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The Evening Brief: Feb. 27, 2013

Your evening reading: at Supreme Court hearing, conservatives skeptical of Voting Rights Act provision; Jeb Bush tells Texas lawmakers to "go big" on education reform; Perry's chief of staff returning to former job

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•    Conservative Justices Voice Skepticism on Voting Law (The New York Times): "A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may be in peril, judging from tough questioning on Wednesday from the Supreme Court’s more conservative members. Justice Antonin Scalia called the provision, which requires nine states, mostly in the South, to get federal permission before changing voting procedures, a 'perpetuation of racial entitlement.' Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked a skeptical question about whether people in the South are more racist than those in the North. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked how much longer Alabama must live 'under the trusteeship of the United States government.'"

•    Karl Rove defends move to get involve in GOP primaries, saying Republicans can rebound (The Dallas Morning News): "Political strategist Karl Rove Wednesday defended his decision to get involved in Republican primary races across the country, saying a new vetting and research group would prevent 'poor candidates' from giving rival Democrats and edge in critical election contests."

•    Are House members smarter than a 5th grader? (San Antonio Express-News): "State Rep. Gene Wu wants to know if his colleagues could pass the state’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade level standardized tests. Wu, a Democrat from Houston, sent a letter to all House lawmakers and staff last week that included sample STAAR questions provided by the Texas Education Agency hoping to exemplify the frustration that students and parents have expressed to him about the cloudiness and confusing wording of the test."

•    Rep. John Culberson calls for an independent body to protect NASA from 'political whims' (Houston Chronicle): "Houston Rep. John Culberson, who has long advocated for the nation’s space program, today presented his vision for the future of NASA — and it includes big changes in management of the space agency. Culberson and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., on Wednesday told members of the House Subcommittee on Space that NASA needs to be restructured through the development of an independent governing body."

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Ted Cruz: The TT Interview: "Ted Cruz has only been Texas’ junior U.S. senator for two months, but he has wasted no time propelling himself into national headlines. On Tuesday, the Tribune sat down with Cruz in Washington to talk about the early days of his new gig."

•    Jeb Bush Talks Education Reform With Texas Lawmakers: "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Texas senators on Wednesday 'to go big or go home' when it comes to pushing changes to public education policy."

•    Perry's Chief of Staff Returning to Old Job: "Ann Bishop, Gov. Rick Perry's newly hired chief of staff, is returning to her former job heading the state's Employees Retirement System, the governor's office confirmed on Wednesday."

•    GOP Lawmakers Say They'll Stick With Perry on Medicaid Expansion: "Two key Republicans legislators — both of them doctors — say they're sticking with Gov. Rick Perry’s position that Texas will reject the Medicaid expansion provision of federal health reform."

•    Acquittal Issued in Murder Case Based Largely on Scent Lineups: "The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday issued an acquittal in the case of Megan Winfrey, 24, who has been in prison since 2007 for a murder conviction based almost entirely on evidence from dog-scent lineups."

•    Raw Milk Bill Draws Proponents, Detractors to Hearing: "Proponents and critics weighed in Wednesday on a bill that would allow the sale of raw milk at farmer’s markets and other sites like fairs and flea markets."

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