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Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

Metro board seeks to expand

It’s change that has been anticipated since the 2010 Census data was released. With all indications pointing to more people in the Metropolitan Transit Authority service area living outside Houston than inside the city, Metro officials are asking to accelerate a state-mandated expansion of the transit agency’s board. The change would mean more members appointed […]

Cruz may go on Obamacare

Go ahead, laugh it up. You know you want to. Ted Cruz, one of the loudest critics of Obamacare, will soon be using it for health insurance coverage. “We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care and we’re in the process of transitioning over to do that,” Cruz, a Republican […]

Cruzing for President

I just have one thing to say about this. As Sen. Ted Cruz announces he will run for president, he likely has two things on his mind: money and Iowa. Cruz will formally enter the presidential race ahead of any of his competitors Monday at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Va. But Texas’ […]

The scared institution of marriage

Smell the fear and desperation. Several hundred Christian fundamentalists gathered on the south steps of the Capitol today in a rally that was less about the defense of traditional marriage than about preparing for civil disobedience if, as expected, the U.S. Supreme Court later this year declares bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Beneath a sweltering […]

Trouble in tax cut paradise

What if you propose a tax cut but the beneficiaries of it say they’d rather the money went to something else? Major business groups pushed back Friday against a multi­billion-dollar package of tax cuts advancing in the Texas Senate, calling it inequitable and saying state needs should be funded before lawmakers consider tax relief. The […]

Compromise bill to reform property tax appraisals

Better than nothing, I guess, but not clear to me yet how much better. State lawmakers are looking to partly close a tax loophole that has allowed big companies to drain tens of millions of dollars from local government coffers in recent years, but any reforms that pass may still not end the legal battles […]

Driverless car legislative update

Like just about everything else under the sun, there were bills filed last week to deal with driverless cars. As self-driving cars move from futuristic concept to plausible technology, the Texas Legislature is looking to become a magnet for the fast-developing industry. Three lawmakers have filed bills aimed at encouraging the use of the technology […]

Not a good session for equality

I know, duh, right? Texas lawmakers have filed at least 20 anti-LGBT proposals this year—likely the most in the history of any state. It’s the type of onslaught that was widely expected among LGBT advocates, due to backlash over the spread of same-sex marriage. Daniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, said the group is […]

Not looking good for medical marijuana

From Trail Blazers: A key lawmaker suggested Tuesday that a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use is probably “dead,” but the sponsor said she’s not discouraged by the “premature” pushback. The bill has not yet been referred to a committee, where it could be debated and voted on, but similar proposals have been referred to […]

Local control deathwatch: Environment

Unsurprisingly, the Denton fracking ban has provoked a strong reaction. As policy dilemmas go, the one triggered when Denton voters decided last fall to ban hydraulic fracturing in their city looked like a whopper: The oil and gas industry versus local control — two things Texas holds dear — in intractable opposition. There seemed little […]

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 […]

Beer legislation 2.0

Just because craft brewers succeeded in passing a bill allowing them to sell beer for consumption on their premises last session doesn’t mean there isn’t more that can be done to advance the cause of beer freedom. Twinned bills introduced this week would extend direct sales for breweries. The proposals by state Sen. Kevin Eltife, […]

The state spending cap is a stupid idea

And the Republicans want to make it worse. Texas Senate leaders on Tuesday announced another round of efforts to change the way the state determines its two-year spending limit, and keep tax cuts from counting toward the constitutional cap on spending. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, at a […]

Bill filing deadline has passed

Believe it or not, we are almost halfway through the legislative session, and we have now passed the point where new bills can be filed. Racing to beat a deadline for filing bills, state lawmakers on Friday submitted hundreds of measures on everything from abolishing the death penalty to the licensing of auctioneers. By the […]

Trying again with online voter registration

My State Rep., Carol Alvarado, would like for you to be able to register to vote online. Can I just state the obvious? Why can’t we register to vote online? I manage my banking online, I do my taxes online, I can even buy and sell stock online; so why can’t I register to vote […]

One anti-gay bill pulled

One down, too many to count to go. A House Republican will no longer seek to amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit state and local governments from “in any way” restricting the free exercise of religion, leaving several conservative legislators hustling Tuesday to file an alternate bill. Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said opposition from the […]

Reforming property tax appraisal protests

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding Senate Bill 1084, his bill to create a fairer property tax appraisal system in Texas: “Homeowners and local communities across Texas are shouldering an unfair burden when large commercial property owners manipulate the property tax system to drive down their property values and […]

Why only Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart stands to benefit from legislation that would change how retail liquor licenses are granted, but some potential competitors would not. While two state lawmakers recently filed legislation that would allow retail giant Wal-Mart and other public corporations to sell hard liquor in Texas, the proposed bills maintain provisions that would prevent grocery chains H-E-B […]

