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Posts Tagged ‘Joan Huffman’

Petitions submitted to force another pension vote

Oh, good grief. Voters soon could decide whether to close Houston’s traditional pension plans to new employees after political activists submitted a petition to City Hall to force a referendum this November. The petition further complicates Mayor Sylvester Turner’s efforts to pass a pension reform bill, which already had hit a hurdle in the state […]

Bill to fix voting interpreters considered

This needs to happen, and it really shouldn’t be a big deal. Almost three years after Mallika Das, a naturalized citizen who spoke Bengali, was unable to vote properly because she was not proficient in English, Texas lawmakers are considering a change to an obscure provision of Texas election law regarding language interpreters. Members of […]

Pension reform bill passes House committee

Two for two. Houston’s pension reform bill will now move to the floor of each legislative chamber after a Texas House committee joined its Senate counterparts in passing the measure 6-1 Wednesday. With Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, opposed, the pensions committee adopted House Bill 43, which will now head to a scheduling committee to be […]

Let the clerks out of it

I approve of this. The state’s leading LGBT advocacy group has thrown its support behind a bill that would accommodate county clerks with religious objections to same-sex marriage. Under Senate Bill 911, by state Senator Joan Huffman, R-Sugar Land, marriage licenses in Texas would no longer specify the names of clerks who issue them, instead […]

Busy day in the Senate

They got stuff done, I’ll give them that. Whether it was stuff worth doing or not, I’ll leave to you. 1. Senate bill would let Houston voters weigh in on fix to pension crisis. The Senate on Wednesday voted 21-10 to give preliminary approval of a bill that would require voters to sign off before […]

House hearing for pension bill

Another step in the process. Houston’s pension reform plan got its first hearing Monday in the state House, where rows and rows of current and retired firefighters appeared to voice opposition to the plan. Municipal and police leaders testified in support, however, as did representatives of the Greater Houston Partnership and, of course, Mayor Sylvester […]

Voter ID 2.0 passes out of the Senate

Meh. The Texas Senate tentatively approved legislation Monday that would revamp the state’s voter identification rules, a response to court rulings that the current law discriminates against minority voters. Following more than an hour of debate, the chamber voted 21-10 to move the bill to a final vote, likely later this week. Sen. Joan Huffman’s […]

Pension reform bill passes Senate committee

A major step forward. Houston’s pension reform plan cleared a state Senate committee in its initial hearing at the Capitol on Monday, despite the fact that all those who testified – including Mayor Sylvester Turner – opposed at least some portion of the omnibus package. Retirees were concerned about benefit cuts. Some conservatives said the […]

Voter ID 2.0 clears Senate committee

Seems likely this will go the distance. A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state’s voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send the legislation to the full chamber. Filed […]

Once more with feeling on voter ID

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern says that Tuesday’s arguments about whether Texas’ voter ID law was enacted with discriminatory intent or not went well for the plaintiffs, and not for the state or its new buddies in the Justice Department. Tuesday’s hearing was supposed to be all about the question of intent. But the DOJ’s last-minute […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

We may be voting on pension obligation bonds

Oh, boy. A state lawmaker carrying Houston’s pension reform bill says her version of the proposal will require a public referendum on a $1 billion cash infusion central to the negotiations, an idea Mayor Sylvester Turner called a “poison pill” that could derail the reforms and force “massive” layoffs. The requirement that voters have a […]

Counting to 19 on SB6

That’s the number of votes needed to move the Patrick potty bill to the floor of the Senate for a full vote. At times, it seemed like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was a bit like a man on an island when it came to one of his signature priorities this legislative session: the Texas Privacy […]

Senate “sanctuary cities” bill hearing

Lots of people came out to testify against it, which is a good thing. After a 16-hour hearing that included tears, heckling, bursts of anger and warnings from lawmakers to witnesses to respect the rules of the Capitol’s upper chamber, the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 along party lines early Friday morning to […]

It’s all bathrooms, all the time

People are paying attention to Dan Patrick’s anti-LGBT bathroom bill, and for the most part they do not like it. In early February, the Super Bowl will be in Houston and in late March, the women’s Final Four will be in Dallas. If Patrick pushes the bathroom bill through the Senate by then, as expected, […]

