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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Straus’

Voter ID trial testimony ends

The state of Texas put on its case in the voter ID trial. Lawyers from the Texas attorney general’s office presented witnesses Wednesday in federal court defending the state voter ID law as necessary and attempting to rebuff claims that it is discriminatory. The state’s case in the federal trial, now in its second week, […]

What else is at stake in the redistricting trial

It’s about more than just the maps. Efforts by the Obama administration to wring protections out of a weakened Voting Rights Act begin Monday in Texas over allegations that Republicans intentionally discriminated against minorities when drawing new election maps. A federal trial in San Antonio comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court made a […]

We could have better transportation infrastructure if we wanted it

House Speaker Joe Straus embraces the end-the-diversions approach to transportation funding. Texas’ booming economy and massive transportation needs are inching the state toward simplifying highway spending, officials say. The latest move to end so-called diversions from the State Highway Fund came Wednesday, when Speaker Joe Straus said the next Texas budget proposed by the House […]

No hiding behind privilege

Here’s your latest voter ID litigation update, from the Brad Blog: Just over a week ago, it was North Carolina legislators ordered by the court to cough up documentation relating to passage of new, draconian restrictions on voting rights in their state. Now, legislators in Texas are facing much the same thing, as that state’s extreme polling […]

Mostly looking good for Prop 6

A good poll result for the water infrastructure Constitutional amendment. Texans support $2 billion in water infrastructure financing by a better than 2-to-1 margin, but nearly a quarter haven’t decided how they will vote on the issue this November, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. The respondents favored the measure, known as […]

Arkansas will expand Medicaid

If they can do it… [Friday], the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services notified state officials in Arkansas that it has approved the states’ Medicaid expansion plan. And this is not any old expansion plan: Arkansas will be the only state in the country that will use Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for […]

The water campaign begins

The most high profile constitutional amendment now has a campaign behind it. Supporters are laying the groundwork for an aggressive effort to educate voters and drown out opposition with roughly one month before early voting starts. A coalition of political action committees and business groups are leading the push. The strategy will be bankrolled by […]

Maybe the same failed approach will work this time

It could happen, right? Transportation experts now estimate that the state needs $5billion a year to keep Texas moving. The proposal that fell apart in the House this week would add less than a billion annually. And after months of wrangling, relations between the House and Senate have grown increasingly testy. Republicans, who control both […]

Special Session 3: Beyond Thunderdome

Beyond ridiculous, if you ask me, not that they did. Standing before mostly empty chairs in the 150-member Texas House on Tuesday, House Speaker Joe Straus adjourned the second special session and announced that Gov. Rick Perry would be calling them all back for a third special session later in the day. After gaveling in […]

Transportation deal dies

Technically, it’s not dead till sine die, but it sure is on life support. A compromise plan to spend $848 million on Texas highways just landed in a ditch. House members voted down a plan to split oil and gas production money between the state’s economic stabilization fund and highway spending. It needed 100 votes […]

Public Integrity Unit employees get layoff notices

What is to come if nothing changes. Travis County commissioners are still holding out hope the state will fund the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, but took an early step to let employees know their jobs are on the line. Voting unanimously Tuesday, commissioners are giving layoff notices to more than 30 employees whose jobs […]

No override of Public Integrity Unit funding veto

Alas. A legislative move to restore state funding for the ethics-enforcing Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County district attorney’s office died Friday afternoon. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said no vote is expected on House Concurrent Resolution 6 — the attempt by state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, to override Gov. Rick Perry’s […]

Monday House action

The main action on Monday in the House was the House Redistricting Committee hearing. Where there’s a redistricting hearing, there’s Greg with a liveblogging session. Pay close attention to the stuff Greg writes about the questions that the Dems, in particular Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer (TMF) are asking, because they’re all about the future court fights. […]

Turner seeks a way to get around Public Integrity Unit de-funding

Rep. Sylvester Turner takes aim at one of Perry’s vetoes. Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said he would propose a House Concurrent Resolution advocating restoration of funding for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County district attorney’s office, which was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry last week. […] This morning on the floor of the […]

Here are the Texas Monthly Ten Best and Ten Worst lists for 2013

This came out Wednesday, but the full story will not be published till next week. BEST: Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D- San Antonio) Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) Speaker Joe Straus (R-San […]

Abbott predicts special session for redistricting

For the first time, someone says out loud the rumor of a special session on redistricting. Attorney General Greg Abbott let House members know in the Republican caucus meeting on Tuesday that he expects and is hoping for a special session on redistricting — sooner than later. Several lawmakers in the meeting confirmed that Abbott […]

Senate to consider expanded gambling

I didn’t really take it seriously when I heard that Sen. John Carona had filed his own gambling expansion legislation, but it seems it’s got some traction. A proposal from Dallas Republican Sen. John Carona would establish a commission that licenses 21 casinos throughout the state, including three mega-resorts in Bexar, Dallas and Tarrant counties […]

