Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts under ‘That’s our Lege’

Legislative hearing on emergency leave

Figure this will be on the legislative agenda next spring. At a Texas House hearing Tuesday looking into how some state agencies were able to keep some departing employees on the public payroll by granting them emergency leave, lawmakers expressed frustration that vague state rules may have allowed the practice. “I want to know exactly […]

More on Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law and the effect in Texas

Doesn’t look like we’re going to learn anything from the Mississippi experience. Reeves’ ruling isn’t likely to deter Texas Republicans who have stated adamantly that Christians and others with sincerely held religious beliefs need extra protection when following their faith, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court last year allowed gay marriage and the Obama administration […]

Wendy Davis takes a victory lap

As well she should. Wendy Davis, the woman whose 11-hour filibuster focused national attention on Texas’ efforts to restrict abortion access in 2013, celebrated Monday when the Supreme Court ruled that the state law was unconstitutional. “I’m overjoyed,” Davis said in an interview with MSNBC. “I have to tell you, I was fighting back tears […]

Republicans gear up for full blown gay panic in 2017

You have been warned. Still angry about the Supreme Court’s mandate, some conservative lawmakers hope that it is someday overturned. In the meantime, they expect to propose a series of what they call religious liberty bills to blunt its impact. Those efforts worry liberal advocacy groups — Steve Rudner, with Equality Texas, called them “backlash” […]

Rep. Isaac asks FTC to step in on Austin rideshare regulations

Seriously? State Rep. Jason Isaac has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Austin’s rules for ride-hailing companies, raising concerns that the city’s “burdensome regulations” are anti-competitive. In the letter dated June 7, Isaac said he thought the city “erected a pernicious barrier to competition” through its rules, which have become a point of contention […]

What’s the roadmap for ridesharing regulations look like?

This is going to be a challenge, no matter how you feel about it. Several state legislators have made it clear they’re eager to take control of rules for ride-hailing companies in Texas, shifting power from individual cities to the state. But with six months until the next legislative session, there’s no clear consensus on […]

First rideshare legislative hearing

There will be a lot more where this came from. Representatives from Uber and Lyft urged lawmakers to adopt statewide regulations for the ride-hailing industry during a Texas Capitol hearing on Wednesday, citing what they called burdensome local ordinances that have driven them to leave Austin and other Texas cities. The companies fielded pointed questions […]

Straus wants to study school finance

I appreciate the effort, but I plan to keep my expectations low. Citing a recent Texas Supreme Court decision that upheld the state’s public school funding system while deeming it “undeniably imperfect,” state House Speaker Joe Straus on Thursday ordered representatives to study the school finance system and recommend reforms before the 2017 legislative session. […]

Abbott comments on Austin rideshare referendum

Sort of. Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday the fight is not finished when it comes to regulations in Austin that have driven ride-hailing companies out of the state capital. “The issue’s not over,” Abbott said in an interview on CNBC. “Republicans in the Texas Legislature have already raised proposals coming up in the next session […]

Dan Patrick supports potty package check legislation

Of course he does. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing into a national controversy over transgender restrooms, said Tuesday he supports keeping men out of women’s restrooms, even if it takes legislation to do so. Since the issue erupted into controversy nationally, some Texas lawmakers have said they will support a state law for single-sex restrooms, […]

Immigrant harboring law blocked

Good. A federal judge has blocked part of the state’s omnibus border security bill that makes harboring undocumented immigrants a state crime. Under a provision of House Bill 11, which went into effect in September, a person commits a crime if they “encourage or induce a person to enter or remain in this country in […]

Anti-vaxxers gain ground in Texas

There’s a lesson in here that we need to learn. On a Friday night little over a year ago, a Texas mother of three was attending a school dance when she got a text message that stopped her cold. A state lawmaker from Dallas had filed legislation taking aim at a provision in state law […]

Once again with “religious freedom” legislation

I have three things to say about this. State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, says he plans to re-file legislation next session that would supplement the state’s existing law to allow business owners to refuse services to people whose lifestyles clash with their religious beliefs. “Nobody should be forced to go against their conscience or […]

Get ready for more “religious freedom” bills

Gird your loins. The next Texas legislative session is almost a year away, but Senate Republicans are already zeroing in on proposals to bolster legal protections for religious opponents of same-sex marriage after its legalization by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. At a hearing of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, some Republicans […]

MALDEF sues over provision of border bill

Worth watching. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, filed suit Sunday against Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and the Texas Public Safety Commission, which oversees the DPS. The group alleges that the state has violated the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because immigration enforcement is only […]

If the Republicans want to pretend that sanctuary cities exist, they can pretend to do something about it

That’s my takeaway from this. At a Senate committee meeting on “sanctuary cities” on Friday, Texas lawmakers strongly disagreed on the prospect of passing legislation that would penalize local law enforcement entities for not complying with federal immigration policies. At times, committee members even disagreed as to whether, or to what extent, sanctuary cities exist […]

Senate hearings on “border security”

Sen. Sylvia Garcia sent me the following to alert people of some Senate committee hearings of interest: Joint Committee on Border Security is Thursday, January 21 at 1pm at Capitol Extension, E1.030. This is a joint Senate & House Committee to review border security efforts and the spending of the $810M budgeted for it. Though […]

How ready is Texas law enforcement for open carry?

