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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Duncan’

Who will be on the Ten Best and Ten Worst lists?

The Trib starts the speculation. Texas Monthly‘s list of the best and worst legislators of the 83rd session doesn’t come out until June 12, but why should Paul Burka and his colleagues have all the fun? Use this interactive to select your own personal best and worst list. Click or drag to put up to […]

Michael Morton Act signed into law

Excellent news. With exoneree Michael Morton by his side, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a measure that aims to avoid wrongful convictions by preventing prosecutors from suppressing evidence. “This is a major victory for integrity and fairness in our judicial system,” Perry said of Senate Bill 1611, which was named for Morton, who spent […]

Modified teacher retirement bill passes Senate

Modified again, this time enough to garner support from the teachers. Teachers, the state of Texas and school districts all would pay more to help support the Teacher Retirement System of Texas under a bill passed by the Texas Senate Wednesday. Under Senate Bill 1458, the $117 billion TRS fund would get a boost from […]

Modified teacher retirement bill put forth

Sounds like progress, though we’ll have to see how it goes from here. Members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas objected strongly last week to a legislative proposal that would have required about half of current employees to work until age 62 to receive full retirement benefits. They now have no minimum retirement age […]

Senate examines pensions

This sort of thing always makes me nervous. Legislative proposals to shore up Texas’ two largest public pension funds could require teachers and state employees to work years longer than they must today to get full retirement benefits. For example, a teacher who started in the classroom at age 23 may now take full retirement […]

Redistricting remains a partisan issue

We’re not surprised by this, right? Amarillo Sen. Kel Seliger offered a redistricting bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee that would formally adopt interim maps drawn by a federal court in San Antonio last year. The maps for Congressional, state Senate and House districts were used for the 2012 election while a federal court […]

Businesses say they want Medicaid expansion, too

This really comes down to two things. Chambers of commerce representing companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB) are challenging Texas Governor Rick Perry and lawmakers to expand health care for the poor in the state with the highest percentage of uninsured people. The chambers of five cities are sending lobbyists […]

Reciprocal discovery

There’s a bit of controversy brewing over one of the criminal justice reforms that have been proposed. The bill at issue was filed on deadline day. Senate Bill 1611 would enact uniform discovery requirements in criminal cases across Texas. It would require prosecutors to give defense lawyers evidence in their files and to include essentially […]

Jefferson pushes for judicial reforms

Most of what Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson had to say to the Lege during his biennial address was good stuff that I hope the Lege will heed. Presenting his State of the Judiciary speech to Texas lawmakers, Jefferson said that “wrongful convictions leave our citizens vulnerable, as actual perpetrators remain free” and […]

The strip club tax is on the table

Among the things that conference committee members will be discussing as they try to finalize the budget is a reworking of the strip club tax that was first passed in 2007. This session, while awaiting a ruling on the case from the Texas Supreme Court, lawmakers attempted a preemptive strike. Fearing, as lower courts have […]

House says it may be close to approving expanded gambling

This would be as far as they’ve gotten in recent sessions. Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton, R-Mauriceville, who chairs the Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee, said he is close to having enough votes to pass his ever-morphing gambling bill. As Hamilton seeks to gather a comfortable number of “aye” votes, he and his committee members have […]

House approves a little more money, Senate readies its budget

Just a little. Texas House budget-writers voted Monday to free up an additional $3 billion for key state services through such moves as speeding up tax collections, delaying payments and suspending the back-to-school sales tax holiday. The bills next go to the full House, which Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, predicted could be willing […]

How does school finance work, anyway?

The Trib has a useful guide to this incredibly complex topic. Here’s our layman’s guide to figuring out the current system, compiled with the help of experts at the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, the Equity Center and the Texas Education Agency. The state’s 1,030 traditional school districts operate with a combination of federal, local […]

Gambling interests tout job creation benefits

From the inbox: REPORT OUTLINES 77.5K JOBS BY REGION, SECTOR CREATED BY SLOTS BILL Confirms Texans Continue To Spend Billions Gaming in Neighboring States AUSTIN, Texas – Win For Texas released a new report today outlining the specific regions and sectors of the 77,500 new, permanent jobs that will be created when slots are allowed […]

Still going through the couch cushions

The Senate is looking for funds wherever it can find them. Hoping to cushion the impact of proposed state budget cuts to public education and health care, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Wednesday that a special subcommittee will be named Monday to find $5 billion in nontax revenue for use in the next two-year budget […]

Is it time for a statewide property tax?

Maybe. State Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, on Tuesday breathed some new life into a proposal to enact a statewide school property tax to address Texas’ persistent education funding woes. “We’ve never made a change in the school finance system without a gun to our head,” Duncan said at a Senate subcommittee hearing on public school […]

New frontiers in open meeting laws

There’s an awful lot here to think about. The Texas Legislature may become the first in the nation to tackle whether tweeting and texting is being used to circumvent open meetings laws and whether the private devices of public officials can be subject to open records searches. “They are new tools to communicate with constituents […]

No check for you!

Nice little bit of holiday cheer for Texas’ retired public employees this week. Retired public employees discovered yesterday that they would not receive additional $500 checks this year. According to Senator Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, they shouldn’t hold their breath for more benefits next cycle either. “I don’t think we’ll be able to,” he said. “The […]

More on the AG and the LRB

As we know, in the aftermath of the Senate pajama party on voter ID last week, State Rep. Mark Homer touted HJR 53, which he had filed earlier in the session, which would replace the Attorney General on the Legislative Redistricting Board with the Ag Commissioner. The reason behind it was simple enough – since […]

If he can’t testify, he shouldn’t redistrict

One of the questions that was raised during the Voter ID All-Nighter in the Senate was why Attorney General Greg Abbott took a pass, even though the Democrats wanted him to be there, since he was a leading crusader of “voter fraud” accusations. Abbott’s office claimed his presence would lead to a conflict of interest: […]

Voter ID: That’s it for now

In case you hadn’t already heard, the measure was passed out of committee – which was the full Senate in this case – by the predicted party-line vote, which was actually 20-12 since Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, sitting in the cheap seats while Sen. Robert Duncan acted as master of ceremonies, cast a vote as well. […]

Today’s the day for Voter ID in the Senate

Ready or not, here comes the voter ID battle in the Senate. There’s a chance today will merely be Day One of this fight, as Patricia Kilday Hart notes in her preview. Sen. Robert Duncan, who will chair tomorrow’s Committee of the Whole on Voter ID, will need to “steer small” during what promises to […]

If you’re going to reform it, reform it right

I agree with State Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson that the way we elect judges in Texas needs reform. I just don’t think he’s proposing a real fix for the problem he’s identified. Texas remains one of only seven states with partisan judicial elections. It requires judicial candidates to raise vast amounts of money, which […]