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The Evening Brief: Jan. 31, 2013

Your evening reading: Cruz aggressive at Hagel confirmation hearing; Straus announces House committee assignments; poll shows Clinton competitive in Texas

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks to Republican Convention delegates on the final day June 9, 2012.


•    Sen. Ted Cruz grills Chuck Hagel at confirmation hearing (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel this afternoon. Cruz reprimanded the former Republican Nebraska senator for failing to submit to the Armed Services Committee speeches from the past five years. Cruz said Hagel submitted just four speeches, even though records showed he had been paid for 12 in the past year alone."

•    Clinton could win Texas (Public Policy Polling): "PPP's newest Texas poll finds that, at least for now, Hillary Clinton could win the state in 2016. This follows on the heels of a survey last month where we found she would have a decent chance of winning Kentucky if she makes another White House bid. 50% of Texas voters have a favorable opinion of Clinton to 43% with a negative one. She's universally well liked by Democrats (91/5) and a majority of independents view her positively as well (52/41). She holds narrow leads in hypothetical match ups with Marco Rubio (46/45) and Chris Christie (45/43) and a wider one in a contest against Rick Perry (50/42)."

•    Julian Castro to be a witness at House immigration enforcement hearing (Houston Chronicle): "San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has been tapped by Democrats to give testimony next week at a House hearing on enforcement of U.S. immigration laws."

•    Kaufman County authorities plead for leads to find assistant DA's killers (WFAA-TV): "Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was shot dead outside the courthouse Thursday, spurring a complete lockdown of the grounds and an active search for the two shooters."

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Straus Makes House Committee Assignments: "House Speaker Joe Straus announced committee assignments for the Legislature's lower chamber on Thursday, ending speculation over key chairmanships and giving lawmakers the go-ahead to start considering bills. Here's his list."

•    Straus to Announce Panel on Transparency: "House Speaker Joe Straus will emphasize the importance of clean and open government when he announces a new bipartisan Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations on Thursday." 

•    Joaquin Castro: Current Immigration Laws Create "Ugly Realities": "At a meeting of state business leaders Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said that current immigration laws create 'ugly realities' and that Gov. Rick Perry 'will never say the border is secure.'"

•    Lawmakers Seek Cash to Fix Roads Hit by Drilling: "As lawmakers look for a way to fix infrastructure crumbling under the weight of a drilling boom, talk of reducing the tax money that feeds the state's Rainy Day Fund is drawing attention. Most of the fund's money currently comes from state taxes paid by oil and gas companies."

•    Family Services Agency Requests Funding for Redesign: "Agency commissioners rarely get applause when they ask the Legislature for an additional $263 million. But that’s what happened on Thursday when John Specia asked to for money to redesign the Department of Family and Protective Services."

•    Ethics Opinion Lets Lawmakers Work, Solicit for Nonprofits: "The Texas Ethics Commission's board has approved an advisory opinion that stops short of recommending against lawmakers soliciting contributions for nonprofit organizations they are employed by."

•    Bills Aim to Stop Diverting Funds Meant for State Parks: "Some legislators say the practice of diverting funds earmarked for state parks compromises the integrity of the state budget and the quality of parks."

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