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The Brief: TAMU elected its first openly gay student body president. Hold up, says Rick Perry.

Former Gov. Rick Perry is questioning the legitimacy of a student body election at Texas A&M University that gave his alma mater its first openly gay student body president.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry posed with his official portrait before its hanging at the Texas Capitol on May 6, 2016.

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Tribune today

Former Gov. Perry questions legitimacy of Texas A&M student body election
Former Gov. Rick Perry, now the U.S. energy secretary, is questioning the legitimacy of the election that gave his alma mater its first openly gay student body president. 

Texas cities predict dozens of canceled events if "bathroom bill" passes
Tourism officials in the state's four biggest cities expect to lose at least $407 million in revenue from upcoming events if the "bathroom bill" becomes law. Scores more event planners are likely to bypass Texas entirely in the future, they say. 

Harris County loses residents to other areas; Texas suburbs still growing
In Texas, suburban counties lead in population growth as they continue to receive residents from other areas while urban counties are more dependent on international migrants and expanding families, new census figures show.

House panel votes to raise age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18
The House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee on Wednesday voted to approve a bill that would raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18.  

Texas Senate passes restrictions on abortion insurance
Texas senators voted 19-10 on Wednesday afternoon to require women to pay a separate premium if they want their health plan to cover an elective abortion. 

Texas poised to maintain most of its border funding for Trump's first years
Despite the Trump administration’s early moves to ramp up detentions and deportations and build a border wall, Texas budget writers don't appear likely to significantly dial back funding for state-based border security operations this year.

Texas Senate accounting maneuver finds $2.5B in budget; Straus calls it “cooking the books”
By delaying a diversion of sales tax money for transportation projects, Texas Senate leaders said they had an additional $2.5 billion to spend on needs such as health care and schools

Here's where the 25 House Republicans from Texas stand on the GOP health bill
Most Republicans in the Texas delegation are behind the measure a day before the U.S. House is poised to vote on an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act strongly backed by President Trump.

Victoria airport would lose commercial flights under Trump's budget cuts
Commercial air travel out of the South Texas city of Victoria would end under President Trump's proposed budget. 

What you need to know

Former Gov. Rick Perry is questioning the legitimacy of a student body election at Texas A&M University that gave his alma mater its first openly gay student body president. Bobby Brooks, an economics junior, won after the top vote-getter, Robert McIntosh, was disqualified for allegedly breaking election rules.

  • Perry, now the U.S. energy secretary, wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, published Wednesday about his concerns. He said the process at best "made a mockery of due process and transparency" and at worst "allowed an election to be stolen outright."
  • McIntosh is the son of Dallas-based Republican fundraiser Alison McIntosh, according to The Dallas Morning News. Perry can be seen in photos with Alison McIntosh's other children on Facebook. 

What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

Travis County led the nation in refusing immigration detainers, Texas Monthly

Trump's wall meets Texas's biggest national park, National Review 

Unanimous Supreme Court expands scope of special education rights, Education Week

Cuts to build border wall could increase offshore drug flow, The Monitor

South Texas school board approves $1.2 billion in tax breaks for Exxon plant, San Antonio Express-News ($)

State lawmakers take aim at campus sexual assault, The Houston Chronicle ($)

Trump's Texas border wall hits a snag in Falcon Lake, Austin American-Statesman ($)

Texas should spend more time finding out why schools fail young black men, lawmaker saysThe Dallas Morning News ($) 

For your calendar 

Join us on Tuesday, March 28, at KLRU's Studio 6A for a special screening of Beyond the Wall, The Texas Tribune's short documentary that explores the state's immigration issues through the eyes of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents and a borderland rancher.

Photo of the day

A memorial service was held at the Texas Capitol grounds to honor volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty. Photo by Bob Dammrich. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"There’s no state mandate to collect group academic data for kids who don’t take standardized tests. Data is a double-edged sword: the same data that shows areas for improvement also illuminates failures."

— Carl & Suzanne Shepherd, parents, about the lack of data tracking in special education via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.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.

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