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Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 24, 2014

EPA rejects a Texas clean-air plan, orders pollution upgrades on some big coal plants

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday rejected parts of a key Texas clean-air plan, setting up a conflict with deep implications both for the state’s electricity mix and air quality across much of the country. The partial rejection of Texas’ regional haze plan, a federally required strategy for reducing pollution that causes hazy skies, would require 15 coal-burning generating units at eight Texas power plants to install or improve controls that limit emissions of sulfur dioxide. The plants are mostly upwind of urban North Texas, meaning their emissions often drift to the metropolitan area and further north to Oklahoma. They include Luminant’s Big Brown, Monticello and Martin Lake plants.

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Texas Tribune - November 26, 2014

Laudenberg: Stop denying Straus' pro-life credentials

As the author of House Bill 2, the most comprehensive pro-life legislation in the nation thus far, I find it disingenuous and outright offensive for certain national pro-life organizations to say that House Speaker Joe Straus has not been supportive of the pro-life cause. Under his leadership, the Texas House has passed some of the most effective and important pro-life measures of any state in the country. In fact, the six years that Straus has led the House so far have been a time of consistent gains for the pro-life movement. For the pre-born children whom we are trying to protect, what matters are results, and the results from the last couple of legislative sessions are clear.

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Washington Post - November 25, 2014

How Facebook plans to become one of the most powerful tools in politics

Political campaigns are obsessed with two things: Telling every possible voter exactly what they want to hear in order to get them to the polls and cast the "right" vote, and telling them that message for as close to zero dollars as possible. It's not a surprise, then, that Facebook has focused its social-Sauron eye on the world of politics. Already a focal point of political activity (of varying quality), the site has shifted its toolset to let campaigns target extremely specific audiences with very specific messages, for prices somewhat north of zero dollars. The end goal for the company seems clear: Replace, as much as possible, expensive, blanketed television advertising with much more immediate, much more specific ads appearing in users' feeds -- and then cash a whole lot of checks.

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Houston Chronicle - November 25, 2014

Prosecutors ask for delay in sentencing of ex-Dewhurst aide

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to delay by one month a sentencing hearing for the former political adviser to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst who copped to embezzling at least $1.8 million from Dewhurst’s failed U.S. Senate bid. In a court document filed Monday, prosecutors said they would like more time to allow for a pre-sentencing report to be completed on Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, an ex-Austin political consultant who pleaded guilty in October on charges of wire fraud, falsified tax returns and theft of campaign funds from a candidate for federal office. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks had set Barfield’s sentencing hearing for Dec. 19. But federal prosecutors requested the hearing to be rescheduled to Jan 23., noting that Barfield’s lawyer is OK with the date change.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 25, 2014

ADL blasts pastor John Hagee for calling Obama anti-Semitic

The Anti-Defamation League is blasting San Antonio pastor John Hagee for calling President Barack Obama “one of the most anti-Semitic presidents in the history of the United States of America.” That comment is “offensive and misplaced,” asserted Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL. Hagee made the remark Sunday night at a Zionist Organization of America dinner in New York at which he and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz received awards for their support of Israel. Hagee also mocked Obama for calling the U.S.-Israeli relationship unbreakable.

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Houston Chronicle - November 25, 2014

Kolkhorst gets Perry’s backing in SD18 special election

Texas’ political heavyweights are pulling out all the stops for state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, the Brenham Republican hoping to avoid a runoff next month on her way to a promotion to the upper chamber. On Tuesday morning — a day before early voting begins in the special election to replace Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar — Kolkhorst announced her highest-profile backer yet: Gov. Rick Perry.

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Texas Tribune - November 25, 2014

Hurting for Work

Drive almost anywhere in the vast Lone Star State and you will see evidence of the “Texas miracle" economy that policymakers like Gov. Rick Perry can’t quit talking about. From the largest U.S. refinery in Port Arthur to the storied Permian Basin in West Texas, Big Oil is back. In formerly depressed South Texas, gas flares from the fracking boom can be seen from outer space. Toyota is moving its North American headquarters to suburban Dallas. And in the once-laid-back university town of Austin, it’s hard to find a downtown street without a construction crane towering overhead.

