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Posts under ‘That’s our Lege’

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 […]

Tesla is back

I wish them better luck this time, but I wouldn’t expect anything to come of it. Proposals to allow direct car sales in Texas stalled during the 2013 legislative session, but the Pala Alto, California-based automaker appears poised to rev up efforts to revive the issue as lawmakers head back to work next month. “We’re […]

The Lege is unlikely to do anything substantive on education this session

Oh, there will be lots of sound and fury, as well as various sideshow distractions, but in the end the main issue to resolve – school finance – will be at best “tweaked”. For anything more than that, we will have to wait till the Lege is forced to act by the Supreme Court. Public […]

Microbreweries file lawsuit over distribution rights

Interesting. Three Texas breweries filed a lawsuit against the state on Wednesday seeking to to overturn a 2013 law they say violates the Texas Constitution by forcing them to give away their territorial distribution rights for free. In their complaint, filed in state district court in Austin, the heads of Live Oak Brewing in Austin, […]

Some Republicans embrace tuition re-regulation

This is a welcome change, but let’s not be distracted by what isn’t being said. Tuition and fees at the state’s public colleges and universities would be capped at their current levels and only be permitted to grow at the rate of inflation under a bill filed Tuesday by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown. Schwertner […]

Once again with Anglo Dems and Anglo voters

Time once again for the biennial eulogy for Anglo Democrats in the Texas Legislature. When Donna Howard of Austin won a seat in the Texas House in 2006, she was the only white woman among Democrats in the state Legislature. Over time, several others joined her briefly. But four elections later, Howard will once again […]

Appraisal caps back on the agenda

The idea will never die, unfortunately. No matter what the effects are. Local officials in the Houston area say they are concerned that incoming state leaders will push for tax relief measures that could limit their ability to meet the needs of fast-growing urban and suburban areas. Gov.-elect Greg Abbott has spoken of “looking at […]

It’s still not Medicaid expansion

The Legislature may do something that could sort of be called “Medicaid expansion”, if only for lack of a better term, but we would all do well to remain deeply skeptical of what they might consider. The once taboo subject of expanding Medicaid in Texas has been broached in recent weeks by some Republicans and […]

More on the initial bill filings

From the Trib, a sampling: As of Monday afternoon, a bill repealing the Texas Dream Act, which allows undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state college tuition rates, had yet to emerge. Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick promised while campaigning that he would work to repeal the act. The bill could part of legislation that is reserved for priorities […]

Legislation to overturn same sex marriage ban filed

Someone’s gotta do it, and you know it won’t be Republicans. Kriselda Hinojosa recalls how she unintentionally came out to her father in sixth grade. “He actually saw me kissing my girlfriend at the time,” Hinojosa said. “So he caught me, but he didn’t get upset. He never yelled at me or anything. He was […]

House starts thinking about school finance

Good to see. For the past several weeks, state lawmakers have been meeting to discuss how to better fund public education in the wake of a court ruling calling Texas’ school finance system inequitable, inefficient and illegal. Education Committee Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, confirmed he and 12 to 15 members of the state House […]

What next for school finance?

That depends on the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, but one way or the other it’s up to the Legislature. State lawmakers from both parties agreed the responsibility for funding public schools falls on them. But history suggests the Legislature is reluctant to act until its hand is forced. “I would be surprised if […]

The Public Integrity Unit probably won’t have to worry about a veto next year

They’ll have bigger things to worry about. With Republican partisans campaigning loudly to strip Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg of her control of the unit, chances of getting the funding restored under her by the GOP-dominated Legislature that convenes in January do not look good. Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said […]

Just don’t call it “Medicaid expansion”

It’s the public policy that dare not have its name spoken, at least by Republican legislators. State lawmakers renewed efforts Thursday to find a “Texas solution” to expand health-insurance coverage for low-income residents without accepting the Medicaid expansion in President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Social-services advocates and local officials are among those pushing […]

Why would you want to regulate that?

I mean, what are a few fiery explosions among friends? Members of the state House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee have been struggling for several months over how to respond to last year’s massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 and devastated the nearby city of West. On Tuesday, committee Chairman […]

Don’t kill no-kill

I don’t like the look of this. Stricter enforcement of a previously obscure state regulation is threatening the no-kill movement across Texas and could result in animal shelters euthanizing tens of thousands of additional pets each year, advocates warn. A “clarification” of state rules by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners last August already […]