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The Brief: Dec. 2, 2015

Gov. Greg Abbott wraps up his three-day visit to Cuba today, using his time in the island nation to signal Texas' readiness to expand trade should the opportunity present itself.

Gov. Greg Abbott is on a three-day visit to Cuba.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Greg Abbott wraps up his three-day visit to Cuba today, using his time in the island nation to signal Texas' readiness to expand trade should the opportunity present itself.

According to a pool report from the Austin American-Statesman, Abbott on Tuesday told officials with the Cuban Export-Import Corporation, "While we are waiting for that decision from the federal government, Texas wants to begin the process of building relationships with business leaders like CIMEX so that we will be well prepared to act swiftly to the mutual benefit of CIMEX and Texas."

The sticking point, of course, is the decades-old trade embargo maintained by the United States despite some moves by the Obama Administration to normalize relations between the two countries.

An Associated Press report, meanwhile, noted that Abbott's visit was at least the third visit by a U.S. governor in the past year and that "in recent months Cuban officials have been using visits by U.S. politicians as opportunities to advocate for Congress to lift the half-century-old trade embargo on Cuba."

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: A Fuzzy Line Between Government and Politics, by Ross Ramsey – Voters used to be more sensitive to even a hint that taxpayer money might be used for political purposes: Even when it’s not criminal, it’s sleazy.

Rise Seen in Health Insurance Scammers, by Edgar Walters – Nonprofit workers in the Rio Grande Valley say they’ve seen an increase this year in the number of rip-off artists charging Texans for help signing up for health insurance — a service they are eligible to get for free.

Texas Denied 30-Day Extension in Immigration Case, by Julián Aguilar – The Obama Administration won a small but significant battle on Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court denied Texas’ request for an extra 30 days to respond to the White House’s petition for review of a controversial immigration case.

Advocates: Include Variety of Schools in Pre-K Program, by Madlin Mekelburg – Early education advocates on Tuesday urged the Texas Education Agency to ensure that a diverse group of school districts will be able to apply for funding through a new state grant program designed to bolster the quality of pre-kindergarten.

Cruz in Iowa Fuel Fight Over Ethanol, Oil Subsidies, by Patric Svitek – Iowa's powerful ethanol lobby is going on the offensive against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz over his opposition to a fuel standard important to the corn-growing state, but the presidential hopeful is shooting back.

Nonprofit Says It Will Still Resettle Syrian Refugees, by Alexa Ura – A nonprofit organization that resettles refugees in the United States says it will move forward with the placement of Syrian refugees in Texas despite warnings from officials in the Lone Star State not to do so.

George P. Bush Wades into Red River Fight with Feds, by Jim Malewitz – The Texas land commissioner on Tuesday asked to joined seven North Texas families in a federal lawsuit that accuses the U.S. Bureau of Land Management of perpetuating an “arbitrary seizure” of land along the Red River.

Cruz Decries 'War on Women' Based on Birth Control, by Patrick Svitek – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday offered a spirited defense of Republicans on women's health issues, accusing Democrats of creating a phony "war on women" based on claims that his party wants to restrict access to birth control.

The Day Ahead

•    The Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Capitol to discuss three of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's interim charges, including an examination of the process by which municipalities adopt ordinances, a review of natural disaster preparedness and a discussion of ways to increase government accountability in elections relating to public debt.

•    Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief Evan Smith hosts a lunch hour discussion on the future of health care in Texas with state Reps. Myra Crownover and Elliott Naishtat and Dr. Paul Ogden. The noon event takes place at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock. For those unable to attend in person, the event will be live streamed.

•    Gov. Greg Abbott wraps his three-day trade mission to Cuba with a press conference phone call at 2 p.m. to discuss his plans for Texas' business development efforts in the island nation.


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For drug traffickers, quarter horse racing was a way of lifeSan Antonio Express-News

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Watch these two U. Texas student leaders go ‘Between Two Ferns’ on Martin O’MalleyThe Washington Post

Quote to Note


— Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush when asked if his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushstill has a chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination

Today in TribTalk

Decoding political responses to the Planned Parenthood shooting, by Joshua Blank and Jim Henson – The attitudes revealed in polling provide ready frames for political leaders on the left and right to use in crafting their responses to the sad and troubling shootings in Colorado Springs.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A series of conversations about Bridging the Digital Divide on Dec. 4 at Houston Community College

•    A daylong symposium on Cybersecurity and Privacy on Dec. 9 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

•    A conversation with former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove on Dec. 17 at the Austin Club

•    A conversation with state Reps. Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez and Paul Workman on Jan. 14 at St. Edward's University in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin

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