The Brief: Texas alcohol regulators know how to party — on taxpayer's dime
Officials from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spent thousands of taxpayer dollars attending conferences and hotels at fancy resorts.
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Liquor regulators partying on taxpayers' tab
Texas alcohol regulators know how to party: records show they've spent thousands of dollars to travel to swanky resorts where liquor flows and industry lobbyists abound. Now the state's top liquor administrator says she may have to disclose more about the money she's received from an industry-funded group.
Analysis: Is this Texas state budget trick constitutional?
The Texas Senate is proposing a new accounting trick to balance its 2018-19 budget. The contrivance would work, mathematically speaking, but it raises constitutional questions and faces derision from the House.
Instead of a border wall, some Texans want parks, solar panels or levees
As the Trump Administration moves ahead with its plans for a barrier just north of the Rio Grande, Texans are weighing in on how the president should approach the project. And the ideas range from the comical to the practical.
Rick Perry wades into student election at his alma mater (video)
Texas' longest-serving governor took time away from his new job as the U.S. Secretary of Energy to question the election that resulted in Texas A&M's first openly gay student body president.
Gov. Greg Abbott to meet with President Trump at White House
Gov. Greg Abbott is set to meet with President Donald Trump on Friday at the White House.
State's legal foes seek new Texas congressional map for 2018
Groups suing Texas over its political maps have asked a federal court to ensure new congressional districts are drawn ahead of the November 2018 elections.
How a college student election got the attention of the energy secretary
Thanks to some glow sticks and a strict interpretation of election rules, the student body president election at Texas A&M University has gained national attention — and the suspicion of former Gov. Rick Perry.
Gohmert, Weber among holdouts as House postpones health bill vote
A landmark Republican overhaul to the country's health care system may have died Thursday. Three Texas Republicans were among those pushing for changes to the bill before agreeing to support it.
Rural "school choice" letter campaign sparks confusion, accusations inside Texas Capitol
An advocacy group says thousands of letters sent to rural lawmakers suggests widespread support for legislation that would create education savings accounts. But lawmakers — and some constituents — say the letters are dubious.
Yet again, lawmakers poised to do little to help sex-trafficking victims
When it comes to child sex-trafficking, Texas lawmakers are once again poised to focus on criminal enforcement this legislative session rather than providing resources to victims.
Straus agrees with Patrick on their different audiences
In a radio interview Thursday, House Speaker Joe Straus said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has a different audience than he does. "He’s an entertainer, a talk show guy. And a statewide elected official. I’m not," Straus said.
Senate Education Committee passes school choice legislation
In a 7-3 vote, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would create two public programs subsidizing private school tuition and homeschooling expenses.
What you need to know
Records show officials from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spent thousands of taxpayer dollars attending meetings for the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators, an industry trade group that brings liquor interests and government regulators together at hotels and resorts across the nation. Here's what you need to know:
- The commission has spent at least $85,000 on out-of-state travel since the 2011 fiscal year, with a lot going toward liquor industry conferences, state comptroller's records show. TABC billed Texas at least $8,000 for a San Diego trip in 2015, and in 2013, the commission spent more than $10,000 in taxpayer dollars for four employees to attend NCSLA's annual conference in Hawaii.
- Some critics say the commission is wasting tax dollars and raising concerns about the relationship between government regulators and corporate interests. Austin lawyer Howard Wolf said the commission was "not protecting the consumer" or "the taxpayer," but rather the "very wealthy industry companies that own and dominate the industry," such as the NCSLA.
And despite a tight state budget this year, TABC is planning to send employees to the upcoming NCSLA meeting this summer in Colorado. The commission will continue attending NCSLA conferences as long as they're a dues-paying member, said TABC spokesperson Chris Porter.
News from home
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.
What we're reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $)
Speaker Straus: 'No I won't' block Texas bathroom bill, CBS DFW
Ex-Baylor football player Myke Chatman indicted in 2013 sexual assault, Waco Tribune-Herald
Should Texas turn off its red light cameras?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
HISD special ed director resigns after reports of service denials, The Houston Chronicle ($)
A&M student who lost election files court papers for possible lawsuit, Austin American-Statesman ($)
Trump the dealmaker projects bravado, but behind the scenes, faces rare self-doubt, The New York Times ($)
'Nobody' will lose health care under GOP proposal, Rep. Sessions says, despite estimates millions will, The Dallas Morning News ($)
Photo of the day
FBI Director James Comey spoke at UT-Austin for an Intelligence in Defense of the Homeland symposium March 23. Photo by Shelby Knowles. See more photos on our Instagram account.
Quote to note
"It hurts all children when we assume that one type of school is better than the others. Instead, we should be analyzing good schools — of any type — and learning from them."
— Kaitlin Barnes, a Houston ISD teacher, about the school voucher debate 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 email@example.com. 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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