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The Brief: Oct. 5, 2015

GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz shows no hesitancy in throwing some sharp elbows at the establishment as senator but that could have consequences for his future effectiveness as senator.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at a the Stop The Iran Nuclear Deal protest  in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on September 9, 2015.  Notables at the protest were Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson.  The event was organized by the Tea Party.

The Big Conversation

GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz shows no hesitancy in throwing some sharp elbows at the establishment as senator. As the Tribune's Abby Livingston writes this weekend, that could have consequences for Cruz's future effectiveness as senator.

One key consequence could be in his committee assignments. Livingston writes that committee assignment recommendations are made after each election:

"For now, he sits on prime committees, including the Judiciary and Armed Services committees. Committee assignments are where serious power is delegated, and committee chairs wield enormous influence ... If Cruz remains in the Senate after the 2016 election, his committee assignments would be subject to the approval of (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell, the man whom Cruz called a liar."

And should he win the White House, Cruz would still need 60 senators to support his agenda, something that Livingston notes that the current president hasn't always had. A Cruz spokeswoman tells the Tribune that should Cruz become president, "Republicans in Congress will have no more excuses for failing to fight."

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Winning by Packing the Ballot by Ross Ramsey — It should come as no surprise when political plotters and schemers try to pack a primary election to force an incumbent into a runoff. Their hope is that the runoff's greater concentration of partisan voters will be harder on the incumbents.

Property Tax Relief Comes With Big Cost to State, by Aman Batheja – Texas voters will probably give themselves a small dose of property tax relief when they vote on Proposition 1 in November. But if it passes, the state will be on the hook for $600 million a year to help school districts make up the lost revenue.

After Two Years, Few Answers in E. Coli Discovery, by Neena Satija – Two years ago, the discovery of dangerous bacteria in the drinking water of two working-class communities along the Rio Grande set off alarms among state regulators and investigators. Now, it appears that efforts to hold anyone responsible are sputtering to an inconclusive end.

Reveal Radio: But Not a Drop to Drink, by Neena Satija – For decades, residents of El Cenizo and Rio Bravo along the Texas-Mexico border have struggled to obtain safe, reliable drinking water. A new treatment plant was supposed to help, but politics got in the way. 

Abbott Doles Out $133M for Law Enforcement, Crime Victims, by Johnathan Silver – Gov. Greg Abbott's criminal justice division is doling out $133 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies and victims' assistance programs across seven Texas regions, he announced Friday.  

Judge Presses State on Birth Certificate Denials, by Julián Aguilar – The first arguments were held Friday in a federal lawsuit challenging Texas policies that effectively deny birth certificates to some U.S.-citizen children of undocumented immigrants. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman questioned the state's reasoning.

Tuition Increases May Be Coming for UT-Austin, by Matthew Watkins – The cost of attending UT-Austin and other UT System schools could soon rise. At a meeting Friday, the UT System’s governing board encouraged schools to consider increases that would keep up with inflation, perhaps 2 percent.

Top GOP Consulting Shop With Cruz Tie Turns to Austin, by Patrick Svitek – A top GOP consulting shop is laying down a marker in the Lone Star State, opening an Austin office that promises to be a major player in the lucrative industry of helping Texas Republicans win primary and general elections.  

The Day Ahead

•    The Campus Carry Policy Working Group at the University of Texas at Austin will hold a public forum from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Texas Union Ballroom. 


Jailhouse jeopardy: Guards often brutalize and neglect inmates in Harris County Jail, records showHouston Chronicle

Jack Stick: I was ‘the whipping boy’Austin American-Statesman

Latino efforts aim to counter hostile campaign rhetoric, San Antonio Express-News

Required Texas exams to be harder to pass, Houston Chronicle

Beyond the Ribbons: Stories about families, science, medicine and hope, The Dallas Morning News

Carly Fiorina — Austin-born with deep Texas rootsAustin American-Statesman

3-way race to replace Eltife in District, Tyler Morning Telegraph

Dallas police chief draws fierce support outside the force, criticism within, The Dallas Morning News

The Untold Story of the Texas Biker Gang Shoot-OutGQ

Dee Kelly Sr., leading Fort Worth attorney, dies, Fort Worth Star Telegram

Turner hoping third race for mayor is the charmHouston Chronicle

5 cases to watch as Supreme Court term beginsPolitico

Killeen mayor’s candidacy for House seat raises issue of timingKilleen Daily Herald

Report: Language school leader sexually harassed students, teachersSan Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“*#%>¥! @Cowboy defense. More porous than the Texas border."

— Gov. Greg Abbott in a tweet posted to his account during Sunday night's Dallas Cowboys game

Today in TribTalk

We Need Better Solutions to Ending Rape on Campus, by Rose Luna – A disheartening report on sexual assault on college campuses shows what advocacy professionals and service providers already know: Incidents are high and reporting rates are low, despite greater awareness efforts.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation on Criminal Justice: The Next Five Years on Oct. 6 in Huntsville

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Trivia Night on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. in Austin

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at 8:30 a.m. in Waco at Baylor University

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