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The Evening Brief: Jan. 24, 2013

Your evening reading: state tax-break bill targets federal contraception rule; national Democrats launch Texas initiative; Texas Republicans rebuke Clinton over Benghazi testimony

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New in The Texas Tribune

•    Bill Proposing Tax Break Targets Contraception Rule: "A bill filed Thursday in the Texas House would give religiously based businesses a state tax break if the businesses were forced to comply with the federal government’s mandate that employers provide contraception coverage."

•    Lawmakers Hope to Tap Rainy Day Fund, Duck Spending Cap: "The state's top budget authority, the Legislative Budget Board, says lawmakers will have trouble accessing billions of dollars in the Rainy Day Fund without busting the state's spending cap."

•    Will Marijuana Laws in Other States Prompt Change in Texas?: "Water, transportation and education are the dominant topics this legislative session, but pro-marijuana reform groups hope that recent laws passed in Colorado and Washington will sway Texas lawmakers to follow suit."

•    Weak Disclosure Laws Keep Public in the Dark: "Ethics reformers are looking to overhaul the personal financial statements state lawmakers must file. The form doesn’t ask for much detail, hasn’t been updated in years and has led to confusion and varying interpretations about what must be revealed."

•    Groups Urge Lawmakers to Shutter Privately Run Jail: "Civil rights, human rights and criminal justice groups on Thursday sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to close a privately run state jail in downtown Dallas."


•    Democrats launch plan to turn Texas blue (Politico): "National Democrats are taking steps to create a large-scale independent group aimed at turning traditionally conservative Texas into a prime electoral battleground, crafting a new initiative to identify and mobilize progressive voters in the rapidly-changing state, strategists familiar with the plans told POLITICO."

•    Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony leaves Texas Republicans unsatisfied (Houston Chronicle): "After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Wednesday testimony on the Benghazi attacks, Republican Texas lawmakers slammed her department for poor preparation, while Texas Democrats blamed Congress for reducing State Department funds."

•    Report rips job 'poaching,' job creation grants (The Dallas Morning News): "Texas is 'exceptionally aggressive' when it comes to trying to lure jobs from elsewhere, especially California, but the Lone Star State’s financial enticements usually aren’t effective or necessary, a new report says."

•    Lamar Smith, Ralph Hall demand records of ex-EPA chief’s 'alias' email (Houston Chronicle): "Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall, joined other members of the House, Science, and Space Technology Committee in demanding the release of a non-public email account used by former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson."

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