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The Brief: Nov. 3, 2015

Texas voters today decide the fate of seven proposed changes to the state constitution. One thing that is known for sure before the votes have been cast is that turnout won't match that normally seen in contested elections.

Prop 1 signs posted along the Adaptive Sports and Recreation facility on West Grey in Houston, TX for the November 2015 election. 
Photo by: Shelby Knowles

The Big Conversation

Texas voters today decide the fate of seven proposed changes to the state constitution. One thing that is known for sure before the votes have been cast is that turnout won't match that normally seen in contested elections.

As the Tribune's Jordan Rudner and Patrick Svitek report, "The two most recent off-year elections on constitutional measures saw turnout of 6 percent or less of Texas adults. 'I do think we’re going to have a low voter turnout, simply because normally the constitutional amendments generate less excitement than those generated by people,'” Secretary of State Carlos Cascos told the Tribune.

Local elections also pepper ballots across the state. By far the most contentious one is the vote on a nondiscrimination ordinance proposed by the city of Houston. Spurred by that and the contested mayoral election in Houston where three frontrunners are seeking two spots in a runoff, turnout was high in Harris County during the early voting period.

According to numbers kept by the Secretary of State's office, early voting was nearly twice that of what was recorded two years ago in Harris County.

For those going out to the polls today, the Tribune has you covered — from an overview of the seven propositions on the ballot (with video) to more comprehensive breakdowns of the road funding amendment and the property tax homestead exemption amendment.

And keep the Tribune in your browser on Election Night. We will have staffers on the ground in Austin and Houston with the latest on the various elections.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Activists Want Action on Immigration Issues, by Jay Root and Julián Aguilar – While activists push Democrats to go softer on immigrants in local jails, conservatives are pressing Gov. Greg Abbott to act now on reforms targeting "sanctuary" policies in cities and counties.

Texas Firm Central to Questions About Carson's Ethics, by Aman Batheja – GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson faces questions about his ties to Texas dietary supplement maker Mannatech, and that criticism is being fueled by a 2009 settlement secured by then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Paxton Lawyers Move to Dismiss Securities Fraud Charges, by Patrick Svitek – Lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton have formally moved to dismiss the securities fraud charges against him.  

Cook Re-election Bid Already Rancorous, by Patrick Svitek – Protestors, police citations, dog poop. The race is young, but state Rep. Byron Cook's re-election bid promises to be noisy and messy as conservative activists target him for defeat.

Drilling Not Root of San Antonio Smog, State Says, by Kiah Collier – State environmental officials on Monday continued to downplay the impact of Eagle Ford Shale drilling on San Antonio’s worsening air quality, blaming cars and trucks instead.  

State Auditor John Keel Resigning, by Aman Batheja – After more than a decade at the job, State Auditor John Keel plans to retire as of Jan. 4, his office confirmed Monday.

The Day Ahead

•    Texas House Speaker Joe Straus will speak at the San Antonio Manufacturers Association luncheon at noon at the San Antonio Country Club.


Obamacare: The Texas county where only 12 people signed upPolitico 

Paxton team files motions to quash criminal indictments, The Dallas Morning News

Abbott to Houston: Vote no on Prop. 1Houston Chronicle

Texas health agency dismisses protest over $68 million tech contractAustin American-Statesman

For constitutional amendment election, early voter turnout high in TexasThe Dallas Morning News 

HERO overshadows mayoral race as voters head to polls, Houston Chronicle

H-E-B to give employees an ownership stake, San Antonio Express-News

City commission: State law on body cameras raises privacy questionsAustin American-Statesman

Blue Bell ice cream returns to North Texas stores Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Republican candidates move to tweak debatesHouston Chronicle

A legal test for Texas home-schoolers: Do you have to prove you’ve learned something?, The Washington Post

Cubans surge into U.S. via Southwest borderHouston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“I assume they’re waiting so their media buyers make the highest commission."

–An unnamed advisor to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on the absence of TV ads from the super PACs supporting Cruz. 

Today in TribTalk

Texas doesn't need Planned Parenthood, by John Seago – The recent decision by officials at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood marks a step toward higher health and safety standards for women and children.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation about the future of healthcare in Texas on Nov. 10 at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

•    A discussion about Public Education: The Next Five Years on Nov. 13 at the University of Texas at El Paso. 

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

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