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The Brief: December 30, 2009

Here’s one of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ’s New Year’s resolutions: “clean up” the Texas Department of Transportation.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Here’s one of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s New Year’s resolutions: “clean up” the Texas Department of Transportation.

Hutchison’s transportation policy rollout keeps rolling along. Yesterday, she spoke in Tyler, Waco, and Dallas. Today, it’s Pasadena, San Antonio, and Austin.

Hutchison’s plan calls for “a long-term development of a multi-modal transportation system” and increased transparency at TxDOT.

“When I am governor, we will restore local trust in TxDOT,” she said. “Transportation planning will take place from the ground up, and include meaningful input from the local level.”

Mark Miner, a spokesman for Hutchison’s primary rival Gov. Rick Perry, said, “Nearly all of Sen. Hutchison’s transportation proposals are already being practiced, and she offers no way to pay for the ones that are not.”

The chairman of the Senate transportation committee, Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News that even a subtle policy change could have significant ramifications.  “There needs to be a better balance in the system, and I think she is aware of that," he said. "Under the current strategy, every new road will be a private toll road. That is bad public policy, and I sense that Sen. Hutchison will attempt a better balance."

CULLED:

• Austin deli owner Marc Katz is expected to file with the Texas Democratic Party today as a candidate for lieutenant governor. He will face former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle — and possibly former AFL-CIO executive vice president Linda Chavez-Thompson, who is also considering a run — in the primary.  Hopefully, for his sake, Katz will have more success than his last filing attempt.

• Rep. Frank Corte Jr., R-San Antonio, became yet another member of the Texas House to say he won't seek reelection next year. He says he doesn't have specific plans, and adds that he's not endorsing any would-be successor. Former Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson is running to be his replacement — so is fellow Republican Denise Barnhill.  As for the Democrats, Massarrat Ali has filed.

• Restaurant owner Victor Leal will formally announce this morning that he's running in the March 2 Republican primary for the seat that state Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas, is giving up.  So far, he is the only Republican that has formally announced, though Anette Carlisle, president of the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees, is considering a run. On the Democratic side, former former Potter County Chairman Abel Bosquez is running.

• Several constitutional amendments passed in November will officially become law on January 1.  Gov. Rick Perry took a moment to highlight a few of them — specifically those dealing with changes to the property tax appraisal process — in a press release yesterday. ““In addition to cutting taxes for 40,000 small business and leaving billions of dollars in our Rainy Day Fund this last session, we also implemented measures that will provide greater protection for property owners by adding transparency and fairness to the appraisal process,” he said.

• Attention all you would-be candidates out there, the filing deadline for the March 2 primary is Monday, January 4.

"I think the reason I’ve lived so long is because God didn’t have a place for me in Heaven. These next 100 years are gonna be rough." — Curtis G. Winn, a former county tax assessor collector in Odessa, on turning 100.

MUST READ:

• Agencies helping homeless get $1.6M in state financingEl Paso Times

• What mattered in 2009BurkaBlog

• Mayor White appoints commission to study term limitsHouston Chronicle

‘Green’ Transmission Lines Mess With Texas — Forrest For the Trees

• New EPA rules will challenge HoustonHouston Chronicle

Alert: Following this afternoon's edition, The Brief will return on January 4, 2010.  Happy New Year!

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