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The Midday Brief: February 3, 2010

Dallas Democrat Terri Hodge pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom Wednesday and agreed to resign her post as a state representative.

State Rep. Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, will soon be former State Rep. Terri Hodge. She agreed to resign her post on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a federal charge related to making false claims on her tax return. That paves the way for challenger Eric Johnson to represent HD-100 in the Texas House, though Hodge's name will remain on the ballot for the March Primary. Read the full story by the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw here.

And here's the rest of your afternoon reading:

• "Forecasts by some that next session’s budget shortfall could be as high as $20 billion are too gloomy, “way out there,” Combs said this morning." – Texas comptroller:Budget shortfall outlook overblownThe Dallas Morning News

• "Without the traditional campaign handler to hustle her along, she talked about property taxes, home schooling, school vouchers, abortion, decriminalizing drugs — talked until most everyone there had spoken to her about whatever was on their minds." – Medina "phenomenon catching on in state political circlesHouston Chronicle

• " 'In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,' General Powell said in a statement issued by his office." – Powel Favors Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'The New York Times

• "An El Paso man killed by Mexican soldiers in a shootout on Monday was the mastermind behind the massacre of 16 people at a birthday party over the weekend in Juárez." – El Paso man killed in shootout led cartel hit squadEl Paso Times

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Eric Johnson