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Posts Tagged ‘DPS’

DNA mixtures

Grits reports on the latest developments in forensics at a hearing of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, and what it means to the legal system in Texas and elsewhere. First, a bit of background. DNA testing looks at two metrics on X and Y axes: Whether alleles are present at various loci, and the quantity […]

DPS seeks dismissal of Sandra Bland lawsuit

The expected response by the defendants. The Texas Department of Public Safety and Trooper Brian Encinia filed motions Tuesday to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit in the death of Sandra Bland, five days after Waller County filed court papers rebutting claims that it was responsible for her death in the county jail. DPS claimed immunity […]

Sandra Bland’s mother sues DPS and Waller County

Can’t say this is a surprise. The mother of Sandra Bland filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and several others she deems responsible for the death of her 28-year-old daughter at the Waller County Jail in mid-July. Geneva Reed-Veal is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages […]

Sandra Bland’s death being investigated as a homicide

Doesn’t mean that’s how it will be ruled, but it’s at least a sign that it’s being taken with appropriate seriousness. The probe into Sandra Bland’s hanging death inside a Texas jail — which a medical examiner ruled a suicide last week — now includes the possibility of murder. “This is being treated like a […]

SOS to review motor voter complaints

I hope this amounts to more than lip service. The Texas Secretary of State has agreed to study why thousands of Texans have complained over the past year and a half that they had problems registering to vote despite a federal law that requires all states to offer voter registration in offices where citizens apply […]

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 […]

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 […]

Stickland not out of the woods

Despite what he says. A state investigation into allegations that state Rep. Jonathan Stickland improperly registered witnesses to testify on a bill banning red light cameras has cleared Stickland of wrongdoing, his office announced Monday. But two officials involved in the investigation disagreed with the Bedford Republican’s declaration Monday evening. “I can confirm that we […]

Point/counterpoint on online voter registration

Point. Texans can use for nearly 1,000 services, such as applying for concealed handgun licenses and driver records, and renewing driver licenses, vehicle registrations and many state-required professional licenses. It is time to allow Texans to use this proven, secure online portal to register voters. Online voter registration does not allow online voting. Under […]

Rangers to investigate Stickland

It’s starting to get real. The Texas Rangers will investigate allegations that witnesses were improperly registered to testify last week on a bill banning red light cameras at a House Transportation Committee hearing. The House General Investigating and Ethics Committee voted Thursday evening to refer the investigation to the Rangers, a division of the Texas […]

House approves bill to move Public Integrity Unit

Like it or not, looks like this is going to get done. The Texas House gave initial approval Monday to a stripped-down bill that would remove public corruption cases from Travis County’s Public Integrity Unit. Final House approval is expected Tuesday. House Bill 1690, initially approved 94-51, was amended on the House floor to apply […]

Budget passes House as most amendments get pulled

It was a long day in the House on Tuesday and Wednesday but not a terribly bloody one as many of the budget amendments and riders that had been queued up got withdrawn. A brief recap of the action: Border “security”: House Democrats tried — and mostly failed — to divert funds allotted for border […]

The Senate’s opening budget

Could be worse, I guess. Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson presented a $205.1 billion two-year base budget Tuesday morning, vowing to provide property tax cuts that Texans “actually feel” while keeping the state’s economy humming along. The Senate budget is $3 billion larger than the $202.4 billion House budget that Speaker Joe Straus released nearly […]

The veto that keeps on giving

I haven’t closely followed the burgeoning scandal at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which involves no-bid contracts, up front tuition reimbursements for top level staffers, and rampant cronyism. It’s already cost three people their jobs and will likely eventually result in the HHSC Commissioner, Kyle Janek, either falling on his sword or getting […]

The privilege of voting

It’s not a right if you aren’t allowed to do it. A day before Texans go to the polls, an unusual group gathered for lunch at a Mexican restaurant not far from downtown: an unemployed African-American grandmother; a University of Houston student originally from Pennsylvania; a pregnant mother who had recently moved back to the […]

What they didn’t tell us about voter ID

Republicans knew fully well that their voter ID bill would disenfranchise a lot of people. They just didn’t care. Republican state officials working to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011 knew that more than 500,000 of the state’s registered voters did not have the credentials needed to cast ballots under the new requirement. […]

It shouldn’t be this hard to get a driver’s license

And for most people it isn’t that hard. But for some people, it is. Daniela Parker has two mothers, a circumstance that turned a typically routine matter – scheduling a road test for a Texas driver’s license – into a lengthy hassle. Parker, Mayor Annise Parker’s daughter, was turned away from taking the road test […]

Texas woman denied driver’s license over same-sex marriage

That’s the headline of this Observer story, and it’s just as infuriating as you think it is. A woman who recently relocated from California says the Texas Department of Public Safety refused to issue her an accurate driver’s license because her last name was changed through a same-sex marriage. After Connie Wilson married her partner […]

Abbott does one last solid for Perry

He lets him keep his little secrets. After critics raised a stink about the tax dollars being spent to provide security for Gov. Rick Perry while he was gearing up to run for president, lawmakers passed a bill in 2011 designed to let Texans know — eventually — what they were getting for their money. […]

Get ready to go inspection sticker-free

Things are gonna be different next year. Texas drivers will have a little less clutter on their windshield next year when the familiar green inspection sticker goes away, but it comes at the price of requiring inspections in order to renew vehicle registrations. As of March 2015, vehicles registered in Texas will no longer need […]

Special session for border security?

