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The Lead: 2013 Lege Gearing Up, Statesman Names New Publisher

Good morning. The National Weather Service says to expect highs in the 60s and gusty winds today. Here’s a look at stories KUT News has been working on:

"The Texas House has formed a committee to look into how the state would handle “sequestration.” That’s the package of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases that take effect at the end of the year — the so-called 'fiscal cliff.' That includes about $109 billion in cuts. The committee was put together by House Speaker Joe Straus, who said in a news release that he hoped Congress would be able to find a way to reduce the deficit without increasing taxes or cutting jobs."

"Today is the first day Texas lawmakers can file bills ahead of the 2013 legislative session. The 200 or so early bills are usually a hodgepodge of political statements, second attempts and high priority legislation. … Several first-day bills filed by Republicans in 2010 focused on illegal immigration, and efforts to curb it in Texas. Maybe because of Mitt Romney's poor performance among Hispanics (or maybe not), there were no immigration bills filed by mid-afternoon today."

"At UT-Austin, 52 percent of students finish in four years. The university has set a goal of graduating 70 percent of incoming freshman in four years. The school created a new vice-provost position responsible for improving the graduation rate, and hired longtime chemistry professor David Laude. With many more students wanting to attend UT than there are spaces, increasing the graduation rate is partly about creating spots for more incoming freshman."

"A new memorial is coming the Texas Capitol grounds in 2013.  The sculpture will honor both Texas veterans and the diversity of Texas troops. The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument will portray five men of different ethnicities on a daily patrol."

Here’s some more Austin stories from around the web:

"Ellwood, 59, was introduced to the newspaper’s staff Monday and will start her new job Dec. 3. She replaces Jane Williams, who was recently named senior vice president of television for Cox Media Group, the Statesman’s parent company in Atlanta."
"Prior to this appointment, Ellwood was Executive VP and General Manager for USA TODAY, where she was responsible for editorial and business functions and strategic direction for Gannett's flagship brand. She also provided direction for the recent re-design and re-launch on all platforms.  Additionally, Ellwood held senior executive positions at the Detroit Media Partnership, including CEO, where she led the strategic transition of Detroit's two metro dailies."

  • Is Sunday's F1 Race Weird Enough for Austin? (Reuters)
'"Many opponents said that this is kind of the wrong image - frivolous emissions, carbon and other pollutants into the air just for amusement purposes - for a city that wants to be seen as the most sustainable city in the United States,' said Tom Smith, director of the Texas office of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. Officials at Circuit of the Americas, which owns the new racetrack, say they're working to minimize the environmental impact of the event and point out that F1 innovations lead to more efficient passenger cars."

"Swedish retailer H&M will open the doors to its first Austin store at The Domain this Saturday. The 24,000-square-foot store will offer clothing for women, men and children, company officials said Monday in a press release."

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.