Headlines / Quote of the Week

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott (photo by John Anderson)

A.G. Ken Paxton in 2015
A.G. Ken Paxton in 2015 (photo by Jana Birchum)

Abbott Getting What He Wants: Gov. Greg Abbott vowed political revenge against fellow Republicans in the Texas House after two dozen of them joined Democrats in last year’s legislative session to tank his school voucher proposal. To that end, Abbott contributed millions to pro-school choice candidates and incumbents in 30 House races for the March primary, the Statesman reported. Yesterday’s election shows that the money worked. Almost half of the incumbent R’s lost outright. The prospects for the approval of vouchers just got a lot brighter.

And Ken Paxton Too: Another Republican in the crosshairs of the far right this election season is Speaker of the House Dade Phelan. A.G. Ken Paxton led the charge for Phelan to be primaried, after the speaker approved Paxton’s impeachment by the House last May. Now, Phelan is in a run-off with challenger David Covey. In addition to Phelan, Paxton has campaigned against 35 House Republicans. The Dallas Morning News reported 20 of the 35 beat their challengers.

And Even More Republican Infighting: Paxton’s revenge tour did not stop with House Republicans. He was enraged with eight of the judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for ruling against him in 2021. Paxton targeted three of the judges up for reelection in this year’s primary and all have been voted out.

Trump talks to Sean Hannity 
during his border visit
Trump talks to Sean Hannity during his border visit (screenshot via Fox News)

Low Primary Turnout, As Always: Voter turnout in the March primary was significantly lower in early voting than in the 2020 election, despite the state gaining more registered voters in the last four years, The Texas Tribune reported this week.

Zurawski Honored: Thursday, USA Today announced that Austin’s Amanda Zurawski is the Texas honoree for USA Today’s Women of the Year. Zurawski is the lead plaintiff in the Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit challenging Texas’ abortion laws, having nearly died due to a spreading infection after she was denied an abortion in 2022.

Nonprofit Cuts Off Hedge Fund Papers: Speaking of USA Today, it’s owned by Gannett, a corporation known for hollowing out local newspapers (including the Statesman). Report for America, which sends hundreds of journalists into local newsrooms, announced this week it will no longer partner with hedge fund- or private equity-owned businesses including Gannett, writing that business models like Gannett’s “[aren’t] the future for robust local news.”

Barton Springs
Barton Springs (photo by Jana Birchum)

Tribune Partners with Frontline: In good news for local journalism, The Texas Tribune announced its partnership with Frontline, the investigative documentary series by PBS. The partnership will aid reporters in analyzing immigration and politics along the border in a critical election year, the Tribune announced.

Trump <3 Abbott: In a perfect example of the border’s role in the presidential election, Donald Trump said Abbott is on his short list of vice presidential candidates during his visit to the border last week (at the same time that Joe Biden was there). Sean Hannity asked during his show if Abbott was under consideration. “He’s done a great job,” Trump replied. “Yeah, certainly he would be somebody I would very much consider.”

Texas Can’t Trump Federal Immigration Law: Is Abbott doing “a great job” though? A federal judge in Austin, U.S. District Judge David Ezra, issued a preliminary injunction last week that will keep Texas’ extreme immigration law Senate Bill 4 from being enforced while the court challenge against it plays out. Ezra explained that the state’s disagreement with federal immigration policy doesn’t justify violating the Supremacy Clause.

Nurses rally in 2023
Nurses rally in 2023 (photo by John Anderson)

But Abbott Projects Confidence: Abbott tweeted about Ezra’s decision Thursday, saying he’s “not worried,” because the Supreme Court will decide in the end. “Texas has solid legal grounds to defend against an invasion,” he wrote. Those grounds are based on the Constitution’s allowance for states to defend themselves against acts of war. Three individual appeals courts already ruled in the 1990s that immigration doesn’t qualify as an invasion, Bloomberg Law reported.

Drought Relief, For Now: Luckily, there’s some good news at home. The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is now in the least severe drought stage. The district entered the most severe drought state for the first time in its 36-year history in December. Rain in January and February brought the severity down in March, the Austin Monitor reported.

City Manager Search Narrows: We’re also getting closer to stability at City Hall. Tuesday, Mayor Kirk Watson announced the three finalists in City Council’s quest to find Austin’s next city manager. After reviewing 39 applications, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, Denton City Manager Sara Hensley, and Kansas City, Mo., City Manager Brian Platt made the list. Council members will interview the finalists March 26 and could vote on a contract with their preferred candidate as soon as April 2.

Let’s Talk it Out: Austin police haven’t had a contract with the city in a long time. Nearly one year after the 2018 meet and confer agreement between the city and Austin Police Association expired and negotiations over a new labor contract ended, Watson announced that talks between the city and APA would resume next week. Formal negotiations will resume March 13.

Seton Nurses Finally Win Contract With Ascension: There must be something astrological going on with contracts this week. More than 1,000 unionized nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center on 38th ratified their first-ever three-year contract with Catholic health care giant Ascension on Monday, after a contentious bargaining battle that lasted the better part of two years. Nurses held two strikes to draw attention to working conditions and supply shortages affecting patient care.

Over-the-Counter Birth Control: Don’t wanna have a baby while Ascension is still figuring out how many baby blankets they need in the NICU? Try the new over-the-counter birth control pill. Approved by the FDA, it will become available starting late March in retail pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens. A one-month supply of the pill will cost $19.99, The 19th reported.

Headlines / Quote of the Week
image via Getty Images

Quote of the Week

“That turns us from the United States of America into a confederation of states ... What a nightmare.”

– U.S. District Judge David Ezra, explaining his decision to block the Texas law that would give Texas officials broad power to arrest and deport people crossing the border

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle