Analysis: Why rising property values don’t lower school taxes
Rising property values in Texas should have lowered school property tax rates. But they didn't, and you can thank the folks who write the state budget for that.
In Texas, lawmakers don't mess with employers of undocumented workers
For all their condemnations of illegal immigration, Texas lawmakers — Republican and Democratic— have shown little interest in cracking down on businesses that employ undocumented workers.
When asked, won't tell: top three officials duck specifics on illegal hiring
The state's top elected officials are happy to go on about border security, but they get tongue tied if the conversation turns to cracking down on employers of undocumented immigrants.
EPA: Fracking can harm drinking water
In an amped-up final report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact the nation's drinking water resources under some circumstances.
Gov. Greg Abbott on proposed bathroom legislation: Wait and see
Gov. Greg Abbott is adopting a wait-and-see approach about anticipated legislation that would prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Texas oil exec Tillerson tapped for secretary of state
Donald Trump has officially picked Texas oil executive Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state, going ahead with the Exxon Mobil CEO's nomination despite early signs of unease over his close relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The Big Story
Although President-elect Donald Trump has yet to confirm the speculation, CBS News and other outlets reported late Monday night that Trump selected erstwhile rival and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to serve as his energy secretary. Here’s the story so far:
• Trump's transition team praised Perry's time as Texas governor. "They talk about Texas' economic revival, and a lot of that had to do with the energy sector," Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters. Texas Republicans also began celebrating the news Tuesday morning. U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, called the former governor an "excellent choice.”
• During Perry's record 14 years as governor, oil and natural gas production surged — by roughly 260 percent and 50 percent, respectively. The phenomenon, however, also stirred concerns about air and water quality and strained infrastructure in some regions. Texas also became the nation’s leader in wind energy generation during his tenure — and Perry helped steer that boom.
• Advocates were generally unhappy with Perry’s efforts on solar energy — or lack thereof. The solar industry struggled to get a foothold because lawmakers provided fewer incentives than other states. However, Perry helped Texas become one of the nation’s few facilities that accept low-level nuclear waste. The U.S. Department of Energy plays a major role in advancing and implementing policy on nuclear waste.
• If selected, however, Perry will have to reconcile his new gig with his past comments on Washington, D.C., the federal government and Trump himself. During a presidential debate in 2011, Perry forgot the name of the third federal agency he wanted to shutter — the Department of Energy. He also has called Trump’s candidacy “a cancer on conservatism,” and accused him of offering "empty platitudes and promises.”
What We're Reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)
'Peanuts' Christmas decoration hearing draws big crowd, Killeen Daily Herald
Abbott floats school choice as solution to special ed frustration, Houston Chronicle
Army recruiter admits funneling guns to drug cartel, San Antonio Express-News
11 things to know about Texan Rex Tillerson, Trump's secretary of state nominee, The Dallas Morning News
Rice, UT join effort to recruit more lower income students, Houston Chronicle
Today in TribTalk
"The fetal remains rule move places an additional barrier on women who seek to exercise their constitutional right and represents another attempt to shame and restrict access to abortion care."
— Nancy Cardenas, Associate director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Trib Events for the Calendar
• Health Care and the 85th Legislature on Dec. 15 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio - Pestana Lecture Hall
• Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball
• A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation with the University of Houston's Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center
• A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center
• A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center