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As grand jury hearing looms, Dawnna Dukes' constituents worry about her ability to lead
As a case against State Rep. Dawnna Dukes is scheduled to get a grand jury hearing on Tuesday, some of her constituents worry the case will distract her from fulfilling their needs.
Can Texas Republicans hold America’s most conservative urban county?
Home to Fort Worth, Tarrant County continues to buck a national trend of big-city counties turning blue. There's no simple answer as to what makes it different. And little consensus on what it means for the future of Texas politics.
Border Patrol agent's murder trial begins this week
The capital murder case began in 2015 with the discovery of a headless body floating off South Padre Island. The trial of two men charged in the case — a U.S. Border Patrol agent and his Mexican-born brother — begins today in South Texas.
Donations pour in for North Texan who couldn't afford heat
Mary Garcia, an Arlington woman who was struggling to keep her lights on after the demise of Lite-Up Texas, said she is "overwhelmed" by the help she has received from those who read her story.
Texan group added then removed as partner for Women's March on Washington over abortion stance
A Texas-based feminist group that describes itself as "pro-life" learned Monday it had been abruptly removed as a listed partner of the Women's March on Washington scheduled for the day after the presidential inauguration.
Here's what the Texas bathroom bill means in plain English
The so-called bathroom bill has drawn national attention to the Texas Legislature. But what would the proposed bill actually do? We've annotated the text to explain in plain English how the bill would impact communities across Texas.
What you need to know
Later today, Travis County prosecutors will present evidence to a grand jury seeking an indictment against State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin. She could face charges for abuse of official capacity and tampering with public records. This case has been ongoing for a while now, so here's what you need to know:
- Dukes has been in hot water ever since 2016 reports alleged she used state workers for personal projects and errands. Alleged examples include the African American Community Heritage Festival, "smoothie runs" and vet visits. One staffer reportedly moved in with Dukes for three months to help her care for her daughter. Her staff also accused her of seeking travel reimbursement she was not entitled to.
- After the reports and an official investigation, Dukes said she intended to resign. She cited "health concerns" following a 2013 car crash as the reason for her expected resignation. It was that same car crash that caused her to miss most of the legislative session in 2015. But she surprised everyone — even her own spokesman — earlier this month when she changed her mind. Just one day before the first day of the 85th Texas Legislative session, Dukes told the Tribune she would not resign.
- She declined to comment ahead of today's hearing. When asked about it at the state Capitol's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Monday, she said: "Today is MLK day. I'm talking about MLK, and I'm here to represent the district. Those are the only things that will be discussed today."
- Jury members will meet for an hour today. What happens next is anybody’s guess. Though the grand jury will meet and hear evidence behind closed doors, you can follow Texas Tribune reporter Alex Samuels for updates.
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Other stories we're watching today:
- A hearing determining Planned Parenthood’s future in Texas’ Medicaid program begins today. The women's health organization has asked a federal judge to stop the state from cutting state funding. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Marissa Evans for updates.
- The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and the House meets at 2 p.m. You can watch the broadcasts live on our site here. For updates in the Senate, follow Texas Tribune reporter Matthew Watkins. For updates in the House, follow Aliyya Swaby.
News from home
Are you a Texan going to Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump's inauguration? The Texas Tribune is working on a story about the inauguration and would like to hear from Texans traveling to Washington for the event. Tell us about your plans here, and a reporter may contact you.
What we're reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $)
TSC forced to close associate nursing program, The Brownsville Herald
Abilene native Fraser ends long legislative career, Abilene Reporter News
In Texas, a test of whether the Voting Rights Act still has teeth, The New York Times ($)
Cubans seeking entry into U.S. arrive too late, Houston Chronicle ($)
Can a new leader help Democrats be relevant in the Texas House? The Dallas Morning News ($)
Texas may snuff out smoking for anyone younger than 21, The Dallas Morning News ($)
Photo of the day
Rick Augusta cuts 57-year-old Joseph Frederick's hair at Delton's Pecan Street Barber Shop in Pflugerville on Sunday. Asked about State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Frederick said his representative's time had "come and gone." Photo by Laura Skelding. See more photos on our Instagram account.
Quote to note
"Isn't that the irony of how Donald Trump is president right now? We kinda shove people down and make them take their weird beliefs and put them in a closet versus having open dialogue."
— Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder and president of New-Wave Feminists, about being removed as a partner for the Women's March on Washington.
The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. If you have feedback or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.