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Posts Tagged ‘Sylvester Turner’

Houston officially gets in the SB4 litigation business

Well done. Houston City Council voted Wednesday to sue the state over its new “sanctuary cities” law, joining Texas’ three other largest cities in challenging the controversial measure. Council voted 10-6 to join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, El Paso County and several other local governments and nonprofits in a consolidated case challenging the state. Councilman […]

Public testimony on SB4

It was heated, as you might expect. Scores of residents urged City Council on Tuesday to challenge the state’s “sanctuary cities” ban, speaking during more than five hours of public testimony on the eve of council’s vote on whether to join litigation. Council chambers overflowed with residents waiting to testify on Senate Bill 4, which […]

Council may vote on joining SB4 litigation tomorrow

It will happen, though perhaps not tomorrow. Houston City Council is poised to vote [this] Wednesday on whether to join litigation challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, days before the case’s preliminary hearing in San Antonio. The city attorney’s office has recommended Houston sue over the law known as Senate Bill 4, […]

We need better fire inspections

Not good. The Houston Fire Department division responsible for ensuring building safety keeps inadequate records, does not examine buildings on a regular schedule and inflated its inspection numbers, all while exceeding its overtime budget, according to an audit released by the city controller’s office Thursday. The audit for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 is the […]

Houston will get involved in the SB4 fight later this month

Very good to hear. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask City Council to vote this month on joining lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, ending months of equivocation on the controversial immigration enforcement measure. If City Council votes to sue, Houston would join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and several other local […]

Do we really have to have a pension bond vote?

So as we know, the Houston pension reform bill that passed contains a provision that requires a vote on the pension obligation bonds that Mayor Turner intends to float as a down payment. Pension obligation bonds have been floated in the past, by Mayor White, without a vote, but for whatever the reason some members […]

Mayors (still) against climate change

Someone’s gotta do it. On Thursday, President Donald Trump officially announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, citing the deal’s failure “to serve American interests.” Hours later, governors, mayors, and environmental groups all had a different message: We’ll take it from here. “Donald Trump has absolutely chosen the wrong […]

San Antonio files “sanctuary cities” lawsuit

Here they go. The cities of San Antonio and Austin announced on Thursday they have joined the fight to stop the state’s new immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 4, in federal court. […] The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the suit Thursday on behalf of San Antonio City Councilman Rey Saldaña and […]

Council passes the 2017-18 budget

With a bit of drama along the way. City Council voted to boost funding for a controversial program that helps district council members tackle neighborhood projects Wednesday, even as it approved an annual budget from which one police cadet class and up to 75 employees’ jobs already had been trimmed. Mayor Sylvester Turner blasted the […]

Firefighters sue over pension reform law

I suppose this was inevitable. Houston’s firefighters pension fund has sued Mayor Sylvester Turner and numerous city officials over the pension reform plan Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday, putting up another potential hurdle in Houston’s efforts to solve a 16-year fiscal crisis. The Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund argues in the lawsuit […]

When might Houston file a lawsuit over SB4?

Unclear at this time. Responding to calls for Houston to take a tougher stance on immigration legislation, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday he still is reviewing a controversial state law passed this month that allows police to ask people their immigration status if detained. The advocacy group FIEL Houston urged Turner earlier in the day […]

ACLU joins first “sanctuary cities” lawsuit

From the inbox: The ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project have joined the lawsuit challenging Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which demands that local governments and their employees engage in federal immigration enforcement practices. The case, City of El Cenizo, Texas, et al. v. State of Texas, et al., was filed earlier […]

On to the revenue cap

With one major accomplishment (basically) finished, Mayor Turner moves on to the next major challenge facing him. “This is the most consequential campaign of the mayor’s career,” University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said. “These things are more complicated and more politically fraught than either his mayoral campaign or the lobbying to get the […]

Houston pension reform bill passes

It’s done. The Texas House on Wednesday approved the controversial Senate version of a bill that aims to overhaul Houston’s failing pension funds — over the passionate objections of current and former firefighters. Senate Bill 2190, which passed in a 103-43 vote, now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. But the months of rancor between […]

House and Senate concur on pension bill

One more vote in each chamber, then it’s on to get a signature. The Legislature is expected to take its final votes on Houston’s pension reform legislation within days after a group of House and Senate lawmakers Sunday night hashed out the differences between their chambers’ versions and produced a final bill. Stripped from the […]

Bill King wants you to lower his property taxes

That’s not what he says in this op-ed, but it is the effect of what he’s arguing for, even if he’s not honest enough to come out and say it. Let’s start with the basic point that despite King’s disingenuous attempt to rebrand it, what the city has is indeed a revenue cap and not […]

More “sanctuary cities” plaintiffs gearing up

Local governments are not going down without a fight. On Tuesday, which organizers said was the beginning of a “summer of resistance,” Austin City Council member Delia Garza said the city will move this week to take formal action to stop SB 4 in the courtroom. “I am proud to announce today, with much gratitude […]

