"The Brief: November 13, 2009" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
THE BIG CONVERSATION
It’s beginning to look a lot like primary season.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood gunman, is being charged with 13 counts of murder, but U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says that’s not enough.
Todd Gillman of The Dallas Morning News reports, “As Hutchison points out, one of the soldiers killed in the rampage a week ago was pregnant: Private Francheska Velez, who had already served in Korea and in Iraq, was expecting her first child.”
Hutchison argues that the unborn child warrants a 14th murder count. The thing is, Hutchison supports abortion rights, which, though she has voted to restrict access and funding, some GOP primary voters might find untenable. The question is: Will those voters get wind of this latest suggestion, and will they care?
Also this week, Hutchison signed onto legislation calling for federal term limits — a strong signal when running against the longest-serving Texas governor. But in 2006, Hutchison broke her pledge to only serve two terms in the U.S. Senate.
The Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers, Jr., notes that on Wednesday, Hutchison said of the possible option for states to opt out of a new government health insurance plan, “My inclination would certainly be to opt out, if the state taxpayers have to pay for the public option and then would not be eligible for it.”
She said it was too early to tell for sure what the right move would be. This sounds awfully similar to the position staked out by Gov. Rick Perry last week. “Until we see more clearly what Washington’s plan is relative to this, sure, our options are open.”
At the time, Perry caught some flack for the fluidity of his position.
• Texas may have preemptively opted out of up to $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” education grants. According to the grants’ eligibility requirements, states must be participating in the effort for nationwide curriculum standards and have no caps on charter schools. The Tribune’s Abby Rapoport writes, “That’s where Texas runs into some murky territory.” Turns out, Texas has neither worked toward national curriculum standards nor removed its cap on charter schools.
• Next year will bring a “mild” economic recovery to Texas. Keith Phillips, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, told the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association that the recovery will be, as our Ross Ramsey reports, “muted by questions about consumption and commercial real estate.”
• State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, doesn’t know where rumors of his retirement are coming from, but he tells the Houston Chronicle that his “intention is to run for reelection.” He even has a fundraiser scheduled for Dec. 3. He did admit that he plans on retiring someday, though.
• On Saturday, state Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, a recent Republican convert is scheduled be welcomed into his new party by the open arms of Republican luminaries including Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and more! His first GOP primary opponent, Jacksonville dentist Michael Banks, will announce his candidacy on Monday.
“We took some of the stimulus dollars, of course.” – Gov. Rick Perry, on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” after making national news by decrying an Obama administration “hell-bent” on bringing socialism to America
Casey: Don't pick lawyer to do science — Houston Chronicle
New report: Firms give big in Texas to influence transportation policy – Dallas Transportation blog
The Public Payroll – The Texas Tribune
Texas Curb ‘Em: How the Lone Star State Slashed Emissions — The Wall Street Journal
Coal Star State – The Texas Observer
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