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The Brief: Oct. 21, 2015

The late word Tuesday night was that Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan was set to agree to become the next speaker of the House — but only if he's put forward as a unity candidate that all of the factions in the House Republican conference could get behind.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Big Conversation

The late word Tuesday night was that Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan was set to agree to become the next speaker of the House — but only if he's put forward as a unity candidate that all of the factions in the House Republican conference could get behind.

The hope among many Republicans is that a Ryan candidacy would settle the uncertainty about the House leadership that has persisted ever since Speaker John Boehner announced his intent to step down at month's end. Ryan's ascendancy would also squelch attempts by some Texas congressmen to win the gavel for themselves.

The Tribune's D.C. bureau chief, Abby Livingston, breaks it down like this:

U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway of Midland, Bill Flores of Bryan and Michael McCaul of Austin have reportedly been mulling bids. Flores, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is the one most openly campaigning for the job so far. 

U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions of Dallas and Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, both high-profile committee chairmen, are also frequently mentioned in news reports as possible contenders for the job.

With 25 Texas Republicans in the House, the state delegation is seen as having a major role in helping select the leadership. But with multiple Texans reportedly mulling runs for speaker, some are worried that the Texas voting bloc will splinter, hurting the state's clout in playing kingmaker.

Flores and Conaway have both stated publicly that their candidacies are contingent on Ryan choosing not to run for speaker. Flores told the Tribune last week that he understood from conversations with Ryan that he was not planning to run for speaker.

What a difference a week makes.

Trib Must Reads

How Much Do You Save if Prop 1 Passes?, by Aman Batheja and Miles Hutson – Voters are heading to the polls and casting early ballots in the Nov. 3 election, which includes an effort by state lawmakers to lower Texans’ property tax bills. Use our interactive tool to see how much would you save if Proposition 1 passes.

Analysis: A Mistaken Forecast With No Instant Consequences, by Ross Ramsey – The state comptroller's original forecast on state revenue for 2016-17 was wrong, but the misestimate was inconsequential — at least in the short term.

Texans Seem to be Happier With Electric Companies, by Jim Malewitz – Texans are griping less about their electricity providers, but a sharp spike in complaints against one small company may affect oilman Ray Hunt's $18 billion bid to take over the state’s largest electric transmission company.

In Emails, Fights Over UT Records Resurface, by Matthew Watkins – University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall has renewed an old request for information about the workloads of faculty, prompting all-too-familiar exchanges about whether his requests are too burdensome.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott and First Lady Cecilia Abbott will vote in the Constitutional Amendment election at 11:30 a.m. at the Travis County Courthouse. 


Majority of Texans support local control of fracking, UT poll showsFort Worth Star-Telegram

Cruz warns McConnell on debt ceiling, Politico

Top county officials to be deposed in retaliation lawsuitHouston Chronicle

Wave of digital textbooks hits Central Texas school districtsAustin American-Statesman

Donald Trump and Ben Carson speak at a grade-school level that today’s voters can quickly graspThe Boston Globe

Falling oil prices help consumers, hurt restaurants in Texas and other oil-rich marketsThe Dallas Morning News

Delegation meets with Sen. Cornyn about problematic fed courthouseSan Antonio Express-News

Ahmed Mohamed will move to QatarThe Dallas Morning News

FBI: 51 officers slain in 2014, including 5 in Texas, Houston Chronicle

Hillary Clinton 2016: The women in the press van, Politico

Interview With Mike Murphy of Pro-Jeb Bush Super-PAC Right to RiseBloomberg

Quote to Note

"As it has been two-and-a-half years (though no fault of yours, obviously), I would hope that I could get this soon."

  UT System Regent Wallace Hall in an August email to Deputy Chancellor David Daniel on a request he made more than two years ago for information on faculty duties, salaries and information within the system.

Today in TribTalk 

Slowing Texas Economy Underscores Need for Property Tax Reform, by James Quintero – While Texas has done well in the past to enact pro-growth policies, there is still room for improvement—especially when it comes to the state’s job-killing property tax. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on Oct. 29 in Austin

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

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