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The Evening Brief: April 10, 2013

Your evening reading: state Senate OKs drug testing for welfare applicants; after deal reached, Cruz still threatening to filibuster gun bill; "anti-groping" bill back in state House

Sen. Jane Nelson reacts as her SB 7, a Medicaid reform bill passes the Senate on March 25, 2013.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Senate Passes Measure That Requires Drug Tests for Welfare Applicants: "The Texas Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 11, which would require applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to pass a drug test to receive benefits. Nearly a dozen bills have been filed this session that outline new standards for Texans applying for TANF assistance and unemployment benefits."

•    House Panel Considers Simpson's TSA "Anti-Groping" Bill: "Despite previous threats from the federal government to shut down Texas airports if state lawmakers limit the TSA's ability to conduct security screenings, Rep. David Simpson is pushing lawmakers to approve a so-called anti-groping bill."

•    House Panel Debates Changes to State Booklet on Abortion: "A House committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would remove language in a state booklet distributed to women seeking an abortion that suggests induced abortion can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer."

•    Senators Talk, Without Voting, About Casinos in Texas: "The effort to open casinos in Texas got a hearing from a Texas Senate committee Wednesday, but opposition remains strong and charitable groups that benefit from other games of chance have some concerns, too."

•    Proposal to Raise Medicaid Rates Could Affect Budget: "The Health and Human Services Commission has requested that the state increase Medicaid premium rates, which could have a significant impact on the 2014-15 budget if it is approved."

•    House Backs Regular Checkups for Foster Kids on Psychotropic Drugs: "The Texas House on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would require medical checkups for foster children who are prescribed psychotropic drugs."

•    Border Bill Greeted With Skepticism, Support: "Border security legislation filed by two of Texas’ top Republican members of Congress ensures that the Texas conservatives will have their say in the immigration reform debate."


•    Cruz vows to continue fight despite bipartisan deal to expand background checks (Houston Chronicle): "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he won’t back down. Nearly nine in ten Americans favor expanding background checks for gun buyers. And two historically pro-gun senators reached a bipartisan agreement this morning to do just that — while preserving exceptions for family gun transfers and personal sales. But the Republican from Houston, who has led Senate efforts to block any new legislation on guns, says he will fight on with his threatened filibuster of any gun deal. 'Critics say we need to have a debate and need to have a vote,' Cruz said on the Laura Ingraham radio show this morning."

•    Cruz has 'cordial' phone conversation with daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal, agrees to disagree on gun control (Houston Chronicle): "Erica Lafferty will be heard. The 27-year-daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung may not have the money to come to Washington to lobby for gun-control legislation. So she’s using a less-expensive way to reach Republican senators who are threatening to filibuster any efforts to change the nation’s gun laws: Twitter. Lafferty’s social media barrage — her Twitter handle is @E_Laffs2 — has targeted the 14 Republicans who have pledged to join a filibuster, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz."

•    Broad Outlines of Senate Immigration Agreement Emerge (The New York Times): "A bipartisan group of senators has largely agreed on a broad immigration bill that would require tough border measures to be in place before illegal immigrants could take the first steps to become American citizens, according to several people familiar with drafts of the legislation."

•    Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls for thoughtful approach to immigration reform (The Dallas Morning News): "Texas Gov. Rick Perry Wednesday softened his stand on immigration reform, calling for Congress to approve a 'thoughtful' path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants living in the country. 'We need to be having this conversation about how to deal with the 12 million that are here and how to create a thoughtful system,' Perry said for a segment on WFAA (Channel 8) Inside Texas Politics."

•    Obama Pushes His Choice for Position on Appeals Court (The New York Times): "With a coordination and an energy that echo a Supreme Court nomination fight, the Obama administration is pushing for the confirmation of a senior Justice Department lawyer to the country’s most prestigious appellate court. If the effort fails, it could lead to a confrontation with the Senate over the long-simmering issue of judicial nominees. The White House is lobbying some of the president’s most vocal foes, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas."

•    Texas Republicans dismiss Obama budget as 'irresponsible' and 'a joke' (Houston Chronicle): "Texas Republicans today dismissed President Obama’s months-late 2014 budget proposal as a useless proposal that doesn’t get to the heart of what America needs. The president’s $3.77 trillion blueprint calls for investments in infrastructure, education and research while replacing budget cuts that went into effect last month with increased taxes and spending cuts. The plan would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over the next decade, according to the White House."

•    Amid friendly hazing, Senate approves Texas State name change (Austin American-Statesman): "There were questions about why the name of Texas State University-San Marcos was being changed again, for the seventh time since 1903. And whether 'Outlet Mall' was an option for a new name. And then, there was a request for state Sen. Donna Campbell to sing the Texas State fight song — which she declined to do, as she explained it, 'in order to preserve the decorum of this Senate.' On Wednesday, as Campbell moved to pass her first bill as a Texas senator — Senate Bill 974 to drop 'San Marcos' from the official name of the Texas State campus — senators took an opportunity to gently haze Campbell, as they have done with their other freshmen colleagues in recent weeks."

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