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The Evening Brief: March 7, 2013

Your evening reading: former Perry aide received six-figure bonus; protesters rally to allow Planned Parenthood back in Women's Health Program; Cruz wants law banning domestic drone attacks

Gov. Rick Perry meets with senior staff members at his office in the State Capitol on Jan. 9, 2013.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Former Rick Perry Aide Got $162,500 Bonus: "Days before she became Gov. Rick Perry's chief of staff, Ann Bishop — already the highest-paid executive officer at a state agency — received a $162,500 bonus from the Employees Retirement System, records show."

•    Hundreds Rally to Let Planned Parenthood Back in Women's Health Program: "Hundreds of people rallied at the Capitol on Thursday, demanding that Planned Parenthood clinics be allowed back into the Women's Health Program."

•    Bill Would Allow Government Communications to Be Held Online: "Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, filed a bill Thursday that would expand the Texas Open Meetings Act and allow for members of governmental bodies to communicate in an online forum and not break the law."

•    Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Regulate Self-Driving Cars: "Under a bill filed by state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, self-driving cars like the one Google drove around Texas last month would have to have a licensed driver behind the wheel and meet minimum insurance requirements."

•    New School Choice Bill Would Allow Local Accountability Plans: "House Bill 300 from state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, would allow local school boards to opt out of most state regulations to set their own accountability goals."

•    UT/TT Poll: Texans Favor Surcharge to Help State Pay for Water Projects: "Water is a top issue with lawmakers, if not quite there with voters, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. And voters prefer adding a surcharge, based on water usage, to help pay for water projects."

•    Watchdogs: Ethics Law Loopholes Leave Public in Dark About Lobby Perks: "Whether it’s lobbyists’ spending on legislators or lawmakers who don't disclose their spouses' interests on personal financial statements, Texas ethics laws are full of holes. Government watchdogs say the loopholes make it difficult for the public to know who might be doing favors for whom under the Capitol dome."

•    Interactive Map: Poverty Estimates by County: "Use our interactive to determine which Texas counties have the lowest and highest rates of poverty, broken down by race — a tool designed with data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey."


•    Sen. Ted Cruz pushes ban on domestic kills with Sen. Rand Paul (The Dallas Morning News): "One day after pitching in with a filibuster meant to highlight concerns about the possibility of assassination-by-drone of Americans on U.S. soil, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing legislation to write such a ban into law."

•    Dewhurst sues former campaign manager over missing money (Austin American-Statesman): "Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has sued his former trusted campaign manager over an alleged scam in which more than $2 million in campaign funds is reported to have gone missing over five years. The suit in Travis County state court alleges that Kenneth "Buddy" Barfield — who had managed Dewhurst’s successful campaigns for more than a decade — began the skimming sometime prior to 2010 by collecting payments for false invoices from a Barfield consulting company, Alexander Consulting."

•    Truitt's lobbying job draws fire from Davis (Fort Worth Star-Telgram): "State Sen. Wendy Davis raised ethics concerns Wednesday about former state Rep. Vicki Truitt for serving as a lobbyist for the payday loan industry that she oversaw as a lawmaker until recently."

•    Hope Andrade named to Texas Workforce Commission (San Antonio Express-News): "Former Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade of San Antonio has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to become one of three Texas Workforce Commission commissioners, Andrade confirmed Thursday. If confirmed by the Texas Senate Nominations Committee, Andrade will finish the term of TWC commissioner Tom Pauken, who resigned last month. Pauken had been the TWC commissioner representing employers, the position Andrade will fill."

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