The Brief: Top Texas News for Nov. 8, 2012

Election night Rally for President Obama at McCormick Place.
Election night Rally for President Obama at McCormick Place.

The Big Conversation:

With the dust settling around the presidential election, what a second Obama terms means for Texas has come into focus.

As the Tribune reports today, many state agencies and officials have long said that the fate of major issues — like health care reform and environmental regulations — hinges on who wins the presidency.

Now, with Barack Obama re-elected, a clearer picture has emerged of how the Legislature — still heavily Republican — will approach those issues.

Health care reform, which Mitt Romney vowed to repeal but is now likely here to stay, presents legislators with two of the most pressing dilemmas they'll face next year: whether or not to expand the state's Medicaid rolls in exchange for federal dollars, and whether or not to develop a health insurance exchange for Texans. Gov. Rick Perry has vowed to reject the federal Medicaid money, but legislators will get a say, too.

On education, Texas will likely continue to keep its distance from the Obama administration's Race to the Top program, which the state has opposed because of the program's of common core curriculum standards. Texas will remain one of the few states that has refused the program.

As for immigration, Texas legislators may push for stricter enforcement and border security measures if Obama pursues comprehensive immigration reform within the next few months. The Justice Department, however, may go after Texas if it thinks the state has overstepped limits on enforcement laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year on Arizona's controversial immigration law.

Check out the full story for a look at what to expect with other issues, including the environment, higher education and women's health.

Culled:

  • State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, on Wednesday announced her intention to seek the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos' seat, the Houston Chronicle reports. Gallegos, who passed away last month due to complications from a liver transplant but still won re-election on Tuesday, had reportedly told family members that he wanted Alvarado to take his seat when he died. Gov. Rick Perry now must call a special election to fill the position.
  • Despite record-setting early-voting numbers in many counties throughout the state, overall turnout for this year's general election — 58 percent of registered voters — lagged behind that of 2008, when 60 percent voted, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
  • Democrats may have gained seven seats in the state House on Tuesday, but the chamber's Republican caucus also grew more conservative, a shift that could spell possible trouble for Speaker Joe Straus. Long criticized as too moderate by many Republicans, Straus faces a challenge from Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, in the speaker's race, and on Wednesday, a group of about 100 conservative activists announced their support for Hughes. "We the people want to have a say in speaker," wrote Cathie Adams, president of the conservative Eagle Forum, the Statesman reports.

"This election proved that trying to expand a shrinking base ain’t gonna cut it. It’s time to put some compassion back in conservatism. The party needs more tolerance, more diversity and a deeper appreciation for the concerns of the middle class." — Political strategist Mark McKinnon to The New York Times

Must-Read:

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