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The Brief: March 9, 2015

This weekend, the Tribune launched a five-part series exploring the difficulties of people along the Texas-Mexico border in maintaining access to regular sources of drinking water.

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The Big Conversation

This weekend, the Tribune launched a five-part series exploring the difficulties of people along the Texas-Mexico border in maintaining access to regular sources of drinking water.

As Tribune Editor Emily Ramshaw wrote, "Reporters Alexa Ura and Neena Satija traveled the length of the border — from remote towns to underserved colonias — to tell the unbelievable stories of Texans in need, from bathing in rainwater to falling ill from tainted water. Photographers Jennifer Whitney and Spencer Selvidge beautifully documented life without access to a resource many take for granted. And the Trib partnered with Univision to produce video from one of the hardest-hit communities, and to translate the entire series into Spanish for wider readership."

The first two parts are now published. They are:

Along the Texas Border, a Third-World Problem — Reliable access to clean drinking water is not a reality for tens of thousands of Texans living along the Mexican border, despite a multibillion-dollar effort that has spanned decades. Those left behind face third-world conditions and grave health risks.

Politics Stymied Village's Plan to Secure Safe Water — Researchers have found that the water supply in Vinton is making people sick, but local politics have gotten in the way of a solution to connect to nearby El Paso's utilities.

The Day Ahead

•    The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m.

•    House Appropriations meets at 7:30 a.m. to take up budget recommendations for Article III (Education) agencies (E1.030). Budget subcommittees meet afterward: Article III (E1.030), Article II (JHR 131), Articles VI, VII & VIII (JHR 100) and Articles I, IV & V (E1.018).

•    House Human Services meets on final adjournment to take up HB 781, which would address screening and training of foster parents (E2.030). House Energy Resources and International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs hold a joint hearing at 10 a.m. to discuss crude oil and natural gas exports (E1.004). House Pensions meets on final adjournment where they will take invited testimony from the Teacher Retirement System and the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. The panel will also take up HB 408, which attempts to make it harder for government officials to collect retirement benefits before leaving office (E2.028).

•    The Senate border security subcommittee meets at 8 a.m. to take up SB 185 dealing with sanctuary cities (2E.20).

•    An interfaith group of religious leaders rallies on the south steps of the Capitol at 11:15 a.m. to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.

•    A roast and toast of House Speaker Joe Straus, benefiting the Texas Legislative Internship Program, beginning at 6 p.m. at the JW Marriott Austin hotel.

•    Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at 8:15 p.m. to the San Patricio County GOP's Lincoln Reagan Dinner in Sinton.

Trib Must-Reads

With New Iowa Approach, Perry Looks to Flip Script, by Abby Livingston

Film Groups Want Separate Funding for Video Games, by Ryan McCrimmon

Cruz Suggests Menendez Probe Politically Motivated, by Patrick Svitek

In Iowa, Cruz and Perry Won't Pledge to Biofuels, by Patrick Svitek

Mechler Picked as New Texas GOP Chair, by Aman Batheja

Houston Dry Cleaner at Center of Pollution Debate, by Neena Satija and Susan Carroll, The Houston Chronicle

Elsewhere

With no oversight, Texas IT contractors made millions, Austin American-Statesman

Texas-Mexico ties are not as strong as in past, The Dallas Morning News

House committee to address foster care deaths, KVUE-TV

Garcia: Uber and Lyft take statewide strategy to Legislature, San Antonio Express-News

Cedar Park pharmacy hit with big fine, federal court order, Austin American-Statesman

Monument to African-American history in Texas planned for Capitol, Houston Chronicle

Science guides search for oil field redemption, Houston Chronicle

State Climatologist optimistic about less severe drought for next two decades, Abilene Reporter News

Deer breeders under the gun to change practices, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"If you are a true Republican, you cannot be for marijuana prohibition. I don't find a disconnect between the party and what I believe."

Ann Lee, 85, founder of RAMP — Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition

Today in TribTalk

Bring Texas liquor laws into the 21st century, by Josiah Neeley

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    On the Road: A Symposium on Water on March 10 at Texas State University in San Marcos

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

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