Big employers no strangers to benefiting from cheap, illegal labor
Two cases brought by the Equal Justice Center against Target and H-E-B illustrate how big-name employers can benefit from illegal labor and why undocumented workers are easily exploited. This story is part of Tribune's yearlong Bordering on Insecurity project.
Analysis: On transgender Texans and bathrooms, a call to stay calm
Some Texas lawmakers were in a hurry to require transgender Texans to use the restrooms that match the genders listed on their birth certificates. But the policy and politics are complicated enough to prompt the governor to tap the brakes.
In Texas, EPA proposing more emissions restrictions
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to withdraw a plan aimed at reducing haze in Texas' national parks and tamping down on toxic air emissions. But it's also quietly proposing another rule that might have the same effect in shutting down older, coal-fired power plants.
Texas schools will soon get a first peek at their grades
The state's new system of grading public schools and districts from A to F is barely starting to kick in, and many educators are already intent on killing it.
For transgender inmate who filed suit, parole and maybe a settlement
Passion Star has spent nearly 14 years in Texas prisons, where she alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, beaten and threatened. State officials have discussed settling the federal lawsuit Star filed over her treatment, court records show.
DNC chair hopefuls make pitches with an eye on Texas
The debate over the future of the Democratic Party came to Austin on Saturday, with all five candidates for national party chairman pitching activists on the path forward after a devastating loss in the presidential election.
The Big Story
Texas' 38 electors are set to meet at 2 p.m. Monday in the state Capitol to cast their votes for president, and the vote — generally a footnote in a presidential election — will be unusually closely watched this year. Here's the story:
• Texas Republicans are making a push to ensure there are no more "faithless electors." Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler had sharp words for potentially anti-Trump electors on Wednesday: "To cast a ballot against the will of the voters after signing an affidavit promising to do so, is to refuse to accept the outcome of an election.”
• Chris Suprun, so far the only elector to commit to not voting for Trump, has not announced to whom his vote will go. Suprun, a Dallas paramedic, was unfazed by Mechler's remarks: "I thought Mr. Mechler understood the idea we have a constitutional republic and representatives don't always vote the way the public likes."
• The process of replacing an elector is fraught with uncertainty. Art Sisneros of Dayton has said he will resign at the meeting rather than vote for Trump, and anyone who is present Monday and meets a few requirements under the election code can be nominated to replace Sisneros. The gallery will be open to the public, and electors are allowed to bring a number of guests — in other words, there could be many possibilities to replace Sisneros. As of Friday, there appeared to be no consensus choice.
• Democrats have been pushing for the Electoral College to deny Trump's win, which would require 37 electors to flip against Trump and throw the election to the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. The latest twist came Dec. 12, when a group of electors including Suprun requested an intelligence briefing on foreign interference in the election prior to the Electoral College vote. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign quickly endorsed the idea, and the Texas Democratic Party also supports it, party spokesman Tariq Thowfeek said Thursday.
What We're Reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)
Corpus Christi looks to next steps after water issue, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Will Texas lawmakers toughen the ethics rules governing themselves?, Austin American-Statesman
Texas governor's racial profiling remarks prompt criticism, Associated Press
Trib Events for the Calendar
• 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