, The Dallas Morning News

Did the Cavalry massacre civilians on the border?, San Antonio Express-News

Ellis straddles the line between politics, municipal finance and public policy, Houston Chronicle

Ted Cruz lining up stealth delegates for contested convention bid, Austin American-Statesman

Fikac: Rick Perry has reason to smile at White House speculation, San Antonio Express-News

Opening weekend at Lone Star Park, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

What innovation looks like at Dell Medical School, Austin American-Statesman

So many Dallas CPS investigators have quit, state has to bring in backups from other areas, The Dallas Morning News 

Blue Bell can’t trace source of listeria at Brenham plant, The Associated Press

Miller's office withheld emails about 'Jesus Shot' trip, Houston Chronicle 

Lawmakers weigh expanding 4-year degrees at community colleges, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Ken Paxton hires 2 top aides without posting jobs; AG’s office says state law doesn’t apply, The Dallas Morning News

Famed Houston attorney O'Quinn finds no peace in death, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“Yeah, it was a mistake. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”

— Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump backtracking his tweet of a photo that compared his wife, Melania Trump, to Heidi Cruz.

Today in TribTalk

Governor’s disease task force should expand scope beyond Zika, by Anna C. Dragsbaek — While a vaccine against Zika might be years away, we have the ability to protect Texas from dangerous diseases right now. The Governor’s Task Force should consider expanding its priorities to include vaccine-preventable diseases and addressing non-medical exemptions.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Conversation with Dawn Buckingham on April 21 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston

•    The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin

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