Rep. Jeff Leach's Wife, a Sexual Assault Victim, Shares Story; Red-light Camera Ban Clears Hurdle; Beto O'Rourke's Rap

Good morning! Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Washington, the campaign trail and Dallas.Points from Austin1. Two years ago, Gov. Greg Abbott was so desperate to play down the rancor and infighting at the top of Texas state government, he tweeted a pic of himself and Comptroller Glenn Hegar holding a cutout of children's book character Flat Stanley. "It's Kumbaya time. Flat Stanley unites us all," Abbott wrote. In the background, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and then-Speaker Joe Straus gripped and grinned. Just as easily, though, they could have bared their fangs, given what happened in the ensuing four months: deadlock over a bathroom bill and property taxes. A special session. Recriminations between Patrick and Straus. GOP dysfunction on display. This year, by contrast, Abbott doesn't have to tweet in hopes of party unity. With some exceptions, the unity is real.So what's the reason behind the GOP's new solidarity?2. Rafael Anchia stood in front of the charred remains of a home in northwest Dallas, the Christmas lights still hanging from the roof. The abandoned house was one of two on the block that exploded in the days before a third blast killed a 12-year-old, Linda "Michellita" Rogers, last February. "These aren't just homes," said Anchia, the state lawmaker who represents the working-class area. "These are lives that were changed forever. It's a metaphor for how time stopped for these people." Anchia has filed 11 bills to increase pipeline safety and do away with perceived conflicts of interest between the Railroad Commission and the natural gas operators it's supposed to regulate. But do any of them stand a chance of passing? It's a daunting challenge involving a multibillion-dollar industry.  Continue reading...

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