Patrick files his own voucher bill

I guess if you want something done right, you do it yourself. Ending speculation over when — or whether — his widely promoted school choice legislation would emerge, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has filed a bill creating a business tax scholarship for students to attend private schools. The Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program, or Senate […]

Straus wants someone to do something on Medicaid

Don’t we all, Joe. Don’t we all. Seeking to light a fire under fellow Republicans to provide health care to more uninsured Texans, House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday that it is time to “get our heads out of the sand” and find an alternative to Medicaid expansion that would bring billions of federal dollars […]

Here come the voucher bills

The Observer reports from the Senate, where two voucher bills were on display. In fact, the business-tax-credit-totally-not-vouchers bill had already been filed Monday, by McKinney Republican Ken Paxton. So ends the great mystery, begun in a little Catholic schoolroom last December, of who would carry Sen. Dan Patrick’s voucher bill. That leaves two school voucher proposals—defined […]

School districts are still a long way from getting relief

School districts may have gotten a favorable ruling in the latest school finance lawsuit, and if it survives appeal it could have far-reaching effects on the current system, but that doesn’t mean that things will get better for them now. If anything, they’re likely to get worse first. “It’s pretty bleak for next year,” said […]

Here come the STAAR reform bills

Fire one: State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, the newly appointed chairman of the House Public Education Committee, filed legislation Wednesday that would restructure the state’s high school graduation and student testing requirements. Aycock’s proposal, House Bill 5, would move public schools to an accountability system with grades of A through F, a concept that […]

Committee time

Now the real work gets started. House Speaker Joe Straus announced committee assignments for the Legislature’s lower chamber on Thursday, ending speculation over key chairmanships and giving lawmakers the go-ahead to start considering bills. Here’s his list. Of the standing committees, 32 are chaired by men, six by women. That’s one more female chair than […]

Point of disorder

New House, new rule. The Texas House’s Democratic minority was dealt a blow Monday when the House passed an amendment to the chamber’s rules to limit legislators’ ability to derail a bill based on clerical errors. Calling “points of order” on such errors is a strategy lawmakers have often used to block measures they oppose. […]

Day One of the Lege

What do we know so far? Same old Rick Perry. Gov. Rick Perry called for tax relief and a lean approach to budgeting as he addressed the Senate, even as the state faces a lawsuit from school districts over funding and concerns over the effects of budget cuts approved two years ago. […] Perry said […]

Finally a focus on water

The good news is that the 2013 Lege does seem to be serious about water issues. House Speaker Joe Straus recently said Texas’ water needs will be a high priority, while Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, proposed tapping the Rainy Day Fund for $1 billion to finance new infrastructure identified in […]

The payday lenders won’t go without a fight

Where there’s a fight, there’s sure to be lots of money. Payday lenders were big spenders in the most recent Texas political campaigns – contributing more than $1.6 million to state races in the 2012 election cycle and giving most generously to Republican committee members who soon will be reviewing proposed reforms for their industry. […]

When is a surplus not a surplus?

When any extra money you might have is already accounted for, due to unaddressed needs, accounting shenanigans, and shortsighted cuts. Some lawmakers and budget experts expect to have as much as $8 billion to $9 billion more in general revenue in this fiscal period, which ends Aug. 31. Some are guessing lower. Combs will give […]

Dude, I’m serious!

House Speaker Joe Straus is ready to have a “serious” legislative session. You know, totally unlike the last one. Despite organized efforts to unseat him, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday he is confident his colleagues will re-elect him to the post so he can focus the 2013 legislative session on “serious issues” for […]

Two minus five is still less than zero

It’s nice that Speaker Joe Straus wants to restore public education funding, but let’s be clear about what that means. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday he’s committed to pumping billions of dollars back into the state’s public schools, even though the Legislature approved historically deep cuts just last year. In an interview with […]

Simpson in, Hughes out to challenge Straus for Speaker

It started with an announcement that Rep. David Simpson would make the Speaker’s race a three-way, which I assure you sounds dirtier than it actually is. Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, filed papers to run for Speaker of the House, he said in a letter to colleagues Monday morning. He joins Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, in […]

It’s all about 2014

This is very easy to understand. Signaling austerity despite improving state revenues and a push by some to undo cuts to key programs, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and leading GOP senators said they plan to write a budget for the next two years that is smaller than allowed under a spending cap adopted Thursday. The […]

Time for another Speaker’s race

It’s like a rite of spring, except it happens in alternate Januaries. House Speaker Joe Straus’ bid for a third term as leader of the 150-member state House may not come as quickly or as easily as he had anticipated. The San Antonio Republican finds himself caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place: […]

The Lege is going to have to spend some money

Whether they want to or not, there are a lot of issues that will be demanding attention and money from the Legislature when they convene in January. For example, there’s water. House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday the state’s water supply will be among his priorities after years of inaction by lawmakers. In the previous […]