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The Brief: May 8, 2015

San Antonio voters go to the polls on Saturday with the smart money on the election going an extra round.

San Antonio is the second-largest city in Texas. 

The Big Conversation

San Antonio voters go to the polls on Saturday with the smart money on the election going an extra round.

That's because in the 14-person field are four well-positioned candidates — current Mayor Ivy Taylor, former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, former state Rep. Mike Villarreal and former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson. The open question is which of these two will qualify for a June runoff.

"Leticia's in front probably by a dime," Kelton Morgan, a San Antonio political consultant, told the Tribune's Patrick Svitek. "The real fight right now is between Ivy Taylor and Mike for second place, for a spot in the runoff."

Observers said that despite a large number of debates, substantive exchanges have been few. Svitek writes: "Some substance surfaced earlier this year amid the city's stalemate with the San Antonio Police Officers Association, though the issue seemed to dim once the union threw its support behind Van de Putte. More recently, the race has devolved into a series of ethics allegations."

Turnout is another factor:

In any case, the candidates are bracing for low turnout in a city that has been fatigued by a seemingly endless series of elections since November of last year, many trigged by mayor hopefuls vacating their previous posts.

"My chief concern is getting our voters to the polls," Van de Putte said Wednesday. "We know that we had only five percent of the registered voters show up to vote early, and that is a big part of it."

Trib Must-Reads

U.S. Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples: The TT Interview, by Christine Ayala — Texan Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, is an English teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, which has seen an influx of refugees from countries like Myanmar in recent years.

Critics Question Whether Insurance Card Measure is a Remedy, by Edgar Walters — On Friday, the Texas House is scheduled to take up legislation that would require a special designation on health insurance cards for Texans with coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act. Opinions are mixed on what the impact would be.

Legislators Likely to End Top Ten Percent Scholarships, by Matthew Watkins — A state-funded college scholarship program designed to keep top students in Texas may soon be axed due to lawmaker concerns that it doesn't have enough money to accomplish its goal.

House Refers Witness Investigation to Texas Rangers, by Aman Batheja — The Texas Rangers will investigate allegations that witnesses were improperly registered to testify on a bill banning red light cameras at a transportation committee hearing last week.

House OKs Expanded Sales of Raw Milk, by Eva Hershaw — Texas consumers could soon be able to buy raw milk at farmers markets and receive such deliveries straight from the dairy under legislation tentatively approved by the House on Thursday.

Abbott's Pre-K Bill Easily Passes Texas Senate, by Morgan Smith — A key early education bill backed by Gov. Greg Abbott setting up grants to encourage higher quality pre-kindergarten programs has now cleared both chambers of the Legislature.

Senate Takes Aim at Public Labor Groups, by Jim Malewitz and Ryan McCrimmon — The Texas Senate on Thursday passed legislation that would make it tougher for public sector labor groups to collect dues by prohibiting state agencies and local governments from deducting union dues from many paychecks.

Senate Gives High Sign to Limited Medical Marijuana, by Eva Hershaw — Epilepsy patients in Texas would have access to medicinal oils containing a therapeutic component found in marijuana under legislation the state Senate passed Thursday.

State Rep. Fletcher to Make Bid for Harris County Sheriff, by Alexa Ura — Republican state Rep. Allen Fletcher of Cypress confirmed on Thursday that he will abandon his House seat for a bid to replace Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who is running for mayor of Houston.

House Budget Writers Consider Health Care Safety Net, by Edgar Walters — With billions of federal dollars for hospitals in jeopardy as Texas leaders maintain their opposition to providing health insurance to poor adults, budget writers met Thursday to discuss what is at stake for Texas' health care safety net.

The Day Ahead

•    The House and the Senate convene at 9 a.m.

Elsewhere

Conservative group continues to stockpile secret video of lawmakers, San Antonio Express-News

FBI sent out bulletin about gunman before Texas attack, The Associated Press

Magnitude-4.0 quake between Mansfield, Venus is biggest yet, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FDA: Blue Bell knew of listeria, didn't correct problems, Houston Chronicle

Next week: Hot-button votes on gay marriage, Austin American-Statesman

Tax cut spat threatens to engulf Legislature’s session, The Dallas Morning News

Has the Legislature’s attitude on marijuana shifted?, Austin American-Statesman

Effort to outlaw city bag bans stalls in Legislature, The Dallas Morning News

Mostyns endorse Turner for Houston mayor, Houston Chronicle

T. Boone Pickens, With Cash, Backs Jeb Bush, The New York Times

Rick Perry Faces Competition in Chase for Texas Dollars to Fund a Presidential Bid, Wall Street Journal

Quote to Note

"My friends seem to delight in posting links to my page: 'Did you know ... Have you seen ...What have you gotten yourself into now?' I usually respond that 'Wine was just my cover. Please don't blow it.' "

Jade Helm, writer and wine industry consultant, on the instant notoriety from having the same name as the planned military exercise provoking conspiracy theories in Texas

Today in TribTalk

Setting the record straight on high-speed rail in Texas, by Robert Eckels — Don’t let misinformation derail a game-changing transportation alternative that will help relieve our state’s congested roads.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dennis Bonnen on May 13 at The Austin Club

•    How'd the House Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 21 at The Austin Club

•    How'd the Senate Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 28 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club

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