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The Evening Brief: May 10, 2013

Your evening reading: criminal investigation launched into West blast; Cornyn, Texas Republicans blast Obama administration over IRS admission; House rejects Senate's version of testing overhaul

A vehicle near the remains of a fertilizer plant burning after an explosion in West, Texas, near Waco.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Criminal Investigation Launched Into West Explosion: "The Texas Rangers and the McLennan County sheriff's office are launching a criminal investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion last month in West."

•    Judicial Pay Raises Bring a Little Something Extra: "Lawmakers are talking seriously about a 21.5 percent pay raise for state district judges. That raise would also mean a 21.5 percent bump in the pensions of lawmakers. It's a vote that opens politicians to criticism for fluffing their own financial pillows while leaving other budget items without enough money."

•    Bill Would Curb Access to Photos of Murder Victims: "Legislation authored by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, would require court approval for most requests to view or copy crime scene photos that show murder victims. But some say the measure is a solution in search of a problem."

•    Interactive: Mapping Texas Facilities With Ammonium Nitrate: More than 110 facilities across Texas store ammonium nitrate in some form, according to state records. Use our interactive to see where in the facilities are located and how far they are from schools and hospitals.

Culled

•    Cornyn, other Texas Republicans slam IRS for 'Orwellian persecution' of conservative groups (Houston Chronicle): "Texas Republicans reacted angrily to the Internal Revenue Service’s confession today that its agents had flagged conservative groups for additional review during the 2012 election season. Led by Sen. John Cornyn, Texas conservatives were quick to denounce the IRS and tie the unethical — and possibly illegal — behavior to the Obama administration."

•    House rejects Senate changes in bill to overhaul Texas school testing, accountability system (The Dallas Morning News): "The House on Friday refused to accept Senate changes to its bill overhauling Texas’ school testing and accountability system. Speaker Joe Straus appointed a House negotiating team, which will try to iron out differences with the Senate on the bill, which would sharply roll back high-stakes testing of high school students."

•    SpaceX bill headed to Gov. Perry (San Antonio Express-News): "A proposal to temporarily shut down Boca Chica Beach during SpaceX rocket launches is headed to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. The full Senate has approved House Bill 2623 by Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville. The beach closure bill is a must-pass piece of legislation to try to lure SpaceX to build a launch site near Brownsville."

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