What could possibly go wrong? State Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, joined some of his conservative colleagues on Tuesday in calling for “immediate action” to address the surge of undocumented immigrants crossing into Texas. “The Texas Department of Public Safety has indicated that sustained operations along our southern border will require […]

Another lawsuit filed against the voter ID law

The Observer reports. Election Day last week brought plenty of complaints at the polls about Texas’ new voter ID law, but it also brought one major complaint in Corpus Christi federal court, where nine voters joined La Unión Del Pueblo Entero in suing the state over its tough new voting requirements. The plaintiffs are long-time voters […]

It’s about the people who don’t have ID

We’ve had plenty of blue-sky stories telling us that the voter ID law has been no big deal. A few provisional ballots and some number of affidavits, sure, but everyone who’s wanted to vote has been able to vote, right? Sure, as long as they had one of the accepted forms of ID. But what […]

“Poopgate” is a big load of…

Well, you know. Documents released Monday by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s provided no new evidence that officers found one jar of urine and 18 containers of feces at the Capitol before a July 12 debate on a controversial abortion bill. DPS released a press statement the day of the debate that said officers […]

RIP, Section 5

By now you are well aware that SCOTUS has dealt a blow to the Voting Rights Act. They actually left Section 5, which is what requires certain parts of the country (including Texas) to get preclearance on voting-related changes, intact, but instead ruled that Section 4, which defined who was under the purview of Section […]

No more inspection stickers

That’s the plan, and I think it makes a lot of sense. Texas’ vehicle inspection stickers would become a thing of the past under legislation approved unanimously Monday by the state Senate. But there’s a catch: Vehicles still would have to be inspected before they could be registered with the state, and diesel vehicles would, […]

Perry works against his own stated interests

I don’t understand this at all. A bill that would have increased vehicle registration fees to raise money for transportation projects met its demise in the Texas House on Thursday. House Bill 3664 by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, was designed to generate money to pay down the state’s transportation-related debt and fund improvements […]

Still arguing about road funding

I still don’t quite get why the obvious solution is so blithely dismissed. With most of the work of developing a state budget behind them, lawmakers can now drill deeper into the state’s spending plan to find a way to fund billions of dollars in road maintenance, highway upgrades and other projects under the umbrella […]

AG shuts down bogus charity museum

It’s an extremely rare privilege to point out something of actual positive value done by our Attorney General. The doors will finally close on the Texas Highway Patrol Museum in San Antonio, a charity that raised millions of dollars under the guise that the money would benefit state troopers and their families, yet spent less […]

Cutting spending is always good for job creation

It must be true. A study by the University of Texas at San Antonio estimated that 20 counties in the Eagle Ford Shale supported 47,097 full-time jobs in 2011, a number that’s expected to grow to 116,972 full-time jobs by 2021. For now, many of the jobs in demand are for truckers. And a pay […]

Outsourcing Texas border security

What could possibly go wrong? A little-known private defense contractor from Virginia has quietly received about $20 million under a series of no-bid contracts with the State of Texas to develop its border security strategies, an effort that included shaping the state’s public message on the increasingly controversial nature and extent of violence spilling into […]

From the “Sacrifice for thee but not for me” department

Rick Perry sure does like to travel. At a time when state budget reductions were used to help offset a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall, taxpayers were billed in excess of $294,000 in security detail expenses for out-of-state trips by Gov. Rick Perry or his wife, according to records released by the Department of Public Safety. Destinations […]

Justice Department urged to block voter ID law

I’m all in on this. A coalition of civil rights groups is urging the Obama administration’s Justice Department to reject Texas’ voter-ID law, charging that the measure advocated by Rick Perry intentionally discriminates against black and Hispanic voters. The Legislature passed the law earlier this year requiring voters to present a picture identification. The Justice […]

Forensic Science Commission accepts its neutering

Another victory for the forces of obstructionism. Whether they like it or not, members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission [Thursday] agreed that they will use an attorney general’s opinion that severely limits the panel’s jurisdiction as a guideline for future investigations. What that means for the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation — the commission’s most […]