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The Brief: Will Planned Parenthood lose its Medicaid funding?

The health care provider says losing Medicaid funds would be "devastating" for poor Texas women; state attorneys make their case today for why the health care provider should be denied.

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Tribune today

Medicaid removal could be "devastating", Planned Parenthood tells court
Planned Parenthood lawyers and witnesses said in front of a packed courtroom that ending the organization’s reimbursements for Medicaid could endanger access to family planning services for Texas’ most vulnerable populations.

Analysis: Legislators start with a $5.3 billion difference of opinion
In their first-day numbers, the Texas Legislature's two chambers didn’t even agree on the size of the current budget. The House baked in some of those supplemental expenses, adding $1.2 billion for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The Senate left that out.

How one transgender boy sees the "bathroom bill" debate (video)
A new bill would mandate that people use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex.” A business group and families with transgender members are working to oppose it.

Rick Perry prepares to re-enter political arena with confirmation hearing
More than five years after his infamous "oops" moment, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is facing another high-pressure moment in the national spotlight this week: his confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. Secretary of Energy.

Sparring over evidence marks first day of Border Patrol agent's trial
A state judge ruled that a statement Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna voluntarily gave authorities can be used in his murder trial.  Sparring over evidence marked the first day of his trial in South Texas, in a case that has stoked concern about alleged law enforcement corruption on the U.S. side of the border.

Texas sues federal government one more time over coal rule
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday announced he would sue the federal government yet again to block a recently finalized federal rule regulating coal mining near waterways.

Ken Paxton pitches Texas business community on "bathroom bill"
Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday pitched the "bathroom bill" to the Texas business community, which has vocally opposed the effort to regulate bathroom use.

In dueling budget proposals, Texas House and Senate billions apart
Texas House and Senate leaders are starting out the legislative session nearly $8 billion apart according in dueling budget proposals released Tuesday. Among the sticking points: spending on public education and border security.

H-E-B CEO Charles Butt pledges $100 million to public schools nonprofit
Touting a $100 million investment from H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, public school officials on Tuesday announced the creation of the Holdsworth Center, a nonprofit organization that will work with school districts.

Three Texans in Congress boycotting Trump inauguration
U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro, Lloyd Doggett of Austin and Al Green of Houston announced Tuesday they were boycotting President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

What you need to know

Millions in funding is at stake as a hearing to determine if Texas can kick Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid continues today. Yesterday, lawyers for Planned Parenthood told a federal judge there could be "devastating consequences" for poor women if Texas ended the health care provider's Medicaid reimbursements.

  • The state is citing a series of undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group to make their case. The Health and Human Services inspector said the videos, which show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the use of fetal tissue for research, prove the organization "violated state and federal law." Planned Parenthood has denied that accusation. 
  • The videos were widely discredited after their initial release and were found to have been heavily edited. But attorneys for the state showed three clips from the videos during Tuesday's proceedings, with U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks calling them "baloney." 
  • Wednesday is the state's turn to present evidence. The state's attorneys have six witnesses. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Marissa Evans for updates today. 

To get more health news in your inbox, subscribe to Trib+Health, your guide to state and regional health policy news and events.

Other stories we're watching today:

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 $) 

George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Houston, Houston Chronicle

San Antonio's Castro twins announce they will not attend Trump inaugurationSan Antonio Express-News

Texans brace for potential end of Obamacare's insurance exchange, KUT

ExxonMobil bulks up with $6.6 billion Delaware deal, Midland Reporter-Telegram

New bill would ban food stamp recipients from buying junk foodThe Houston Chronicle ($)

Paxton files one last lawsuit against Obama administration, The Houston Chronicle ($)

Dallas Morning News investigation sparks proposed changes to affordable housing program, The Dallas Morning News ($) 

For your calendar

Tomorrow, Evan Smith interviews Reps. Dustin Burrows and Drew Darby at Howard College. RSVP to attend in person or watch online.

Photo of the day

Juan Saenz-Tamez, a former high-ranking Gulf Cartel capo currently in federal prison, is brought into State District Court 107 in Brownsville as a possible witness in the murder trial of former Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna. Photo by Douglas Young. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"Many Texas officials speak out about government overreach. They ask that Washington, D.C., respect the Tenth Amendment and allow states to govern and spend as they see fit. The same logic is often applied to the U.S. Department of Education: States know how to educate their kids more effectively than faceless bureaucrats in Washington. Shouldn’t the same logic apply here?"

— Drew Scheberle of the Austin Chamber of Commerce about Austin's school property taxes via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email 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.

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