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Franklin Graham Urges Christians To Get Out the Vote

Also, the AARP asks for a legislative inquiry into Oncor takeover deal and Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott promotes a volunteerism initiative.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick prays during the Franklin Graham rally at the Texas Capitol on April 26, 2016.

Evangelist Franklin Graham on Tuesday afternoon urged Texas Christians to get more involved in politics, advising them to support candidates who stand for "biblical values and live them."

Graham, addressing hundreds at a prayer rally outside the Capitol, emphasized he was not telling Texans who to vote for but implored them to turn out — not just in the presidential election, but also in local races that can often impact the role of religion in public life. 

"Be willing in this next election to vote," he said. "If the Christians show up in force, we can win."

A number of elected officials attended the rally, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

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America’s biggest retiree group wants a legislative inquiry into a Ray L. Hunt-led group’s plan to buy and reshape Oncor, Texas’ largest electric utility, into a real estate investment trust.

In a letter to state Rep. Dan Flynn, AARP Texas continues its fierce criticism of the effort, calling it risky and a raw deal for ratepayers.

“It is my hope that you will continue leading the effort to have the Texas Legislature take whatever steps are necessary to put a stop to the proposed speculation for which ratepayers have all the risk and billionaire speculators get all the profit,” Robert Jackson, the group’s Texas director wrote.

Flynn, R-Van, has already been critical of the roughly $18 billion deal, which has been shrouded in uncertainty since the Texas Public Utility Commission approved it with major stipulations.

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Gov. Greg Abbott has decided to throw his support behind proposed legislation by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee aimed at ending a government operation launched several years ago to employ banks in efforts to crack down on online scam artists. The effort was later criticized for targeting online gun sellers and legitimate online lenders.

Abbott expressed his support for Cruz’s legislation in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “The executive-branch bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., is too large, is too expensive and wields too much power,” Abbott wrote. “Congress must consistently and decisively take action to control — and if necessary to punish — executive agencies that seek to impose their will on the American people without the consent of our elected representatives.”

Cruz isn’t the first Republican in Congress to go after Operation Choke Point. In response to pressure, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation last year issued new guidelines on how banks should target potential fraudulent activity.

That led Missouri Republican Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer to tell the Washington Times that Operation Choke Point had been “choked off.”

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Surrounded by several leaders of charitable organizations and volunteers, Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott officially launched “Texanthropy” — her initiative to promote volunteerism.

Her remarks in front of the governor’s mansion Wednesday in part highlighted her philanthropic work, and that of members of Gov. Greg Abbott’s staff volunteering with Meals on Wheels.

"I hope to inspire more Texans to get involved and help make a difference through service and volunteering," she said.

Her initiative includes a website where Texans soon will be able to search an interactive map to find local volunteers opportunities.

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The Governor’s Office said on Monday that the federal government has granted a request for a federal disaster declaration in Fayette, Grimes, Harris and Parker counties, which were affected by flooding earlier this month.

The declaration frees up funds for individual assistance to help cover housing needs as well as other disaster-related needs.

“I would like to thank the President and FEMA for quickly granting Texas’ request for Individual Assistance following last week’s severe weather,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to work with our local and federal partners to aid Texans recovering and rebuilding from flood damages and ensure all those affected receive the assistance they need.”

Disclosure: Oncor and AARP Texas have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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