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The Evening Brief: Jan. 3, 2013

Your evening reading: Cruz, new Texas congressmen sworn in; Gohmert votes for Allen West for speaker; TxDOT suspends use of road signs for gun shows

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•   New Texas lawmakers take the oath for 113th Congress (San Antonio Express-News): "San Antonio expanded its political presence in Congress on Thursday when Joaquin Castro, Pete Gallego and Lloyd Doggett joined two other veteran lawmakers sworn in to represent the South Texas city. … Meanwhile, there are 84 freshmen lawmakers in the new Congress, including eight from Texas. In addition to Castro and Gallego, Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville, a Democrat, will join the South Texas congressional delegation that also includes Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi."

•   Sen. Ted Cruz comes out swinging on Obamacare, debt limit, gun control (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. Ted Cruz — having officially taken the oath of office from Vice President Joe Biden, then reenacted that moment for C-Span3 in the Old Senate Chamber — calls it 'a tremendous honor' to be in Congress. … As promised during the campaign, he still plans to focus the first bill he files on an attempt to 'repeal very syllable of every word of Obamacare,' though he’s realistic."

•   Rep. Louie Gohmert votes against Speaker John Boehner; Steve Stockman votes "present" (The Dallas Morning News): "Two Texas Republicans have defied Speaker John Boehner in the roll call vote to grant him another term running the U.S. House. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler voted for Allen West, a tea partier from Florida who was defeated for reelection to Congress. And freshman Rep. Steve Stockman — who served one prior term, from 1995 to 1997 — voted 'present.'"

•   TxDOT halts directional signs for gun shows (Houston Chronicle): "Tickets to Houston-area gun shows are still available, but taxpayer-funded directions are not. Texas Department of Transportation officials in Houston are suspending the use of freeway message signs for firearms-related events, citing concerns about their use days after the Newtown. Conn., school shooting."

•   Texas prosecutor says grand jury will hear case involving 4 veterans killed in train collision (The Associated Press): "A Texas prosecutor says a grand jury will consider the case involving a train collision that killed four veterans who were riding on a parade float. Midland County assistant district attorney Eric Kalenak said Thursday that a newly impaneled grand jury is scheduled to hear the case Wednesday."

New in The Texas Tribune:

•   Water Conservation Ideas Pour In Ahead of Session: "Using less water is the cheapest way to meet Texas’ water needs. So what could Texas lawmakers do to promote water savings? Among the proposals are requiring meters on farmers' wells and a sales-tax exemption for water-efficient appliances."

•   State Officials Seek End to Federal Election Oversight: "The U.S. Supreme Court may determine the fate of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that became an Achilles' heel for Republican lawmakers this year. That could free Texas from federal oversight in election laws."

•   State of Mind: A Plan for West Texas Water Woes: "For thousands of West Texans, severe water restrictions are in store if the heavens don't provide precipitation soon. State leaders say the unrelenting drought means they must find a way to fund a statewide water plan."

•   Updated: Our Directory of the Texas Congressional Delegation: The Texas congressional delegation has eight new members — four resulting from retirements and elections, and four because the state’s growth increased the size of the delegation to 36 from 32. We've updated our congressional directory to mark the delegation's start.

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