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Posts from ‘February, 2017’

Our first look at Senate district data

The Trib looks at the data we now have. In the state Senate, one Republican — Don Huffines of Dallas — is now representing a district that Clinton easily won, while two more — Konni Burton of Colleyville and Joan Huffman of Houston — are now sitting in areas that Clinton almost carried. In the […]

Justice Department wants out of voter ID case

As expected. The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Monday it plans to ditch its longstanding position that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by passing the nation’s strictest voter identification law in 2011. The move comes one day before a federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments on that high-stakes voting rights question, and […]

Bathroom bills are floundering

Good. Bills to curtail transgender people’s access to public restrooms are pending in about a dozen states, but even in conservative bastions such as Texas and Arkansas they may be doomed by high-powered opposition. The bills have taken on a new significance this week following the decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to revoke an […]

Interview with Holly Reed of Texas Central Railway

As you know, I’ve been following the ins and outs of Texas Central Railway and its efforts to build a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas since it was first proposed several years ago. Along the way, the proposal has picked up some dedicated opposition, mostly in rural counties where the line would pass […]

Mack Beggs

I guarantee, we have never paid as much attention to the Texas high school wrestling championships as we did this past weekend. If the fervor over Euless Trinity transgender wrestler Mack Beggs during the last week could be swelled into one match, it was the junior’s final one at the state wrestling championships on Saturday. […]

Let’s talk about sex education

We’re not good at it. A Democratic state lawmaker is looking to bolster high school sex education requirements in hopes that Texas can lower its teen birth rates. Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, filed House Bill 1547 to require sex education classes to include “medically accurate, age-appropriate” human sexuality education. The bill would allow students to […]

TxDOT accelerates I-45 construction timeline

Gird your loins. For many long-suffering Houston drivers, a solution to the infuriating bottleneck on Interstate 45 through downtown is likely something they thought they wouldn’t live to see. More than a decade ago, a plan pitched to solve the problem – moving the interstate to the east side of downtown and demolishing the Pierce […]

Weekend link dump for February 26

Egregious, intelligence-insulting lying by public officials is still a bad thing even if it isn’t illegal. “You’re about to see a big change to the sell-by dates on food”. Fourteen TV shows that blazed a path of inclusion for LGBT characters. “Brillian parody Twitter account/depressing vision of our global future President Supervillain—created by D.M. Higgins, […]

Some dude opposes pension reform

Presenting this in a slightly redacted form. [Some dude] has joined friend and ally Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, in rallying opposition to [Mayor Sylvester] Turner’s [pension reform] proposal among conservatives. He has attended at least three dozen forums on the topic, by his count, and has been running social media ads touting his views on […]

Beto O’Rourke profile

From the WaPo, via the Trib, a profile of Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who may or may not be a candidate for Senate against Ted Cruz next year: Democrats might look at O’Rourke — a small-business owner with hipster credentials, a Gen Xer who speaks fluent Spanish and looks more like a Kennedy than the Kennedys […]

Still talking vaccines and measles

Because it keeps needing to be talked about. Earlier this month, Dr. Peter J. Hotez, a pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, detailed a disturbing prediction for 2017 in an op-ed for the New York Times: the country could be facing a measles outbreak, and […]

Saturday video break: Operator

The classic gospel song by the great jazz/a capella group The Manhattan Transfer: Oh, those outfits. I confess, I don’t actually have a ManTran version of this song in my library right now, though I have owned this on cassette in the past. I’ll get around to fixing that one of these days. I do […]

On pot and potties

Two more poll results to note. Opposition to legal marijuana is dropping in Texas, with fewer than one in five respondents to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll saying they are against legalization in any form. Support for marijuana only for medical use has dropped over the last two years, but support for legalization […]

The Trib and the DMN on the train

The Texas Tribune and the Dallas Morning News are teaming up on a deep dive into the Texas Central Railway’s high-speed rail proposal. This story, the third in their set, explains where the money to build this thing may come from. But, really, how does a private company go about lining up the billions of […]

Two election-related bills to watch

From the Texas Election Law Blog: For this legislative session, Representative Mike Lang has filed two bills to further a couple longstanding goals that have been planks in the Texas Republican Party’s party platform; namely (1) enforcing voter registration by party (see party plank 66), and (2) drastically cutting down on the frequency with which […]

Friday random ten: Ladies’ night, part 34

Up, up to the sky… 1. Fill Me Up – Shawn Colvin 2. Little Saint Nick – She & Him (Zoey Deschanel) 3. 9 to 5 (Morning Train) – Sheena Easton 4. Thought It Would Be Better – Shelby Lynne 5. Swim – Shelita Burke 6. My Favorite Mistake – Sheryl Crow 7. Soldier Boy […]

