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The Evening Brief: Nov. 26, 2013

Your evening reading: gun advocates find hope in Abbott's open-carry proposal; O'Rourke stock purchase might have broken new restrictions; IRS issues new guidelines to squeeze dark-money groups

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott speaking before a NE Tarrant Tea Party meeting at the Concordia Lutheran Church in Bedfor…

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Open-Carry Advocates See Hope in Abbott Proposal: "In a speech earlier this month, Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott proposed allowing concealed handgun license holders to carry their firearms openly. Gun advocates say Abbott’s proposal reflects growing acceptance within Texas of unconcealed handguns, and some predict open carry laws could pass as soon as 2015. But opponents of the proposal say looser gun laws won't reduce violence."

•    2011 UP Settlement Could Impact Bridge Dispute: "As a stalemate between Cameron County and federal officials threatens to stall a $100 million border rail project, federal lawmakers are eyeing a settlement between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and rail power Union Pacific as a means to a potential solution."

•    Gravel Plan on Pause, but Fallout Continues: "Initially just a public relations headache, the pushback against the Texas Department of Transportation’s plan to convert some badly damaged paved roads to gravel is now getting in the way of the agency’s efforts to address the issue that prompted the controversial policy in the first place."

•    Guest Column: The 2013 Senate, From Left to Right: "Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, was statistically the most conservative senator, while Houston Democrat Sylvia Garcia was the most liberal. There was a significant gap between the Republicans and the Democrats, but John Carona of Dallas was the least conservative Republican senator, and Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville was the least liberal Democrat."

Culled

•    Congressman Beto O'Rourke may have broken ethics rules with Twitter stock purchase (El Paso Times): "U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, last week alerted the House Ethics Committee that he might have violated a new law restricting members of Congress from engaging in certain stock transactions. It is the first case to come before the committee involving a 2012 law that prohibits members of Congress from participating in initial public offerings, or IPOs, 'other than what is available to members of the public generally,' said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Committee for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, a watchdog group."

•    Obama Administration Moves To Squeeze Dark Money Groups (Talking Points Memo): "The proposed guidance issued by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service would define a new category of activity — 'candidate-related political activity' — that would not qualify as social welfare. Dark money groups, which can raise unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their donors, are organized as tax-exempt 'social welfare' organizations under section 501(c)4 of the Internal Revenue Code. A 501(c)4 group's primary focus cannot be political activity, but that hasn't stopped groups — like the Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS — from raising and spending tens of millions of dollars during election years."

•    Audit: Texas Education Agency needs to improve monitoring (El Paso Times): "A federal audit report found the Texas Education Agency could make improvements in its monitoring of standardized test results and better ensure local school districts do not improperly influence those results. The audit was part of a nationwide analysis of internal controls for state test results used by both the U.S. Department of Education and five state education agencies, including the TEA, selected for individual review."

•    Villalba: As a conservative Hispanic, explaining 'catch an illegal' to my child (The Dallas Morning News): "My daughter innocently asked me, a fourth-generation Texan of Mexican descent, 'Papa, what is an illegal?' The stark nature of her query took me a bit by surprise. For the first time in her young life, my little one was presented with the notion that a fellow human being, maybe even one of her schoolmates, could be referred to simply as an illegal. As I contemplated how to answer, I was both saddened and disappointed that my answer would likely change her budding perspective on what it means for her to be a Latina."

•    Powell: The Latino vote is eluding GOP (Houston Chronicle): "It matters to us how our public servants treat immigrants. In Texas, our voices were often stifled and pushed away by politicians whose only objective was winning the next election. Stunts, such as the 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant' game that was planned by the University of Texas at Austin chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, would have raised eyebrows, hit the front pages and be quickly forgotten. Finally, in the 2014 elections, Latinos will not be ignored."

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