Council ratifies Turner’s pension plan

From the inbox: On a 16-1 vote, Houston City Council has endorsed Mayor Sylvester Turner’s historic package of pension reforms. The vote clears the way for the City to move forward in partnership with the pension systems to seek legislative approval of the reforms. “I am bubbling over on the inside,” said Mayor Turner. “I […]

Pension reform update

Things are happening. Longtime firefighters pension fund chairman Todd Clark has retired from the department and resigned his post, a move City Hall observers interpret as perhaps the clearest sign yet that Mayor Sylvester Turner’s push for pension reform may succeed. The municipal pension also is in upheaval, having bought out former director Rhonda Smith’s […]

Legislation to ban the jailing of rape victims proposed

Hard to argue with, I must say. The controversial jailing of a rape victim to ensure her testimony could lead to a new state law protecting victims’ rights to an appointed attorney. State Sen. Joan Huffman is joining with Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson and Sheriff Ron Hickman to push for new legislation to […]

Get ready for more “religious freedom” bills

Gird your loins. The next Texas legislative session is almost a year away, but Senate Republicans are already zeroing in on proposals to bolster legal protections for religious opponents of same-sex marriage after its legalization by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. At a hearing of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, some Republicans […]

The effect of the law that was supposed to cripple the Public Integrity Unit

Never tempt the weauxf gods. Or the Senate Republicans. Nearly a year after Texas Republicans cheered the passage of a law to strip the Travis County Public Integrity Unit’s power to investigate elected officials and state employees, the unit’s director says little actually has changed. Though the law took away the unit’s authority to prosecute […]

On judicial elections and campaign finance

Ross Ramsey raises an interesting point. It might seem silly to elect people who promise they won’t represent you, their political party or their donors, but that’s what we expect judges to do. They’re supposed to apply the law, and if they do any of those other things, they’re probably out of line. Florida elects […]

Abbott vetos Huffman loophole bill

Good. Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed legislation that would have allowed married elected officials to hide their personal financial business from the prying eyes of Texas voters, according to the author of the legislation. The so-called spousal loophole provision had been tacked as amendments to two bills that were otherwise aimed at increasing disclosure and […]

Ethics complaint filed against Sen. Huffman

From the Lone Star Project: The Lone Star Project has learned that a complaint was filed Wednesday with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) alleging that Republican State Senator Joan Huffman (SD17 – Houston) is in violation of section § 572.023 of the Texas Government Code for failure to disclose a financial interest in 30 business […]

Fraser and Ratliff to step down

There’s good news: State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, announced Tuesday that he is not running for re-election, ending a tenure at the Capitol that has spanned four decades. “There comes a time when leaders must take a look at the trail they have blazed and reflect on all they have done,” Fraser wrote in […]

Ethics reform dies its expected death

The only surprise is that it took this long. With no collective will to expose dark money contributions in Texas, a major ethics overhaul was snuffed out in the waning hours of the 2015 legislative session. “It’s dead,” Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said Saturday afternoon. “When the Senate chose not to include campaign disclosure reform […]

Where the education reform bills stand

As we know, the attempt to take a first stab at school finance reform did not make it to the House floor. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some action on school-related issues. This Chron story from the weekend recapped a couple of the major bills that did make it through. Lawmakers likely could have killed […]

I repeat, no one will be forced to perform a same sex wedding

This really is a huge waste of time. For some gay rights advocates, a bill in the Texas Legislature that would allow clergy to refuse to marry same-sex couples would be acceptable if it just included four more words. As the Senate State Affairs Committee heard testimony Monday morning on Senate Bill 2065 by Sen. […]

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 […]

Bill to kneecap Public Integrity Unit gets unstuck

And away it goes. Senate Bill 10, filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, passed on second reading along party lines. The integrity unit is currently a state-funded division of the Travis County DA’s office that investigates public corruption, insurance fraud and tax fraud. Some Republicans have said the unit has had partisan motives for its […]

Bill to kneecap Public Integrity Unit stuck in the Senate

For now, at least. A Republican bill to transfer the Public Integrity Unit out of Travis County has snagged in the Senate, where the legislation does not have enough support to force a floor vote — at least for now. The author of Senate Bill 10, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, acknowledged Monday that she is […]

Bill to neuter Public Integrity Unit advances

Still a bad idea. A measure that would take the state’s public corruption-fighting unit out of the hands of the Travis County district attorney’s office and place it in the Texas attorney general’s office was approved Monday by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The 7-2 vote in favor of Senate Bill 10, authored by state […]