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The Evening Brief: Feb. 28, 2013

Your evening reading: two Texas Republicans vote for Violence Against Women Act; state Senate panel approves $1.5 billion for public education; legislators protest security policy at Governor's Mansion

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•    Violence Against Women Act wins easy approval; Poe, Farenthold only Texas Republicans to vote 'yes' (Houston Chronicle): "The Violence Against Women Act won final legislative approval today, but not because of the votes of Texas' congressional delegation. While all 12 Texas Democratic House members favored the bill, which won by a comfortable margin of 286 to 138, only two Texas House Republicans joined the majority. They were Rep. Ted Poe of Humble and Rep. Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi."

•    Hospital poll: Texans favor Medicaid expansion (The Dallas Morning News): "About half of Texans support expanding Medicaid, while roughly one-third say the state should turn down the federal government’s inducements to enlarge the program for the poor, according to a new poll."

•    Cornyn's rape-kit plan wins final approval — as part of bill he voted against (Houston Chronicle): "In the end, Texas Sen. John Cornyn’s rape-kit legislation won final congressional approval without dissent today. But, in keeping with the bizarre ways of Washington, Cornyn’s coveted proposal was attached to a larger measure — the Violence Against Women Act — that the second-ranking Senate Republican ended up voting against."

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Senate Panel Backs More Money for Public Schools: "A panel of senators voted Thursday to put $1.5 billion in additional public school funding in the state's two-year budget. That includes more money for pre-kindergarten programs, the state's Virtual School Network and Teach for America."

•    Lawmakers Protest Security Policy at Governor's Mansion: "At least three Texas state representatives opted not to attend a reception at the Governor's Mansion this week rather than submit to new security procedures requiring that even legislators submit to background checks to gain access."

•    In Hunt for Roads Funds, Texas Won't Model Virginia: "Texas lawmakers hope to follow in Virginia's footsteps this session and revamp the way they fund transportation. While Virginia opted to cut gas taxes and raise sales taxes, Texas is looking at other options."

•    Border Officials: Federal Budget Inaction Could Weaken Security, Trade: "'The border is safe.' That’s a common refrain from lawmakers who say the unprecedented buildup of law enforcement in the region has netted positive results. But as sequestration looms, lawmakers say federal inaction could put that reality in jeopardy."

•    Court Reverses Death Row Inmate's 2003 Conviction: "Death row inmate Nelson Gongora's conviction was reversed by a federal appeals court, which said that a prosecutor's comments regarding his decision to not testify denied him a right to a fair trial."

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