News Roundup: State Set To Conduct Final Execution Of 2018

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelDecember 11, 2018 4:32 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Texas is scheduled to execute its final inmate of 2018 Tuesday.

Alvin Braziel, Jr. was convicted of capital murder for fatally shooting 27-year-old Douglas White in 1993. White and his newlywed wife Lora were walking around Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, when Braziel attempted to rob them; White was killed and his wife was raped.

If 43-year-old Braziel is put to death, it will be the second execution in a week and the 13th of the year in Texas. The last time the state executed this many inmates in one year was 2015.

For now, Texas must continue to rely solely on state funding if it wants to exclude Planned Parenthood from its Women’s Health Program.

That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a case yesterday brought by Republican-led states. Those states were trying to accept Medicaid funding for women’s health services while excluding groups that also provide abortions.

University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck tells KUT News the decision to turn down the divisive case is partially grounded in an effort to lower the partisan temperature.

We’re not even two months removed from one of the most contentious confirmation hearings in recent history,” Vladeck says. “This was the Supreme Court with the chief justice and Justice Kavanaugh joining the more progressive justices basically saying we don’t want to touch this one with a ten-foot pole.”

Texas has sought to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds while asking the federal government for a Medicaid waiver. That waiver would allow Texas to draw down hundreds of millions of dollars for its own state-run healthcare program for low income women.

Executives at some of the largest Texas universities earned higher salaries than their counterparts across the country in 2016. Houston Public Media’s Davis Land has more.

New data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education shows former University of Texas chancellor William McRaven as the third most well-paid public university executive in the country. John Sharp at Texas A&M comes in at number 5, and Michael Young, also at A&M, at number 12. Renu Khator at the University of Houston places at 14 on that list. Executives at private Texas universities top their own lists. At Baylor, Kenneth Starr was the most well-compensated private university executive, reportedly because of his severance pay as he resigned amid a scandal at Baylor over its handling of sexual assault investigations.

Tuesday, there’s a special election to fill a Texas Senate seat left vacant by Sylvia Garcia. The Houston Democrat resigned after her election to the U.S. House of Representative last month, becoming one of the first Latinas Texas is sending to Congress.

Four candidates are vying for the seat in Texas Senate District 6.

They include two Democratic state representatives, Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez. There’s a third Democrat in the race, Mia Mundy. And the fourth is Republican, Martha Fierro.

According to the Harris County Clerk, roughly 15,400 people voted early in the special election.