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The Brief: March 24, 2015

So what's next for Ted Cruz after his splashy announcement Monday that he's an official candidate for the White House in 2016? The answer is pretty straightforward: It's now nose-to-the-grindstone time.

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The Big Conversation

So what's next for Ted Cruz after his splashy announcement Monday that he's an official candidate for the White House in 2016? The Tribune's Patrick Svitek writes that the answer is pretty straightforward: It's now nose-to-the-grindstone time.

"Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise then organize, organize, organize — at every waking hour, which should be many," the Family Leader's Bob Vander Plaats told Svitek. Cruz isn't wasting time, starting fundraising efforts the same day as his candidacy announcement at Liberty University.

Svitek reports that the goal of the week's fundraisers is to come up with $1 million.

He writes, "The rainmaking tour could prove to be an early test of the ability of Cruz, a darling of small-dollar donors, to tap deeper pockets as he seeks to raise $40 million to $50 million for his primary campaign."

Trib Must-Reads

Blood Lessons: Survivors Remember Texas City Disaster, by Jim Malewitz, Jolie McCullough, Mark Collette and Lise Olsen, The Houston Chronicle — Ten years after the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion, hear from two workers who survived it — but lost many of their friends. These videos and vignettes are part of a collaboration between The Texas Tribune and the Houston Chronicle.

Report: Smart Lawn Watering Could Save Big, by Neena Satija and Aamena Ahmed — Even Texans with the greenest of lawns are watering them too much, experts say. And if everyone would turn on the sprinklers only twice a week — still probably more than necessary — the water savings would be significant, according to a report released Tuesday.

Patrick's Tax Cut Package Triggering Debate, by Aman Batheja — The full Senate is set to vote this week on a package of tax cut bills Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has championed, yet the measures has drawn opposition from some big business groups who argue that senators are cutting the wrong taxes.

Confusion Swirls Over Bill to Clarify Drilling Rules, by Jim Malewitz — After Denton voters decided to ban fracking in their town, it seemed likely this Legislature will do something to rein in cities that try to regulate oil and gas production. But one likely approach by Rep. Drew Darby is stoking local fears.

Sources: Regents Set to Name Fenves Head at UT-Austin, by Bobby Blanchard — Gregory Fenves will likely be named the sole finalist to replace Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin this Friday, sources say. Fenves is currently the school's provost.

Republicans Vow to Continue Fight Against Gay Marriage, by Alexa Ura — With the future of Texas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage uncertain, Republican leaders on Monday pledged to continue the state’s fight against allowing gay couples to wed.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas Sue Land Office, by Bobby Blanchard — It turns out the Battle of the Alamo — or rather the Battle of the Alamo's library — is just getting started. On Monday, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas filed a lawsuit against the Texas land commissioner.

Lawmakers Call for End to Toll Roads at Capitol Rally, by Aman Batheja — Supporters at a Texas Capitol rally on Monday voiced support for a variety of bills filed aimed at either stopping new toll road projects or undoing the state’s current tolling system entirely.

Analysis: Anonymous 3 Years Ago, Cruz Now a Presidential Candidate, by Ross Ramsey — The first candidate to jump into the race for president was a political nobody who had never run a campaign just three years ago. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is famous now, but hopes to reach the same voters he relied on in 2012.

Cruz Lays Out Vision for Presidential Run, by Abby Livingston — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz declared his candidacy for the White House on Monday in a speech heavy on faith and hard on President Obama, making him the first major-party candidate to formally jump into the race.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m. The House could take up legislation expanding the scope of the Major Events Trust Fund to include NASCAR and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

•    House Appropriations meets at 8 a.m. where they plan to take up HB 1 — the budget — and HB 2 — the supplemental appropriations bill (E1.030). Homeland Security & Public Safety meets at 8 a.m. One bill expected to be brought up is HB 12 by Oscar Longoria, D-Mission, establishing a border prosecution unit (E2.014).

•    House Public Health meets at 8 a.m. One bill up for consideration is a Right to Try bill, HB 21 by Kyle Kacal, R-College Station (E2.012). House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence meets at 2 p.m. One bill up for consideration is HB 25 by Ken Sheets, R-Dallas, that would eliminate straight-ticket voting in judicial races (E2.026).

•    Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. to take up recommendations from the budget workgroups (E1.036).

•    Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development meets at 9 a.m. One bill up for consideration is SB 1165 by Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, curtailing the rights of local jurisdictions to regulate oil and gas operations (E1.012). Senate Criminal Justice meets at 1:30 p.m. One bill up for consideration is SB 158 by Royce West, D-Dallas, that would encourage greater use of body cameras by law enforcement (E1.016).

Elsewhere

Fellow Texan John Cornyn won’t back Ted Cruz in presidential primary, Politico

Senate votes to scrap 'pick-a-pal' grand jury selection process, by Houston Chronicle

Austin lawyer argues free speech case over Texas license plates, Austin American-Statesman

Overhaul of Texas health and human services draws ire at senate panel, Austin American-Statesman

Police union will endorse Van de Putte for mayor, San Antonio Express-News

San Antonio vet prevails in service-dog case, San Antonio Express-News

Justice Longoria receives warning for summer DWI, Brownsville Herald

Crude's fall hits hard in Texas, harder elsewhere, Houston Chronicle

Congress to Weigh a Plan to Protect Medicare Fees and Children’s Insurance, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“This is about states' rights. It’s about rights of the state of Texas and other states to define and regulate marriage.”

— State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, one of the speakers at Monday's Defense of Texas Marriage Amendment rally at the Capitol

Today in TribTalk

A responsible blueprint for a growing state, by John Otto — There's plenty to like about the Texas House's proposed state budget for the next two years. It's conservative and leaves room for tax relief while recognizing the needs of our rapidly growing state.

Children who can't be vaccinated have rights, too, by Heather Cummings — I respect the rights of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. In return, I simply ask for their respect for my right to know the school where my child will be safest.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Conversation With Sen. Robert Nichols and Rep. Joe Pickett on April 7 at The Austin Club

•    Transportation: The Next Five Years on April 10 at Austin College in Sherman

•    A Conversation With Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. John Zerwas on April 16 at The Austin Club

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