Greg Abbott

Bob Daemmrich ,Texas Tribune

Long-time Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is running for the GOP nomination for governor in 2014. His official announcement has been anticipated in the days after Gov. Rick Perry announced he would not seek re-election.

A few hundred friends and supporters came to Plaza Juarez in downtown San Antonio to hear Abbott announce his run. A video shown at the announcement and his speech that followed focused on his life in office and on the accident 29 years ago that left Abbott paralyzed.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

AISD says it will likely not grant health benefits to domestic partners of employees. The school district will wait until a federal court decides on the issue.

This is after AISD announced in March it would extend health benefits to domestic partners, which includes same sex and unmarried couples.

flickr.com/myfwcmedia

A federal district judge has overturned a federal emergency rule that would shorten the red snapper fishing season to as few as 12 days in Texas – down from a projected 22 days.

Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger says that he is disappointed in the ruling. The federal decision that would have shortened the season was put in place to stop the overfishing of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

flickr.com/musicfirstcoalition

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the FBI's criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service could include potential civil rights violations, false statements and potential violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in some partisan political activities.

President Obama is meeting with Treasury officials today to discuss the IRS targeting of conservative groups for special review.

Eric Kayne for Texas Tribune

Cheerleaders at an East Texas high school who were told to stop displaying Bible verses on banners at school athletic events can resume such displays, after a state district judge ruled in their favor Wednesday.

The national headline-grabbing lawsuit arose last fall when Kountze Independent School District administrators ordered its high school cheerleaders to stop displaying religious messages during athletic events after a group advocating for the separation of church and state threatened to sue. 

Update: More signs from the City of Austin that Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion won't mean any changes for now: a memo from City Manager Marc Ott on the matter. It reads, in part: 

While we will continue to evaluate the Attorney General’s opinion, it continues to be our belief that the City’s domestic partner group benefits program is not prohibited by the Texas Marriage Amendment, and that the Texas Legislature did not intend the Amendment to have that effect when it was placed before the voters in 2005.

The Attorney General’s opinion does not require the City to take any specific action, and we do not intend to change domestic partner eligibility for our benefits program at this time. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was among the state AG's with an Earth Day gift for the Environmental Protection Agency: A lawsuit.

Abbott is one of 12 attorneys general asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that claims the agency created “absurd” regulations of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act.

KUT News

Update: The Austin City Council decided to delay their vote Thursday night, citing concerns that they did not have enough information.

City staff will return next week with a sampling of how many properties repealing the Project Duration Ordinance would affect. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the only council member against the delay last night.

Original Story (March 20, 7:22 p.m.): Permits for building projects may lose their expiration dates, depending on a vote at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some officials in Texas – including Attorney General Greg Abbott – want to change how the state handles DNA evidence.

Abbott says he thinks testing on DNA evidence should happen before a death penalty case goes to trial.

"If you’re innocent, you’re going to find out that your exoneration will come sooner," Abbott said. "If you are guilty, justice will be more swift and more certain."

KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a "Workers Bill of Rights" this morning at the Capitol. The document outlines the rights of Texas workers, including the ability to abstain from union membership and paying union dues. 

Abbott also took the occasion to promote House Bill 1524, a bill that would allow Texas workers to have "secret ballots" in union votes, saying that the privacy would allow workers to express opinions without any possible union interference or coercion from union leadership. 

courtesy flickr.com/danielctw

Toyota has settled with Texas and 29 other states that investigated the car company for dangerous defects that came to light in 2009.

The states investigated whether Toyota adequately disclosed that voluntary recalls included popular models like the Camry, Tundra and Prius.

Toyota is now required to enhance safety procedures, pay back customers, and pay $217,000 in attorneys’ fees for the state of Texas.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Governor Rick Perry says Attorney General Greg Abbott will not challenge him in the 2014 Republican primary if Perry decides to seek re-election.

“Greg is a dear friend. He has said clearly that if I ran again, he’s not going to be running against me," Perry said in an exclusive interview with Dallas TV station WFAA. 

Gage Skidmore

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is inviting New Yorkers who feel their state's new gun laws are too restrictive to migrate to Texas. 

Abbott has launched a new Google ad campaign encouraging New Yorkers to move to Texas. It says gun-loving Yanks "will have the right to bear arms" and, due to Texas’ low taxes, will also have "more money to buy ammo."

If you've gotten the "Death Spiral" email that's apparently been arriving in many inboxes, here's the verdict from two major, nonpartisan fact checkers:

It is NOT true, as the email claims, that in 11 states there are more people on welfare than there are working.

The debunkers: both PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org.

Todd Wiseman / Jeff Wilcox for Texas Tribune

In an opinion released Monday that reinforces a 2011 law, Attorney General Greg Abbott's office said that employers cannot prohibit an employee with a concealed handgun license from keeping a handgun in a locked, private vehicle in an employee parking lot.

State Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, wrote a request for opinion from the office on May 7 on the matter. During the 2011 session, the Legislature passed a law allowing employees to store concealed handguns in their vehicles on employer property except in cases where prohibited by federal or state law.

According to the attorney general’s opinion, Section 30.06 of the Texas penal code — which allows employers to post notices restricting handguns or other firearms on the premises — does not supersede the state law that protects concealed handgun license holders.

http://www.flickr.com/snurb/

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been making waves in international waters. Abbott and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international watchdog group, have been clashing all week.

KUHF

A Hardin County Judge is expected to rule today on whether to allow a group of high school cheerleaders to continue to display Bible verses at football games.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders are seeking a temporary injunction after Kountze Independent School District officials told the cheerleaders they could no longer use scripture on banners. An atheist group complained about the displays.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he’ll defend the East Texas cheerleaders.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

The question emerged the moment Gov. Rick Perry ended his 2012 presidential campaign: Would he run for governor again in 2014?

So far, Gov. Perry has deflected the question by saying he won't make an announcement any sooner than June 2013 – once the upcoming legislative session is finished.

But earlier this week one of the Governor's advisors, former state senator Ken Armbrister, told a crowd at the University of Texas that Perry would be running again in 2014.

The governor's office quickly knocked down that assertion, saying Perry is the only person who will be make that announcement. And Perry’s office reiterated, once again, that any announcement won't come any sooner than June.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It's back to work and school today but with cooler temperatures highs in the mid-90s. Here's a look at some of the big stories developing today:

AISD Looks at Single-Sex Education Options

The Austin  School Board is taking another look at single-sex middle schools this evening.

AISD Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen had wanted to create single-sex schools at Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools as soon as next school year. But the idea met resistance from some school board members and parents. If the board decides to go forward with the plan, it won’t go into effect until at least 2014-2015.

Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott, the state’s ambitious and litigious attorney general, is on a losing streak.

Federal courts in Washington ruled against him in two crucial voting rights cases last week, first finding that the redistricting maps drawn by the Republican Legislature didn’t protect minority voters as the law requires, and then ruling the state’s tough new photo voter ID law unfairly burdens minority voters.

Neither ruling appears to be a threat to the elections now under way. In the case of redistricting, the state’s maps were replaced this year with interim maps prepared by another set of federal judges. In the case of voter ID, there doesn’t appear to be enough time for the courts to turn around an appeal and order the new standards before November.

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