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Ethics Reform was touted by both Candidate Abbott and now Governor Abbott as a priority for Texas' 84th legislature. The Governor's comments gave hope to ethics reform advocates that dark money groups would be forced to disclose their donors, conflicts of interests would be outed in state contracts, and the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists would be stymied.

DALLAS — A Harris County resident has contracted the first human case of the West Nile virus in Texas this year.

Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services confirmed the case Thursday. Doctors for the unidentified man, who is hospitalized, expect him to recover.

In Dallas County, health officials have confirmed Texas’ first mosquito trap testing positive for the West Nile virus this year. Dallas-area media outlets report the trap was collected from the city of Mesquite.

Ryan E. Poppe

AUSTIN — A newly struck budget deal is giving new Republican Gov. Greg Abbott the tax cuts he demanded but remains blemished by skepticism that Texas homeowners will notice any savings.

Ending weeks of discord between the House and Senate, the agreement late Thursday on a $3.8 billion package of new exemptions puts Abbott close to signing Texas’ biggest tax cuts in a decade and the bragging rights of finishing his first legislative session on time.

Republicans campaigned hard on tax cuts in 2014, and after the Legislature adjourns June 1, they can boast to voters back home they delivered. But even House Republicans have doubted their base will feel roughly $120 knocked off their property taxes, given fast-rising home appraisals in Texas, is enough.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

In stark contrast to former Gov. Rick Perry, the current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the state would comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

In a letter to Lynch earlier this month, Abbott stated that Texas would “fully implement” the standards as much as possible. In the letter of May 15, Abbott wrote: “The State of Texas has taken significant steps to eliminate prison rape. I cannot yet certify that the State is in full compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) because our PREA audits are still ongoing. But every facility that has completed the PREA audit process has been certified as fully compliant. And I can assure you that we will fully implement DOJ’s PREA standards wherever feasible.”

The PREA requires segregating younger inmates from those who are over 18. Perry refused to comply, basically because 17-year-old criminal offenders in Texas are classified as adults. Federal law requires 17-year-olds to be housed separately from those 18 or older.

Shane Torgerson / Wikimedia Commons

AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers have sent to Gov. Greg Abbott a bill meant to strengthen regulations for storing the chemical fertilizer that caused a fatal explosion in West in 2013.

The Senate gave final approval Thursday to requiring ammonium nitrate be kept separate from combustible material.

The bill also grants the state fire marshal new powers to inspect businesses that store the chemical and issue citations. Businesses would have 10 days to fix problems or face penalties.