Senate passes statewide rideshare bill

It’s a done deal. After a debate among lawmakers over the best way to regulate services like Uber and Lyft, the Texas Senate on Wednesday backed a proposal that would override local regulations concerning ride-hailing companies. House Bill 100 would establish a statewide framework to regulate ride-hailing companies and undo local rules that the two […]

Lawsuit filed against Houston panhandling ordinance

From the inbox: The ACLU of Texas announced today that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of three homeless Houstonian plaintiffs adversely affected by the City of Houston’s camping and panhandling ordinances. Taken together, these ordinances illegally deprive homeless Houstonians of shelter, infringe on their right to free speech and ultimately constitute a criminalization […]

Senate rejects House changes to Houston pension reform bill

Conference committee, here we come. The Texas Senate on Wednesday refused to concur with House-passed amendments to a reform bill designed to resolve financial problems for Houston’s pension system. Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican who is the author of the legislation, said the House changes would be too costly and would derail a tentative […]

Mayor Turner’s second budget

It’s about what you’d expect. With pension reform in sight, Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday proposed a combination of departmental cuts, one-time fixes, deferred payments and a dip into city reserves to close next year’s $123 million budget gap. Turner aims to erase the deficit with $51 million in spending cuts – largely from police […]

House passes pension reform bill

One step closer, though there are still issues to be worked out. The Texas House gave early approval Monday to a bill that would reform Houston’s three problematic pension funds, which have caused financial woes and spurred political battles for years. The 112-28 vote for Senate Bill 2190 came after lawmakers made some key changes […]

Revenue cap will be on the November ballot

Here it comes, assuming the pension reform bill doesn’t get mugged in a dark alley. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask voters to lift Houston’s cap on property tax collections in November, a move that could loosen one of the city’s primary fiscal constraints as it confronts still-hefty pension and debt costs that leave little […]

Senate passes pension reform bill

Progress. Houston’s pension reform package passed the Texas Senate by a 25-5 margin Monday, as a possible political blockade dissolved to provide the landmark proposal a speedy passage. Mayor Sylvester Turner’s reforms now await a hearing in the state House on Saturday. “I believe this current version is our best chance at significant pension reform […]

Texas asks for Ike Dike money from the feds

Good luck with that. Almost a decade after Hurricane Ike killed dozens of people and caused $30 billion in damage, a group of Texas politicians and business leaders say they finally have “all the support necessary” to break ground on a massive coastal barrier that would protect the Houston area from another devastating hurricane. Now […]

Petitions submitted to force another pension vote

Oh, good grief. Voters soon could decide whether to close Houston’s traditional pension plans to new employees after political activists submitted a petition to City Hall to force a referendum this November. The petition further complicates Mayor Sylvester Turner’s efforts to pass a pension reform bill, which already had hit a hurdle in the state […]

Complete Communities

Mayor Turner makes an announcement about a new program for revitalizing some core neighborhoods. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to focus Houston’s community development efforts on five low-income neighborhoods as part of his Complete Communities initiative announced Monday. The program comes without a price tag or implementation timeline, and the mayor has committed no additional money […]

The new panhandling ordinance

This happened last week; I didn’t have a chance to really look at it before now. Residents who impede the use of a Houston roadway, or block a sidewalk or building entrance could be charged with a misdemeanor under an ordinance passed Wednesday by City Council. The ordinance aimed at curbing panhandling was paired with […]

Pension reform bill passes House committee

Two for two. Houston’s pension reform bill will now move to the floor of each legislative chamber after a Texas House committee joined its Senate counterparts in passing the measure 6-1 Wednesday. With Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, opposed, the pensions committee adopted House Bill 43, which will now head to a scheduling committee to be […]

Firefighters will oppose pension reform bill

So it goes. Hopes that Houston’s firefighter pension board might agree to a compromise set of benefit reforms and end their opposition to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s landmark reform package proved too optimistic, after the two sides passed a Thursday deadline without a deal. It remains unclear what effect counting the firefighters as confirmed foes will […]

Busy day in the Senate

They got stuff done, I’ll give them that. Whether it was stuff worth doing or not, I’ll leave to you. 1. Senate bill would let Houston voters weigh in on fix to pension crisis. The Senate on Wednesday voted 21-10 to give preliminary approval of a bill that would require voters to sign off before […]

House hearing for pension bill

Another step in the process. Houston’s pension reform plan got its first hearing Monday in the state House, where rows and rows of current and retired firefighters appeared to voice opposition to the plan. Municipal and police leaders testified in support, however, as did representatives of the Greater Houston Partnership and, of course, Mayor Sylvester […]

Bike plan finally gets approved

Long time coming. Houston has a bike plan. Though there’s no clear plan to pay for it and ongoing concerns with exactly where the planned trails and lanes will be located, City Council approved the bike plan on Wednesday morning. Council members Mike Knox, Steve Le, Michael Kubosh and Greg Travis voted against the plan, […]

Pension reform bill passes Senate committee

A major step forward. Houston’s pension reform plan cleared a state Senate committee in its initial hearing at the Capitol on Monday, despite the fact that all those who testified – including Mayor Sylvester Turner – opposed at least some portion of the omnibus package. Retirees were concerned about benefit cuts. Some conservatives said the […]