• Pitts aiming to impeach UT System regent

    Multiple news outlets have reported that House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, is currently working to get the necessary signatures to impeach a UT regent.

    The Texas Tribune and the Dallas Morning News both reported that Regent Wallace Hall is the target of Pitts' impeachment proposal. Lawmakers have been frustrated by Hall and the UT System for repeated Open Records Request filings targeted at UT President William Powers Jr. Most recently, Hall requested many documents from Powers' office, including "post-it" notes.

    In order to begin the impeachment process, Pitts will have to aquire 76 signatures from the House's representatives. Following that, the Senate must convene and get two-thirds of a vote to impeach the regent.  

  • University of Missouri extends domestic partner benefits to employees

    While the question of how far to extend rights to the LGBTQ community is at the forefront of the national news, the University of Missouri System approved domestic partner benefits Thursday, expanding insurance to the LGBT community.

    Extending health insurance coverage to domestic partnership has been an initiative supported by UT faculty, but is not available on campus.

    The University of Missouri System’s Board of Curators, similar to UT System’s Board of Regents, voted unanimously to include “sponsored adult dependents,” which would cover same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples living together.

    Work to expand domestic partner benefits to the UT faculty has been an on-going fight on campus resulting in a unanimously passed resolution encouraging the UT System Board of Regents to work with the Texas Legislature to provide benefits to domestic partners of system employees.

    Current state law only allows the UT and Texas A&M Systems to offer uniform benefits to dependents, including spouses and unmarried children under the age of 25, under the Texas Family Code.

    The code states definitions of husband, being a man and wife and being a woman, although civil unions between people of the same sex do not qualify as spouses.

    A bill to extend benefits to system employees was filed in the legislature in March, but did not even make it to a committee hearing.

    This comes at time when rights for the LGBTQ community are in flux, as many await the United States Supreme Court decision on the cases involving the rights of LGBTQ couples.

    The Supreme Court could rule as soon as Monday on the constitutionality of The Defense of Marriage Act, which limits federal benefits to married unions between a man and a woman, and California’s Proposition 8, aimed to ban same-sex marriage.

    Follow Christine Ayala on Twitter @Christine_Ayala. 

  • Speculation: Fisher v. Texas decision could be held until next year

    While previous articles from The Daily Texan have indicated the Supreme Court has until the end of the month to rule on the Fisher v. Texas case, a possibility remains that the court could choose to hold their ruling on the case until next year.

    Fisher, which will decide whether the University’s use of race as a factor in admissions violates the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, is not the only case related to affirmative action currently before the court. This spring the justices also picked up a challenge to Michigan’s 2006 voter initiative banning the state’s use of race in admissions at public universities.

    When the Michigan case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, is heard in the fall there will be additional questions before the court related to the use of race in admissions. If a plurality of Supreme Court justices chooses to do so, the court could hold their ruling on Fisher until hearing Schuette.

    The justices could then potentially issue both opinions concurrently at an opinion date they set down, according the SCOTUSblog, an online news site that covers the Supreme Court.

    Follow Andrew Messamore on Twitter @AndrewMessamore

  • The Morning Texan: Fisher (perhaps), Juneteenth and more

    While Thursday morning will be cloudy, the day is expected to be clear and hot, according to the National Weather Service. Thursday will have a high of 97 degrees.

    The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to release a series of opinions on cases at 9 a.m. Thursday morning. Fisher v. Texas, the Supreme Court case that will decide the future of race-conscious admissions at UT and possibly in the United States, could be one of these cases. Fisher v. Texas is the oldest case without a decision. It is also the only case from October without a decision.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read story online: Wednesday was Juneteenth, but the University celebrated Juneteenth on Tuesday. Check out our story on the celebration here.

    In case you missed it: The Daily Texan followed up on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's veto on $1.5 million fundung for UT's Center for Mexican American Studies. The associate director of the center said UT is losing faculty hires to other schools because of the decreased funding in recent years.

    What you have to read: The Texas Senate has approved legislation that would make it more difficult to get an abortion in Texas.

  • Rick Perry vetoes funding for Public Integrity Unit

    Funding for state’s Public Integrity Unit disappeared last week with a wave of Gov. Rick Perry’s hand. Now, some say the only way the unit can survive is if Travis County picks up the $3.5 million yearly tab.

    Perry used a line-item veto to kill funding for the unit, housed in Travis County and the prime investigator of corruption by public officials and fraud. State funding for the unit will cease August 31 and not be renewed for at least another two years.

    The unit’s jurisdiction is statewide, meaning it has the authority to investigate certain cases in other counties. More than half of its pending cases, 280 out of 400, have a Travis County connection. It currently has 34 employees.

    Travis County commissioners heard testimony from the unit’s leadership Monday but did not decide on whether to fund the unit. Commissioners said they would meet in two weeks to take action.

     “It’s a financial surprise to all of the taxpayers that have to foot the bill,” said Travis County Commissioner Ron Davis.

    Davis said since the unit investigates corruption cases across the entire state, he wants to look for a way to cost-share funding the unit with other counties. 

    By issuing his veto, Perry made true on his promise to cut funding for the unit if Rosemary Lehmberg, the embattled Travis County district attorney, did not resign from her post. Republican lawmakers have hammered Lehmberg, a democrat, for being convicted of a DWI in April and insist she resign.

    If she resigns, Perry will appoint her replacement. Lehmberg has said although she will not resign, she will not seek reelection and seek professional help.

    Lehmberg made her first public appearance since her DWI conviction at the meeting and upheld the unit’s role to investigate corruption in Texas.

    “The work remains. The governor’s veto does not affect responsibility,” Lehmberg said.

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