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The Evening Brief: Jan. 18, 2013

Your evening reading: Cornyn presses Holder for information on internet activist's death; Dallas mayor backs Obama on gun control; Texas unemployment rate falls

U.S. Sen John Cornyn, R-Texas, at the state Republican convention on June 8, 2012.


•    Cornyn demands answers from AG Holder over death of internet activist Aaron Swartz (Houston Chronicle): "After the tragic suicide of an internet activist under investigation by the Justice Department, many of his supporters are blaming his death on the federal government. And Texas Sen. John Cornyn has some questions for Attorney Generl Eric Holder. Cornyn, a San Antonio Republican, challenged Holder today regarding the circumstances surrounding the tragic death Aaron Swartz, who Cornyn called a 'brilliant technologist and a committed activist for the causes in which he believed in — including notably the freedom of information.'"

•    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he's all-in on Obama's gun control agenda (The Dallas Morning News): "Mike Rawlings, mayor of Dallas and gun owner, is endorsing the president’s demand for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He’s especially keen on universal background checks for gun buyers. 'We already say we can’t own Stinger rockets. So the question is where does the line go? And The line being at semi-automatics is the right place,' Rawlings said Friday over breakfast two blocks from the White House."

•    Texas school district to train teachers carry guns (The Associated Press): "A small East Texas school district has become at least the second in Texas to implement a policy to allow select teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms on campus for school security. The Union Grove school board voted unanimously Thursday evening to enact the policy. The district has about 750 students attending classes at its two adjoining campuses near Gladewater, about 110 miles east of Dallas."

•    Ted Cruz wants to be GOP's answer man (Politico): "As the Republican Party continues to do some soul-searching and ask questions after Election Day losses, Sen. Ted Cruz says he has some answers. Before the Texas Republican was even elected to the seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cruz was viewed as a fast-rising star in the GOP. He’s a Cuban-American, Princeton educated and a former solicitor general of Texas who has the tea party firmly in his corner after defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a primary in which Cruz was viewed as the underdog." 

•    Hensarling to Senate: Pass budget or forfeit pay (The Dallas Morning News): "Dallas Rep. Jeb Hensarling joined with other top House conservatives in pressuring the Democratic-run Senate to balance the budget. 'Next week, we will vote for a bill requiring that the Senate pass a budget, or the Senators' own salary will be withheld,' he said in a joint statement issued with a successor as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and two former chairmen, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Tom Price of Georgia. 'No budget, no pay,' they said."

New in The Texas Tribune

•    For Fourth Month in a Row, Texas Unemployment Rate Drops: "The state's unemployment rate fell for the fourth month in a row in December, capping off a drop of more than 1 percentage point in the rate since December 2011, the Texas Workforce Commission announced Friday."

•    For Dean of Senate, Public and Private Blur: "Critics say the dean of the Texas Senate, John Whitmire, D-Houston, is a poster boy for a legislative culture in which real and perceived conflicts of interest are commonplace. Whitmire says he's proud of his four decades in office."

•    Subdued Start for Those at the Head of the Table: "The legislative session just started, but it seems clear that state leaders are running low on what a former president from Texas once called 'the vision thing.' Two of the state's three top officeholders are in the political repair shop after the 2012 election season."

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