The Evening Brief: Texas Headlines for March 6, 2013

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Republican Senator Proposes Tax Hike for Transportation: "State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, wants Texas voters to approve a constitutional amendment to temporarily increase the state sales tax to pay off the Texas Department of Transportation's debt."

•    Group Aims to Repeal Required Waiting Period for Abortions: "The Texas House Women’s Health Caucus has announced plans to try to repeal the 24-hour waiting period imposed by the abortion sonogram law that legislators approved in 2011."

•    Senator Files Tax Credit Scholarship Bill: "State Sen. Ken Paxton has filed a bill that would enact a business tax credit scholarship program touted by state Sen. Dan Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a December media conference."

•    Chief Justice Pushes for "Innocence Commission": "Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson pushed lawmakers to establish a commission to investigate wrongful convictions at his biannual State of the Judiciary speech on Wednesday."

•    UT/TT Poll: Most Texans Say U.S. on Wrong Track: "Texas voters remain concerned about the economy and immigration, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. And three out of five Texas voters said the U.S. is on the wrong track."

•    UT/TT Poll: Texans Favor "Fetal Pain" Proposal: "Texans haven't changed their overall views on the availability of abortions. But a majority favors a 'fetal pain' proposal that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll."

•    A-List Lobbyists Disclosed Little After Swanky Parties: "Lobbyists Andrea and Dean McWilliams are big entertainers, and they don't mind sharing details of their big soirees with society magazines. But they haven't disclosed much of it to the Texas Ethics Commission."

•    Lawmaker Hopes to Reverse Law That Makes Penny Theft a Felony: "Texas legislators were trying to discourage copper thieves in 2011 when they accidentally made it a state jail felony to steal a penny in the state of Texas. Prosecutors haven't aggressively gone after small-time thieves, but they say the law needs clarification. A Central Texas lawmaker hopes to fix the statute."

•    Mexico's Energy Proposal Stirs Interest in Texas: "Mexico's ruling party says the country's oil monopoly will stay under state control. But on Sunday, the party adopted a platform to allow for private investment in the oil giant, drawing interest among Texas companies."

Culled

•    With bipartisan aid, Paul filibusters CIA pick Brennan (NBC News): "Pledging to speak 'until I can no longer speak,' Kentucky Republican Rand Paul on Wednesday launched a filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director, getting assists from a half dozen other senators over the course of hours standing on the Senate floor. … Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio of Florida — as well as Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon — participated."

•    Sales tax growth moderates, as expected (The Dallas Morning News): "The state collected $2.08 billion in sales last month, an increase of 3.8 percent over a year earlier, Comptroller Susan Combs said Wednesday. It was the 35th consecutive month in which receipts exceeded the same month a year earlier. But the eye-popping growth in sales tax revenue appears to be over: While the state posted double-digit increases in 15 of the 24 months in calendar years 2011 and 2012, it’s rung up three consecutive months of single-digit growth."

•    Cruz amendment would defund Obamacare (Politico): "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will offer an amendment to the continuing resolution – the bill to keep the government open after March 27 — that would defund the Affordable Care Act. 'The very first priority of every elected official—Democrat and Republican — should be restoring economic growth, so we can ensure continued strength, prosperity, and opportunity for the next generations,' Cruz said in a statement. 'Obamacare does precisely the opposite. It is already hurting small businesses, reducing the hours Americans are allowed to work, forcing employers to drop coverage, and leading to substantial increases in healthcare premiums—especially for young people.'"

•    Stockman deletes tweet joking Koch brothers instigated Chavez’s cancer (Houston Chronicle): "In jest, Rep. Steve Stockman made a connection to the former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s cancer and the Koch Brothers, but quickly ate his words. The Texas congressman retweeted a Reuters article quoting Venezuelan officials blaming 'Chavez’s enemies' for giving him cancer. Stockman then added a joking comment: 'Koch cancer laser satellites.'"

•    Perry’s post-presidential spending spree (San Antonio Express-News): "In the months following Gov. Rick Perry’s failed run for president, his campaign committee spent nearly $1.3 million of left over cash on expenses ranging from travel and parking to financial and political consulting, according to a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington."

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