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The Evening Brief: Dec. 20, 2013

Your evening reading: Perry pushes a new position at A&M "on par with [the] chancellor"; navigator supporters criticize new requirements proposed by state; state jobless rate hits a nearly five-year low

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New in The Texas Tribune

•    Memo: Perry Pushed New Adviser Position at A&M Board: "On the afternoon before the Texas A&M System Board met to select an interim president — a selection that found Gov. Rick Perry backing one candidate and Chancellor John Sharp backing another — Perry contacted regents with a proposal for a new position 'on par with [the] chancellor.'"

•    Proposed Regulation of Navigators Criticized at Hearing: "Supporters of the Affordable Care Act and its so-called navigators, who are charged with helping uninsured Texans sign up for health insurance coverage, on Friday criticized proposals for additional regulations of navigators during a Texas Department of Insurance hearing."

•    Groundwater Pumping on Gulf Coast Leads to Subsidence: "A century of intense groundwater pumping in the fast-growing Houston metropolitan area has collapsed the layers of the Gulf Coast Aquifer, causing the land above to sink. The only solution is to stop pumping, a strategy that some areas are resisting."

•    Judge's Switch Gives Democrats Something to Build On: "Though Meyers was not elected to his current post as a Democrat, his high-level defection has given the party a shot of momentum and some bragging rights ahead of the 2014 elections, said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. But Republican officials suggest that the switch was more about their party’s cramped races and not an indicator of any sea change."

•    In Primary Season, a Key is to Get Names Known: "The standard and somewhat lazy view is that the Democratic candidates do not have the prominence they need to get the attention they require to compete with Republicans in Texas elections. It’s not altogether wrong — it’s just that it’s not really confined to the Democrats."


•    Obamacare “navigators” from Dallas: State rule isn’t needed (The Dallas Morning News): "Two leaders of the main Dallas organization that employs 'navigators,' the federally paid workers who advise consumers on their options to buy coverage under the federal health law, said Friday that the state’s proposed requirement of additional training and background checks is unwise."

•    Texas added 28,700 jobs in November, unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent (The Dallas Morning News): "Texas added 28,700 jobs in November, but all of that growth came from a handful of industries while most other sectors lost jobs, according to data released today by the Texas Workforce Commission. Still, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November fell to 6.1 percent — the lowest rate in nearly five years."

•    Emergency jobless benefits to end for 64,000 Texans (Austin American-Statesman): "More than 64,000 Texans, including about 3,400 in the Austin metro area, will no longer receive emergency unemployment benefits from the federal government after Dec. 28, according to updated data released Friday by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee."

•    Mary Jo Woodall gets probation in Jonestown wind energy fraud case (Austin American-Statesman): "A former program administrator for the Texas comptroller’s office has been sentenced to three years probation in a failed $1.8 million energy scheme that promised to bring wind power and green jobs to Jonestown. Mary Jo Woodall, 57, pleaded guilty in November to a third-degree felony of misuse of information."

•    Preserve purchased on Bolivar Peninsula (Houston Chronicle): "A conservation group on Friday completed purchase of 1,350 acres on the Bolivar Peninsula, preserving one of the last remaining large tracts of undeveloped land on the peninsula. The purchase by the Conservation Fund for Texas secures vital habitat for migrating birds and will permanently protect estuarine emergent wetlands, associated tidal flats, subtidal ponds and Gulf coast beachfront, said Jim Suydam, spokesman for the Texas General Land Office."

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