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Texas Tribune - November 25, 2014

Last Contested Vote for Texas House Speaker Was in 1975

The Texas House of Representatives appears poised to hold its first contested vote for House Speaker in 40 years. Supporters of both Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio and challenger Scott Turner of Frisco are vowing to force House members to take a record vote on Jan. 13 — the first day of the legislative session — on who they want to lead the lower chamber. Such a vote has not taken place in the Legislature since 1975, when a contentious open race for speaker led to a battle between Democrats Bill Clayton and Carl Parker, according to the Legislative Reference Library. Clayton won with 112 votes to Parker’s 33.

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El Paso Times - November 25, 2014

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke uses survey to gauge views on federal marijuana policy

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, recently sent out an email survey to find out how constituents in his district feel about ending the federal prohibition against marijuana. The survey question, which can be answered yes or no, states "Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have decided to end the prohibition on marijuana. Do you think the federal government should end marijuana prohibition and work to control, regulate and tax its use?" David Wysong, O'Rourke's chief of staff, said the email survey is not associated with any specific legislation and went to about 15,000 people in El Paso's 16th Congressional District.

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Texas Observer - November 25, 2014

A New Conservative Watchdog’s Big Textbook War Debut

When they write the history books about the State Board of Education, last week’s drama over our new social studies textbooks probably won’t go down as a high point. After punting on a preliminary vote Tuesday, the board approved the textbooks on Friday despite receiving hundreds of pages of revisions at the last minute, which many members hadn’t read. Those revisions came partly in response to 1,500 worried letters from the public that were still arriving just last week. Though the 10-5 vote split on party lines, members agreed that this year’s textbook approvals had been a mess.

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Houston Chronicle - November 25, 2014

GQ Magazine names Rick Perry among least influential people of 2014

A new list puts Texas Governor Rick Perry among the likes of President Barack Obama and sunglasses-wearing rock fossil Bono, and it’s not good. GQ Magazine named Perry one of the “30 Least Influential People of 2014.” While he took the 13 spot, writer Drew Magary claims it’s not a ranking but a collection of people who talked big game and not much else. Compared to his other choices, Magary only had a few things to say about our Texas governor:

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Texas Tribune - November 25, 2014

Abbott says Immigration Lawsuit Could Come in Two Weeks

A state lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive order shielding as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation could come from Texas in the next two weeks, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott said during a Monday press conference. “Most everyone agrees that the immigration system in America is broken,” Abbott said. “Similarly, most agree that executive fiat is not the right way to fix it." Added Abbott: “The president must follow the law just like everyone else."

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The Guardian - November 25, 2014

'Floridly psychotic' Texas inmate's storied history of mental illness likely won't halt his execution

Scott Panetti woke early on the morning of 8 September, 1992. He shaved his head, dressed in camouflage gear, sawed off a shotgun, grabbed a rifle and a knife belt and drove to the house in the Texas hill country where his estranged wife, Sonja, was staying with her family. He broke in, cornered Amanda and Joseph Alvarado and asked Sonja who she wanted to die first: her, or her parents. Panetti shot the couple dead in front of his wife and their three-year-old daughter then took them to a cabin and held them hostage until he was arrested.

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San Angelo Standard Times - November 24, 2014

State Agriculture Commish-Elect Taps Property Rights Attorney to be General Counsel

Texas Agriculture Commissioner-elect Sid Miller announced that State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R, Lexington) will be the General Counsel of the Texas Department of Agriculture. Kleinschmidt will assume his new role in mid-January. Miller said that Kleinschmidt is the best property rights attorney in Texas. “When I announced the formation of my transition team, I promised that I would be seeking out the best and brightest to help me become the best Agriculture Commissioner in our state’s history—folks who were dedicated to helping me strengthen the Texas Department of Agriculture and helping to ensure that it is working to improve the lives of the people of Texas. State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt fits the bill and I am excited that he will be joining my team at TDA,” Miller said.

