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The Lead: Austin’s Frosty Morning, LCRA May Cut Off Rice Farmers

Good morning, and congratulations on reaching another Friday. It’s a cold and wet one out there, so drive carefully.

The weather outside is frightful: The National Weather Service says most precipitation will be cold rain, albeit with some light sleet will briefly mixed in. That rain won’t be helping out much with the droughteither: accumulation is expected to be below an inch, with a dry and warmer weekend forecast.

LCRA’s about face: Speaking of water, the Lower Colorado River Authority has announced plans to cut off rice farmers this year in a move that means more water for Austin. KUT News’ StateImpact Texas has been following the story. It writes:

The LCRA had initially planned to send water from the Highland Lakes downstream this spring if the two main reservoirs, Lakes Buchanan and Travis, were 39 percent full. But after vocal, continuous opposition from state senators Troy Fraser and Kirk Watson, the LCRA appears to have reversed course. Now they’re considering a revised plan that’s essentially the same emergency plan that was in place in 2012. That resulted in most rice farmers downstream being cut off from water for the first time in history. 

The LCRA is expected to vote on the plan Tuesday.

Cruz promises budget showdown: Texas’ new U.S. Senator Ted Cruz isn’t wasting time making waves in Washington. After being sworn in yesterday, he told reporters he saw Congress’ impending vote on raising the debt ceilingas a legitimate bargaining tactic when the Beltway begins to tackle the austerity-creating federal budget sequester.

In a conference call with reporters, Cruz said he’s ready to use the debt ceiling as a negotiating point to reduce government spending, even though President Obama said raising the borrowing limit should not be up for debate. “I know he said that and I’m sure he would like not to discuss it," Cruz said. 

The 113th United States Congress is now underway. Will it top the record-low approval ratings of the 112th?

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.
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