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The Evening Brief: Nov. 20, 2013

Your evening reading: SBOE discusses math requirements; Fidel Castro doubts lone gunman in JFK assassination; former LBJ right-hand man tells all about the Senate of yesteryear

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst explains the gallery rules for the second special session as Senate Parliamentarian Karina Davis listens on July 1, 2013.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Dewhurst Seeks Public Safety Study Before 2015 Session: "Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is in a pitched re-election battle, on Wednesday announced another set of interim charges for state lawmakers to study before the 2015 legislative session, this time on issues of emergency preparedness and accident response."

•    LCRA Names Interim General Manager: "The Lower Colorado River Authority named Ross Phillips its interim general manager on Wednesday. Phillips joined the agency as a computer programmer in 1990 and has worked primarily on the electric side of the agency's business. He replaces Becky Motal, who is retiring at the end of this year."

•    Fight Over Algebra II Moves From Texas Capitol to SBOE: "A battle over whether Texas should require algebra II for a high school diploma — a fight that many state lawmakers hoped they had already settled — has resurfaced as the State Board of Education convenes this week. ... Since the end of the legislative session, a coalition of business groups and education advocates has mobilized to push the board to require the advanced math course because of concerns over how eliminating it would affect the academic progress of low-income and minority students in the state."

•    After SCOTUS, Abortion Providers Work to Secure Access: "Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday not to intervene in Texas’ ongoing abortion litigation, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are working to secure access to the procedure for women across the state. 'We’re working to help make sure that our patients and women across Texas can get the services that they need,' said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America."

•    Smitherman Web Ad Promotes Second Amendment Rights: "In a new web ad, Barry Smitherman, Republican candidate for attorney general and the chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, highlights his support for the Second Amendment, which he calls 'the right that secures all our other rights.'"


•    Fidel Castro: 'Oswald Could Not Have Been the One Who Killed Kennedy' (The Atlantic): "Fidel Castro shares at least one belief with the majority of Americans: He is convinced that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was not the work of a lone gunman, but was the culmination of a broad conspiracy. According to a recent Gallup poll, 61 percent of Americans believe Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in Dallas 50 years ago. But Castro suspects that Oswald might not have been involved in the assassination at all."

•    Sex in the Senate (Politico): "In the reminiscences that follow, he offers indelible proof that the good old days were not always good: One senator died with $2 million in unexplained cash; another took a $200,000 payment to switch his vote; some showed up for work drunk. But he also explains the ways in which the old days might well have offered a better model than the present for how to do business on Capitol Hill: his was really a time when senators knew and respected each other, and bipartisan cooperation was the norm."

• Web site crashes as Sebelius visits sign-up site (Washington Post): "The embattled Web site reportedly crashed Tuesday as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was watching a couple sign up for health insurance in Florida. ... Sebelius responded, according to CBS: 'Uh oh.'"

•    Ted Cruz reveals he’s a thin-skinned hypocrite (Salon): "Sen. Ted Cruz pretends to be a tough guy, but mostly he spends his time trashing Democrats in front of adoring right-wing crowds and conservative journalists. On Wednesday he sat down with CNN’s Chris Cuomo – you didn’t expect him to go to MSNBC, did you? – and showed himself to be incredibly thin-skinned when pressed just a little on how he would replace the Affordable Care Act he wants to repeal."

•    UT president stands by* coach Mack Brown (*sort of) (The Dallas Morning News): "Should Mack Brown stay or go? His boss, University of Texas at Austin president Bill Powers, left open either possibility even as he praised the embattled Longhorns head coach. 'Mack’s our coach. He’s been a great coach. He is a great coach and has done a great deal for Texas. He’s our coach,' Powers said when asked about Brown’s future at UT."

•    Staples rolls out finance team full of high rollers (The Dallas Morning News): "Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has tapped several prominent business people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to serve on his lieutenant governor campaign’s statewide finance committee."

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Health care Politics David Dewhurst Ted Cruz