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Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

“Let’s just be real” about charter schools

Very interesting. “Let’s just be real,” Chris Barbic wrote last week when announcing his resignation as superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District. Then Barbic admitted what skeptics of charter schools have preached for years — “achieving results in neighborhood schools is harder than in a choice environment.” Barbic, as founder of the highly acclaimed YES […]

It’s a little easier to run for a statewide judicial office now

From the Quorum Report: In a change that flew under the radar for most and was signed by Gov. Abbott, candidates for statewide judicial offices will no longer be required to gather petition signatures from around the state before they can file. One of the changes quietly made by the Texas Legislature this year will […]

Auditing HCDE

We’ll see about this. Later this summer, state auditors are expected to release their final report on the Harris County Department of Education. They’ve been examining the agency since last December. Superintendent James Colbert told lawmakers about it at a hearing in April. “We should have absolutely nothing to hide as far as I’m concerned […]

Will there be TMF-Menendez round 2?

Maybe. Who knows? Last February, Jose Menendez beat Trey Martinez Fischer to serve the remainder of Leticia Van De Putte’s term when she decided to run for mayor. Campaign finance reports filed Wednesday may point to a rematch this fall. “Without money you don’t get your message out, so that’s why having money is important,” […]

More on the state’s refusal to issue birth certificates

The Observer follows up. Two legislators have weighed in on the controversy over Texas’ refusal to grant birth certificates to some children of undocumented families. On Wednesday, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, sent a letter to Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Kirk Cole, referencing an […]

Legislators ask for a task force to review Capitol monuments to the Confederacy

Fine by me. On the same day that the South Carolina Legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from its Capitol grounds, five Democratic lawmakers asked Gov. Greg Abbott to consider the appropriateness of the Confederate monuments at their own Capitol. In a letter sent Monday to Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker […]

The wedding industry is rubbing its hands with glee

Nothing like having your market dramatically expanded overnight. Within hours after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Texas and across the country, local wedding businesses and venues already began getting orders and bookings from same-sex couples. Those in the wedding industry said they expect a surge of gay couples who were hoping to marry […]

Paxton could be in real trouble

Whoa. The criminal investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken a more serious turn, with special prosecutors now planning to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against him to a Collin County grand jury, News 8 has learned. Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers uncovered […]

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 […]

Maybe Ratliff won’t step down from the SBOE after all

Just when he thought he was out, they (might) pull him back in. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed a social conservative and former staffer for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to chair the Texas State Board of Education on Thursday. Donna Bahorich will lead the 15-member board, whose duties include setting curriculum standards and approving the textbooks […]

Abbott signs pollution enhancement bill

Still sucks to be us, Harris County. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation that could make it tougher for local governments to sue big-time polluters – an effort that largely targets Harris County prosecutors. House Bill 1794, set to become law on Sept. 1, will set a five-year statute of limitations and cap payouts at […]

Eltife not running for re-election

He will be missed. After 23 years in elected office, state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, said he will not run for re-election in 2016 to devote more time to family, friends, his work and his community. Eltife said he’s loved every minute of his service in the Senate and is proud to have worked with […]

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 […]

What happens if SCOTUS does not uphold marriage equality?

Nothing good, that’s for sure. Gay and lesbian couples could face legal chaos if the Supreme Court rules against same-sex marriage in the next few weeks. Same-sex weddings could come to a halt in many states, depending on a confusing mix of lower-court decisions and the sometimes-contradictory views of state and local officials. Among the […]

Taking decentralization too far

Seriously? The governor and attorney general might have to work in Austin, but under a proposed constitutional amendment, they won’t have to live there. Under the proposed amendment, the century-old requirement that state leaders reside in the capital city would be erased and all statewide officeholders could live anywhere in Texas. Supporters cited modern communications […]

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 […]

Compromise property tax appraisal bill signed

It’s better than nothing, though not by that much. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that partially closes a loophole that allowed a powerful oil company to take back millions in tax dollars from Houston-area school districts while draining hundreds of millions more from local government coffers. The measure that won final approval, HB […]

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 […]

Immigration bills fail

Another thing to celebrate from this session. As the sun begins to set on the 84th Texas Legislature, promises to enact tough immigration legislation remain unfulfilled. State Sen. Donna Campbell says she’s not giving up just because the last gavel is about to drop. Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, tried unsuccessfully to pass Senate Bill […]

