State government

 Courtesy Brad Levenson

Brad Levenson: The TT Interview

After a series of investigative reports revealed serious problems with the quality of legal representation for indigent defendants on Texas death row, lawmakers created the Office of Capital Writs. California lawyer Brad Levenson will be moving to Texas to open the new office and attempt to restore some confidence in the state's busy system of capital punishment.

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 Graphic by Todd Wiseman

The Lobby Wars

HillCo's lawsuit against two of its departing partners is threatening business as usual in the insular world of the Texas lobby, raising the specter of open combat in an industry that prefers to settle its fights behind closed doors. But as its allegations make plain, HillCo believes that two rogue employees are the ones who crossed the line, turning competition for clients into espionage and biting down hard on the hand that fed them.

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 Mark P. Jones

Rice Poli Sci Chair Mark Jones on House Partisanship

Mark P. Jones, political science chairman at Rice University, recently ranked Texas House members' partisanship based on their 2009 legislative votes. The study, which we've used to create an interactive chart, shows Texas' increasingly polarized political environment, Jones says in an interview.

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 Todd Wiseman

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom, Hamilton, and Philpott on the Texas Democratic Party's state convention, the two-step, the forecast, and the ticket; Galbraith on the political and environmental battle between state and federal environmental regulators, and on a new age of nukes in Texas; Burnson on signs of the times in San Antonio; Ramshaw on hackers breaking into the state's confidential cancer database; Aguilar's interview with Katherine Glass, the Libertarian Party's nominee for governor; Acosta on efforts to stop 'Murderabilia' items that sell because of the association with killers; Ramshaw and the Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford on the criminal arrest records of workers in state-funded foster care centers; Hu on accusations that state Sunset examiners missed problems with workers compensation regulators because they didn't ask the right questions of the right people; Ramsey and Stiles on the rush to rake in campaign cash, and on political races that could be won or lost because of voter attraction to Libertarian candidates; and Aguilar's fresh take on South Texas' reputation for corruption. The best of our best from June 28 to July 3, 2010.

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 Jacob Villanueva

TribBlog: Capitol Reopened After Bomb Threat

The Texas Capitol has been evacuated because of an early morning bomb threat. A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety says someone called 9-1-1 and said there is a bomb in the building. Everyone inside was ordered out and people showing up for work this morning are being turned away for now.

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TribBlog: Hegar: No PUC Revolving Door

When reports surfaced that the Public Utility Comission chair was being considered for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' top job, watchdogs questioned whether he could legally — or ethically — apply for the job. If Sunset Advisory Commission Chair Glenn Hegar's recommendations stick, the answer will soon be no.

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 Caleb Bryant Miller

TribBlog: Flag Flop [Updated]

When former Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. died Sunday after a long illness, Gov. Rick Perry reached out to the U.S. government, asking for flags to be flown at half-mast at federal buildings in Texas. The response, Perry's office says, was a resounding no.

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Balking at Bacteria

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has voted not to allow higher levels of E. coli bacteria in the state's water sources, despite staff concerns that the current rules are unnecessarily stringent.

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 Justin Dehn/Todd Wiseman

Sunset Grill

Physician fraud investigators inside the troubled Division of Workers' Compensation say state examiners failed to uncover serious problems there — and then recommended changes that would take key decisions away from trained physicians and give them to bureaucrats.

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