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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

The situation in Plano is complicated

I had not realized this. The nation’s largest LGBT political advocacy group indicated this week it is unlikely to help defend a nondiscrimination ordinance in Plano due to exemptions affecting the transgender community. The announcement from the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign could amount to a costly setback for supporters of the ordinance, as the […]

918K and counting

Obamacare enrollment numbers in Texas keep going up. More than 7 million people, including 918,890 Texans, have selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled in coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, according to government data released Wednesday. […] But the figures released Wednesday aren’t separated between new enrollments and […]

School finance case timeline announced

Mark “later this year” on your calendars. The Texas Supreme Court will hear the state’s appeal of last year’s far-reaching school finance decision later this year under a timetable laid out by the high court on Friday. Justices gave the state 80 days to file their briefs in the case and the plaintiff school districts […]

Don’t look for a meet-and-confer bill in the Lege this year

Buried in this story about the city and the county preparing to play defense during the legislative session is this update on the state of relations between the city and the firefighters. In her first two sessions, Houston Mayor Annise Parker failed to gain traction with legislation that would grant the city meet-and-confer powers that […]

The Farenthold files

The Farenthold lawsuit continues to have promise as the underrated scandal of the year. In his first interview since the suit was filed in December, [Rep. Blake] Farenthold said he was shocked by the allegations made by Lauren Greene, the former staffer. “I was surprised,” he said. “I didn’t imagine us having any problems in […]

First three runoff dates are set

Greg Abbott completes a bit of business left to him by Rick Perry. Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled runoffs from the Jan. 6 special elections for Feb. 17, according to his office. The decision officially sets head-to-head match-ups in state Senate District 26, state House District 17 and state House District 123. Early voting in […]

Reusing wastewater

Get used to it. Reclaimed wastewater soon will irrigate the trim lawns and wooded parks of some Houston suburbs. Instead of being dumped into the bayous, some of it might even undergo more extensive treatment in order to flow from kitchen taps. Economics is starting to trump the yuck factor of reusing water flushed down […]

Minding Houston

Want to know about mental health issues and how they are being addressed by the Legislature? Tune in to Minding Houston, the legislatively-focused blog of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. From their About page: Mental Health America of Greater Houston is pleased to offer the blog, “Minding Houston,” which covers legislation and issues associated […]

Judge Richardson will stay on the Perry case

Good to know. The way is cleared for Judge Bert Richardson of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to continue presiding over former Gov. Rick Perry’s criminal case, under an order by the judicial region’s presiding judge. The order was necessary to allow Richardson to rule on a pending effort by Perry’s lawyers to dismiss […]

January campaign finance reports – San Antonio

As we know, while we wait for the Mayoral field to shape up here in Houston, there’s already a hot open-seat race going on in San Antonio, featuring now-former State Rep. Mike Villarreal, State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (who has submitted a letter of resignation but is staying on until her successor is sworn […]

USAA to offer “rideshare” insurance

Noted for future reference. USAA has launched a pilot program in Colorado that gives rideshare drivers the opportunity to sign up for a policy that extends their existing USAA coverage and deductibles and provides enhanced coverage the moment rideshare application is turned on until to the moment they are hired to pick up a customer. […]

HERO petition repeal trial starts

It could actually be over before it really starts, though I would not expect that. For the next three to four weeks, the Harris County Civil Courthouse will be the stage for the trial over Houston’s controversial equal rights ordinance. If everything works out according to plan, opening statements will begin next Tuesday. That is, […]

RIP, two-thirds rule

Not a surprise. With a new lieutenant governor installed for the first time in over a decade Wednesday — and over the cries of Democrats — the Texas Senate voted to break from an almost 70-year tradition intended to encourage compromise among its 31 members. Now the approval of only 19 senators instead of 21 […]

Plano equality opponents turn in their petitions

Yesterday was the deadline for the opponents of Plano’s equal rights ordinance to turn in petitions to force a repeal referendum, and the haters of Plano duly did so. Opponents of Plano’s Equal Rights Ordinance say they’ve met the deadline and collected the necessary signatures to force the Plano City Council to repeal the ordinance […]

What will happen with pre-K this session?

They say it’s a priority, though I would advise tempering one’s expectations. Currently, Texas funds a half day of preschool for 4-year-olds whose first language is not English, whose families have low incomes, whose parents are active duty military or who are in foster care. Texas has some of the weakest quality standards for preschool, […]

Hyperloops

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a hyperloop! Entrepreneur Elon Musk announced Thursday that he wants to build a “test track” for his idea for a futuristic high-speed transportation system called the Hyperloop, adding that Texas is “the leading candidate” to host the track. Musk’s Hyperloop concept involves transporting […]

Tuition re-regulation on the menu

There are different ways it could go. Tuition at Texas universities has more than doubled in the 12 years since state lawmakers authorized colleges to set their own rates. Now legislators are pushing to take back that control. It’s not a new idea, but it stands a chance for the first time since 2003, when […]

