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The Brief: Feb. 28, 2012

Texans may know by the weekend how long they'll have to wait before they can vote in the state's primaries.

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The Big Conversation:

Texans may know by the weekend how long they'll have to wait before they can vote in the state's primaries.

As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey reports today, the state needs redrawn congressional and legislative maps by Saturday if it plans to hold its primaries on May 29. A federal panel in San Antonio tasked with redrawing the state's maps told parties two weeks ago that counties wouldn't be prepared to hold the elections any earlier than that.

If the maps aren't ready by Saturday, the state may push the primary to June 26 — making Texas, along with Utah, the last state in the country to vote in the presidential primary process. (California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota vote on June 5.)

Though the feuding sides have already agreed on state Senate maps, wrangling continues over state House and congressional maps. Because an agreement on congressional maps appears especially unlikely, the judges will likely settle those districts.

Possibly signaling that the maps might be ready soon, the panel on Monday asked lawyers for the state's political parties to file advisories by Wednesday noting any temporary changes that would need to be ordered in the state's election law to make the May 29 primary possible.

Culled:

  • Texas may be challenging federal health care reform in court, but state lawmakers met Monday at the Capitol to address the fact that the state may eventually have to implement the new law. Though disputes surfaced over savings created by preventative care and the law's effect on Medicaid in Texas, Billy Millwee, the deputy commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, said the state is prepared for the law. "Even compared to those states who’ve reached out to embrace the Affordable Care Act, we’re going to be well-positioned," he said.
  • According to the Houston Chronicle, more Texans have donated to Stephen Colbert's Super PAC than have donated to Mitt Romney's. "I think [Colbert] has a large fan base, and a lot of younger educated people feel the same way," said one Houston resident who contributed $250 to Colbert's Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, an ongoing gag the comedian has created in hopes of educating viewers about Super PACs.

"There are areas now in this country that still have a lot of racism. It's been brought up by me at the debates, but believe me, they don't want to touch it, especially in a Republican primary."Ron Paul at a campaign stop in Michigan on Monday

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