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San Antonio Express News - November 23, 2014

Administration taking health care to people, officials bypassing Texas leaders

As the second enrollment period for its federally mandated health insurance program begins, the Obama administration is bypassing Texas leaders intractably opposed to the Affordable Care Act and working directly with more cooperative local officials and grass-roots organizations. Without committing to a specific numerical goal for Texas, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said last week during a Houston stop that she plans to make repeated trips to and across the state to meet with organizers and to hold substantive health care conversations with uninsured Texans about the importance of insurance and the subsidies that will cut premium costs for most of those who now lack insurance.

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Houston Chronicle - November 25, 2014

Court: State wrongly withholding millions from dentists

Texas officials have been illegally withholding millions of dollars from dozens of dentists and orthodontists based on only the suspicion of minor wrongdoing, an appeals court ruled Tuesday, dealing another blow to the state's beleaguered unit charged with rooting out Medicaid fraud and abuse. The 3rd District Texas Court of Appeals ruled the state only can withhold payments for Medicaid services when there is credible evidence that a provider willfully committed fraud, not just an indication that some overbilling took place. That would invalidate the system deployed by the state Health and Human Services Commission, which does not differentiate between types of overbilling in its investigations and has been withholding payments for issues as small as a misplaced file or missing signature on a chart.

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Houston Chronicle - November 25, 2014

Texas' highest appeals court takes no action to save double-killer from execution

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Tuesday that it does not have jurisdiction to stay the Dec. 3 execution of Scott Panetti, condemned for the 1992 murders of his mother- and father-in-law in their Texas Hill Country home. Attorneys for the 56-year-old Panetti asked that his execution be stayed and counsel and mental health experts appointed to further the claim that he is mentally incompetent to be executed. In a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving Panetti, justices held that a condemned inmate must have a "rational understanding" of his punishment, not just an awareness that he is to be executed and why.

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Houston Chronicle - November 25, 2014

Texas asks judge to uphold gay marriage ban during appeal

Texas officials want a federal judge to uphold the state's same-sex marriage ban, calling a request by gay couples to be allowed to immediately marry "untimely" and "out of order." "The plaintiffs offer no explanation for why they waited so long to file their motion,"Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a court document filed Tuesday. "They should not be rewarded for lying behind the log and springing this challenge on the Court and the State at the eleventh hour, demanding immediate relief." U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio in February ruled Texas' gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but issued a stay on allowing gay couples to immediately wed during the appeals process. Abbott has appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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Austin American Statesman - November 25, 2014

Texas Medicaid regulators hit with legal setback

The Texas agency charged with investigating health care fraud suffered a serious setback Tuesday, when a state appeals court ruled that the Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General’s expansive use of a key tactic — withholding Medicaid payments from doctors it investigates — was illegal. The 3rd Court of Appeals found the agency had improperly expanded a law allowing regulators to withhold payments from providers against whom there was a “credible allegation of fraud.” Since 2011, the inspector general has withheld tens of millions of dollars from 127 providers, much of it from dentists and orthodontists, as it developed cases against them.

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Ft. Worth Star Telegram - November 25, 2014

Lawmaker to push bill on foreclosed gas leases

A state lawmaker plans to reintroduce a bill in next year’s legislative session designed to protect oil and gas drillers with invalidated leases snarled in foreclosure. Rep. Jim Keffer, chairman of the House Energy Resources Committee, saw his previous bill to address the widespread problem in the Barnett Shale vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, who praised parts of the measure but said it needed to be narrowed to deal only with urban drilling. Drilling on land where the lease has been extinguished became an issue again last week when a Fort Worth attorney filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, alleging that it continued to extract gas from land that had gone through foreclosure. The suit seeks $100 million in damages.

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Corpus Christi Caller Times - November 25, 2014

New statewide land position aims for more public ed funds

In college, Rene Truan stayed in the back of the room soaking in Senate hearings. He was observing while his father, the late state Sen. Carlos Truan of Corpus Christi, guided the legislative process. Years later Rene Truan took his father's statewide service to heart — in particular a care for education. Rene Truan has worked for 25 years at the General Land Office, which endows Texas' public schools. "Family was extremely important to him," Truan said of his father. "Understanding what public service was about was important to him. Education was important to him."