Expect to hear more about Perry vetos and no-bid contracts

Bring it on. Democratic lawmakers and government watchdog groups on Saturday called for the reopening of an investigation into no-bid state contracts that ended in 2013 after Gov. Rick Perry vetoed funding for the team conducting it. The critics decried the millions of dollars in Department of Public Safety contracts and another set of similar […]

How the appraisal game is rigged

The Observer tells the tale of how we got to where we are with the appraisal process and how easy it is for the big boys to get their taxes drastically reduced. At the heart of Valero’s lawsuits in Moore County was a complicated question: What is a refinery worth? For that matter, what is […]

Texas Obamacare enrollments top 850K

And counting. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday announced nearly 860,000 Texans so far have enrolled in health insurance marketplace coverage with a month left still left to go until the 2015 open enrollment period ends. It’s unclear how many of those signups are new marketplace customers. Last year, nearly 734,000 […]

The veto that keeps on giving

I haven’t closely followed the burgeoning scandal at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which involves no-bid contracts, up front tuition reimbursements for top level staffers, and rampant cronyism. It’s already cost three people their jobs and will likely eventually result in the HHSC Commissioner, Kyle Janek, either falling on his sword or getting […]

First hearing in Abbott’s immigration lawsuit

No clue what will happen with this. Saying South Texas is where the “rubber meets the road” on immigration issues, a federal judge used a folksy reference Thursday to note his court is the right place to decide whether to block President Obama’s recent order protecting millions of immigrants from deportation. “Talking to anyone in […]

It’s skunk vaccination time

Again. Fresh from victories over rabies strains in the coyote and gray fox, Texas [launched] its annual aerial assault on one of the state’s top remaining carriers: skunks. The state health department Wednesday [began] dropping 1.4 million doses of edible rabies vaccines over a 17-county area between Houston and Austin, where laboratories have consistently confirmed […]

SCOTUS will take up same sex marriage

This is it. The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will take up four cases challenging state bans on same-sex couples’ marriages — a long anticipated move that could lead to nationwide marriage equality. The cases ask the justices whether Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee bans on same-sex couples’ marriages and bans on recognition […]

The bigger threat than the Plano petitions

This could be a big problem. Four Republican lawmakers from the Plano area plan to introduce legislation that would bar cities and counties from adopting ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, the Observer has learned. The proposed legislation also threatens to nullify existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in cities that are home to roughly 7.5 million […]

Rallying to save the Texas DREAM Act

It won’t be easy. With a new Texas legislative session underway and incoming state leaders indicating a desire to repeal the Texas Dream Act, supporters of the law are gearing up for a renewed fight to keep it in place. A group of about 60 students, businessmen and legislators gathered on the south steps of […]

Say goodbye to some specialty license plates

Nothing lasts forever. Dr. Pepper, the National Wild Turkey Foundation and the Fort Worth Zoo are among 56 groups that will no longer grace the bumpers of Texas cars and trucks unless sales pick up. Under new rules set between the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and My Plates, the company that sells specialty license […]

Local control, schmocal control

From Lisa Falkenberg: So, let me get this straight. Government is the problem, not the solution. It’s a bumbling bureaucracy run by tyrants, cronies and other self-important suits who think they know better than you or I how to live our lives – UNLESS, of course, that bumbling bureaucracy operates under a pink dome on […]

Bilski and Schubert advance in HD13

From the Secretary of State: State Representative District Becky Berger REP 1,076 10.72% Carolyn Cerny Bilski REP 4,318 43.45% Leighton Schubert REP 3,259 32.79% Cecil R. Webster, Sr. DEM 1,283 12.91% This race now joins the other three in requiring a runoff. As yet, there has been no date set for those runoffs – apparently, […]

The haters are gathering petitions in Plano

God help us all. Opponents of Plano’s new ordinance banning discrimination against gays and transgendered people have drawn support from Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz. “This is an attack on Judeo-Christian beliefs in America,” Cruz told a Plano crowd on Wednesday. “It’s time people of faith become involved in the political arena.” […]

Aycock files school finance reform bill

Interesting. A key House Republican said Texas lawmakers should not wait for the outcome of a sprawling school finance lawsuit to discuss changes to the state’s current public education funding system. “While we do not know the final outcome of the school finance lawsuit, I believe it is appropriate to foster broad conversations on this […]

On playing small ball

Campos reacts to Mayor Parker’s future statewide plans. And here again is my small ball take from a few weeks ago: It is time for small ball instead of the big inning. In baseball, small ball is a strategy where you manufacture runs by utilizing the bunt, stealing bases, the hit and run, walks, hitting […]

Hegar’s first revenue estimate is in

We’ll see how it holds up. Amid concerns that tumbling oil prices could push the Texas economy into a recession, Comptroller Glenn Hegar offered a cautiously optimistic tone on the future of the Texas economy Monday, announcing that lawmakers will have $113 billion to haggle over in crafting its next two-year budget. “Our projections are […]

From the Bad Editorial Timing department

From the Houston Chronicle Saturday edition: State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, called Harris Health’s impending budget shortfall “one more casualty of Texas not participating in the Medicaid expansion. “We could at least stop the bleeding if we had the additional Medicaid funding,” said Coleman. “Treating people without insurance cards, particularly county hospitals but private hospitals, […]