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The Brief: Oct. 6, 2014

GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's tenure as attorney general was the focus of news coverage this weekend. And it wasn't the sort of coverage craved by campaigns.

Attorney General Greg Abbott in his second and final gubernatorial debate with state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 30, 2014.

The Big Conversation

GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's tenure as attorney general was the focus of news coverage this weekend. And it wasn't the sort of coverage craved by campaigns.

•    The San Antonio Express-News' Peggy Fikac had a story on cost overruns on an attempt to upgrade badly outdated technology in Abbott's child support division.

•    The Austin American-Statesman's Chuck Lindell, meanwhile, had a story on what some see as a move away from earlier, stronger commitments to open government. They cited rulings upholding the ability to keep secret the provenance of execution drugs and information on where dangerous chemicals like anhydrous ammonia are stored. With that said, Abbott's record on open government built up over more than a decade as attorney general also drew praise.

•   And writing for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dave Montgomery delved into the politics of the auditor's report citing irregularities in how the Texas Enterprise Fund handled the awarding of grants, especially in the first couple of years of the fund's existence. Montgomery talked with experts, though, who said that despite the heated give-and-take between the campaigns, the issue might not have much of an impact among voters choosing between Abbott and his Democratic rival Wendy Davis for governor.

“The kind of political issues that grab voters are pictures of somebody taking a bribe and these issues are so complex. … They’re not terribly interesting in terms of their salacious effect,” TCU political science professor Jim Riddlesperger told Montgomery. “There is very little reason to expect that these ethics charges are going to change the minds of voters at this point in the election.”

The Day Ahead

•    Thirty-day out campaign finance reports are due. The filings will document candidates' fundraising activity between July 1 and Sept. 25. Also, today is the last day to register to vote for the Nov. 4 general election.

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is on the UT-Austin campus at 2 p.m. to kick off a series of campaign events attempting to tie her GOP opponent, Greg Abbott, to irregularities in the awarding of money from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

•    Two House Appropriations subcommittees meet in the Capitol Extension. At 8:30 a.m., the subcommittee on health and human services takes testimony on the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. (agenda) Afterward, the subcommittee with oversight of natural resources and business and economic development takes testimony on the Texas Department of Transportation, the Public Utility Commission and the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. (agenda)

•    The House Select Committee on Health Care Education & Training meets at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to look at the dental health care workforce and to look for ways to encourage employment of veterans in the health care field. (agenda)

•    The Tribune presents a conversation at noon on the impact of our rapid population change on Texans' health care at Rice University in Houston. For those unable to attend, we will livestream the event.

Trib Must-Reads

Small Towns Wrestle With Lengths They'll Go for Water, by Alana Rocha

Student Interest in Fixed-Rate Tuition Varies, by Reeve Hamilton

Analysis: Enterprise Fund Controversy Will Linger, by Ross Ramsey


Ebola containment ‘going well’ in Dallas despite new monitoring glitch, The Dallas Morning News

Ebola Victim’s Journey From Liberian War to Fight for Life in U.S., The New York Times

Paxton dismisses securities fine, focuses on campaign for Texas attorney general, The Dallas Morning News

$75 million in federal health payments for Texas halted, Austin American-Statesman

Empower Texans tax documents don't match activities, San Antonio Express-News

Immigration delay raises questions about Latino vote, Houston Chronicle

Can a Republican win the Hispanic vote in Texas?, Washington Post

Quote to Note

“Basically, the proverbial you-know-what is going to hit the fan if they propose to list it.”

— Melinda Taylor, of UT-Austin's Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration and Environmental Law, on the likely fallout should the federal government designate as endangered a spot-tailed earless lizard that happens to roam the energy-rich Eagle Ford Shale

Today in TribTalk

The trouble with toll roads in Texas, by Phineas Baxandall and Sara E. Smith

Why Denton should ban fracking, by Adam Briggle

Why Denton shouldn't ban fracking, by Ed Ireland

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sam Houston, 2014 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, on Oct. 16 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on Oct. 22 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commission Candidates Steve Brown and Ryan Sitton, on Oct. 30 at The Austin Club in Austin

•    A One-Day Symposium on the Impact of the Shale Boom on Oct. 31 at the University of Texas San Antonio

•    A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

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Energy Environment Higher education Politics Greg Abbott Ken Paxton Wendy Davis