Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts from ‘August, 2017’

Enforcement of SB4 halted

Excellent! U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia granted a preliminary injunction of Senate Bill 4, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s key legislative priorities that seeks to outlaw “sanctuary” entities, the common term for governments that don’t enforce federal immigration laws. The bill was scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, but opponents of the legislation, including […]

Remember the Katy Prairie

From the four things we could have done differently to maybe mitigate some of the worst effects of Harvey: Preserve and restore as much prairie land as possible Much of northwest Houston used to be covered in prairie land, where tall grasses could absorb huge amounts of floodwater. But most of it has been paved […]

A smattering of Harvey news

If you are among the lucky ones whose house or apartment remained dry and you want to help those in need, here’s a handy guide to where and how to volunteer. If you want to go to the George R. Brown to help at that shelter, they have a real need for people to work […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of August 28

The Texas Progressive Alliance suggests a donation to the United Way Houston Relief Fund to help everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey as it brings you this week’s roundup.

This is why you don’t politicize disaster relief, Senator

It’s pretty simple, really. People come before politics. Many New Yorkers and New Jerseyans serving in Congress have, for nearly five years now, kept a list of names handy to roll out at a moment’s notice. They call it “the Comeuppance Caucus.” For some, the list is on a physical paper or bookmarked on a […]

The Rangers and the Astros

Oh, come on. The historic flooding in Houston caused by Tropical Storm Harvey will displace the Astros for at least three games and most likely the entire six-game homestand they had scheduled for this week. For at least their three-game series against the Texas Rangers that begins Tuesday, the Astros will play as the home […]

Latest abortion lawsuit heard in court

Here we go again, and again and again and again. For the fifth time since 2013, lawyers for Texas will defend an abortion-related law or regulation Tuesday in the Austin federal courthouse, where they hope to reverse a string of legal defeats that included a precedent-setting decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The latest lawsuit seeks to block […]

SCOTUS puts a pause on the Congressional redistricting ruling

Hopefully, just a temporary one. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a lower court ruling that invalidated two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts. In an order signed by Justice Samuel Alito, the high court indicated it wanted to hear from the minority groups suing the state before the state’s appeal of that […]

Please don’t complain about the lack of an evacuation

There are good reasons why there was not an evacuation order for the greater Houston area in advance of Harvey. Ultimately, mayors and county judges are charged with making such decisions. Leaders in Houston and Harris County told residents to stay put ahead of the storm and have since defended those decisions — even as […]

On when you should file a Harvey-related claim

It may or may not ultimately make a difference, but a new law that goes into effect on September 1 is about insurance claims and lawsuits. For many Texans ravaged by the rain and winds Hurricane Harvey carried ashore this past weekend, filing an insurance claim for the damage their property sustained is probably the […]

San Marcos files amicus brief against SB4

Good for them. The city of San Marcos filed a legal brief Thursday supporting Austin, San Antonio and other cities that have filed suit against the state for its new law on immigration enforcement. In the 16-page brief, city attorney Michael Cosentino argued that under Senate Bill 4, fear of immigration enforcement will lead people […]

Will we have maps in time for March primaries?

Maybe. It’s up to the courts. State officials insisted Friday they expect to stop the court challenges on appeal, and reverse Texas’ losing streak on the voting-rights lawsuits, legal experts predicted Texas could end up back under federal supervisions of its elections rules if the appeals fail. In short, the court fight is shaping up […]

Paxton prosecutors to petition CCA

Last chance to get paid. The state’s highest criminal court will get a chance to decide whether the special prosecutors appointed in the criminal cases against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton can be paid the $300-an-hour rate they were promised. Kent A. Schaffer, one of the three special prosecutors in Texas v. Paxton, said the […]

More ways to help

I posted a couple of links with ways to help with Harvey relief below, but there are some more good suggestions in this Chron story as well. The American Red Cross is encouraging people to donate money on its website or to text 90999 to donate $10. The organization is also asking for volunteers. Red Cross is also […]

HISD cancels classes for a week

Another effect of Harvey. Houston Independent School District schools and offices will be closed all week, from Monday, Aug. 28 through Friday, Sept. 1, due to widespread damage from Tropical Storm Harvey. HISD officials have been closely monitoring the forecast and have determined that the storms and heavy rains that affected parts of the city […]

Weekend link dump for August 27

“Three years ago, however, a small German town found a fourth option — you can involuntarily conscript Nazis into anti-Nazism.” “It’s a dramatic story, this epoch-defining tale about automation and permanent unemployment. But it has one major catch: There isn’t actually much evidence that it’s happening.” “With the start of the State Fair of Texas […]

Texas appeals voter ID ruling

On to the next phase. As promised, Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed what he called an “outrageous” federal court decision tossing out the state’s new voter ID law. In a 25-page filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Friday, the Republican attorney general argued the state complied with the court’s call […]

