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The Brief: An often-absent Dawnna Dukes

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has missed more record votes during the current legislative session than any of the 150 members of the House by far, a Texas Tribune analysis shows.

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, outside the Travis County Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center before being arraigned on Jan. 18, 2017.

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Tribune today

• From Ross Ramsey: Another judge has ruled that Texas intentionally discriminated when changing voting laws. But the state still got away with it.

• Parents fear a House bill would make it easier for people to publicly shame them for not vaccinating their children

• Sandra Bland's mother was among those who testified in favor of a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to document the race and ethnicity of drivers they stop

• The Amarillo ISD superintendent testified in favor of Senate Bill 463, rattling off a list of high schoolers who failed required tests but still graduated under the current state law. 

• The Trump administration is floating ideas that range from nullifying treaties to expanding employment screenings, former immigration and border officials say

• The Senate backed legislation that would allow county clerks to recuse themselves from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples on religious grounds. 

• An amendment that would ban abortion providers from receiving any funds from the state passed in the Texas House.

What you need to know

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has missed more record votes during the current legislative session than any of the 150 members of the House, a Texas Tribune analysis with data from shows.

 The 11-term Democrat has missed 64 percent of the votes taken, as of last Friday. Dukes, who was indicted on abuse-of-office charges in January, was present and voting for most of the 15-hour-long marathon budget debate on the House floor, missing only 16 of 66 recorded votes. 

• Dukes’ missed votes include both excused and unexcused absences. An excused absence is granted as long as representatives notify the House clerk's office or ask a colleague to announce their absence on the floor. An unexcused absence is only given if the lawmaker doesn't communicate their plans to miss a day. 

• Asked about her attendance, Dukes said she has worked hard on the budget. “Most of my work this session has been behind the scenes in Appropriations committee, conferring with agency heads, nonprofit/interest groups and meeting with constituents — just like every session I've served in,” Dukes said.

What we're reading

Links below lead to outside websites; we've noted paywall content with $.

Federal grand jury indicts 8, including Ennis doctor, in $158 million health care fraud schemeWaxahachie Daily Light

USAA raises minimum wage to $16 per hour, expands parental leave, KSAT 

Five RGV residents charged with Medicare fraud, illegal kickbacksThe Monitor 

Rule denying car registration to parents who don't pay child support generates $1.17 millionBeaumont Enterprise

Wallace a boon to lobbyists who fund her campaign, San Antonio Express-News ($)

Bill could limit cities' authority to designate historic landmarks, The Houston Chronicle ($)

For your calendar 

On April 24: Join us in Austin or on our livestream as the Texas Tribune talks about what "Repeal and Replace" could mean for Texas. This is the beginning of a three-part conversation series on health care. RSVP

On May 21: Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith hosts a Texas-centric trivia night at The Highball in Austin at 6 p.m. RSVP

Quote to note

"I'm listening to dollars. I'm listening to data. Your data is Sandra Bland and many of those like her. The cost, the dollars, was her life and many others like her."

Geneva Reed-Veal testifying in support of a bill named for her daughter, the Sandra Bland Act

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

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