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The Evening Brief: Dec. 9, 2013

Your evening reading: UT regents will discuss Bill Powers in closed-door session; Democrats claim a statewide officer via party switch; Cruz will attend Mandela memorial service

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers spoke on June 24, 2013, about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Fisher v. UT-Austin.

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Regents to Discuss Employment of Bill Powers: "The University of Texas System Board of Regents plans to discuss the employment of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers during a closed-door executive session at its board meeting on Thursday."

•    Efforts Targeting Double Dipping Could Get Boost: "But efforts to ban the practice of double dipping, or even require disclosure of it, went nowhere this year in the Texas Legislature. That could change when lawmakers meet again in 2015. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate to replace the retiring [Rick] Perry, is pushing ethics reform and recently told a TV station he wanted to prohibit double dipping by politicians. His most likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, also supports the ban."

•    Shared Name May Be Hurdle to Keeping Post: "But that’s not why [RalphSheffield is planning to double the number of mail pieces he sends to voters, or why he is adding television and radio ads to a campaign that went without them in 2012. To figure that out, you must look to the north, to the line between his House district and the next one over."

•    Campaign Promotes Merry Christmas Law: "Politicians, advocates and even a Santa Claus turned up at the Capitol on Monday to promote a new law that aims to protect Texans' right to wish one another 'Merry Christmas'."

•    A Candidate Experienced Enough to Drop Out: "Even that was out of reach, and [Tom] Pauken — a veteran of campaigns for Congress and for attorney general, a former chairman of the Texas GOP, a pugnacious conservative for more than three decades and, importantly, a former venture capitalist — pulled the plug. VCs know when to do that."


•    Fort Worth statewide judge switches parties from Republican to Democrat (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "Longtime Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Lawrence 'Larry' Meyers announced Monday that he is leaving the Republican Party to run as a Democrat for the Texas Supreme Court. Meyers, of Fort Worth, filed Monday on the last day of filing to seek Place 6 on the Supreme Court, currently held by Jeff Brown."

•    Todd Staples proposes 10-point plan in lieutenant governor race (Austin American-Statesman): "In the latest salvo in the GOP primary race for Texas’ lieutenant governor, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced a 10-point plan on Monday that he said represents the vision of 'a new generation' of leadership — including tax cuts, better securing Texas’ border with Mexico, tighter spending and stronger gun rights. Part of his message seemed to highlight that he was younger than his three Republican rivals."

•    GOP primary challengers pushing further to the right (The Dallas Morning News): "As statewide Republican candidates stake claims on being the 'true conservative' in their races, their campaign videos and mailers are devoted to gun rights, shrinking government, tea party endorsements, fighting Washington and slashing spending. ... 'Everybody is running to the right: incumbents, challengers and the like. That’s the flavor of the season,' Miller said."

•    Cruz will be in South Africa for Mandela Memorial (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is on his way to South Africa as part of a congressional delegation to the memorial service for former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. ... Cruz' participation is especially notable because his Facebook page was filled with negative comments from some of his supporters after he posted a tribute to Mandela, who died last week at 95."

•    How Hospitals Pass Their Obamacare Penalties on to Patients (The Atlantic): "Perhaps most importantly for hospitals, though, the Affordable Care Act required Medicare to start penalizing hospitals that frequently readmit the same patients, and in 2012 some 70 percent of hospitals took a financial hit for their high readmission rates. Observation status doesn't count as admission, so using it helps hospitals avoid the penalty."

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Health care Politics Greg Abbott Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis