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The Brief: White House Ups Ante in Transgender Bathroom Showdown

The Obama administration will issue an executive order Friday directing public schools across the nation to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

A sticker in the women's restroom at the Dallas Convention Center placed by the Jared Woodfill campaign on May 12, 2016

The Big Conversation

The Obama administration plans to issue an executive order this morning directing every public school in the country to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

The Tribune's Kiah Collier wrote, "the announcement comes amid a legal battle between the administration and North Carolina over the issue," not to mention a policy fight in Texas over a similar rule in the Fort Worth Independent School District.

The district is not the first in the state to adopt nondiscrimination policies that apply to transgender students, but Collier wrote, "the Fort Worth district – the state's sixth-largest – appears to be a pioneer in adopting guidelines that specifically address bathroom use by transgender students."

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called on the district's superintendent to resign earlier this week, but Kent Scribner said he has no plans to leave his post. Following news of Obama's planned executive order, Patrick announced he will host a press conference this morning to discuss the impending decision.

The declaration from Obama pointed to the ongoing legal proceedings between the U.S. Justice Department and North Carolina launched this week. Also this week, embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief in a Virginia case where a school restricted bathroom use for transgender students.

Discussion on rights of transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice also drew attention at the first day of the Texas Republican convention on Thursday where Gov. Greg Abbott said he plans to work alongside North Carolina's governor to "fight back" against attempted regulation from the federal government.

Trib Must Reads

U.S. Energy Chief: Texas Should Develop Clean Power Plan, by Jim Malewitz – U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says Texas can play a major role in shrinking the country’s carbon dioxide footprint and addressing climate change — if it choses to.

Analysis: Regardless of 2016 Results, Texas GOP Still Enthralled by Cruz, by Ross Ramsey – Ted Cruz, for perfectly sound reasons, packed the Republican Party of Texas convention with his own supporters. As of last week, he’s no longer a candidate for president of the United States, but he’s still the favorite here.

Runoff For Texas House Seat Turns Ugly In Final Days, by Morgan Smith – An already bitter Republican primary runoff for a Texas house seat has turned uglier in the final days before early voting begins as court filings a candidate’s child custody battle take center stage.

State Leaders Talk Bathrooms at GOP Convention (Video), by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick discuss the ongoing controversy over bathroom policies and call for the state's Republican Party to unite behind the presumptive presidential nominee.

Obama's Methane Crackdown Rankles Texas Oil and Gas Industry, by Jim Malewitz – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday finalized a new set of rules aimed at battling climate change. This time, the agency is targeting the oil patch — with big implications for Texas, the nation’s petroleum king.

Superintendents: Texas Schools Shouldn't Be Rated on 2016 STAAR Tests, by Kiah Collier – Citing problems with the administration of this spring's STAAR exams, the head of the Texas Association of School Administrators says that 2016 STAAR scores shouldn't be used to rate schools or determine whether a student should graduate or advance to the next grade.  

Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick Call for Party to Unify Behind Trump, by Abby Livingston – Gov. Greg Abbot and Lt. Gov. Patrick Dan Patrick called on Texas Republicans to unite behind presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Paxton Lawyers Take Issue with Grand Jury Makeup, by Patrick Svitek – Lawyers for AG Ken Paxton on Thursday tried to cast doubt on the makeup of the grand jury that indicted him. They're hoping to overturn a lower court’s decision not to dismiss the securities fraud charges against him.

UT System Regents May Change Campus Carry Rules, by Matthew Watkins – Members of the University of Texas System Board of Regents expressed concern about their schools’ proposed rules for handguns on campus and signaled plans to attempt to change some of those policies before they go into effect on Aug 1.

In Book, Abbott Recalls Obama Battles, Defends Push for Convention of States, by Patrick Svitek – Gov. Greg Abbott's new book, “Broken But Unbowed,” recalls the accident that paralyzed Abbott for life, his battles with Washington, and his recent push for a convention of states to amend the Constitution. 

Elsewhere

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Texas court to hear challenge on immigrant detention centers, The Associated Press

Chet Brooks, longtime Texas lawmaker, diesAustin American-Statesman

That plaid shirt he wore beside Cruz in Vegas? Never again, says Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, The Dallas Morning News

Texas Supreme Court ruling bars public release of certain company recordsHouston Chronicle

After news that arson caused blast, West faces new questions, The Washington Post

Miracle Fades as Texas Oil Bust Jeopardizes Once Surging SurplusBloomberg

Delegates pin hopes on GOP unity in state on platformHouston Chronicle

Frisco hospice targeted in FBI raid ‘overmedicated’ patients, state records say, The Dallas Morning News

Six months’ pay for 3rd Paxton staffer granted ‘emergency leave’ after she exited AG’s office, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"So … Greg … Can I get you to drop that lawsuit?”

— President Barack Obama to Gov. Greg Abbott on the governor's challenge to his executive action on immigration, per Abbott's new book

News From Home

•    Tune in for the latest episode of The Ticket, a co-production of the Tribune and KUT. KUT’s Ben Philpott talks with Republican consultant Deirdre Delisi about life after a losing presidential campaign.

•    Across Texas there are programs to address the mental health needs of people who are suffering, but major challenges remain in providing mental health care to those who need it most, triggering passionate policy debates. Those challenges are the focus of Mental Health Matters, a partnership between The Texas Tribune, the Mental Health Channel and KLRU. Throughout Mental Health Month in May, we are joining forces to examine different areas of concern and the work being done to fill in the gaps.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner, on May 17 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation Series on the Direction of Health Care: Do We Have Enough Doctors?, on May 19 at the Medical World Americas Conference in Houston

•    A Conversation with state Sens. Kel Seliger and Kirk Watson on higher education funding in Texas, on May 26 at The Austin Club.

•    A Conversation with Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, on June 3 at The Austin Club

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

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