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Opinion Opinion

OPINION: State Capital Highlights: Ruling prevents state from enforcing voter ID law

AUSTIN — An Oct. 9 ruling by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos of Corpus Christi prevents the state from enforcing the voter identification law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011 as Senate Bill 14.

In the case, Marc Veasey et al. v. Rick Perry et al., Ramos ruled the law was enacted with a discriminatory purpose and an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans. Ramos said the law places an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote that is, in effect, a poll tax. “Plaintiffs,” she wrote, “have thus demonstrated that every form of SB 14-qualified ID available to the general public is issued at a cost.”

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opinion: State Capital Highlights: Frontrunning candidates appear in debate forums

AUSTIN — Texans interested in who their next governor and lieutenant governor will be witnessed major party candidates for those offices engage in live, one-hour broadcast debates last week.

Fellow state Sens. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, opponents in the race for lieutenant governor, faced off in Austin on Sept. 29. Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott competed on stage in Dallas on Sept. 30, each striving to succeed longtime Gov. Rick Perry as the state’s chief executive.

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OPINION: State Captial Highlights: Top candidates debate this week with election on horizon

AUSTIN — A debate scheduled Sept. 29 pits Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, two state senators who are vying to succeed David Dewhurst as lieutenant governor in 2015. Van de Putte, a pharmacist in private life, has served in the Senate since 1999. Patrick, a radio talk show host, was first elected to the Senate in 2009. Whoever wins will preside over the Senate.

On Sept. 30, a second debate between state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Republican Greg Abbott, Texas attorney general, gives voters another look at the two competing to succeed Rick Perry as Texas' next governor.

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OPINION: State Capital Highlights: Texas, Mexico exchange words over military force at border

AUSTIN — While the governor and a group of trade-with-Texas promoters were in Japan and China last week, the 13th anniversary of the “9-11” terrorist attacks on the United States was broadly observed. Perry acknowledged the anniversary from afar and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who serves as acting governor when Perry is out of the state, also made a similar, solemn statement on Sept. 11.

Perry posted another statement in absentia, calling attention to the fact that some 1,000 National Guard troops, at his request, had taken positions at observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border to deter crossings of the Rio Grande by terrorists and drug traffickers. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto reacted, criticizing the deployment of National Guard to the border as a less-than-neighborly act.

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OPINION: State Capital Highlights: Judge rules revisions to abortion law unconstitutional

AUSTIN — U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Aug. 29 struck down two provisions in House Bill 2, legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in the second special session of 2013, amending the state Health and Safety Code to restrict access to abortion services. 


Yeakel wrote, “A state’s legislature cannot purport to act to abrogate the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” and concluded the following provisions in the law put an unconstitutional burden on women:
— That a physician performing or inducing an abortion must, on the date the abortion is performed or induced, have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced.
— That the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted for ambulatory surgical centers.


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OPINION: State Capital Highlights: Court rules school finance system unconstitutional

AUSTIN – When the Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13, 2015, lawmakers will have the job of revising the state’s school finance system, again.

This task was made necessary on Aug. 28, when state District Judge John Dietz ruled the current finance system violates these four state constitutional standards: the state property tax prohibition and the education clause requirements of adequacy, suitability, and financial efficiency.

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OPINION: State Capital Highlights: County processes governor after felony indictment

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry on Aug. 20 walked the block and a half from the Governor’s Mansion to the Travis County Courthouse, presented himself for arraignment by a state district judge and routine booking procedures, spoke at a five-minute press conference and left.

Perry was indicted on Aug. 15 by a Travis County grand jury on felony charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Perry entered a plea of not guilty to either charge. 

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OPINION: State Capital Highlights: Grand jury indicts governor on 2 counts

20140822 Rick-Perry-MugshotAUSTIN — A Travis County grand jury on Aug. 15 indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.


Count I alleges Perry, on or about June 14, 2013, intended to harm Rosemary Lehmberg, Travis County district attorney and chief of the state’s Public Integrity Unit, by intentionally or knowingly misusing public property in withholding funding approved by the Texas Legislature for the operation of the Public Integrity Unit. 


Count II alleges Perry by means of coercion and in his official capacity as a public servant threatened to veto legislation funding the Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned as district attorney. 


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