Texas Lunch Links: Payday Loans, Death Threats and High-Stakes Testing

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We do our best, but we can't cover everything. To fill in the gaps, please enjoy Texas Lunch Links, a lunchtime buffet of links to Texas-related news and views.

PAYDAY LOANS: Rev. Gerald Green, Jr. of Dallas-based CitySquare proposes four specific changes to Republican State Senator John Carona's, “dramatically weakened payday lending bill.”

GALLEGO CHALLENGED: San Antonio Express News is reporting that Representative Pete Gallego, the Democrat who was elected to Texas' 23rd congressional district in November, has an early Republican challenger for 2014.

EDUCATION: The Texas House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to reduce the required number of high school end-of-course exams from 15 to five and to change high school graduation plans to emphasize career and vocational training.

GUNS: Texas would require its residents to acquire concealed handgun licences in Texas under a bill authored by State Senator Juan Hinojosa, Democrat of McAllen. Texas currently recognizes other states' handgun licenses.

RICK PERRY: Governor Goodhair called the Obama administration's decision to award a competitively bid grant directly to a Texas coalition of women's clinics, instead of Texas' Department of State Health Services, “a clear attempt to circumvent the will of the Texas taxpayers and impose their own values on the people of Texas.” The coalition of clinics will serve more than 160,000 women.

WELFARE DRUG-TESTING: Texas' Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved a bill that would strip welfare recipients of benefits for one year if they fail a drug test this week.

EAGLE FORD SHALE: South Texas' Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas drilling operation had an estimated $61 billion impact on South Texas last year, according to an ongoing University of Texas at San Antonio study released at the Capitol on Tuesday. The study is being paid for by America's Natural Gas Alliance.

WHITMIRE SAFE: A prison investigator says that a death threat against Texas Senator John Whitmire from the Mexican Mafia was an unusual scam by a confidential informant. The death threat, which the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday, was the bright idea of confidential informant who hoped that recruiting and then reporting the conspirators would earn him cash or a reduced prison sentence.

FLASHBACK ON DOMA: Not a single Texas Democrat voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

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