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Happy Wednesday! Progress requires reassessing past choices.

🌧️ Today's weather: High of 66 with a chance of evening storms.

🎡 Sounds like: "Settling"

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Today's newsletter is 958 settled words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Ken Paxton reaches deal in fraud case

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has dodged criminal prosecution in a long-running felony securities fraud case, agreeing to community service to avoid a trial and conviction.

Why it matters: The agreement with prosecutors appears to be an anticlimactic end to the 9-year-old case β€” and allows Paxton to maintain an unblemished record, even as he has faced myriad accusations of corruption.

Catch up quick: Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges shortly after he took office as attorney general in 2015.

  • Paxton faced allegations that he persuaded investors, including then-Republican state lawmaker Byron Cook, to purchase at least $100,000 worth of stock in a tech startup, Servergy, without disclosing that he would be paid for it.

Driving the news: Yesterday, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges if Paxton performs 100 hours of community service.

  • The agreement also requires him to take legal education courses and pay restitution to those he is accused of defrauding.
  • The total amount of restitution will be "somewhere a little bit south of $300,000," prosecutor Brian Wice said, per the Texas Tribune.
  • Paxton will not have to enter a plea under the terms of the agreement.

Speaking to reporters in Houston yesterday, Paxton attorney Dan Cogdell said Paxton was "more than happy to comply" with the terms of the dismissal.

  • "But let me be clear, at no time was he going to enter any plea bargain agreement or admit to conduct that simply did not occur," Cogdell said in a statement.

The other side: "​​Something is wrong when the state's top lawyer is forced to take a class on how to be a good lawyer," John Bucy III, a Democratic state lawmaker, wrote on X.

Between the lines: Paxton is still facing a whistleblower lawsuit from former aides who claim they were improperly fired for reporting him to the FBI on corruption allegations.

  • Paxton has denied any wrongdoing.

Read the rest

2. βš–οΈ Supreme Court hears Texas abortion pill case

Legal status of medication abortion
Data: Guttmacher Institute; Map: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court yesterday seemed unlikely to broadly restrict access to medication abortion in the court's biggest abortion-related case since overturning Roe v. Wade two years ago.

The big picture: The justices heard oral arguments in a Texas case challenging mifepristone β€” one of the drugs used in medication-induced abortions, which account for about two-thirds of all abortions, writes Axios' Sam Baker.

  • It wasn't clear from those arguments exactly how the court is likely to rule, but multiple conservative justices took issue with parts of the case against mifepristone.
  • Two conservatives would need to join with the court's three liberals to uphold the FDA's rules on mifepristone.

Catch up quick: The suit was filed by a group of doctors who object to abortion.

  • They're suing the FDA, challenging two sets of regulatory decisions that made the drug easier to access.

Driving the news: Several conservative justices either picked up on legal standing concerns or expressed skepticism about overturning the FDA's decisions.

  • "This case seems like a prime example of turning what could be a small lawsuit into a nationwide legislative assembly," Justice Neil Gorsuch said.
  • Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggested that re-enforcing the physicians' individual rights not to participate in providing an abortion might be enough to resolve this dispute.

What they're saying: The federal government argued that these doctors didn't have standing to bring this case.

  • They don't prescribe mifepristone, and they don't take it. So they haven't suffered any real injury from the FDA's regulatory decisions, solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar argued.
  • The doctors say the injury is the time spent in the emergency room treating women who have taken mifepristone.

What's next: A ruling is expected by June.

3. 🌀️ Mapped: Texas' cloud-free eclipse viewing

ERA5 data via Copernicus Climate Data Store; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Texas offers a good chance of a clear sky for the total solar eclipse on April 8.

State of play: People traveling to the state for the event are going to want a good view β€” not one ruined by clouds.

By the numbers: North Texas averages about 50% cloud cover on April 8, according to data from 1994 to 2023 from the Copernicus Climate Data Store.

  • That's better than other eclipse cities like Cleveland and Indianapolis, where the cloud cover averages 63% and 61%, respectively.

The big picture: Texas tends to have the least cloudy skies of any state in the path of totality.

  • Austin averages about 54% cloud cover on April 8, while San Antonio averages 55%.

The bottom line: The odds are in our favor, but it is Texas weather after all.

4. πŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

Budding stories. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ”Ž This week marked one year since police opened an investigation to find 6-year-old Noel Rodriguez Alvarez, whose family fled to India. His mother faces a capital murder charge but his body still hasn't been found. (WFAA)

πŸ’° Police are warning North Texans about "jugging" robberies targeting people carrying cash from banks or businesses. (FOX4)

✈️ Budget airline Breeze Airways will start flying from DFW Airport to Provo, Utah, in June. (DMN)

5. πŸŽ‚ One bundt cake taste test to go

The classic is a classic for a reason. Photo: Gregory "Taste Tester" Castillo/Axios

Our Axios Texas social media guru put his sweet tooth to the test trying all of the flavors at Addison-based Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Why it matters: How else would we know which bundlets to take to Easter brunch without his service?

How it works: Greg Castillo ordered the "Bundlet Bundle" β€” 12 mini-cakes for $58.

  • This included all of the bakery's regular flavors β€” classic vanilla, gluten-free chocolate chip, confetti, snickerdoodle, strawberries and cream, carrot cake, lemon, chocolate chocolate chip, white chocolate raspberry and red velvet.
  • Plus, the bundle featured the spring flavor: Oreo.

What he found: Classic vanilla was the best. Despite being, well, vanilla, the cake was moist with well-balanced flavor.

  • Some of the bundlets, like the Oreo, lacked some of the crunch we expect from cookies and cream.

Go deeper: Check out Greg's full review on the Axios Texas Instagram.

The bottom line: We're still trying to wake Greg from his sugar coma.

Our picks:

🍷 Tasha is intrigued by this Texas winery's eclipse edition wine, made with grapes harvested during the 2017 solar eclipse.

πŸ’© Naheed is reading about the port-a-potties shortage because of the eclipse.

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