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The Brief: State lawmakers discuss endangered children, policing

State lawmakers on Wednesday focused on improvements to the child welfare system and public safety.

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The Big Conversation

On Wednesday, state leaders promised action on a pair of issues important to the public — protecting children who are in harm's way and policing.

As the Tribune’s Marissa Evans reports, Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services to increase efforts to protect endangered foster children. Their request comes eight days after the DFPS revealed that nearly a thousand at-risk kids were regularly going unchecked over the course of six months.

Abbott’s request came in the form of a letter co-signed by House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. And despite budget concerns, state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee for health and human services, said he believes “that the House and the Senate will prioritize the protection of children this upcoming session and if additional funds are absolutely necessary that will be considered by both groups.”

During a Wednesday press conference, Patrick also laid out plans to give all Texas patrol officers bulletproof vests and to exempt the spouses of fallen first responders from paying property taxes until they remarry, the Tribune’s Johnathan Silver reports.

Patrick said his proposal — which was already endorsed by Abbott — was inspired by the July shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers by a sniper at the conclusion of a Black Lives Matter protest. And while the outfitting of 59,000 Texas officers could cost the state close to $20 million, Patrick said he’s prioritizing this initiative during next year's legislative session.

Trib Must Reads

Court's immigration ruling could affect Texas "sanctuary city" debate, by Julián Aguilar — An Illinois judge ruled that federal officials can't ask local jails to hold on to possible criminal immigrants without a warrant.

Odd Texas voting law on interpreters scuttled before November election, by Alexa Ura — In a clash between Texas law and the federal Voting Rights Act, a federal judge has stopped the state from enforcing an obscure election provision regarding interpreters.

Paxton sues Brownsville over "buck-a-bag" policy, by Jim Malewitz — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the city of Brownsville, calling its $1 bag fee an “illegal sales tax.”  

Glenn Beck, Alex Jones face outrage, ridicule after takes on Clinton, by Aman Batheja — The two conservative Texas pundits are drawing national attention for their markedly different views on the presidential race.

Texas agencies want option of keeping departed employees on payroll, by Jim Malewitz — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and four other agencies were questioned Wednesday about granting departing employees “emergency leave” as a form of separation payment. 

Will Trump hurt GOP down-ballot? Pelosi and Cornyn disagree, by Alex Samuels and Patrick Svitek — During a pair of stops Wednesday in San Antonio and Austin, the two Congressional leaders provided confident outlooks for their parties' prospects in November.

Court declines to hear Ken Paxton's appeal, paving way for trial, by Patrick Svitek — The highest criminal court in Texas said Wednesday it will not hear Ken Paxton's appeal of securities fraud charges, putting the attorney general on the path to a trial in the coming months.

Rep. Blake Farenthold stumbles while defending Donald Trump on MSNBC, by Abby Livingston — "If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying ... 'I really like to rape women,' you would continue to endorse him?" the MSNBC anchor asked? "That would be bad. I would have to consider it," U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold said. 

The Day Ahead

•    The House Agriculture and Livestock Committee will meet jointly with the House Natural Resources Committee to determine the water sources used in the production of food and fiber and evaluate whether there are more efficient water-usage management practices that could be employed in the agricultural industry. 

•    Members of the House Natural Resources Committee will meet during a morning hearing to analyze the factors contributing to freshwater loss in the state and examine techniques to prevent such losses.

•    The joint legislative committee on aging will examine strategies for preventing and controlling outbreaks of influenza and bacterial pneumonia disease in Texas' long-term care facilities and evaluate the current state of elderly financial abuse and exploitation during a morning hearing


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

Texas, Once a Star, Becomes a Drag on the U.S. Economy, The Wall Street Journal 

Rep. Michael McCaul laying groundwork for higher office, even if he doesn't know which one yet, The Dallas Morning News

Cruz pushes deregulation in Waco stop, Waco Tribune-Herald

New Texas immigrant detention center raises questions, The Associated Press

Harris County’s system for defending the poor is still woefully inadequate, state audit finds, Houston Chronicle 

Comptroller Glenn Hegar declines to say whether he will vote for Trump, Austin American-Statesman

CPS crisis in Harris CountyThe Dallas Morning News

San Antonio police chief vows to punish officers in Trump caps, The Associated Press 

Ethics regulators to take up dark money probe, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"The story is kind of in the rear-view mirror now, I think, with people. The debate last week put it in the rear-view mirror. No one — and I want to be very clear — no one in the Republican party or anyone in society accepts what [Donald Trump] said. He apologized, you move on. The future of the country is at stake." 

— Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in a Wednesday interview on the 2005 tape where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is heard making lewd comments about women

Today in TribTalk

We need to keep North America working, by William McKenzie and Matthew Rooney — The reality of life across Mexico, Canada and the United States shows that we are connected to our neighbors in ways that benefit all of us. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   The Texas Response To Zika on Oct. 18 at BCBSTX Headquarters in Richardson

•   The Ticket: A Live Recording and Presidential Debate Watch Party on Oct. 19 at KLRU Studio 6A

•   A Conversation with U.S. Rep Michael McCaul on Oct. 25 at The Austin Club 

•   "Along Came Kinky" Screening and Conversation on Oct. 27 at the LBJ Library

•   A Symposium on Transportation on Nov. 3 at Texas A&M University - Rudder Tower 

•   A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke on Nov. 4 at The Austin Club 

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

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