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Longview News Journal - November 23, 2014

McCellon-Allen: Nothing ‘commonsense’ about EPA’s proposed rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this summer billed its proposal to cut carbon emissions from power plants as a “commonsense plan.” Unfortunately, what the EPA considers common sense actually defies that definition. Even worse, it will hurt families and the region’s economy. Simply stated, this is a vital policy struggle about keeping your lights on and keeping your light bill affordable. The mission to reduce carbon emissions is being considered without regard to cost or effect on reliability. As an electric utility, our interest is in reasonable, balanced and predictable approaches to environmental improvement. Most folks would endorse this commonsense approach if given the choice. Sadly, that is not happening. Instead, the EPA has proposed a far-reaching plan with faulty assumptions, unrealistic goals and an overly aggressive timeline for compliance.

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Esquire - November 21, 2014

Pierce: THE TEXAS ECONOMIC MIRACLE IS KILLING PEOPLE

Freshly indicted Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who is said to be so close to running for president again that the people covering him know not to mention the fact that he is freshly indicted, has spent a couple of years traveling the country, trying to poach industries to come to Texas, where they don't regulate you or tax you, nor do they give a good two hoots about how many of your workers you might accidentally kill. Of course, neglect is the mother of all accidents, and there was that unpleasantness about the fertilizer plant in West, and that was sort of a glitch in the sales pitch. And now, it seems, the Invisible Hand has claimed another couple of victims. Methyl mercaptan, a foul-smelling gas, overwhelmed five workers at the DuPont chemical plant in La Porte on Nov. 15, killing four - including two rothers - and sending another to the hospital. Such rapid deaths from toxic chemical exposure are rare, experts say. But dozens of times in the past two years, a Texas Tribune analysis shows, plants across Texas have reported accidentally releasing gases that can be deadly in relatively small amounts.

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Amarillo Globe News - November 23, 2014

Rangel: Texas to tackle border security

Long before President Barack Obama granted temporary legal status to about 5 million undocumented immigrants, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and quite a few Republicans in the Texas Legislature — including Sens. Charles Perry and Kel Seliger — said border security would be a top priority in next year’s session. But it may be a bigger issue than anticipated. The president’s executive action — less than two months before the 84th Legislature convenes — virtually guarantees that border security will receive as much attention as the long-anticipated biggies: school finance, transportation and health care.

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San Angelo Standard Times - November 22, 2014

WALLER: Wage war? Not in Texas

An Austin think tank came out with a little class exercise this week. Vance Ginn, an economist with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, laid out a game in which certain members of a class are labeled employers and others prospective employees. Using different levels of minimum wages and circumstances, the employers and employees try to match up based on their own needs. The game is designed to show that minimum wage, in the end, hurts all around.

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Houston Chronicle - November 22, 2014

Reynolds says legal troubles do not define him

To hear Ron Reynolds tell it, the embattled state representative is just plain misunderstood. Over the past decade, Reynolds has been sanctioned twice by the state bar, fined $10,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission, sued a half-dozen times and investigated twice for ambulance chasing -though he is quick to note he was indicted only once. Three days after being re-elected to a third term earlier this month, the Missouri City legislator found himself facing possible jail time after a jury convicted him on the second of those lesser barratry charges. Three days later, the judge ruled it a mistrial. He is due back in court in January.

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Denton Record Chronicle - November 22, 2014

Professor offers look at changing demographics, possible implications

Denton learned a little more about its changing self this week during a League of Women Voters program that examined Texas’ changing demographics and its growth as a minority-majority state. Abraham Benavides, a public administration professor at the University of North Texas, spoke to a small crowd at the Denton Senior Center on Thursday night, offering a deep look into the statistics and trends that could ultimately affect the local and state economy. Benavides said that without a good education, most workers can’t get the kind of well-paying jobs that help build the economy. Investing in education, both in public schools and in workforce programs, is key, he said.