January 2017 campaign finance reports: Houston officeholders

Normally, at this time I would be scanning through Houston candidate campaign finance reports, to see where incumbents stand at the start of the season. Of course, barring near-term court action there is no season for Houston municipal officeholders this year, and unlike past years they have been able to raise money during what had […]

Here come the anti-Texas Central bills

From the inbox: [Tuesday], a group of key state lawmakers filed a slate of legislation to push back against Texas Central Railway’s controversial proposal to construct a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston. Senators Birdwell (R-Granbury), Creighton (R-Conroe), Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Perry (R-Lubbock), and Schwertner (R-Georgetown) joined with Representatives Ashby (R-Lufkin), Bell (R-Magnolia), Cook (R-Corsicana), […]

There’s more than SB6 to watch out for

Keep an eye out for other anti-LGBT bills, because any of them might pass even if SB6 goes down. With the media seemingly preoccupied by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s bathroom bill, three Republican state senators have quietly introduced a sweeping anti-LGBT “religious freedom” measure. Senate Bill 651, filed last week, would bar state agencies that […]

Trump and the anti-vaxxers

In case you needed another reason to dislike Donald Trump. President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups. Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of […]

Cutting ICE

Another campaign promise gets fulfilled. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has ended a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities that trained a team of county deputies to determine the immigration status of jailed suspects and hold those selected for deportation. Gonzalez, a Democrat who took office in January, said he will reassign 10 deputies trained […]

Voter ID 2.0

Well, this is interesting. Top Texas Republicans unveiled legislation Tuesday that would overhaul the state’s voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that have found that the current law discriminates against minority groups. Filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, Senate Bill 5 would add options for Texans who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain […]

Global investors against SB6

From the inbox: Led by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and Trillium Asset Management, a group of some of the largest investors in the world, with a combined $11 trillion of assets under management, today spoke out against Texas Senate Bill 6 (or SB6), a “Bathroom Bill,” as well as similar discriminatory legislation. […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of February 20

The Texas Progressive Alliance will light a scented candle outside Ikea in solidarity with the confused people of Sweden as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Trump approval

The Trib does its poll thing. In his second month in office, President Donald Trump is getting overwhelmingly good grades on his job performance from the state’s Republicans, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Trump is popular enough to cast positive light on Russian President Vladimir Putin, a world figure who turns […]

Deportation nation

Appalling. The Trump administration on Tuesday moved one step closer to implementing the president’s plans to aggressively rid the country of undocumented immigrants and expand local police-based enforcement of border security operations. In a fact sheet outlining the efforts, the Department of Homeland Security said that though their top priority is finding and removing undocumented […]

On those “improper” votes

Let’s be clear about this. Texas election officials have acknowledged that hundreds of people were allowed to bypass the state’s toughest-in-the-nation voter ID law and improperly cast ballots in the November presidential election by signing a sworn statement instead of showing a photo ID. The chief election officers in two of the state’s largest counties […]

Texas cannot bar Planned Parenthood from Medicaid

Good. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled Tuesday afternoon that Texas clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood can continue to care for patients under the state’s Medicaid program, a phew-worthy victory for reproductive rights advocates and a loss for the state’s GOP leaders. In a 42-page ruling, Sparks wrote that the state’s arguments in the case […]

Latino turnout was up in 2016

That’s what the numbers say. Nearly 30 percent more Texas Latinos went to the polls in 2016 than in 2012, reducing the participation gap with other Texas voters and signaling to some observers that elections will become increasingly competitive in the Lone Star State. Non-Latino voters increased by a more modest 9.2 percent between presidential […]

Metro preps regional transit plan

This could be on our November ballot as well. A pending long-term regional transit plan, and likely voter referendum as early as November, will determine where Metro goes. More importantly, they will show what level of support people in the Houston region have for more buses, longer train routes and commuter service to increasingly urbanizing […]

Keep those calls and letters coming

Dan Patrick needs to hear from you. As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick relentlessly pushes a bill that would restrict the public restrooms transgender people can use, opposition to the measure is pouring in to his office. Patrick’s office received more than 10,000 calls, emails or letters opposing the bill and just over 200 cheering it […]

The 2017 lineup for Pasadena

Here are the candidates for office in Pasadena for this May: I wish I could give that to you in a more reader-friendly format, but online news sources for this are scant. This Patch.com story is the only post-filing deadline news I’ve seen, and it bizarrely identifies my blogging colleague Gary Denton as a candidate […]

Interview with Bill Kelly

You may have heard that the city of Houston has some legislative business to take care of this session. Most notably, the city wants to get a bill passed to implement its pension reform plans, which may or may not have been complicated by the news that a vote could be required for the city […]

Uptown lawsuit filed

I suppose we should have expected something like this. The city’s Uptown Development Authority and the economic development zone that feeds it were created in violation of the Texas Constitution, two critics allege in a lawsuit that seeks to void all resulting actions and block Uptown from collecting or spending another dime. The Galleria-area agency’s […]