Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Strama’

The farm team

Roll Call takes a look at the Texas Democrats of the future. Democrats rarely fielded competitive Senate candidates over the past two decades — the party’s three best performers in that time span received 44 percent, 43 percent and 43 percent — but that may change by the next midterm cycle. State and national Democrats […]

Celia Israel wins HD50 special election runoff

Congrats, Rep.-elect Celia Israel. In the special runoff election for District 50 in the Texas House, Democrat Celia Israel took the lead after early voting. Israel, a Realtor, earned 58.8 percent of the early vote, and Republican Mike VanDeWalle, a chiropractor, took 41.1 percent. The total number of ballots cast during the early voting period, […]

LaCroix files in SD15

As of the Monday candidate filing update from the HCDP, Damian LaCroix has made official his primary challenge to Sen. John Whitmire in SD15. He announced his challenge in August, and what I said at that time still holds true for me as a voter in SD15 – I’m not interested in making a change […]

Election results: Texas

Short and sweet: All nine constitutional amendments passed, all by substantial margins. Here’s The Observer on Prop 6. The Texas Water Development Board will now oversee a $2 billion water bank, seeded with capital from the Rainy Day Fund, to help pay for water supply projects and water conservation across the state. The large margin […]

Special election set in HD50

Mark Strama announced his resignation from the Lege in February to go and run Google Fiber in Austin. Last week, Rick Perry set November 5 as the special election date to replace him. The race to serve out the remainder of former state Rep. Mark Strama’s current term got an official election date Thursday as […]

Testing and charter bills pass

A lot of stuff gets done at the last possible minute in the Legislature. The two big education bills were examples of this. The session’s two biggest school reform bills, one from each chamber, have danced the House and Senate in the session’s closing days—a stalemate that broke Sunday night as both bills passed each […]

Eiland will not seek re-election

This is a tough break for the Democrats. State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, will not seek re-election, he announced in a tearful personal privilege speech on the House floor Wednesday night. Eiland, who has served in the Legislature for two decades, said it has been hard being away from his wife and children, but that […]

Margins tax breaks passed

Someone’s getting a tax break. Probably not you, though. The Texas House on Tuesday tentatively cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s primary business tax — cuts that proponents say will keep the Texas economy humming and opponents argue cost too much. House Bill 500 is the primary legislative vehicle to address the […]

Senate passes amended HB5

The Senate has passed its version of House Bill 5, which makes sweeping changes to standardized testing and curriculum requirements for high school students. Texas high school students would have new curriculum requirements under legislation unanimously passed by the Senate on Monday — but they won’t be the ones the House envisioned when it approved […]

Legislative quick hits

This is the time of the session where there’s lots happening, and there isn’t always the time or space to stay on top of it all. So here are a few quick updates on things that are happening in an attempt to at least not be too far behind. A bill to give Tesla Motors […]

Online voter registration bills advance

Some good news. House Bill 313, which received praise from committee members in a Monday hearing, and Senate Bill 315, which was voted out of committee Thursday, propose allowing voters to register online and have that application automatically authenticated rather than having to wait on local election officials to reenter the data in their systems […]

School stuff

Just a basic roundup of education-related stories, since there’s so much going on. From the Trib, action in the House on testing in grade school. Elementary and middle school students currently take a total of 17 state exams before high school. They are tested each year in grades three through eight in reading and math, […]

House passes major changes to testing and graduation requirements

This is a big deal. Texas public high school students would face far fewer high-stakes exams and gain more freedom in choosing courses under a major education bill approved by the state House on Tuesday. Hours of debate among lawmakers centered on whether the state was giving students much-needed flexibility or scaling back too far […]

White Stallion coal plant deep sixed

I mentioned this in passing the other day, but the news that White Stallion has been shelved deserves its own post. Developers have dropped plans for the White Stallion Energy Center about 90 miles southwest of Houston, signaling the end of a once heady rush to build several new coal-fired power plants across Texas. White […]

Supplement this!

Time for the Lege to pay a few past-due bills from 2011. That’s where a supplemental budget comes in. It is literally a second budget added to the original one lawmakers approved in 2011. It’s not an unusual course for lawmakers to take to address lingering IOUs, but this year’s efforts are becoming more complicated […]

More STAAR changes proposed

Everyone’s least favorite standardized test is a fat target these days. State Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, filed a bill Tuesday offering broad changes to student assessment and high school graduation requirements in Texas. Senate Bill 225 would significantly reduce the number of state standardized tests students […]

White Ds and non-white Rs

A few points to make about this. White Democrats are an increasingly vanishing species in the Texas Legislature, where there will be only 10 when the new legislative session starts in early January. The face of the Legislature has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past 25 years, and the state’s rapidly changing demographics are […]

So how’s public education doing under the Republicans?