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Tyler Morning Telegraph - November 22, 2014

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Get Texas out of lottery business

In perusing the bills Texas lawmakers have already filed in advance of the January legislative session, one bill seems conspicuously absent. Where’s the bill to get the state of Texas out of the lottery business? You might recall that in 2013, the Legislature very nearly came to that result, almost by accident. In a routine vote to renew the Texas Lottery Commission, a slim majority of lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — voted against. “It wasn’t a coordinated effort, but a majority of us don’t like the lottery, and don’t think it’s a good way to raise money,” said state Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola, at the time. “So 81 of us made that vote.”

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Huffington Post - November 25, 2014

6 Years After Hurricane Ike, Texas Coast Remains Vulnerable

GALVESTON - When Hurricane Ike hit this city on the Gulf of Mexico, William Merrell found himself trapped in a second-floor apartment as storm waters coursed eight feet deep through the floor below. "I had time to think," said the professor and chair of marine sciences at Texas A&M University Galveston. One thing he thought about was the Dutch Delta Works, a vast coastal protection system he had seen several years earlier on a trip to the Netherlands. That led to his big idea: build a 60-mile-long, 17-foot-tall dike that would guard against the next hurricane that hits the long, thin barrier island on which Galveston sits. Like its Dutch inspiration, his idea included massive gates that would swing shut as a storm approached, blocking the 1.7-mile-wide entrance to Galveston Bay.

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County Stories

CBS News - November 25, 2014

Officials Confirm Another Quake Near Irving, TX Tuesday Afternoon

The US Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed that another earthquake occurred near Irving, TX. Initial reports set the magnitude of the quake at 2.7. According to the USGS the quake occurred at 4:39pm local time on Tuesday, November 25. Area residents began reporting the temblor on social media soon after the event took place. This is the fifth earthquake in that area in four days. One that occurred on November 23 was the strongest with a magnitude of 3.3.

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San Antonio Express News - November 25, 2014

20 percent of Bexar County bridges are 'functionally obsolete'

CBS host Steve Kroft highlighted America's structural deficiency, specifically the nation's bridges, in a '60 Minutes' news report on Sunday. Kroft's findings stated that one in nine bridges, or around 70,000, throughout the country are in some state of disrepair. This news will sound familiar to Bexar County residents. The San Antonio Express-News highlighted the county's infrastructure problem this summer when a report was authored concerning the more than 2,100 bridges in Bexar County alone.

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City Stories

San Antonio Express News - November 25, 2014

Garcia: Former councilman attempts a big comeback in Dist. 123

Walter Martinez is trying to pull a George Foreman. No, the former state representative and city councilman doesn't want to become the promotional face of indoor grilling or have five sons that he names after himself. Martinez is trying to achieve the political equivalent of Foreman’s unorthodox boxing comeback, in which a full decade of inactivity was followed by a return to the throne of the heavyweight division.

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San Antonio Express News - November 25, 2014

San Antonians respond to Ferguson grand jury decision

In a peaceful but loud gathering, more than 100 people rallied at the Bexar County Courthouse on Tuesday night in response to a Missouri grand jury’s refusal to indict an officer who shot and killed an unarmed black youth . During the rally, which lasted several hours, the crowd broke out in spontaneous chants, including “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” and, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go!”

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Austin American Statesman - November 25, 2014

Hundreds in Austin join Ferguson protests across the nation

Angry chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot” permeated the air at Austin police headquarters as hundreds of protesters gathered Tuesday evening in response to a grand jury’s decision Monday not to indict the white police officer responsible for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this year. Unlike the reaction in Ferguson – where protests turned violent, cars and buildings have been set on fire, and hundreds of National Guard troops were deployed – Austin police said the demonstration was always peaceful.

