The Austin Chronicle


January 16, 2009, News

• The 81st legislative session opened Tuesday, and as expected, San Antonio Rep. Joe Straus was elected the new speaker of the House. See "A New Day" for opening day images.

• Bipartisanship was not in the air everywhere. On the Senate side, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst convened the session and began a wrangle to enable the GOP to pass voter-ID legislation.

• The Return of One Tough Grandma: Carole Keeton Strayhorn – former mayor, former Texas railroad commissioner, former comptroller, and permanent candidate – announced she's running for mayor of Austin. See "City Hall Hustle."

Bradley Crowder, one of the two Austin activists charged in St. Paul, Minn., in connection with alleged plans to disrupt the Republican National Convention in September, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of unregistered firearms (i.e., Molotov cocktails). See "RNC Aftermath."

• The Austin Police Department's heavily publicized blood-draw program, begun last Halloween, hit a drawback as local hospitals and the Travis County Jail administration balked at taking further part in the program, for legal and other reasons. APD Chief Art Acevedo said the department would look for alternatives.

• Eight years of the Bush presidency end Tuesday, Jan. 20, with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the U.S., one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For Austin MLK events, see Community Listings.

Quote of the Week

"I'm pleased to say that there were more smiles in the House chamber for this opening day swearing-in than I've seen in recent years. It's a true, palpable sign that Joe Straus ... will work in a collaborative manner with the members, which is something we haven't experienced since 2003."

– Austin Rep. Elliott Naishtat on the new House speaker

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