Another national publication looks at CD07

Mother Jones, come on down. In addition to [Laura] Moser, the top competitors for the March primary are first-time candidates with stories that fit the political moment in different ways. Lizzie Fletcher, a well-connected lawyer at a large downtown firm, got her start in politics as a teenager during the 1992 Republican National Convention, when […]

Escobar officially enters race for CD16

There will be many interesting and highly competitive Democratic primaries for Congress next year, but this could be the biggest of them. El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar has officially started her run for Congress. Escobar, a Democrat, submitted paperwork Friday to the Federal Election Commission to begin a campaign for Texas’ 16th Congressional District. […]

Saturday video break: Shame

Here are the Avett Brothers, at a music festival in Jackson Hole: I’ve collected music from a lot of different sources over the years. Both of today’s songs come from different CD samplers, this one on Americana music and the next one from a collection of 70s AM radio hits. Here’s Evelyn Champagne King: If […]

Harvey, category 4

Holy moly. As of 7:45 PM Friday, Hurricane Harvey has been officially upgraded by the National Hurricane Center to a category four storm with 130 mph maximum sustained winds. Port Aransas just gusted to 105 mph as the eyewall approaches. Should Harvey make landfall at its current intensity, it will be the strongest storm (by […]

Yes, cities need lobbyists

Every few years, this argument heats up. In the run-up to this year’s Texas legislative session, Mayor Sylvester Turner decided to switch Capitol lobbying firms. In was Hillco Partners, considered by many the most powerful player in Austin lobbying. Out was a firm led by a political adviser to House Speaker Joe Straus. What didn’t […]

Two Paxtons are not better than one

Oh, good grief. Angela Paxton, the wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, is considering a run for state Senate, according to people familiar with her thinking. Paxton has her sights set on Senate District 8, which is currently held by Van Taylor, R-Plano. He’s expected to give up the seat to run for Congress […]

Friday random ten – Back to back, part two

Back for more… 1. Back In Your Arms – Bruce Springsteen 2. Back In Your Own Backyard – Hot Club of Cowtown 3. Back It Up – Caro Emerald 4. Back On The Chain Gang – The Pretenders 5. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse 6. Back To Chico – Clandestine 7. Back To Tyrone […]

Court throws out State House map

Once more, with feeling. Parts of the Texas House map must be redrawn ahead of the 2018 elections because lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities in crafting several legislative districts, federal judges ruled on Thursday. A three-judge panel in San Antonio unanimously ruled that Texas must address violations that could affect the configuration of House districts […]

The ReBuild Houston footnote to the November ballot

The following paragraph is buried deep in the full story about what will and will not be on the November ballot in Houston. Voters also will not face a reconsideration of the 2010 vote that established ReBuild Houston, the program that funds streets and drainage repairs without debt by drawing on a monthly fee. Courts […]

HISD cancels classes on Monday

Hello, Harvey. All HISD campuses and administrative offices will be closed on Monday, Aug. 28 and all campus and district activities canceled due to the threat of inclement weather. Classes are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, Aug. 29. However, the district will continue to monitor developing weather conditions and will determine whether classes can safely […]

Voter ID law thrown out

Fantastic. A federal judge has tossed out a new law softening Texas’ strict voter identification requirements. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Wednesday ruled that Senate Bill 5, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, doesn’t absolve Texas lawmakers from responsibility for discriminating against Latino and black voters when they crafted one of the […]

Federal court bars enforcement if city’s ban on homeless encampments

Score one for the law’s opponents. A federal court on Tuesday temporarily blocked Houston from enforcing its fledgling ban on public encampments, dealing a blow to city efforts to manage escalating tensions between homeless people and the neighborhoods their camps abut. The city’s three-month-old law – passed under intense pressure from residents and council members […]

Debra Kerner suspends her campaign in CD07

From the inbox: Dear friends: Today I am announcing that I am suspending my campaign for Congress. Over the last eight months, I have gotten to know more people in the district. It was my favorite part of the campaign. My profession demands that I be a good listener, and that is just what I […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of August 21

The Texas Progressive Alliance supports the efforts to get rid of Confederate monuments as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Pastoral malignancy

Know your enemy. A day before the Texas Legislature ended its special session this week, a session that included a high-profile fight over a “bathroom bill” that appeared almost certainly dead, David Welch had a message for Gov. Greg Abbott: call lawmakers back to Austin. Again. For years, Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor […]

We could get a special session on redistricting

At least, that’s what State Sen. Dawn Buckingham thinks. State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, expects the Legislature to be called back for another special session — this time to tackle the state’s congressional map. Monday evening at the Central Texas Tea Party’s monthly meeting, Buckingham discussed federal judges invalidating two Texas congressional districts and the […]

5th Court of Appeals screws Paxton prosecutors

Ugh. The prosecutors pursuing charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton haven’t been paid in more than a year and a half — and they will continue to wait on a payday. On Monday, the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas voided a $205,000 invoice dating back to January 2016, saying state laws and local rules […]