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Texas Tribune - November 26, 2014

Losers Blame College Voters for Denton Fracking Ban

Did college students tilt the outcome of Denton’s vote to ban hydraulic fracturing? That question has stirred debate since the city – home to the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University – became the first in Texas to ban the oilfield technique that sparked a drilling boom and spawned tension in some urban areas. Overall, the vote wasn’t close. Nearly 59 percent of voters supported the ban, even though its opponents – buoyed by contributions from energy companies – spent far more money. That margin, the ban’s supporters say, amounted to a mandate.

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San Antonio Current - November 24, 2014

City Accepting Applications for Diego Bernal's Old Council Seat

Are you the next Diego Bernal? The city is now taking applications to fill the former District 1 councilman's seat from now through the May elections. Bernal officially vacated the position last week as he sets his sight on the Texas Legislature. He formally launched his campaign for Mike Villarreal's House District 123 seat in the Texas House of Representatives. Interested applicants must submit a completed application, a letter of interest, a resume and financial disclosure documents by Friday, Dec. 5 at 5 p.m.

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National Stories

San Francisco Weekly - November 24, 2014

"Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins": Celebrated Actress Kathleen Turner Plays Political Journalist

Two-time Tony and Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner has extensive film credits including Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor, Peggy Sue Got Married, Jewel of the Nile The Accidental Tourist, John Waters’ Serial Mom, and Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. Turner has also starred on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Graduate, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In addition, she had a recurring role as Sue Collini on the Showtime series, Californication. Now, Turner is coming to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. In the solo show, written by twin sisters and journalists Margaret and Allison Engel, Turner plays the sharp-witted political journalist, celebrated for her humor.

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New York Times - November 25, 2014

Obama to Introduce Sweeping New Controls on Ozone Emissions

The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

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New York Times - November 25, 2014

After Obama’s Immigration Action, a Blast of Energy for the Tea Party

In all its fury and unanimity, the response from the right to President Obama’s decision to change immigration policy without the consent of Congress was the manifestation of a major transformation within the Tea Party. What started five years ago as a groundswell of conservatives committed to curtailing the reach of the federal government, cutting the deficit and countering the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party has become a movement largely against immigration overhaul. The politicians, intellectual leaders and activists who consider themselves part of the Tea Party have redirected their energy from advocating fiscal austerity and small government to stopping any changes that would legitimize people who are here illegally, through granting them either citizenship or legal status.

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Huffington Post - November 23, 2014

Terkel: Ted Cruz Wants To Fight Obama Over Immigration, But He Forgot About One Thing

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling for congressional Republicans to fight back against President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, saying they should refuse to confirm the president's nominees until he reverses course. "If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee -- executive or judicial -- outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists," Cruz wrote in a recent Politico Magazine op-ed.

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Bloomberg - November 24, 2014

Rand Paul Shows Early Strength in New Hampshire Poll

Republican Rand Paul is showing early strength for a possible 2016 presidential bid in the first primary state, where a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll shows him running slightly ahead of more established names. When 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney is removed from the mix, the Kentucky senator and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie share the top spot, with each drawing 16 percent support from likely Republican primary voters. Romney, who has repeatedly said he has no plans to run for president a third time, leads the potential pack with 30 percent when included.

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KHOU - November 24, 2014

Texas among states pushing to overturn Maryland gun-control law

Twenty-one states are asking a federal appeals court to overturn provisions of Maryland's gun-control law that ban 45 assault weapons and a limit gun magazines to 10 rounds. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led the coalition in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the Fourth U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia last week. The brief says the law violates the Second Amendment right to keep firearms in homes for self-protection. The other states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, and Kentucky.

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Bloomberg - November 24, 2014

Cruz Explains His Walkout to a Cheering Crowd

Texas Senator Ted Cruz electrified a pro-Israel crowd Sunday night with a simple story that involved Hezbollah. The story goes back to September, when Cruz keynoted the In Defense of Christians summit in Washington and walked off the stage mid-speech after his defense of Israel prompted boos and heckling. At the time, some suggested that Cruz may have purposely provoked the incident. Whatever the motive, it worked. More than 1,000 at the Zionist Organization of America awards dinner in Manhattan swooned Sunday night as Cruz told the back story of his walkout. Front and center were casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who jointly gave nearly $100 million to Republican politicians in 2012.

