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The Evening Brief: March 21, 2013

Your evening reading: former workforce commissioner announces bid for governor; House committee approves budget with additional school funding; Cornyn wants hearing on immigrant release

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New in The Texas Tribune

•    Tom Pauken Announces Bid for Governor: "Tom Pauken, the former Texas workforce commissioner and former chairman of the Texas Republican Party, confirmed Thursday to the Tribune that he will file to run for governor."

•    House Committee Backs Budget With More School Funding: "The $193.8 billion budget approved by the House Appropriations Committee includes an extra $2.5 billion for public education. The bill is smaller than the Senate budget by about $1.7 billion."

•    Perry, Some Lawmakers Want Gold Back in Texas: "Call it the Rick Perry gold rush: The governor wants to bring the state’s gold reserves back from a New York vault to Texas. And he may have legislative support to do it. Freshman Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, is carrying a bill that would establish the Texas Bullion Depository — a secure state-based bank to house Texas' precious metals."

•    Lawmakers, Observers React to Tense UT System Meeting: "Longtime employees of the University of Texas System could not recall a split vote on the board of regents, which has traditionally settled differences behind closed doors and presented a unified front. That changed on Wednesday."

•    Cornyn Demands Hearing on Unauthorized Immigrants' Release: "U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Thursday demanded that more information be released regarding the government's decision to release hundreds of unauthorized immigrants from immigration detention centers in Texas."

•    Wichita Falls Among Cities Whose Water Could Run Dry By Year's End: "Wichita Falls is the largest city in Texas in danger of running out of water. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the city of more than 100,000 could run out of water in less than six months. Two dozen other communities are also on the list, which is likely to grow as the drought worsens."

•    Lawmakers Discuss Regulating Ownership of Large Animals: "A House committee discussed whether to regulate the ownership of 'big cats and nonhuman primates' at a hearing Wednesday. Animal rights groups say these animals are a threat to public safety, while owners of tigers, lions and other large cats say they already face enough regulation."


•    Senate panel to vote on charter school expansion next week (The Dallas Morning News): "Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick said he will seek committee approval next Tuesday of his bill to raise the cap on the number of independent charter schools in Texas. But he has given up on his efforts to provide facilities funding for charter schools and to require that vacant school facilities be leased to charter school operators for a nominal price."

•    Conservative radio host slams Joe Scarborough for calling Ted Cruz ‘utterly ignorant’ (Houston Chronicle): "Hot doesn’t just describe Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s current popularity. The word also captures the tempers of both liberal and conservative pundits and their comments on the freshman senator. Conservative radio host Mark Levin went after MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough this week after Scarborough the 'Morning Joe' host criticized Cruz as “utterly ignorant.”

•    Democratic delegation to Congress fires back at Rick Perry on Medicaid (The Dallas Morning News): "In an effort led by Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine, the Democratic delegation to the U.S. House responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s position on Medicaid expansion. Last week Perry wrote a letter to the entire Texas delegation urging them to find healthcare solutions that did not involve the expansion of Medicaid. Perry also touted the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin."

•    Rick Perry: The Presidential Candidate Ahead of His Time (National Journal): "Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign was a slow-motion train wreck, capped off by his embarrassing brain freeze in a nationally televised debate. But as Perry mulls another presidential race in 2016, it’s striking that he was campaigning on many of the reforms that Republican Party leaders are now desperately pushing."

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