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Posts under ‘That’s our Lege’

Tesla tries again

They’ve brought more firepower to the fight this time, by which I mean “more lobbyists”, but we’ll see if they can break through. Let the car haggling resume at the Texas Capitol. A group of state lawmakers on Thursday filed legislation that would allow Tesla Motors to sell its luxury electric cars at as many […]

Judge Dietz would like the Lege to please fix school finance already

So would the rest of us, Your Honor. In his first major appearance since finding the Texas school finance system unconstitutional in 2014, state District Judge John Dietz said Sunday that a solution to the state’s unequal and ineffective public education system should come from the Legislature. “We are dooming a generation of these children […]

The Texas Compassionate Use Act

Looks like this will be the main marijuana-related action in the Legislature this session. Two Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would allow epilepsy patients to use medicinal oils that contain a therapeutic component found in marijuana. But some medical marijuana advocates are reluctant to support the proposed Texas Compassionate Use Act, calling it “appeasement […]

The backlash has begun

Item one. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to void a marriage license issued to two Austin women who became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in the state. Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together for 30 years, said their vows on Thursday after state […]

Cities and counties push back on state meddling attempts

They’ve got their work cut out for them. The mayors of Texas’ largest cities on Monday pushed back against an initiative by state lawmakers to place new revenue caps on local communities as a way to answer conservatives’ demands to cut property taxes. As the city CEOs who represent a third of Texas’ population threw […]

Wal-Mart booze update

The Lege gets involved. One week after Wal-Mart sued the state for the right to sell hard liquor, two Texas lawmakers and a new coalition of businesses are taking the same fight to the Capitol. Wal-Mart, Kroger and the Texas Association of Business on Wednesday helped birth a new nonprofit group calling itself Texans for […]

Faith leaders rally for equality

Good to see. Faith leaders from across Texas gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol, urging legislators to lift the state’s ban on gay marriage and pass laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While some cities — such as San Antonio, Houston and Plano — have recently passed ordinances that provide lesbian, […]

Don’t stop fighting for choice

That’s the message I take from this. They’re pushing a boulder up a hill in the conservative Texas Legislature. But three House Democrats remain laser-focused on repealing the 24-hour waiting period for abortion imposed by the state’s 2011 sonogram law. “This 24-hour waiting period has proven to be ineffective, unnecessary and cruel,” state Rep. Jessica […]

Improving infections disease response

This is an Ebola-inspired bill, but not an Ebola bill. So say the stakeholders, anyway. Months after three people in Texas were diagnosed with Ebola, several key state lawmakers on Wednesday proposed ways to prepare the state for the next disease-related emergency. The proposal, Senate Bill 538, would allow the governor to declare a state […]

The odds never favor ethics reforms

Better to keep your hopes down and not suffer too much disappointment. Gov. Greg Abbott pledged on the campaign trail to lead the charge to improve the state’s ethics laws, and now lawmakers and advocates pushing for reform are looking to the newly elected governor to help breathe life into proposals at the Legislature. Lawmakers […]

Ending exemptions for vaccines

Hear, hear. A Texas Republican is taking aim at a provision in state law that allows parents with personal or religious objections to vaccines to opt their children out of school immunization requirements. State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said Friday he will soon propose legislation to eliminate what are called “conscientious exemptions” because of the […]

Drug testing for being poor

It’s back, and it’s as bad an idea as it ever was. For years, GOP lawmakers have tried to make drug testing mandatory for some Texans who receive state welfare benefits, with little success. But after making some headway in the Texas Senate in the 2013 legislative session, they hope to pick up where they […]

Abbott-style pre-k bill filed

From the inbox: State Representatives Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) today filed a bill to provide incentive payments to school districts to provide full-day, quality pre-kindergarten. To receive the incentives, districts would be required to adopt best practices identified through research as delivering the best return on educational investment. Texas’ current system funds […]

The Dave Wilson bill

A little too little and a little too late, if you ask me. Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson has made his way to Austin — in spirit, at least. A bill filed by state Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston would make it a felony to misrepresent one’s residence when running for office — something […]

A bill to outlaw cities

That would appear to be the effect of this. Sen. Don Huffines, a Republican from Dallas, has filed a bill that would prohibit cities from enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances. Huffines’ Senate Bill 343, introduced Friday, is a sweeping proposal that would bar local governments from implementing ordinances that are more stringent than state law on […]

RIP, two-thirds rule

Not a surprise. With a new lieutenant governor installed for the first time in over a decade Wednesday — and over the cries of Democrats — the Texas Senate voted to break from an almost 70-year tradition intended to encourage compromise among its 31 members. Now the approval of only 19 senators instead of 21 […]

What will happen with pre-K this session?

