The Brief: Dec. 10, 2015

The campus carry debate took center stage again on Wednesday following a gun rights group's announcement that it plans to hold a fake mass shooting demonstration this weekend just off the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

On Nov. 10, 2015, University of Texas at Austin faculty and students protested the new campus carry law that will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry handguns into campus buildings.

The Big Conversation

The campus carry debate took center stage again on Wednesday following a gun rights group's announcement that it plans to hold a fake mass shooting demonstration this weekend just off the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

"The event planned by Come And Take It Texas will feature members of the organization acting out a mass shooting with cardboard guns, fake blood and fake sounds of gun shots, according to a spokesman for the group, which is also known as DontComply.com," the Tribune's Luqman Adeniyi and Madlin Mekelburg write. "Come and Take It Texas created what it is calling the 'Open Carry Walk and Crisis Performance' event because of renewed discussions by politicians and the media about cracking down on gun rights, according to the group's spokesman, Matthew Short."

The group's goal is to persuade the university not to establish any gun-free zones on campus, an option afforded it under the campus carry law passed this year by the Legislature. The group terms those areas "victim-killing zones." Supporters of gun-free zones say their motivation is to keep guns out of classrooms.

Come And Take It Texas will be forced to have their demonstration just off campus after the university said that system rules don't allow outside groups to assemble on campus.

"It probably will change our plans as far as pushing us 20 feet from where we were going to be standing, but UT is still our backdrop," Short said. "We figured this might come up." 

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Scientist Aims to Revolutionize Electricity Grid, by Jim Malewitz – Paul Chu, founding director and chief scientist at the University of Houston’s Texas Center for Superconductivity, discusses how energy storage could revolutionize the grid, and how Texas plays a role in advancing the technology. 

For Abbott, A Balancing Act of Religion and Politics, by Alexa Ura and Jim Malewitz – A practicing Roman Catholic, Gov. Greg Abbott often cites the spiritual underpinnings of his political positions. His stance on barring Syrian refugees from Texas is his latest break with many leaders of his faith.

Analysis: In Redistricting, Somebody Will Be Slighted, by Ross Ramsey – Some people think it’s unfair to have more eligible voters in one legislative district than in another. But the number of eligible voters in each district is far from the only difference that might matter to voters.

Staffers Say Texas Regulator Should Nix Oncor Deal, by Jim Malewitz – Experts at the Public Utility Commission of Texas are urging its three commissioners to reject plans by a Dallas oilman and real estate tycoon to take over the state’s largest electric transmission company. 

House Clears Bill Aimed At Red River Confusion, by Jim Malewitz – Legislation aimed at resolving a dispute over who owns land along the Texas side of the Red River has cleared the U.S. House. But the White House has threatened to veto it.  

Top Perry Strategist Joins Fiorina Campaign, by Patrick Svitek – Rob Johnson, a top strategist for former Gov. Rick Perry, has joined Carly Fiorina's presidential campaign. 

Judge Rejects Paxton Bid to Block Syrian Refugees, by Alexa Ura – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s second attempt to immediately block the arrival of additional Syrian refugees was even shorter-lived than the first. A federal judge on Wednesday quickly rejected his request.

Emotional Testimony Targets Plan to License Detention Centers, by Jordan Rudner – As state officials consider licensing two private detention facilities as approved residential centers for undocumented children, they heard several hours of testimony in opposition to the move Wednesday.

Wendy Davis Hits Iowa for Clinton Next Week, by Ross Ramsey – Wendy Davis, the former Texas gubernatorial candidate and state senator, will campaign for Democrat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, the Clinton campaign announced Wednesday.

Justices Question UT-Austin Affirmative Action Policy, by Matthew Watkins – U.S. Supreme Court justices dissected UT-Austin's unusual admissions procedures on Wednesday, questioning whether Texas' flagship campus should keep using race as a factor when evaluating some of its applicants.   

Dallas to Require Breaks for Construction Workers, by Jim Malewitz – Aiming to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses, the Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved a measure requiring construction companies to give their employees a 10-minute rest break every four hours.  

The Day Ahead

•    The House Appropriations committee, chaired by state Rep. John Otto, is holding a public hearing at 10 a.m. with invited testimony only on the Texas Child Support Enforcement System 2.0.

•    Later in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m., the House State Affairs committee, chaired by state Rep. Byron Cook, is holding a public hearing with invited testimony only at the Capitol, to look at local and federal laws applied to undocumented immigrants and their implications.

•    Rand Paul's presidential campaign is planning to file paperwork Thursday to place him on the ballot for the Texas primary. The Kentucky senator's Lone Star State team will submit the necessary paperwork at 2 p.m. at the Texas GOP headquarters in Austin.  

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will be in Dallas at 8 p.m. tonight to give the keynote address at the US-India Chamber of Commerce's 16th annual banquet.

Elsewhere

After Making Enemies, Cruz Tries to Make Friends, The New York Times

South Carolina evangelicals coalescing around Cruz, Politico

Planned Parenthood shooter calls himself “warrior for babies” after Ted Cruz questioned anti-abortion link, The Dallas Morning News

Wendy Davis: Why I Caved on Guns When I Ran for Governor of Texas, Politico

Permit holders could carry concealed weapons in class at UTSA under preliminary recommendations, San Antonio Express-News

Is Abbott right about ISIS incidents in Texas?, San Antonio Express-News

Feds expect migrant surge, Houston Chronicle

Interstate 14 on its way across Texas, Houston Chronicle

Texas’ sales tax haul shrinks in three of past four months; Hegar blames oilfield slowdown, The Dallas Morning News 

Quote to Note

"UT's holistic admissions process is narrow, Constitutional, and in the best interest of our state and the nation. Diversity fosters an understanding of one another."

–UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves, in response to the oral arguments for Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, heard before the the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday.  

News From Home

This week, we are pushing out Texas Public Schools Explorer 2.0 — a completely redesigned, revamped version of our public schools app. It includes extensive records on EVERY public and charter school in Texas, and lets you easily find graduation rates, test scores and more for all of the 1,219 school districts and 8,646 public schools in Texas.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

•    A conversation with former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove on Dec. 17 at the Austin Club

•    A conversation with state Reps. Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez and Paul Workman on Jan. 14 at St. Edward's University in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin