Perry orders state agencies to use E-Verify

Governor Rick Perry has reversed his stance on E-Verify.

He’s now ordering state agencies to use the system to make sure those applying for state jobs or working for contractors are in the country legally. Four years ago, Perry criticized the federal E-Verify system, saying it “would not make a ‘hill of beans’ difference when it comes to what’s happening in America.”

At a Wednesday news conference, the governor said the system has been improved. Under E-Verify, employers can enter in names and Social Security numbers of new hires. That will let them know whether they are citizens or have proper visas for employment.

At the news conference, Perry also took time to blast President Obama’s executive order on immigration. He says it will trigger a new flood of people illegally entering Texas from Mexico.

Abbott takes legal action against Obama’s immigration order

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced legal action Wednesday challenging President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of Texas, is part of a 17-state coalition.

Abbott, the governor-elect, issued the following statement:

“The President’s unilateral executive action tramples the U.S. Constitution’s Take Care Clause and federal law. The Constitution’s Take Care Clause limits the President’s power and ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress’s laws – not rewrite them under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’ The Department of Homeland Security’s directive was issued without following the Administrative Procedure Act’s rulemaking guidelines and is nothing but an unlawfully adopted legislative rule: an executive decree that requires federal agencies to award legal benefits to individuals whose conduct contradicts the priorities of Congress.”

Van de Putte to Run for San Antonio Mayor

After months of speculation, Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte says she’s running for San Antonio mayor.

The announcement comes just a couple weeks after Van de Putte suffered a huge loss to Republican Dan Patrick in the Lt. Governor’s race. But although she lost big to Patrick two weeks ago, Van de Putte won more than 50 percent of the Bexar County vote. The city election is May 9th.

Meantime, Van de Putte’s decision to run sets up a political “domino effect” among state lawmakers from San Antonio. State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D, District 123) is also running for mayor — and has resigned from the House.

And two other Texas House members from San Antonio have expressed interested in running for Van de Putte’s Senate seat. Today, State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D, District 116) officially declared he is a candidate. And State Rep. Jose Menendez (D, District 124) has already publicly indicated he would be interested.

Van de Putte plans let Gov. Rick Perry know today her intention to resign from the Senate, so he can call for a special election.

 

Judge rules against one Perry defense motion

In an 18-page ruling Tuesday, District Judge Bert Richardson refused to throw out two felony indictments against Gov. Rick Perry. The motion involved in Tuesday’s ruling dealt with a technicality over whether or not special prosecutor Michael McCrum was properly sworn in. Another argument in this particular motion was that some paperwork was not properly filed.

Perry was indicted in August. He’s accused of threatening, then carrying out, a veto of funding for public corruption prosecutors after DA Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat leading the unit, wouldn’t resign following her DWI conviction.

The governor’s defense team has also questioned the case’s constitutionality. Judge Richardson, a Republican, has not yet ruled on those motions.

 

‘Big 3′ extend border surge

Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have signed an agreement to extend the border surge through the end of August 2015.

Perry and other state officials said in a statement Tuesday that the’ll now await the approval of the Legislative Budget Board, which meets next month.

If members give the $86 million plan the go ahead, the move allows enhanced patrols by the Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard and other personnel to continue their response to a surge in immigrants entering illegally into the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley.

Officials want to divert nearly $48 million in general revenue bonds and other monies to help cover the cost.

“Texas has proven beyond any doubt that this border can be secured, even if the federal government refuses to take the steps necessary to do so as required by the Constitution,” Perry said in a press release. “This agreement will ensure the hardworking men and women from DPS, the Texas National Guard and Texas Parks and Wildlife, who have been working with local and federal partners, have the resources they need to maintain a robust law enforcement presence along the border until the Legislature can act.”

According to the Governor’s Office, funds for DPS would include the addition of new shallow-water boats and other technological capabilities, “which would be used to extend tactical capabilities as well as the surge footprint beyond the Rio Grande Valley Sector.”

 

Abbott Holds Commanding Lead in New Poll

With fewer than two weeks until Election Day, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows Republican Greg Abbott leading Democrat Wendy Davis by 16 points in the race for governor. The poll shows Abbott with 54 percent to Davis’ 38 percent.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Patrick is maintaining a commanding lead over Democrat Leticia Van de Putte. The poll puts Patrick ahead 52 percent to 35 percent.

Lt. Gov. Candidates Release New TV Ads

The candidates for lieutenant governor released dueling television ads Tuesday. Sen. Dan Patrick took aim at his Democratic opponent, with a 30-second spot called “Liberal Leticia.” The ad highlights what Patrick calls Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s ‘liberal pro-tax record.’

“Senator Patrick sponsored one of the biggest tax cuts in America during the recession,” said campaign strategist, Allen Blakemore. “Patrick has helped Texas lead the nation in job creation through conservative principles – a clear contrast to Van de Putte’s job-killing policies.”

You can watch the ad, here:

Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, meanwhile, released her own new TV ad, called “Rape is Always Rape.”

“Shame on Dan Patrick. He turned his back on rape survivors when Texas had a massive backlog of rape kits,” Van de Putte said in a statement. “His reckless words and actions threaten the progress Texas women have made. Dan Patrick is dangerous for women, and wrong for Texas.”

You can watch the ad, here.

Supreme Court Blocks Texas from Enforcing Parts of Abortion Law

Late today, the Supreme Court blocked Texas from enforcing key parts of a 2013 abortion law that would close all but eight of the state’s abortion facilities.

With three dissenting votes, the court suspended a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Texas to enforce a rule making abortion clinics statewide spend millions of dollars on hospital-level upgrades known as ambulatory surgical centers.

The appeals court’s ruling suspended an August decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who found that such upgrades were less about safety than making access to abortion difficult.

Yeakel’s ruling stopped the requirements, so the state appealed. The 5th Circuit is still considering the overall constitutionality of the measure but allowed it to go into effect.