While matters in the state legislature continue to ramp up slowly, debate on Capitol Hill was fierce during a hearing on gun control.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, nearly two years after becoming the victim of gun violence herself. During testimony, she went face-to-face with the head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, and made her case for stricter gun laws.

“It will be hard, but the time is now,” Giffords said. “You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”

Sen. Ted Cruz also weighed in on the issue. The Senator from Texas questioned LaPierre about the logistics of the proposed bill, and harshly criticized the possibility of a ban on assault weapons.

“The reaction to this tragedy in Newtown is for a lot of elected officials in Washington to rush to reenact a law that, according to the Department of Justice, did absolutely nothing to reduce gun violence,” Cruz said.


Back in Austin, researchers at one biotech company are pointing out that, amid all the scandal, the state’s cancer-fighting efforts are yielding real results.

Mirna Therapeutics received $10.3 million from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT. The company’s CEO, Dr. Paul Lammers, says the public money has done its part inside his lab.

“Oh, absolutely vital, because it is very difficult time right now for funding in biotech,” he said. “Developing a new medicine, a new drug, doesn’t matter if it’s for cancer or for hypertension or diabetes, it is a long exercise.”

Scientists at Mirna say they’ve successfully created an experimental cocktail called the MRX34, which could inhibit the growth of tumors in humans. The drug is currently on its way to the U.S. Food Drug and Administration for clinical testing.


And the board that determines what Texas students are taught in school held its first full meeting since the November elections. The State Board of Education is still comprised of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, but there are signs that the culture wars that drew national attention in 2010 could now be a thing of the past.

“It’s much more of a focus on academics and less on partisan politics,” board member Thomas Ratliff said.

Ratliff says his reason for serving is because of the negative national attention. Click the link below to hear more from SBOE members, along with an update on hearings from the Senate Finance Committee.