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The Evening Brief: July 26, 2013

Your evening reading: Legislature closer to transportation funding deal; Republicans fire more criticism at Obama administration over voting rights move; federal court sides against Texas in EPA case

The chamber of the Texas House

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•    Senate Leaders Say Deal on Transportation Plan is Coming Together: "Key negotiators in the House and Senate said Friday that a deal was in place on boosting funding for the Texas Department of Transportation and avoiding a third special session, though some House Democrats were not yet on board."

•    For Abbott, a Legal Fight and a Political Bonanza: "The newest legal battle over voting rights in Texas could go either way in court, but for Attorney General Greg Abbott, it's a golden opportunity to square off with a Democratic administration in Washington, D.C., that is far from popular in Texas."

•    Two Decades On, Turner Holds Sway in the House: "Throughout his 24 years in the Texas House, state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, has taken a pragmatic approach to politics, maintaining close ties with Republican leaders if it means a seat at the negotiating table."

•    Houston Ambulatory Service Providers Focus of Moratorium: "The federal government issued a temporary moratorium on Friday to halt enrollment of ambulatory service providers in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to combat fraud in the Houston area."

•    Easing Elementary, Middle School Testing Comes With Caveat: "For parents and educators who want less classroom time spent on state exams, hopes rest on recently passed legislation, but it comes with a challenge: Texas likely must first obtain waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act."


•    The United States vs. Texas: Lone Star Republicans continue to hurl rhetorical missiles at Eric Holder (Houston Chronicle): "Day two of the United States vs. Texas and the un-civil war over civil rights isn’t getting any more civil. … [JohnCornyn, R-San Antonio, continued his own rhetorical offensive on Fox News. 'Part of the long-term strategy of this administration is to try to turn Texas blue,' Cornyn told Fox. 'And so they are engaging in this kind of bogus political activity to try to raise concerns with regard to things like minority voting that simply aren’t supported by the evidence. I think this is to create a false impression that somehow minority rights are not being protected, which they are.'"

•    Texas Loses Bid to Stop EPA Takeover of Greenhouse Gas Rules (Bloomberg): "Texas’s bid to keep control of its own greenhouse gas permitting program was rejected by a divided federal appeals court in a decision that supports a takeover by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

•    President Obama vs. Texas (Politico): "They might as well put a 'Mess with Texas' bumper sticker on the presidential limo. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement Thursday that he’s taking Texas to court over its voting laws is the latest battle between the White House and Lone Star State Republicans — and one that both sides are eager to have."

•    Former Dallas Council member Angela Hunt will not run to replace Texas Rep. Dan Branch (The Dallas Morning News): "Bad news for Democrats looking to make a local splash in the 2014 Texas House elections. Former Dallas council member Angela Hunt just told me that she’s not going to run for the House District 108 seat now held by Republican Dan Branch."

•    Prosecutors seeking death penalty against former JP in Kaufman County prosecutor slayings (The Dallas Morning News): "Prosecutors announced today that they will seek the death penalty against a former justice of the peace who is accused in the revenge-driven killings of the Kaufman County district attorney, his wife and a top assistant."

•    Oil giant, developer George Mitchell dies at 94 (Houston Chronicle): "George Mitchell, Texas oil man, real estate developer, and one of Houston's wealthiest businessmen, died Friday at his home in Galveston, a spokeswoman said. He was 94."

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