Backers hopeful Texas ready to screen welfare recipients for drug use
While Texas already has some of the strictest eligibility requirements in the country for welfare benefit applicants, some lawmakers plan to try again next year to add required drug screenings or testing to the process.
In SEC case, Paxton lawyers zero in on Byron Cook
Fighting federal civil fraud allegations, Attorney General Ken Paxton is zeroing in on state Rep. Byron Cook's credibility in a new push to discredit the latest claims.
Federal health officials issue Zika warning for Brownsville
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging pregnant women to avoid Brownsville if they can, and for those visiting the area to be tested for the virus, which is known to cause birth defects.
Here are 7 times Texas officials have fought over Christmas
Ken Paxton has come to the defense of a Christmas-themed Peanuts poster at a Texas public school. This isn't the first time elected officials have fought over Christmas; in fact, it's something of a holiday tradition.
Trump officially selects former Gov. Rick Perry for energy secretary
President-elect Donald Trump has officially selected former Gov. Rick Perry, a former rival turned loyalist, to lead the Department of Energy.
The Big Story
The state of Texas is set to execute the lowest number of people in 20 years. Here's the story:
• Texas executed seven people this year, more than any state other than Georgia, which held nine executions. The number is the lowest Texas has seen since 1996, when three people were executed.
• The number of new death sentences also continued its downward trend. This year's four new death sentences is the second least since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 — behind 2015, which saw just two, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice data.
• Experts attribute the trend to fewer murders in Texas — and the option for juries to sentence convicts to life without parole. TDCJ data shows more than 40 people this year were convicted of capital murder and given the lesser sentence.
• The state has executed 538 people since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That’s nearly five times as many as Oklahoma, which has the second most at 112.
What We're Reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)
Forensic video analysis goes under the microscope in Texas, The Marshall Project
Fed raises interest rates, signaling an improving economy, Houston Chronicle
Advocates vow to fight broad deportation of immigrants, Houston Chronicle
Council, community push for accountability on housing bond, San Antonio Express-News
Rape survivor, exonerated man credit testing of old DNA samples for solving cases, The Dallas Morning News
Today in TribTalk
"We must ensure that taxpayer money is spent as efficiently as possible and demand accountability from state agencies for each dollar that the Legislature appropriates."
— John Zerwas, State Rep., R-Richmond
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 on Mental Health on Jan. 26 at The Austin Club
• 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