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The Evening Brief: April 23, 2013

Your evening reading: House reverses vote abolishing Lottery Commission; Medicaid reform proposal advances; Cornyn tops Senate Republicans in fundraising

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New in The Texas Tribune

•    House Makes Switch on Texas Lottery Commission: "In a 91-53 vote Tuesday afternoon, the Texas House passed House Bill 2197, continuing the the Texas Lottery Commission. An earlier vote Tuesday had failed to continue the commission."

•    House Panel Advances Zerwas' Medicaid Proposal: "Despite opposition from conservative Republicans, the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal that would reform Medicaid by allowing the state to request a block grant from the federal government and expand coverage to low-income Texans."

•    House Shows Support for Innocence Commission Bill: "The House on Tuesday endorsed a bill that would create a state panel to investigate wrongful convictions. Similar legislation has been defeated in the past, but this time it has drawn supporters many consider unlikely."

•    Four Months After Fire, Nuclear Reactor Restarts: "Four months after a fire shut it down, a nuclear reactor at the South Texas Project in Bay City is being restarted. That is the second prolonged shutdown at the plant in two years, prompting critics to demand closer scrutiny of the operation."

•    Senate Panel Discusses Scrutiny of State Testing Contracts: "The procedures that led to the state's five-year, $468 million standardized testing contract with Pearson were the focus of a Senate panel's hearing Tuesday on legislation that would change how the state handles future agreements."

•    Emails Reflect Strain Over UT Records Requests: "Emails from a University of Texas at Austin administrator to the UT System Board of Regents' general counsel, obtained by the Tribune through an open records request, highlight the strain caused by Regent Wallace Hall’s recent records requests and also reveal some of the legal questions prompted by the requests."

Culled

•    Cornyn leads all GOP senators in campaign fundraising (Houston Chronicle): "Texas Sen. John Cornyn raised the most campaign cash of any GOP incumbent in the period from January to March. Cornyn came in fourth when counting Democratic incumbent and front-runner candidates, with Minnesota Sen. Al Franken leading the fundraising parade. Cornyn’s campaign reported netting $1.85 million dollars, according to the Secretary of the Senate, just edging out Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, who raised $1.83."

•    Straus House pushes water to front of line for rainy day $ (The Dallas Morning News): "House budget writers feuded publicly on Tuesday about use of rainy day money, foreshadowing an end of session showdown between the House and Senate over whether and how to tap into state savings. The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill to spend $2 billion from the rainy day fund on water projects. The vote was 17-3, with three very conservative Republicans voting no and two Democrats abstaining."

•    Senate tentatively plans $5.7 billion rainy day fund draw (The Dallas Morning News): "Senate leaders have floated a plan to tap $5.7 billion of rainy day dollars, with all but a smidgeon going to infrastructure — water, highways, bridges and ports. But it’s the smidgeon — 14 percent — going to public schools that’s a hard sell with some conservative lawmakers. And that’s even though the 'rain' on schools would fall far short of what most Democratic senators desire."

•    G.W. Bush Advances in Esteem Yet Still With More Brush to Cut (ABC News): "After the most unpopular second term of the post-World War II era, George W. Bush has gained in public esteem as time since his presidency has passed — not that the public’s ready yet to throw him bouquets. Just more than four years after he left office, with his presidential library about to open its doors, Americans divide on Bush’s performance during his tumultuous eight years as president: Forty-seven percent approve while 50 percent disapprove in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll."

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