The Evening Brief: Texas Headlines for Jan. 2, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry at the Capitol in May 2013.
Gov. Rick Perry at the Capitol in May 2013.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Beyond Perry, Future of Deal-Closing Fund Uncertain: "But the future of the fund, which critics call corporate welfare, is unclear. The two front-runners to replace [RickPerry, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, have offered mixed messages on the economic development fund in the past, leaving questions about whether it will extend beyond Perry's tenure."

•    New Year Brings Cautious Hope for Mental Health Care: "Texas has lagged far behind virtually every other state when it comes to investment in mental health care. But after lawmakers allocated record levels of funding to mental health services during the 2013 legislative session, and with the beginning of expanded mental health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, advocates say they see new cause for optimism — and still more room for improvement."

•    Share of Foreign-Born Texans Growing: "A growing percentage of Texans are originally from foreign countries, including one in four in the state’s most populous county, Harris, according to new census data. ... 'Houston has become one of the great magnets for the new immigration,' said Stephen Klineberg, a Rice University sociology professor."

Culled

•    Former first lady Barbara Bush remains hospitalized in Houston (KPRC-TV): "Former first lady Barbara Bush remains hospitalized Thursday in Houston with a respiratory-related issue. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for her husband, President George H.W. Bush, told Local 2 Thursday that Mrs. Bush is still doing great and is 'keen to get home to her dogs and her husband!'"

•    Lisa Falkenberg: Time to dump payday loan exec as watchdog (Houston Chronicle): "Think fast. A bit of Texas trivia for you this fine holiday morning — Who oversees the state's top watchdog over Cash America and other predatory payday lenders across the state? If you answered 'a qualified, fair-minded individual free of industry entanglements and conflicts of interest' you would be … wrong!"

•    Carona challenger airs attack ad during Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (The Dallas Morning News): "It is officially 2014, and Dallas real estate developer Don Huffines rang in the New Year by airing an attack ad against longtime Dallas Sen. John Carona comparing him to an old computer during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. It was an expensive first shot in the closely watched primary race for Carona’s Senate seat."

•    Texas lawmaker carries oil industry's water and trades its stock (Houston Chronicle): "As member of the House Natural Resources Committee and a former oil-industry executive, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores of Bryan is at the center of big debates about offshore drilling, hydraulic fracturing and domestic energy supplies. He also is a big trader in energy stocks."

•    Study: Expanding Medicaid doesn’t reduce ER trips. It increases them. (The Washington Post): "As the health-care law expands Medicaid to cover millions more Americans, a new Harvard University study finds that enrollment in public program significantly increases enrollees' use of emergency departments."

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