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The Brief: March 10, 2014

The Tea Party's big moment last week in the GOP party primaries already is creating anticipation of a more libertarian tilt to next year's legislative session.

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The Big Conversation

The Tea Party's big moment last week in the GOP party primaries already is creating anticipation of a more libertarian tilt to next year's legislative session, wrote the Austin American-Statesman's Laylan Copelin in a Sunday column.

Copelin, a veteran journalist in the Capitol who focuses these days on business issues, framed the impact of a more Tea Party-tinged Legislature narrowly as to its effect on the governor's twin economic incentive tools, the Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund. Naturally, a big shift in the political alignment under the Dome will have an impact on policymaking across the board, so expect more journalism like this in the coming months.

"There is likely to be a more strident debate," Copelin wrote, "between officials who oppose government 'picking winners and losers' and their colleagues who supported retiring Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund as crucial to luring corporations to Texas and creating a startup ecosystem."

Key to knowing which way lawmakers might break on this issue might be where Greg Abbott decides to stand, should he win the Governor's Mansion in the fall. For now, though, he's not saying — and with good reason, Copelin wrote.

"Abbott, on the other hand, doesn’t seem in a hurry to explain in detail how he would square the libertarian argument with Perry’s past economic programs — at least publicly," Copelin wrote. "After all, why swim against the rising Tea Party tide or stir his business constituency by giving details?

The Day Ahead

•    The House County Affairs Committee holds an interim hearing in Livingston to take testimony on all its interim charges (agenda)

Today in the Trib

Political Storm Erupts Over Ike Claims: "The former TWIA chief says two top Republicans tried to pressure him into fighting more cases and complained that fees paid to lawyers were ending up in Democratic coffers. The Republicans said their actions were appropriate."

In Central Texas, Drought Threatens Hydropower: "The ongoing drought in Central Texas is claiming an innocent bystander: hydroelectricity. As the Lower Colorado River Authority limits water releases downstream, hydroelectricity — a power source that spurred the LCRA's creation almost 80 years ago — has faded further into obscurity."

Analysis: Primary Totals a Reminder of a Past Vote: "Wendy Davis isn't the first Democratic candidate for governor to lose a fifth of her primary vote, and GOP crowing about the size of its own electorate hides the overall unpopularity of voting in primary elections."


Hard-right push by Texas GOP won’t help Democrats win, yet, The Dallas Morning News

Does lackluster primary turnout signal soured dreams for Democrats?, Houston Chronicle

Sanchez: Wooing Hispanic votes, McAllen Monitor

Ted Cruz takes center stage at Gridiron dinner, The Dallas Morning News

Big business takes on tea party, gently, Politico

Little-Known Health Act Fact: Prison Inmates Are Signing Up, The New York Times

Border fence creates uncertainty in 'no-go' zone, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"I could not have won this by the Hispanic vote alone. It’s time we get past that conversation. It’s about the person that related to the community."

Ramon Romero Jr., telling the Fort Worth Business Press that his successful primary campaign to unseat 17-year incumbent state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was about more than getting a Hispanic elected to the seat. He is now poised to be the first Hispanic state representative from Tarrant County.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Health care Politics David Dewhurst Greg Abbott Joe Straus Larry Taylor Rick Perry Wendy Davis