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Los Angeles Times - November 23, 2014

Judicial elections getting more political with new campaign spending

State courts hear 100 million cases a year, many on important issues: death row appeals, voter ID laws, the drawing of legislative districts, how much money accident victims can recover. For outside groups, trying to turn a judicial race is still a bargain. A $750,000 ad buy, a fraction of what's spent in a campaign for governor or Senate, can sometimes affect the outcome of a race in which voters are barely acquainted with who's running. Some state courts have seen pitched ideological battles. Courts in Texas and Alabama were considered sympathetic venues for plaintiffs and big judgments before political consultant Karl Rove helped engineer years-long fights to elect conservative judges in both states in the 1990s.

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Sarasota Herald Tribune - November 23, 2014

Wallace: Playful rivalry between Scott and Perry

The playful rivalry between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry over who offers a better business environment has taken a somewhat violent turn. During an appearance the two made together in Sarasota last week, Scott told nearly 400 people that he kiddingly gave Perry a 3-foot tall “#2” trophy for finishing second in a fishing contest they had in 2012. The trophy also underscored Scott’s quest to supplant Texas as the No. 1 pro-business state in the nation — a good-natured competition between the two governors over for the last four years.

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The Atlantic - November 23, 2014

Ted Cruz's Answer to Obama's Immigration Order: Keep Eric Holder in Office

Senator Ted Cruz, who's been one of the more vocal congressional Republicans in the fight against President Obama's executive action on immigration since even before it was announced, doubled down on his Politico op-ed on Fox News Sunday, in which he said the GOP should refuse to confirm the president's nominees until he backs down on the measure. "If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists," Cruz wrote on Wednesday, before President Obama's address to the nation on Thursday.

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Politico - November 24, 2014

Terrorism insurance fight heats up

A critical piece of legislation to extend a government program that provides emergency insurance against massive terrorist attacks is now caught up in bitter sniping between House Republicans and Senate Democrats with the program’s Dec. 31 expiration date quickly approaching. The fight now centers on House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat. Lawmakers across the aisle in both the House and Senate want to extend the legislation, called the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, or TRIA, which expires at the end of the year.

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The Examiner - November 22, 2014

Culberson as chair of NASA funding subcommittee makes Europa mission more likely

As many have expected, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas has been elevated to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science, according to a Thursday story in Roll Call. The subcommittee has charge of NASA funding, something of keen interest for the congressman whose Houston district is close to the Johnson Spaceflight Center. Moreover, Culberson’s enthusiasm for space exploration goes far and beyond what would be expected from a Texas representative. The Planetary Society noted that Culberson is a champion of a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Europa is an ice-covered moon that is thought to conceal an ocean of water, warmed by tidal forces, which might contain life. Using the heavy-lift Space Launch System NASA could launch a large-scale probe to study Europa and ascertain whether it harbors alien life or not. Culberson’s elevation makes such a mission far more likely to occur.

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Associated Press - November 23, 2014

Southern states look to regional 2016 primary

On the gridiron, it takes a team to win, and some elected officials around the South are looking to band together rather than brawl over the 2016 presidential primaries. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is among those pushing a regional March 1, 2016 contest known as the "SEC Primary," named after the Southeastern Conference and would include states like Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi and possibly Alabama and Louisiana. "As someone who went to the University of Georgia and lives in Athens and understands how powerful the Southeastern Conference is in football today, that is exactly what we want to be when it comes to presidential politics," Kemp said.

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This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle


Washington Times - November 25, 2014

Obamacare offers firms $3,000 incentive to hire illegals over native-born workers

Under the president’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare. President Obama’s temporary amnesty, which lasts three years, declares up to 5 million illegal immigrants to be lawfully in the country and eligible for work permits, but it still deems them ineligible for public benefits such as buying insurance on Obamacare’s health exchanges. Under the Affordable Care Act, that means businesses who hire them won’t have to pay a penalty for not providing them health coverage — making them $3,000 more attractive than a similar native-born worker, whom the business by law would have to cover.