Hard to say. But we’ll begin to find out soon enough. Texas law enforcement has also been pretty vocal about their concerns with open carry. They are, after all, the group who’ll have to deal with most of the potential fallout of the new law in the upcoming months. While a majority of police chiefs […]

Senate committee whines about ballot language

Give me a break. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, cited the wording of recent Houston referendums to lengthen term limits and on a controversial equal-rights ordinance as two examples, both of which he said could have been more clear. The committee is studying whether state law needs to be changed to ensure that local and […]

Rangers finish Stickland report

Rulebreaking but not lawbreaking is the conclusion. A Texas Rangers investigation released Tuesday found that the staff of state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, filled out witness registration forms for people who were not in the Capitol but that no one committed any prosecutable offenses. House leaders have long said that legislative rules require witnesses who […]

Voting by mail made easier

The Trib is reviewing some of the bills that were passed this spring and the changes they will bring, one of which will be to make the voting by mail process easier. In Texas, disabled or elderly residents can currently receive mail-in ballots for all elections in a calendar year under a seemingly innocuous condition: […]

“Sanctuary cities” legislation will be back

Better be ready for it. With debate over the nation’s immigration policies once again approaching full boil, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday pledged that the Senate next session would pass legislation to address so-called sanctuary cities. Patrick lamented that the Legislature this year didn’t pass a measure to bar local rules that prohibit police […]

Abbott vetos Huffman loophole bill

Good. Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed legislation that would have allowed married elected officials to hide their personal financial business from the prying eyes of Texas voters, according to the author of the legislation. The so-called spousal loophole provision had been tacked as amendments to two bills that were otherwise aimed at increasing disclosure and […]

Abbott signs bill to remove Public Integrity Unit from Travis County DA office

As expected. Ignoring calls for a veto, Gov. Greg Abbott signed controversial legislation this week that will allow elected and appointed state officials and state employees to bypass Austin prosecutors when they are accused of public corruption. Abbott, a Republican, signed the bill Thursday without making a statement or staging a public signing ceremony. His […]

Abbott signs pollution enhancement bill

Still sucks to be us, Harris County. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation that could make it tougher for local governments to sue big-time polluters – an effort that largely targets Harris County prosecutors. House Bill 1794, set to become law on Sept. 1, will set a five-year statute of limitations and cap payouts at […]

How will campuses handle campus carry?

Good question. When it comes to guns on campus, University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven is in a bit of an awkward position. A month ago, the former Navy admiral was one of the most vocal opponents of legislation allowing people to carry guns into university buildings. Now, the campus carry bill has become […]

DPS, investigate thyself

What could possibly go wrong? Set to take over statewide corruption investigations, the Texas Department of Public Safety must decide whether it will investigate itself. In April, DPS Director Steve McCraw demanded that the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit re-start a probe into a no-bid border-security contract issued by his agency. The director […]

No special session on same sex marriage

Sorry, wingnuts. Gov. Greg Abbott apparently really meant it when he said last week he will not call a special session of the Legislature. In an interview with San Antonio’s WOAI-AM on Monday, Abbott said calls for a session on same-sex marriage haven’t changed his mind about bringing back the lawmakers who left town last […]

Campus student body presidents call for veto of campus carry bill

From the Rice Thresher: In a letter signed by 12 other Texas university presidents, Student Association President Jazz Silva called for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to not sign Senate Bill 11, which would allow licensed Texans to carry concealed handguns on college campuses statewide, including at Rice. Abbott has previously said he will sign the […]

Taking decentralization too far

Seriously? The governor and attorney general might have to work in Austin, but under a proposed constitutional amendment, they won’t have to live there. Under the proposed amendment, the century-old requirement that state leaders reside in the capital city would be erased and all statewide officeholders could live anywhere in Texas. Supporters cited modern communications […]

Fraser and Ratliff to step down

There’s good news: State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, announced Tuesday that he is not running for re-election, ending a tenure at the Capitol that has spanned four decades. “There comes a time when leaders must take a look at the trail they have blazed and reflect on all they have done,” Fraser wrote in […]

Compromise property tax appraisal bill signed

It’s better than nothing, though not by that much. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that partially closes a loophole that allowed a powerful oil company to take back millions in tax dollars from Houston-area school districts while draining hundreds of millions more from local government coffers. The measure that won final approval, HB […]

Three legislators announce their departure

The first to say goodbye is Rep. Sylvester Turner. Representative Sylvester Turner fought back tears today as the House gave him a bipartisan farewell as he concluded a 26-year legislative career to run for Houston mayor. “My time is up. My season is about here. And Mr. Speaker, in 24 hours, my desk will be […]

Ethics reform dies its expected death

The only surprise is that it took this long. With no collective will to expose dark money contributions in Texas, a major ethics overhaul was snuffed out in the waning hours of the 2015 legislative session. “It’s dead,” Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said Saturday afternoon. “When the Senate chose not to include campaign disclosure reform […]