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The Brief: May 13, 2014

Texas' "sriracha delegation" on Monday made its long-awaited visit to California to woo the makers of the popular hot sauce, but it was no clearer at the conclusion of the visit what might come of it.

Sriracha Sauce.

The Big Conversation

Texas' "sriracha delegation" on Monday made its long-awaited visit to California to woo the makers of the popular hot sauce, but it was no clearer at the conclusion of the visit what might come of it. State Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston, told the San Antonio Express-News that any relocation by the sauce maker out of state would be a "last resort." However, Vo said the possibility of expanding operations to another state remains on the table.

Pushing the agenda is an ongoing tug-of-war between Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures the hot sauce, and the city government of Irwindale, Calif., which could vote as early as Wednesday to declare the plant a public nuisance. That action could allow the government to take measures to control the odors from the factory.

The Tribune's Neena Satija reported that the growth in sriracha's popularity could push the company toward expansion, possibly to Texas. But Satija added that Texas might face another obstacle: limited capacity in the harvest of the kinds of chile peppers used in sriracha.

Huy Fong Foods "works with a single pepper grower, Underwood Farms, and expects to get 58,000 tons of fresh chile peppers this season. In 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas produced only 8,000 tons of chile peppers. ... And most of the chile peppers grown in Texas are green; Huy Fong exclusively uses red chile peppers."

For now, the sriracha delegation, led by Dallas Republican state Rep. Jason Villalba, must content itself with a promise from Huy Fong Foods' founder to visit Texas "in the near future."

The Day Ahead

•    The House Appropriations subcommittee on Article III meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss funding formulas for higher education as well as look at research funds. (agenda)

•    The House Environmental Regulation Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to look at the contested-case hearing process as part of the state's overall environmental permitting process. (agenda)

•    The Tribune's conversation series continues with a visit with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland. We will livestream the noon event.

Today in the Trib

WCS' Hiring of Legislative Aide Draws Ethics Concerns: "Betsy Madru, state Sen. Kel Seliger's former legislative director, now works for Waste Control Specialists, which runs a low-level radioactive waste site in Seliger's district. She says she understands why some would have questions about her move, but she added there was nothing improper."

In Texas, Battle Brewing Over Teacher Evaluation Rules: "A new state policy that ties teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests is drawing criticism from a range of sources. It is likely to be a topic of discussion Wednesday at a Texas House Public Education Committee hearing."

Transparency Committee Looks to UT System to Take Action: "After voting on Monday that grounds exist to impeach one of the regents of the University of Texas System, members of a legislative committee say they hope to see a proactive response from UT's board of regents, who meet this week."

HD-105 Runoff Candidates Hope to Retake District for Democrats: "In the May 27 Democratic runoff for HD-105, two lawyers from Irving are contending for the chance to take on a former Republican former state legislator."

New in TW Politics

New Dewhurst Web Video: "Dan Is Not The Man": "Former lite guv candidate Jerry Patterson appears with a few of his favorite firearms and also explains why he is not supporting Dan Patrick in the May 27 runoff in a new David Dewhurst campaign web video." ($)


David Dewhurst to Dan Patrick: Lieutenant governor ‘not God’, Austin American-Statesman

Hometown police withdraw endorsement for Ken Paxton in AG race, The Dallas Morning News

Speaker Boehner's fundraising brings him to S.A., San Antonio Express-News

FEC threatens legal action against Stockman, Houston Chronicle

Texas-sized school bonds sweep state, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

GOP blocks energy bill, scuttling vote on Keystone XL pipeline, The Hill

Wylys Used Offshore Trusts to Hide Trades Jury Finds, Bloomberg

Quote to Note

“When you do something a lot, you get good at it. ... I think Texas probably does it as well as Iran.”

— University of Houston law professor David Dow on Texas' efficient system of applying the death penalty

News From Home

•    TribTalk, the Tribune's new home for opinion and commentary, launches today! TribTalk will feature columns on the news and debates of the day from a diverse array of political players, policy experts and community leaders in Texas. Get ready to join the conversation.

Today in TribTalk

Why me and not Wendy Davis, by Greg Abbott: "We've seen more government leads to more spending, which leads to more taxes, which would lead to the devastation of the economic miracle we have worked so hard to create here in Texas. I have fought against that mindset."

Why me and not Greg Abbott, by Wendy Davis: "We can elect someone who supports policies that favor political insiders at the expense of hardworking Texans and their families. Or we can elect someone who fights for all Texans — regardless of their age, race or gender."

Bernie was nothing like the movie, by Shanna Nugent: "Those involved with setting Bernie Tiede free said without his Hollywood friends, he'd still be in jail for my grandmother's murder. My family thinks that's exactly where he belongs."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Steve Patterson, UT Men's Athletic Director, at the Austin Club, 5/15

•    A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller, at the Austin Club, 5/29

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin, tickets on sale now

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Explore related story topics

Energy Environment Politics Public education Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Hubert Vo Kel Seliger Ken Paxton Mike Conaway