Well, for starters, there’s larger class sizes. Northside’s predicament mirrors that of several other local districts with expanding enrollments. It’s part of the argument hundreds of Texas districts are making in an ongoing school finance lawsuit against the state, blaming lawmakers for a funding scheme that doesn’t keep up with growth. Administrators say larger classes […]

Another reason why math is your friend

The Statesman asks the question whether the newly-drawn HD48 in Travis County might be easier for a Republican challenger to win, then never gets around to providing the simplest answer to that question. Starting in April and carrying on through the dog days of summer, Republican Robert Thomas has worn out the soles of his […]

A look at HD136

The Statesman takes a look at the new State Rep. district in Williamson County. All county and state elected officeholders from Williamson County are Republicans. The party has long dominated the area. But Democrats are eyeing the new district as a potential weak spot in the Republican stronghold, counting it among a handful of districts […]

STAAR pushback

The House Public Ed committee gets an earful. Members of the House Public Education Committee on Tuesday questioned why the first batch of students who took the end-of-course exams scored so poorly. For example, 55 percent of ninth-graders met the minimum passing standard on the English writing test, and only 3 percent hit the college […]

Another point of order delays Eissler’s school bill

HB400, the bill by Rep. Rob Eissler that among other things raises the 22:1 student:teacher limit in grades K-4, came up for debate last night after the “sanctuary cities” bill got sidetracked by a point of order. Here was the original AP story about this bill going into the debate. Districts could increase class sizes, […]

House votes to spend some Rainy Day funds

From the Trib: House lawmakers preliminarily passed two bills Thursday that together will balance the state’s budget for the remaining months of the fiscal year through a mix of spending cuts and use of the Rainy Day Fund. The cuts were in the first bill, HB 4, which passed by a party-line vote of 100-46. […]

Solar bills advance

Bills relating to solar energy are moving forward through the Lege. Texas is the top-producing state for wind-generated electricity just 12 years after a legislative deal jump-started the industry. The Legislature is now debating whether Texas should provide a similar subsidy for other renewable energy sources that, according to proponents, would kick-start solar, geothermal and […]

San Antonio solar farm

There’s more solar energy available in Texas now than before. [Texas’] first solar farm, an array of 215,000 photovoltaic panels that capture sun rays and turn them into power, went on line Thursday in San Antonio. Statewide, at least six more projects are in earlier stages of development. “We have some of the best solar […]

Perry appropriates Emerging Tech funds on his own

Procedures? Advisory boards? Who needs ‘em? Gov. Rick Perry approved a $4.5 million award from the state’s technology fund to a company founded by a major campaign donor despite the company’s failure to win the endorsement of a regional screening board, The Dallas Morning News has learned. The money was awarded in August to Convergen […]

Meet the Mostyns

I have two things to say about this. Attorney Steve Mostyn said Tuesday he and his wife, Amber Anderson, are committed to putting a “substantial” amount of money that likely will exceed $3 million into ending hard-right Republican politics in Texas government. The pair already has put $1.3 million into committees that can help Democrat […]

Budget yes, UI not yet

The conference committee on the budget finished its work yesterday. While final details are still emerging, the 10 conferees worked out a last minute plan for spending $700 million of federal stimulus money for state fiscal stabilization. They hope that it will avert a special session, even if Perry vetoes some or all of the […]

Campaign finance bill passes the House

More unemployment funds available

The bad news is that Texas’ rate of unemployment continues to rise. The good news is that this means more federal funds for unemployment insurance are available, and these come with no conditions on them. Texas now qualifies, thanks to the state’s steadily rising unemployment rate, for $250 million of string-free federal money. That money […]

Updates on some criminal justice bills

As Grits notes, this is the time of the session in which bills die because there’s no longer the time for them to make it through the process. Fortunately, as he writes in that post, many of the bills related to innocence and exoneration are in a position to be debated and voted by both […]

House committee passes SB1569

Good. The House Business and Industry Committee wasted no time approving the Senate bill that would open the door for Texas to get $555 million in federal stimulus money to expand unemployment eligibility. SB 1569 landed in the committee yesterday and the members passed it out Tuesday afternoon in a 6-2 vote. Republican Reps. Wayne […]

House passes budget, slaps Perry

State Rep. Chris Turner, on Twitter: At 3:56 am, the House unanimously passed the budget. Believe it or not, that was earlier than was originally anticipated. The pregame chatter was that the House would have to reconvene today to finish the job, given the vast number of amendments that needed to be slogged through. It […]

Ethics and finance bills to get their turn

One never really expects bills relating to ethics and campaign finance reform to make it through the process, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on them. In the last session, for example, at least 105 bills related to general ethics, lobbying or campaign-finance were filed. Only nineteen became law. This session, […]