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The Evening Brief: Aug. 8, 2013

Your evening reading: Sebelius open to "uniquely Texan" approach to health reform; Abbott declines to embrace Cruz's temporary government shutdown idea; Paul's former presidential campaign accused of bribery

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met in Austin with leaders from the health care industry to discu…

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Sebelius: We're Open to "Uniquely Texan" Approach: "The federal government is open to expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act in a way that is more tailored to Texas’ preferences, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday while visiting Austin City Hall."

•    Abbott Detours on Government Shutdown Idea: "Attorney General Greg Abbott said Thursday he would never give up the fight against Obamacare, but the front-running candidate for Texas governor declined to embrace a temporary shut-down of the federal government — one of the key strategies promoted by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and other Tea Party-backed Republicans in Washington."

•    How Would You Fare on the 2013 STAAR Tests?: "In the spring, amid a controversial legislative session for state standardized tests, the Texas Education Agency announced that it would soon release the 2013 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams it had previously kept confidential. We have collected all of the exams for grades three through eight, along with the answer keys. They are available to download below."

•    Under New State Ratings, Most Schools Met Standards: "The vast majority of the state's public schools met the standards set by new state accountability ratings debuted by the Texas Education Agency on Thursday."

•    Amid Tension, UT-Austin Touts Fundraising Totals: "With tensions on the rise between University of Texas at Austin administrators and the University of Texas System heading into the Board of Regents' Aug. 21 meeting, the university is highlighting the positive by announcing it has broken its single-year fundraising record."

•    Visualization: The Most Expensive Projects in the Texas Water Plan: "Cities, counties and rural water user groups across Texas submitted thousands of project ideas for the 2012 State Water Plan. Combined, the projects on their wish lists would cost about $53 billion."

•    Polling Center: Joe Straus and the Other Republicans: "As the legislative session gives way to primary season, House Speaker Joe Straus is in the most stable position of the “big three” — a group that includes Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — despite the fact that he has resisted the rightward momentum propelling the next generation of Texas Republican leaders epitomized by Senator Ted Cruz."

•    Abbott Campaign Spends on Consultants and Advertising: "With the biggest war chest in the state — almost $21 million cash on hand — Attorney General Greg Abbott will be hard to beat in his campaign for governor. From early polling to Facebook advertisements, his team is positioning itself as a campaign with experienced consultants looking for new ways to reach out to voters."

Culled

•    Emails accuse Paul campaign of bribery (The Houston Chronicle): "Presidential campaign drama from the 2012 election resurfaced this week after emails were recently released accusing the Ron Paul campaign of bribery."

•    Judge resumes Fort Hood trial despite standby lawyers saying soldier wants death sentence (Associated Press): "The soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood was allowed to continue representing himself on Thursday after the judge ordered his standby attorneys to stay on the case, despite their claims that the Army psychiatrist was trying to secure his own death sentence."

•    Fort Bliss wants El Paso to better market itself (Associated Press): "West Texas Army post wants El Paso's help in combatting a negative perception of the city that's deterring top military talent from seeking an assignment here."

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