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The Evening Brief: Feb. 26, 2013

Your evening reading: Perry welcomes new Democratic group but says Texas will stay red; Cornyn and Cruz vote against Hagel's confirmation; Perry backs changes to state's testing system

Gov. Rick Perry in his Capitol office on Feb. 21, 2012, a month after leaving the presidential race.


•    Perry: Texas won’t join Medicaid expansion, and it won’t turn blue (Austin American-Statesman): "Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that despite Gov. Chris Christie’s example, Texas will not be joining New Jersey in accepting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and that it is incumbent upon President Obama to broker a deal on the federal budget sequester. Perry also welcomed the launch of Battleground Texas, a Democratic effort to turn Texas blue or at least purple, saying he hoped they spend a lot of money in the state in a futile effort to gain traction in a state that he said — Democrat or Republican — has been conservative since its founding. … 'Competition is good, but the idea that Texas is going to become a purple state, or even a blue state is out of the realm of — give me a time frame — are we talking 50 years?' said Perry."

•    Straus says voucher bill doesn’t have votes to pass House (The Dallas Morning News): "Republican legislative leaders Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst aren’t showing any new signs of agreement on the school choice debate, a signature issue this session. In fact, they’re pointing out their differences. Straus, appearing immediately before Dewhurst did at the Texas Business Leadership Council’s education summit Tuesday, said an 'open voucher bill' doesn’t have support in the House."

•    As sequester nears, immigration detainees are released (The Washington Post): "Faced with the imminent onset of massive budget cuts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released an unspecified number of detainees who were being held pending deportation, illustrating the practical impact of a looming 'sequester' that President Obama described Tuesday as a terrible way for the government to operate."

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Perry Backs Changes to Student Testing Requirements: "Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday voiced his support for revamping the state's newly implemented student assessment system."

•    Whitmire Bill Aims to Increase Prosecutor Accountability: "In the wake of Michael Morton's high-profile exoneration, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, filed a bill Tuesday that aims to ensure more accountability for prosecutors who are accused of withholding evidence."

•    Senate Panel Discusses Reforms to Curb Medicaid Costs: "Looking to save Texas millions of Medicaid dollars, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee laid out plans on Tuesday to redesign long-term care services for disabled Texans."

•    Oversight of Texas Election Law in Question: "Leading up to Wednesday’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, lawmakers said the decision on whether to uphold Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act will affect progress that propelled minorities to more equal ground in Texas."

•    Bill Seeks to Protect Religious Groups: "State Rep. Matt Krause's bill would require public schools to give religious and nonreligious groups the same access to facilities during noneducational time."

•    Lawmakers Debate Texting While Driving Ban: "Lawmakers on Tuesday took their first crack at a bill designed to ban texting while driving, including reviewing statistics suggesting that bans in other states have not reduced accidents and are difficult to enforce."

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