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The Evening Brief: Oct. 25, 2013

Your evening reading: contractor involved with health exchange received Enterprise Fund money; Sebelius comes to Texas to apologize and to criticize; Cruz despises avocados

Gov. Rick Perry answers press questions at the National Right to Life convention.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Perry Beneficiary Behind Federal Health Website: "The lead technology contractor behind the problem-ridden federal online health insurance marketplace is a beneficiary of the Texas Enterprise Fund, according to a money-in-politics watchdog group. Texans for Public Justice reported Friday afternoon that Montreal-based CGI Group, which provides IT consulting services, received a $1.8 million state investment in 2011 through the Texas Enterprise Fund, a state business incentive fund overseen by Gov. Rick Perry."

•    Sebelius Faults Texas Leaders for Politicizing Health Law: "While visiting Austin to highlight health insurance enrollment efforts under the federal Affordable Care Act, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged Friday that the online marketplace still isn’t working smoothly and criticized some Texas leaders for continuing to mount a political campaign against the law."

•    UT System Board Chairman to Recommend Policy Changes: "After legislative hearings calling into question the process by which the University of Texas System has allowed regents to obtain information about its flagship university, the board's chairman Paul Foster, announced that he intends to recommend new policy changes related to that process."

•    Higher Ed Enrollment Grows Slowly as Deadline Looms: "Overall enrollment in Texas colleges and universities grew by about 8,000 students in 2013, according to preliminary data released this week by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. That's an increase of less than 1 percent over 2012 figures."

•    A Shadow Election Before Candidates File for Office: "Other statewide Republican candidates (there aren’t a lot of Democrats on the roster yet) share Carter’s pecuniary distress, and they have time to change their minds, too. Candidates do not start filing for office in Texas until November. It is hard to raise money when there are so many open seats and so many ambitious people running. It is difficult for donors, too, who want to help future officeholders more than they want to help noble candidates who will lose in the March primaries or the May runoffs. A donor can always sign up later, after the race is over, when candidates are trying to retire campaign debts and build their banks to ward off future challengers."

•    Texas and Oklahoma May Redraw the Border, Again: “'You’re in Texas, and I’m in Oklahoma,' said Hickey, a spokeswoman for the North Texas Municipal Water District, to a reporter standing five feet away. The boundary, marked by three orange circles painted on the concrete floor, passes through two of the largest water pumps. Four pumps sit squarely in Oklahoma, while one, a smaller structure resembling the Star Wars robot R2-D2, lies in Texas. So it is, and will always be across this vast reservoir along the Red River. Or will it?"


•    State utility commission to mandate electricity reserves to avoid power shortages (Austin American-Statesman): "A bitterly split Texas Public Utility Commission decided Friday to begin mandating the reserve levels for the state’s electricity supplies — a move aimed at answering reliability questions but one that is also the first step toward redesigning the state’s wholesale electricity market. Utility commission Chair Donna Nelson was joined by new Commissioner Brandy Marty in supporting a mandatory reserve margin, which Commissioner Ken Anderson Jr. opposed it."

•    Silver Lining for Democrats in Texas Voter ID Woes (ABC News): "Texas’ photo ID measure has been challenged by the Justice Department, which says it discriminates against minorities and low-income voters. But the impact on women, who may have trouble proving their identity because their names changed due to marriage, has been the latest headline-grabbing side effect. Democrats hope these stories will help build public opposition to voter ID measures in states like Texas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania a full year before it matters in critical congressional and gubernatorial races."

•    Vice President Joe Biden heads to Austin to highlight domestic violence (The Dallas Morning News): "Vice President Joe Biden will visit Austin next Wednesday, Oct. 30, the White House announced on Friday. While there, he will visit the headquarters of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and commemorate National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The hotline was authorized in 1994 as part of the Violence Against Women Act. Congress reauthorized VAWA this year. The hotline operates around the clock to provide free and confidential support to victims of domestic violence."

•    Permian Basin leads U.S. oil production, feds say (Houston Business Journal): "The Permian Basin in west Texas remains the largest oil producer in the U.S., a new drilling production report has found. The U.S. Energy Information Administration initiated the monthly report to provide region-specific insight into oil and natural gas drilling trends, the agency said in a statement."

•    Ted Cruz Q&A: The senator's private side (The Des Moines Register): "Q. Any little phobias? A. 'Not really. Um, I despise avocado. It’s the only food I dislike, and I dislike it passionately. Which is ironic, because I’m Cuban, and my dad grew up with avocado trees in his backyard. My whole family eats avocados like crazy, but I can’t stand them.'”

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Health care Politics Rick Perry Ted Cruz