The Austin Chronicle


June 28, 2013, News

› Déjà vu all over again: Gov. Rick Perry on Wed­nesday announced a second special session of the Texas Legislature, the day after Senate Bill 5 was killed by Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster, parliamentary maneuvering, and citizen activism. Issues to be considered include transportation funding, mandatory sentencing, and, yes, abortion.

City Council meets today (June 27) with a heavy agenda, and plenty of potential flash points -- most notable the debate over what to do about White Lodging's failure to pay prevailing wages on its Marriott hotel project, and discussion of the final shape of the Downtown Density Bonus Program. Plenty more where those came from – see "Then There's This."

› Austin ISD begins a month of open enrollment for employee insurance on July 1. The district is making major changes in the health insurance offered this year, and expects many employees to change policy.

› Another high profile departure from a city board: A week after three members of Austin Energy's governing body quit, Council Member Kathie Tovo demanded Chris Herbert's resignation from the Resource Management Commission.

› Strike one name from the list of prospective mayoral candidates: Austin Democratic Rep. Mark Strama, who had been seen as an early front-runner after announcing he's leaving the House, announced June 26 that he will not run, but will be heading up Google Fiber in Austin.

› In the ongoing D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg saga, Judge Julie Kocurek asked to be recused from the criminal case concerning the allegation that Lehmberg committed obstruction of justice or retaliation during her arrest for DWI.

› The U.S. Supreme Court issued two opinions early this week with broad national implications: ending state coverage of the Voting Rights Act and remanding the UT affirmative action case back to the lower courts, plus restricting workplace harassment complaints ... not a great week in jurisprudence.

› On the other hand, the Supremes on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing married same-sex couples access to the federal benefits offered to opposite-sex couples. The case involving California's Proposition 8 marriage ban was dismissed on standing, likely allowing same-sex marriage to resume there. The court stopped short, however, of confirming a fundamental right to marriage for all people.

› In the wake of the VRA decision -- meaning Texas doesn't need "preclearance" of voting law discrimination – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the state's voter ID law would take effect immediately, and it seems more likely that gerrymandered redistricting maps will be permanent.

› Texas carried out its 500th execution since the death penalty was reinstated Wednesday. Kimberly McCarthy, convicted of a 1997 murder, became the first woman executed in the U.S. since 2010. See "Death Watch."

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