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Washington Post - November 25, 2014

Carly Fiorina actively explores 2016 presidential run but faces GOP critics

On a Republican presidential debate stage expected to be filled with more than a dozen current and former politicians, Carly Fiorina envisions herself standing out — as the only woman and the only CEO. Sensing an opportunity in a crowded field that lacks a front-runner, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run. Fiorina has been talking privately with potential donors, recruiting campaign staffers, courting grass-roots activists in early caucus and primary states and planning trips to Iowa and New Hampshire starting next week.

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Ft. Worth Star Telegram - November 25, 2014

Sanders: The media deserve blame in Ferguson mayhem

No indictment. No surprise. Although a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to return an indictment in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, setting the stage for a fiery night of civil unrest, there is a culprit on the loose that should be indicted in this case. No, I’m not talking about Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Aug. 9. I hereby indict the collective news media, especially the broadcast wings that for months stoked the fires in Ferguson and Monday night added to the negative hype that practically invited rioting in the streets.

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Ft. Worth Star Telegram - November 25, 2014

Kennedy: Southern Baptist leader’s message: Listen to fears in Ferguson

On a day when reactions were predictable, one man’s was not. That is, unless you’ve followed Southern Baptist Church ethicist Russell D. Moore and his online columns promoting compassion over knee-jerk conservatism. On a day when some on the political right took time for hostile social-media comments bashing protesters or mocking African-American commentators, Moore wrote that white Americans are too quick to dismiss the anger and the idea that the “old zombie of Jim Crow still moves about” in America.

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Washington Post - November 25, 2014

Supreme Court to hear challenge to EPA’s power-plant emissions rule

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would decide whether the Environmental Protection Agency improperly adopted regulations requiring power plants to reduce mercury and other toxins from their emissions without first considering how much it would cost. The regulations have been in the works for years — begun under the Clinton administration, derailed when George W. Bush became president and renewed after President Obama was elected. The new rules — regulating the emissions of mercury and other pollutants, such as arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium and cyanide — are aimed at coal- and oil-fired power plants and were finalized at the end of 2011.

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Washington Post - November 25, 2014

Illegal immigrants could receive Social Security, Medicare under Obama action

Under President Obama’s new program to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, many of those affected will be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and a wide array of other federal benefits, a White House official said Tuesday. In his speech Thursday night, the president touted his plan as a means of bringing accountability to a broken immigration system, under which 11?million or more people are estimated to be living in this country illegally. “We’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve with been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or [legal] residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation,” he said. “You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”

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Vox - November 23, 2014

Experiments show this is the best way to win campaigns. But is anyone actually doing it?

There’s a refrain we hear about political campaigns every election cycle: "this year, campaigns waged an unprecedented ground game, having a face-to-face conversation with almost every single voter." Baloney. As academics who study campaigns, we hear this claim all the time. But we also know it’s important to investigate whether data backs it up. We did. And it doesn’t. In fact, there’s a paradox at the heart of American campaign craft. Mountains of rigorous research show that campaigns should be having personal conversations with voters at their doors. But, campaigns spend almost all their money on TV ads — and, every year, most voters say they’ve never had a conversation about the election at their door. What gives?

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Washington Post - November 25, 2014

Engaging voters can kickstart community activism

In a recent Vox article, political scientists David Brookman and Joshua Kalla provocatively asked why campaigns invest so little in high-quality field operations. Years of research have taught us that high-quality field operations can be more effective than the billions of dollars spent on television advertising. Yet campaign leaders continue to starve their field programs, often creating lower-quality, less effective programs. How can campaigns and organizations build more effective ground games? A small group of organizations have responded by developing what’s called an “integrated voter engagement” (IVE) program, blending the electoral work of political campaigns with the issue-based organizing that civic and advocacy organizations do year-round. Unlike traditional ground campaigns that parachute in for the two to three months before an election and — win or lose — leave when the election is over, IVE programs are integrated strategically into the ongoing base-building work.

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Copyright November 26, 2014, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved