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The Brief: Top Texas News for Oct. 16, 2012

Nationally, the stage is set for tonight's town hall-style debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. At home in Texas, another debate rages over the Keystone XL Pipeline; eight more protesters were arrested Monday.

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The Big Conversation:

The national stage is set for President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to battle in a town hall style debate on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, protests continue at home over the Keystone XL Pipeline in East Texas, where authorities reported another eight arrests on Monday, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“I’ve recently learned that a bunch of out-of-state, self-appointed ‘eco-anarchists’ think they know better than Texans and have arrived to save us from ourselves,” Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson wrote in an editorial defending the Keystone XL Pipeline last week. “They’re trying to block the Keystone Pipeline Gulf Coast Project, the pipeline that’s under construction in East Texas that will create thousands of jobs and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.”

Proponents, like Patterson, say the $7 billion pipeline will bring new jobs to Texas and lessen national dependence on foreign oil. The pipeline will stretch from Canada to Texas and be capable of moving 830,000 barrels a day of a crude form of oil called tar sands.

Over the last four weeks, environmentalists and homeowners have built seven elevated platforms and chained themselves to trees to protest the pipeline, while officials from TransCanada Inc., the company building the pipeline, have installed floodlights and loud generators, which have disrupted the protesters and prevented them from sleeping.

“It’s a pretty dangerous thing to do with people suspended 80 feet in the air,” Tar Sands Blockade spokesman Ramsey Sprague, a Texan from Fort Worth, told the Statesman. In contrast to Patterson's claim that protesters are from out-of-state, he called TransCanada, a Canadian company, the real out-of-towner. 

As The Texas Tribune's Kate Galbraith previously reported, the pipeline has sparked a wave of challenges to Texas' eminent domain laws, which TransCanada used to acquire some land for the project. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Texas homeowners last month, according to Texas StateImpact. Still, the protests rage on.


Tea Party conversatives have set an agenda to stop the state from giving state financial aid to undocumented immigrants during the next legislative session. In 2010, undocumented immigrants attending Texas universities received $9.5 million in state higher education grants.

As millions pour into campaign coiffers for the Texas Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and his challenger, Democrat Paul Sadler, one candidate has taken a strong financial lead. Cruz has outraised Sadler tenfold, bringing in $3.5 million from July to September.

A financial measure approved by state lawmakers last session to raise $5.7 million by altering the way Texas inmates pay for health care has not met expectations, reports The Tribune's Maurice Chammah. Some inmates have avoided treatment, rather than pay a $100 fee for annual health services, instead landing in the emergency room.

“This furthered our knowledge of how a human can survive these various elements,"  — John "Mac" McCarthy, director of the Brooks Development Authority in San Antonio, where Felix Baumgartner trained for his record-breaking speed of sound skydive. 

Must Read:

Fee hike a leading contender to raise money for roadsThe Texas Tribune

Daughter of Mexican drug lord held, Associated Press

Lawmakers want answers on dental, orthodontic fraudThe Texas Tribune

UT System puts $5 million into online learning initiativeAustin American-Statesman

Race and income influences who votes in Texas, Associated Press

Rural fire chief asking city to let him keep a portion of F1 track sales tax collections, Austin American-Statesman


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