They say it’s a priority, though I would advise tempering one’s expectations. Currently, Texas funds a half day of preschool for 4-year-olds whose first language is not English, whose families have low incomes, whose parents are active duty military or who are in foster care. Texas has some of the weakest quality standards for preschool, […]

Tuition re-regulation on the menu

There are different ways it could go. Tuition at Texas universities has more than doubled in the 12 years since state lawmakers authorized colleges to set their own rates. Now legislators are pushing to take back that control. It’s not a new idea, but it stands a chance for the first time since 2003, when […]

The bigger threat than the Plano petitions

This could be a big problem. Four Republican lawmakers from the Plano area plan to introduce legislation that would bar cities and counties from adopting ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, the Observer has learned. The proposed legislation also threatens to nullify existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in cities that are home to roughly 7.5 million […]

Rallying to save the Texas DREAM Act

It won’t be easy. With a new Texas legislative session underway and incoming state leaders indicating a desire to repeal the Texas Dream Act, supporters of the law are gearing up for a renewed fight to keep it in place. A group of about 60 students, businessmen and legislators gathered on the south steps of […]

Aycock files school finance reform bill

Interesting. A key House Republican said Texas lawmakers should not wait for the outcome of a sprawling school finance lawsuit to discuss changes to the state’s current public education funding system. “While we do not know the final outcome of the school finance lawsuit, I believe it is appropriate to foster broad conversations on this […]

Wake me up in June

As we prepare for the 84th Legislative session to begin, let’s pause for a moment and see what we can expect. Greg Abbott wants to make the world safe for plastic bags. Dan Patrick wants to cut his property taxes, and ensure that Texas never has enough money to meet its needs. Donna Campbell wants […]

Texas: Still not expanding Medicaid

This should put a stake through the heart of these stories. Governor-Elect Greg Abbott (R., Texas) will not expand Medicaid despite hopes by Obamacare supporters that he would do so following a report that he inquired about Utah’s variation of the health program. “Fear not — Governor-elect Abbott has fought Obamacare and will continue to […]

Expect “dark money” to stay dark

Nice recommendations, but they’re not going anywhere. Labeling so-called dark money spending a corrupting force in the democratic process, the House Committee on State Affairs issued a set of recommendations after Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, directed the panel a year ago to dive into the topic during the interim. Strauss and his lieutenants have […]

Shoveling sand against the same sex marriage tide

Rep. Cecil Bell is threatening to hold his breath till he turns purple if those nasty federal courts give the go ahead to same sex marriage in Texas. State or local government employees giving out same-sex marriage licenses would stop receiving their salaries under a bill filed Wednesday for the 84th legislative session. Titled the […]

Banning e-cigarette sales to minors

You’d think this would have a decent chance of passing. Legislators in Texas, one of just nine states that permit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, will consider banning such sales amid concerns about growing use of the “safer” alternative to smoking among youth. Even as the Texas Medical Association and Texas Public Health Coalition […]

From the “Hope springs eternal” department

Texas Democrats have hope that the upcoming legislative session won’t be any worse than preceding ones. Despite all of the turnover in state government in 2014, the Texas Legislature will reconvene in January with a familiar balance of power. Democrats, resigned to a perennial minority, remain outnumbered by Republicans by a two-to-one margin. The majority […]

Re-deputizing registrars

Did you undergo the training to become a deputy voter registrar this year, perhaps at the urging of Battleground Texas? Well, you’re going to have to do it again if you want to register people for 2015 and/or 2016. A decades-old part of Texas’ election code is receiving new attention as Democrats look to chart […]

Working for progress on LGBT issues

I’m always a little wary when I see a phrase like “chipping away” in a story about LGBT issues, but in this case it refers to obstacles, not hard-won victories, so it’s OK. The rights and interests of homosexual Texans will be in the spotlight like never before next year, as the state’s same-sex marriage […]

Tesla brings the lobbyists

Nothin’ but good times ahead if you’re a Republican-connected lobbyist, thanks to Tesla and the auto dealers. Locked in a brawl with auto dealers, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is unleashing some of the most powerful lobbyists and consultants in the state to persuade lawmakers to make it easier for his company to sell electric […]

Villalba gets defensive about his pro-discrimination bill

I don’t know if Rep. Jason Villalba is willfully dense or just confused, but either way this is a big pile of BS. State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) remains adamant that a proposed constitutional amendment he filed earlier this month isn’t intended to undermine local ordinances prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination. But Villalba also continues to tout […]

Fixing birth certificates

Trying again, with some hope for progress. The Texas Legislature added a provision to the Health & Safety Code in 1997 requiring supplemental birth certificates issued to adoptive parents to contain the name of one female, the mother, and one male, the father. According to the legislation’s author, former state Rep. Will Hartnett (R-Dallas), it […]

Bill to reduce pot penalties filed

Here we go. A coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans introduced a proposal Monday to make possession of a small amount of marijuana in Texas a civil infraction, instead of a crime. House Bill 507, filed by state Rep. Joe Moody, would make those caught with an ounce of pot or less subject only […]

Republicans will push pro-discrimination bills

I have three things to say about this. Two days after the Plano City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, a Texas legislator filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the ability of cities to enforce such laws. On Wednesday, Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) filed House Joint Resolution 55, which is […]