The Brief: July 28, 2015.
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The Big Conversation
The legislative committee investigating Planned Parenthood fetal tissue donations is examining a video that a regional affiliate says might have been filmed in one of its Houston clinics.
The committee, chaired by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, is set to hold a hearing Wednesday following two already released videos that show Planned Parenthood executives elsewhere in the country discussing the topic. But lawmakers are also reviewing a video obtained by Attorney General Ken Paxton, which Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast says could be from a Houston clinic, the Tribune's Alexa Ura reports:
The AG's office granted lawmakers and their staff access to the video under the legislative privilege provided to members of the Legislature by open government laws, said Thomas Holloway, a Schwertner spokesman.
Legislative privilege allows state agencies to provide confidential information to lawmakers who request it "for legislative purposes."
Bracing for a secretly recorded video to be released, an attorney for Planned Parenthood sent a letter to Schwertner's office on Sunday saying the organization believed that the committee chairman had access to a video recorded by the Center for Medical Progress at a Houston clinic. The organization asked to view the video out of "fairness" ahead of Wednesday's committee hearing.
On Monday, [Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle] Tafolla said Schwertner's office referred their request to the attorney general's office. Planned Parenthood then sent a letter to the AG's office requesting to view the video, saying that "because the videotape has already been reviewed by such Members and staff, it is no longer privileged."
Paxton's office wouldn't elaborate on how it obtained the video and what it includes, saying Paxton's testimony on Wednesday should help clarify both points. The group behind the two other videos, the Center for Medical Progress, visited a Planned Parenthood Houston clinic in April, we reported earlier Monday. That group hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment.
And in other Planned Parenthood news this week, the national organization has asked the FBI to look into its website's hacking on Sunday.
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Despite Ruling, Detained Immigrants Face Uncertainty, by Julian Aguilar - More than 2,000 undocumented women and children being held in "deplorable" conditions at federal immigration detention centers are supposed to be released under a recent federal judge's order But how long that takes and what happens to them next remains unclear, attorneys say.
Program Aims to Give College Credit Where it's Due, by Matthew Watkins - Across Texas, tens of thousands of students have earned enough college credit for an associates degree without knowing it. A new project led by the University of Texas at Austin hopes to track them down.
Texas Facing Major Climate Change Impacts, Study Finds, by Kiah Collier - A sharp increase in heat-related deaths and storm-related losses. A decrease in worker productivity and crop yields. A new climate change study paints a bleak picture for Texas over the coming decades - if nothing is done to address the much-debated warming trend.
Sandra Bland DA Appoints Team to Review Evidence, by Terri Langford - The prosecutor in the Sandra Bland death investigation said Monday he has appointed an outside group of lawyers to review the evidence in the case to ensure that Waller County remains "an open book."
Ted Cruz Plays the Maverick, The Atlantic
Cruz uses Senate blowup to his advantage, Houston Chronicle
Castro marks one year at HUD, San Antonio Express-News
Highway Funding Showdown is Latest Budget Scramble at TxDOT, Medill News Service
Lawmaker asks Paxton if state agencies moved too fast to accommodate same-sex couples, The Dallas Morning News
Texas House hearing to look into Sandra Bland death, Austin American-Statesman
Groups file 14 lawsuits in Austin alleging lack of access for disabled, Austin American-Statesman
Top state positions cemented with campaign cash, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Demographers baffled as percent of region's low-income students shrinks, Austin American-Statesman
Irregularities abound at Texas migrant detention center, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Immigration judges order release of Dilley mothers, San Antonio Express-News
Police, fire unions could sue city, San Antonio Express-News
Quote to Note
"What I said about McConnell wasn't attacking him personally."
- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on his Friday speech on the Senate floor, in which he said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told a "flat-out lie."
News From Home
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