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• From Ross Ramsey: Texas lawmakers will meet with you and put your legislation on the fast track, if you’re in favor. Others have to wait for a chance to talk in a committee hearing room in the middle of the night.
• Some Texas lawmakers have complained that universities seem to be taking on ambitious projects that don’t serve the needs of the state. Lawmakers gave them that power back in 2013.
• House lawmakers passed a bill that would raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18 on Thursday.
• Billionaire Warren Buffett got into the auto dealer business without realizing a protectionist state law could stop him from selling cars in Texas.
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned Texas’ attempted import of an overseas execution drug.
• A restive and rollicking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi repeatedly mocked President Trump and House Republicans on Thursday in Austin.
• Several members of the Texas House removed their names as co-authors of a bill that would regulate ride-hailing companies after an amendment that defines “sex” was added to it.
• Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rallied Texas Democrats on Thursday as the party seeks to show a unified front against President Trump.
What you need to know
A panel of federal judges ruled Thursday that lawmakers in 2011 intentionally weakened the political strength of minority voters in a number of state House districts across Texas — a move that either violated the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act. Here’s what you need to know:
• In a 2-1 vote, the ruling found that map drawers “demonstrated a hostility” toward establishing minority-controlled districts, despite their population growth. U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez wrote in a majority opinion that map drawers turned the Voting Rights Act “on its head” in areas including El Paso, Bexar and Harris counties.
• The same court found discrimination in Texas’ 2011 congressional map last month. The San Antonio-based panel ruled the state intentionally discriminated against black and Latino voters in three of Texas’ 36 districts.
• The Texas Legislature is reluctant to discuss the issue. The House Committee on Redistricting has not met since 2013 — despite motions from Democrats to discuss the March ruling and consider seven redistricting-related bills that have been referred to the committee. “We’re just monitoring the court proceedings,” state Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, the committee’s chairwoman, told the Tribune this month.
• The redistricting battle continues April 27, when attorneys are scheduled to return to court. Items like a timeline and roadmap for any fixes the courts require will be debated, but it’s unclear when state lawmakers will be forced to draw a new map since the federal court did not immediately order a new one.
What we’re reading
Links below lead to outside websites; we’ve noted paywall content with $.
San Antonio’s NuStar seeks to raise funds for Permian acquisition, Laredo Morning Times
New digs in Denton for program that digs up assistance for veterans, Denton Record-Chronicle
Waco VA opens new facility to study brain injuries, Waco Tribune-Herald
Community leaders condemn Sessions’ border remarks, El Paso Times
In Dallas and D.C., Texans prepare to march for the sake of science, Dallas Morning News ($)
Texas police withheld records of their son’s death. Now they know why, Austin American-Statesman ($)
For your calendar
On April 24: Join us in Austin or on our livestream as The Texas Tribune talks about what “Repeal and Replace” could mean for Texas. This is the beginning of a three-part conversation series on health care. RSVP.
Photo of the day
State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, gives his closing arguments on House Bill 122, which would raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18. The Texas House passed the bill 92-52 on April 20. Photo by Bob Daemmrich. See more photos on our Instagram account.
Quote to note
“I do have a problem with a gazillionaire blowing into Texas and meeting with our officials and suddenly a bill gets fast tracked. Republicans all run on being free market people except where there’s an asterisk, and then there’s a bunch of exceptions.’’
— JoAnn Fleming, an East Texas tea party activist, about the “Buffett Bill”
The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source: Texas Tribune Blue Left News