The new closet

From this Observer story about how Democrats finally managed to put a stake through Rep. Cecil Bell’s awful anti-same-sex-marriage-license bill, comes word of the legislative preference that dare not speak its name: [Rep. Jason] Villalba’s statements were a clear reminder that it wasn’t just Democrats who killed anti-LGBT proposals. And they were another sign of […]

Tighter spending cap defeated

I consider this to be a victory. The state’s constitutional spending cap will remain untouched this session, and House and Senate leaders are blaming each other for the lack of action on the arcane but politically important measure. Senate Republicans had sought to tighten the rules that guide how much future state budgets can grow, […]

Amended campus carry passes

All things considered, this could have been a lot worse. The Texas Senate took a final vote Saturday to approve legislation requiring the state’s public universities to allow handguns in dorms, classrooms and campus buildings. Under the latest version of the bill, universities would be able to carve out gun-free zones in locations of their […]

Dan Patrick’s defeat

The Observer reviews how Dan Patrick’s Senate could ultimately take no firmer a stance against same sex marriage than to pass a resolution disapproving of it. In last night’s “debate” over the resolution, Lucio, a passionate pro-life Catholic, rose to give a personal speech about his own convictions. “From our bibles, we learn of one […]

And the red light camera ban dies again

This time it should be permanent. A resurrected effort to ban red-light cameras in Texas died Friday after a House lawmaker called a point of order—a procedural tactic used to kill bills—on his own transportation legislation. Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, the bill’s author, said he was opposed to the red-light camera ban as it […]

Filibuster threat for open carry

We could have some end of session drama this year again. State Sen. José Rodríguez said Thursday that if the opportunity arises, he plans to filibuster a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in Texas. Speaking at a Texas Tribune event, the El Paso Democrat said he thought the legislation was “totally unnecessary” and […]

Bill to kill red light cameras lives again

It ain’t over till it’s over. Legislation that would gradually shut down red-light cameras in Dallas and other Texas cities – a measure that appeared to be dead earlier this week – was resurrected in the Senate on Wednesday night. The proposal by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would initially prohibit the future use of the […]

Early returns on body cameras are positive

So far so good. The majority of 100 Houston Police Department officers who have field tested body cameras over a recent two-month period called it a positive experience, though many expressed concern that the technology could endanger officer safety or be used by superiors to discipline them, according to an internal report obtained this week […]

The fallout from the chubfest

Cleaning up some loose ends…The campus carry bill that was the subject of much chubbing passed on final reading. The battle over “campus carry” is headed back to the Texas Senate after House lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to legislation requiring universities in the state to allow concealed handguns on campus. Senate Bill 11 from […]

House chubfest kills several bad bills

Some good news, though as always at the end of a session, the outcome isn’t clean and the details are very murky. As the clock struck midnight, the failure of an anti-abortion initiative — dear to the hearts of the far right — marked the end of a tumultuous day on the floor of the […]

Bell’s anti-same sex marriage license bill lives again

WTF? A Democratic state senator has dredged up anti-gay marriage legislation that advocates thought was dead this session, attaching the language to an uncontroversial county affairs bill under the noses of his fellow Democrats. While gay rights advocates decried the move, the bill’s original sponsor in the House said he would never let his legislation […]

SCOTUS to hear Texas “one person one vote” challenge

Gird your loins. When drawing voting districts, should lawmakers seek to make each district have roughly the same number of people, or the same number of people eligible to vote? The Supreme Court is going to answer that question, the court announced Tuesday morning. The question lies at the heart of a Texas case, and […]

There’s still time for bad bills to be passed

Bad bill #1: After four hours of debate and more than a dozen failed amendments offered by Democrats, the Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to far-reaching restrictions on minors seeking abortions in Texas without parental consent. On a 21-10 vote, the upper chamber signed off on House Bill 3994 by Republican state Rep. Geanie […]

Red light camera bill dies in House committee

Better luck next time. A drive to outlaw red-light cameras in Dallas and other Texas cities has reached a red light of its own. The House Transportation Committee on Friday voted to reject a Senate bill that would’ve gradually phased out the divisive cameras. That means the effort, opposed by police departments, is effectively dead […]