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The Brief: Law of Parties Execution Has GOP Lawmaker's Attention

A pro-death penalty legislator also considered one of the Texas House's most conservative members has been working to stop an execution set for next week.

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The Big Conversation

A pro-death penalty legislator also considered one of the Texas House's most conservative members has been working to stop an execution set for next week.

Jeff Wood was given the death penalty for his role in the 1996 death of a gas station clerk in Kerrville. Wood was in a truck outside while his friend shot the clerk, but he nonetheless was sentenced to death under Texas' law of parties.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, told the Tribune that the Wood case has kept him up nights and has had him in contact with Gov. Greg Abbott's office and the state parole board in an effort to change Wood's death sentence to life in prison.

Leach told the Tribune he's in favor of the law of parties in cases where an accomplice is directly involved in the murder. But he said the Wood case stood out to him as not right. “I simply do not believe that Mr. Wood is deserving of the death sentence,” Leach said. “I can’t sit quietly by and not say anything.”

Trib Must Reads

DACA Gave Thousands of Undocumented Texans Hope. Will it Survive November?, by Julián Aguilar — Undocumented immigrants in Texas are taking a glass-half-full approach as a 2012 initiative that has benefited hundreds of thousands of immigrants marks its four-year anniversary. But will that optimism last after the November election?

Hope as They Might, Democrats Don't See Trump Losing Texas, by Abby Livingston — Arizona. Georgia. Utah. Indiana. As Donald Trump's poll numbers collapse across the country, could he actually lose Texas to Hillary Clinton? No, say a raft of state and national Democrats.

Court Strikes Blow to Laredo Bag Ban, Local Control, by Jim Malewitz — A state appeals court has struck down a plastic bag ban in Laredo in a high-profile fight over local control that could ultimately impact similar laws in other Texas cities.

Analysis: Texas Might Let Political Radio Ads Lack Disclaimers, But Feds Won't, by Ross Ramsey — The state of Texas might not be requiring sponsorship disclosures on political radio ads right now, but the Federal Communications Commission is.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul Doesn't Rule Out Challenging Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is not ruling out challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2018, but he's emphasizing that he is not focused on it for now.

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Elsewhere

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

Trump-Clinton poll, rising Texas voter registrations suggest competition to come, Houston Chronicle

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Al Gore: More Texas, Louisiana "rain bombs" unless energy sector evolves, Houston Chronicle

Texas' rate of pregnancy-related deaths nearly doubles, and neither researchers nor the state knows why, The Dallas Morning News

Scott and White health plan to drop Obamacare offerings in 2017, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

“I can just see the Mexican president — ‘Donald Trump, take this wall down.’ He’s going to be on the right side of history at some point if Trump is elected and if he does this wall, which is really asinine. We will take it down at some point.”

— Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, talking on the Fox Business Network about Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border

Today in TribTalk

Why Texas needs a recession-proof school finance system, by David Knight — Why do higher-poverty school districts in Texas receive less funding per student than lower-poverty districts? Much of the current funding gap has resulted from how the finance system responds to economic recessions.

News From Home

The full program for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival, featuring conversations about the future of health care, the sharing economy, Zika, abortion, standardized testing, higher ed funding, border security and, of course, Donald Trump, is now available. To view the Festival schedule & purchase tickets, visit texastribune.org/festival.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and state Reps. Terry Canales and Bobby Guerra on Aug. 26 at UT-Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg

•    San Antonio & the Legislature: The Election and Beyond on Sept. 14 at University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown Campus

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

•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Four Price and John Smithee on Oct. 4 at Amarillo College in Amarillo

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Andrew Murr and Jason Isaac on Nov. 14 at Schreiner University in Kerrville

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