Discrimination is bad for business

Good for TAB. The Texas Association of Business has come out against two religious freedom resolutions that critics say would enshrine a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people in the Texas Constitution. TAB, which is the state’s powerful chamber of commerce, unanimously adopted a resolution last month opposing House Joint Resolution 55 and Senate Joint […]

Republicans try again to kill Public Integrity Unit

They might have the votes this time, though as with some other highly publicized “replacement” efforts, their substitute idea lacks a few key elements to make it successful. Under Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Joan Huffman, the attorney general’s office would conduct the initial investigation of complaints against officials, with help from the Texas Rangers. […]

Sanctuary cities bill hearing rescheduled

Didn’t know you could do this in the Lege. A controversial immigration proposal scheduled for a public hearing Monday was postponed after a border Democrat argued that Republicans did not give the public sufficient notice about the meeting. The “sanctuary cities” measure, Senate Bill 185, by state Sen. Charles Perry, seeks to prohibit cities from […]

Ellis files bill to protect voting rights

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” part of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama: “‘Bloody Sunday’ played a pivotal role in the long and painful struggle for civil rights and equal opportunities for all Americans,” said Senator Ellis. “Hundreds of […]

Voodoo economics

Also known as Dan Patrick’s budgetary contortions. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, joined by the Texas Senate’s lead budget writers, announced “a new bold proposal” Wednesday morning to allow lawmakers to cut property taxes and pay down the state’s debt without busting the state’s politically charged spending cap. “Gosh darn, we know our businesses and taxpayers […]

Bill to outlaw non-discrimination ordinances filed

From The Observer: A Fort Bend County Republican has introduced a bill that would bar cities from adopting or enforcing non-discrimination ordinances that include protected classes not contained in state law. Texas law doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. As a result, state Rep. Rick Miller’s House Bill 1556 would undo LGBT […]

First call to action: Sanctuary cities

Stace sounds the alarm. Republicans have set a hearing to debate and railroad through committee SB 185, a sanctuary cities bill which will allow local and state law enforcement to participate in immigration duties through the practice of racial profiling (frankly, I can’t see how racially profiling Latinos will not happen). Here’s the committee hearing […]

Menendez sworn in

We’re back at full strength in the Senate. José Menéndez became San Antonio’s newest state senator in a ceremony Monday that featured the Alamo City Democrat taking the oath of office and urging his new colleagues in the upper chamber to chart a bipartisan course regardless of what “political price may come.” In a 10-minute […]

Statewide non-discrimination ordinance filed

From the Inbox: On the 179th anniversary of Texas Independence Day, Senator José Rodríguez (D-El Paso) filed Senate Bill 856, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, housing, and state contracting based upon sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The bill was joint-authored by Senators John Whitmire (D-Houston), […]

Republicans demand something for nothing on Medicaid

Um, okay. Leading Texas Republicans on Monday asked the Obama administration for greater flexibility to administer Medicaid — a move that has gotten little traction in the past — while reiterating that they would not participate in an expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act. “Any expansion of Medicaid in Texas is simply […]

More thoughts on the special election results

There has been very little news about the four legislative special elections that were decided last week, other than the brief hubbub over what the result in SD26 meant. Among other things, I’ve been looking for any kind of reporting on the results in the other three races, as well as on the fact that […]

More pre-K bills filed

The Observer has the best reporting on the latest pre-k bills that have been filed in the Lege. There’s widespread support around the Capitol for more state spending on pre-kindergarten programs, and much less agreement about how to do it. State Reps. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) have proposed a $300-million-a-year plan to […]

Tesla tries again

They’ve brought more firepower to the fight this time, by which I mean “more lobbyists”, but we’ll see if they can break through. Let the car haggling resume at the Texas Capitol. A group of state lawmakers on Thursday filed legislation that would allow Tesla Motors to sell its luxury electric cars at as many […]

We can always pay for tax cuts later

Item One: Texas House leaders said Monday they can cut taxes by more than the $4 billion initially proposed by their Senate counterparts, upping the ante for the high-profile issue despite other looming big-ticket state needs. “We really believe that we ought to be able to do more than $4 billion in tax cuts here […]

The Texas Compassionate Use Act

Looks like this will be the main marijuana-related action in the Legislature this session. Two Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would allow epilepsy patients to use medicinal oils that contain a therapeutic component found in marijuana. But some medical marijuana advocates are reluctant to support the proposed Texas Compassionate Use Act, calling it “appeasement […]

The backlash has begun

Item one. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to void a marriage license issued to two Austin women who became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in the state. Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together for 30 years, said their vows on Thursday after state […]