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The Brief: April 13, 2015

The big political news of the weekend was the long-expected launch of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. It was a move that made waves even in ruby red Texas.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton readies for the onslaught of book patrons at BookPeople on June 20, 2014.

The Big Conversation

The big political news of the weekend was the long-expected launch of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. It was a move that made waves even in ruby red Texas.

The Tribune's Abby Livingston summarized the relevance of Texas to Clinton in four areas: Texas as a source of money, Clinton's impact on the Democratic ticket down the ballot, her ability to boost Hispanic turnout as well as the ability to boost the political fortunes of Julián and Joaquin Castro.

Texas' role as an ATM for both parties has been well documented. But Clinton's position at the top of the ticket already has Democrats wondering if her presence pushes Democratic candidates like Pete Gallego in the swing 23rd Congressional District and possibly Solomon Ortiz Jr. should he run in the 27th Congressional District.

Republicans, of course, are giving Clinton the expected rough welcome to the campaign. That includes Texas GOP standard bearers Rick Perry and Ted Cruz, who, as the Tribune's Patrick Svitek writes, vary in approach when explaining why Clinton is bad for the country:

"Clinton has been a regular part of Cruz's stump speeches, especially in light of revelations that her family foundation took money from foreign governments and that she exclusively used a private email account while she was the country's top diplomat. ... Since becoming an official candidate, Cruz's needling of Clinton has morphed into full-on taunting.

"Perry, meanwhile, has been a bit more restrained in his criticism of Clinton, at least stylistically. In recent weeks, he has not brought her up unless explicitly asked. And when he has, he has avoided direct attacks in favor of a broad lament of the 'Clinton years.'"

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: Big Money, Little Ideas in Legislature, by Ross Ramsey — With a huge pot of extra money to inspire them or tempt them to make grand proposals, Texas lawmakers have opted for thrift over big ideas. That's a little out of character.

Former Mayor to Challenge Hinojosa for Congress, by Alexa Ura — Weeks after resigning as mayor of Rio Grande City, Republican Ruben Villarreal has confirmed he will challenge longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, Democrat of Edinburg, for his seat in Texas' 15th Congressional District.

Paul Skeptical of Senators' Motives in Iran Deal Demand, by Patrick Svitek — Ron Paul on Saturday cast skepticism on the motives of senators who want a congressional review of President Obama's emerging nuclear deal with Iran — a group that includes his son, presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Despite Rocky Start, Agriculture Chief Defends Record, by Jay Root and Jim Malewitz — A collection of unflattering headlines has lawmakers and one of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's predecessors questioning whether the world-champion calf roper was ready to steer a billion-dollar agency. But Miller is brushing off the criticism.

The Day Ahead

•    The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m. On the House calendar is major legislation intended to reform the state employees retirement system and put it on the road to actuarial soundness.

•    House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs meets at 8 a.m. to take testimony on international trade in agriculture, including trade with Cuba (E1.014).

•    House Human Services meets on final adjournment to take up several bills related to public assistance programs, including drug testing for TANF and changes to SNAP eligibility (E2.030). House Licensing & Administrative Procedures will consider legislation that would expand Tesla Motors' ability to sell cars in Texas (E2.026).

•    Senate State Affairs meets at 9 a.m. Up for consideration is a constitutional amendment lifting the requirement that statewide officials reside in Austin (Senate Chamber). Senate Transportation meets at 10 a.m. to take up legislation that would prohibit the use of red light cameras in the state (E1.016).

•    Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs meets on final adjournment to take up a handful of legislative proposals on desalination (E1.012).

•     Hispanic Republicans of Texas co-founder Juan Hernandez, former Republican state Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, a co-author of the 2001 Dream Act, and Texas Association of Business CEO Bill Hammond hold a press conference calling on the Legislature to continue allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at universities.

Elsewhere

Did DPS spy on Mexico? Internal documents claim it did, Austin American-Statesman

Austin rodeo fundraising a focus in 21CT criminal probe, Austin American-Statesman

Ethics questions prompts an agency retreat on boxing tickets for lawmakers, San Antonio Express-News

Bill to limit filming of police activity is dropped, The Dallas Morning News

Bill could make open carry easier for out-of-staters, Houston Chronicle

Cities concerned about state urban-drilling bill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Pipeline bound for pristine Big Bend, San Antonio Express-News

Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert Mercer Emerges as a Generous Backer of Cruz, The New York Times

Cruz not a shoo-in with Hispanic voters, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

“We are all under the impression that private property is private property. You go to talking about condemning something by eminent domain, you’ll get shot in this part of the country.”

— Big Bend rancher Mary Luedeke on the controversy flaring there over a proposed 143-mile natural gas pipeline that would run to the Mexican border

Today in TribTalk

End Texas' Tesla tyranny, by Glenn Beck — I moved to Texas for its freedom and entrepreneurial spirit. So why is the state shackling Tesla with draconian restrictions that limit consumer choice?

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    Energy: The Next Five Years on April 24 at at SMU in Dallas

•    A Conversation With John Sharp on May 7 at The Austin Club

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