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The Evening Brief: March 26, 2013

Your evening reading: graduation requirements dominate education debate in House; state leaders reaffirm opposition to gay marriage; state representative booked into jail on barratry charges

Rep. Ken King R-Canadian, speaks with Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock R-Killeen, as Rep. Gene Wu D-Houston speaks on one of the 165 amendments for HB5 on March 26th, 2013

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Lawmakers Debate Approaches to High School Graduation: "A debate over the balance between rigor and flexibility in high school graduation requirements dominated Tuesday’s debate over education legislation in the Texas House."

   Reynolds Booked Into Montgomery County Jail: "State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, walked into the Montgomery County Jail on Tuesday morning to be booked on two counts of barratry. In a statement released Monday night, he maintained his innocence."

•    Senate Passes Prosecutor Accountability Bill: "The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that attempts to bring more accountability to prosecutors who are accused of withholding evidence in cases that result in a wrongful conviction."

•    Bickering Erupts at Railroad Commission Meeting: "A day before a major legislative hearing about the future of the Railroad Commission, interpersonal tensions between the three commissioners boiled over at an open meeting. The commissioners also voted to approve new rules to make recycling oilfield wastewater easier."

•    Senate Committee Considers Michael Morton Act: "Lawmakers on Tuesday continued to consider bills that aim to prevent wrongful convictions, primarily by codifying what information prosecutors must share with defense attorneys before trial."

•    Norwood's Lawyers Rest Their Case in Murder Trial: "After calling just three witnesses on Mark Norwood's behalf, lawyers for the man accused of killing Christine Morton in 1986 rested ther case Tuesday afternoon."

•    Feds Approve New Vaccine Facility in Bryan-College Station: "The federal government has approved a $91 million influenza-vaccine manufacturing facility based in the Bryan-College Station area to be run by the Texas A&M University System and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline."

•    Legislators Take Up Windstorm Insurance Reform Bills: "Legislators, coastal residents and insurance leaders agree it will take a dynamic approach to reform the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. The Senate Business and Commerce Committee discussed four TWIA bills Tuesday."

•    Transparency Bills Draw Strange Bedfellows: "In Texas, there’s nary an issue that aligns the far left with the far right. But this session’s effort to make state government more transparent and ethical — spearheaded by some of the Legislature’s most conservative members and its most liberal ones — has attracted the strangest of bedfellows."


•    GOP leadership: Texas will defend conservative values, traditional marriage (Austin American-Statesman): "On the day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the future of gay marriage in America, about 250 opponents of same-sex marriage gathered on the south side of the Capitol to hear the state’s political leadership promise that Texas will remain a bastion of 'freedom, family and faith.' … 'Our core values are being attacked on a daily basis … by government fiat in our courts and in our schools,' said state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. 'They want to redefine marriage between a natural man and natural woman the same way the want to redefine the Constitution. It’s just not going to stand with me.''

•    Ted Cruz speaks against same-sex marriage (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. Ted Cruz said Tuesday that he was against same sex marriage and hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would continue to let individual states grapple with the issue. 'I support traditional marriage between one man and one woman,' Cruz said after speaking to the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. 'The Constitution leaves it to the states to decide upon marriage and I hope the Supreme Court respects centuries of tradition and doesn’t step into the process of setting aside state laws that make the definition of marriage.'"

•    Ted Cruz flip-flopped on guns, Democrats say (Politico): "Senate Democrats are accusing Sen. Ted Cruz — one of the conservatives threatening to filibuster gun-control legislation — of flip-flopping on the issue. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office posted a video of Cruz raising the possibility of strengthening a federal database of individuals who should not be allowed to purchase guns. Cruz, speaking on FOX News in January, said that one option for preventing gun-related massacres would be to 'improve the quality of the federal database.'"

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