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- Laws the state uses to convict pimps can fail to distinguish victim from perpetrator, meaning Texas' mission to put sex-traffickers behind bars is sweeping up their prey, too.
- Less than three months remain until Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stands on criminal trial for securities fraud charges. His Republican base still stands by him.
- Lawmakers have already made headway on ethics reform this session, but currently, more than two dozen former elected officials convicted of felonies are still eligible to receive taxpayer-funded pensions.
- "Bathroom bill" opponents say it's not enough for a proposed law to exclude stadiums and convention centers to avoid economic fallout in Texas.
- Here's what Texas citizens had to say about abortion legislation at Wednesday's Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
- Gov. Abbott has made clear the importance of funding Pre-K this session, but the House budget proposal has slashed funding for the grant program he supports, setting the stage for a battle in the Legislature.
- Texas Republicans are quiet when it comes to the Trump's administration's alleged ties to Russia. But Texas Democrats are raising their voices.
- El Paso County could find itself in legal trouble, if Texas' controversial anti-"sanctuary" bill passes.
- State Sens. Jose Menendez and Carlos Uresti failed to report almost $60,000 in donations from two PACs. Both promised to file amended reports.
- Attorney General Ken Paxton is the first state attorney general to back President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban.
What you need to know
Attorney General Ken Paxton is back in court Thursday for a pretrial hearing, where prosecutors are expected to argue for a change in court venue. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek for updates today.
- Prosecutors say Paxton and his allies have tainted the jury pool by waging a "22-month siege" against the people involved in the case. Though Paxton's case is set to head to trial in three months, his political base is standing by him.
- Paxton and his allies have increasingly argued in recent months that he is the subject of a revenge plot by political foes. They've worked most to discredit state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, a key witness in the case.
- But Paxton's strategy is not just around the court case. There's been a staff shake-up, a change in media strategy and an appeal to Donald Trump voters.
Now, your take
According to an Oct. 2016 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 31 percent of Texans said they had heard nothing at all about Attorney General Ken Paxton's legal problems.
Other stories we're watching today:
- After listening to hours of testimony Monday, the Senate of State Affairs Committee is expected to vote out a bill aimed at ending automatic paycheck deductions for state employee unions. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Cassi Pollock for updates.
- The Senate State Affairs Committee is taking up one of Gov. Greg Abbott's four emergency items: passing a resolution showing Texas backs a constitutional convention.
News from home
Help us report on sex trafficking in Texas: Over the past five months, The Texas Tribune has investigated the hidden world of sex trafficking. Now, we want to hear about your experiences.
Ask Texas Tribune journalists Neena Satija, Morgan Smith and Edgar Walters about our investigation into sex trafficking in Texas by joining us for a Feb. 21 Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat with a former child welfare investigator.
What we're reading
(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $)
The great Texas high school football stadium boom, The Atlantic
Immigrant workers, families to protest by staying home, The Associated Press
Audit: fired detective mishandled dozens of child abuse cases, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Protesters question circumstances of jail inmate's death, The Houston Chronicle ($)
A pastor in the Bible Belt opened his church to refugees. Here's what happened, The Los Angeles Times ($)
Abbott's hiring freeze could violate agreement on disabilities overhaul, feds say, The Dallas Morning News ($)
The talk: Lessons from a unique perspective, Austin American-Statesman ($)
Border bishops reaffirm commitment to immigrants, offer legal and spiritual assistance, San Antonio Express-News ($)
Photo of the day
Yvette, 24, was convicted of trafficking a 16-year-old girl in 2015. She is serving a 23-year sentence at a prison in Gatesville, Texas. Photo by Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for The Texas Tribune. See more photos on our Instagram account.
Quote to note
"SB 6 is an unenforceable, unnecessary, and prejudicial law that will protect no one. "
— Jace Valcore, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Houston, about the bathroom bill via TribTalk
The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. If you have feedback or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.