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Posts Tagged ‘The Lege’

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 […]

Three legislators announce their departure

The first to say goodbye is Rep. Sylvester Turner. Representative Sylvester Turner fought back tears today as the House gave him a bipartisan farewell as he concluded a 26-year legislative career to run for Houston mayor. “My time is up. My season is about here. And Mr. Speaker, in 24 hours, my desk will be […]

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, […]

Mayoral candidate forum season gets underway

Gentlemen, start your oratorical engines for these upcoming Mayoral candidate forums. The events, which will focus on arts and culture, economic development, and labor and community concerns, kick off a months-long cycle in which the candidates will appear before various interest groups, speaking to their specific concerns. Wednesday’s arts forum at the Asia Society comes […]

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 […]

HCDE happenings

The Chron paints an unflattering portrait of the Harris County Department of Education. HCDE has operated in relative obscurity for decades, fighting off lawmakers’ occasional efforts to eliminate it by bankrolling lobbyists and political consultants. Advocates for the agency say it provides indispensable support services to the 25 independent school districts in Harris County. But […]

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 […]

Budget deal

What Christopher Hooks says. Texans, you can put down your pitchforks and douse your torches: The edibles you’ve squirreled away in your emergency bunkers can be safely consumed. Life can begin anew. The tax cut war between House and Senate has been resolved, which means that barring a catastrophic screw-up—say, Comptroller Glenn Hegar realizing he […]

House passes AG butt-in bill

Boo. The state attorney general is on the verge of having new powers to influence cases on school finance and legislative redistricting, as part of the GOP’s latest efforts to diminish Democratic challenges to their policies. The House on Monday voted 91-49 to give preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the attorney general […]

Pointless “pastor protection” bill passes House

Whatever. The House tentatively approved Thursday a bill saying that Texas pastors, churches and religious institutions can’t be sued by private parties or penalized by government for spurning gay weddings. Many clergy, especially Southern Baptist ministers opposed to gay marriage, have testified they very much need the legal shield. “Maybe pastors won’t be sued. But […]

Anti-high speed rail budget rider removed

Good. A proposed bullet train between Dallas and Houston has survived a budgeting measure that could’ve derailed the push in Texas to have the nation’s first high-speed rail line. Budget writers on Thursday removed a Senate-inserted rider in the spending plan that said the Texas Department of Transportation couldn’t spend any state money on “subsidizing […]

Local control still under assault

Sucks to be us, Harris County. With Harris County in its crosshairs, the Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that could make it tougher for Texas Counties to sue big-time polluters. If finally passed, House Bill 1794 would notch another victory for a wide range of business groups in a legislative session that’s been kind […]

A brief lesson in the value of disclosure and transparency

I confess, I have not been following the “wingnut activists videoing everyone at the Capitol” clown show very closely, but the absurdity of it all has been kicked up to the point where I couldn’t ignore it any more. The activist group employing people who have been secretly recording lawmakers have talked about having a […]

Bullet train budget rider battle continues

The budget rider to derail the high speed train is still under contention as the conference committee completes its work. Tucked in Page 682 of the budget passed by the Senate in April is Rider 48, a provision that would bar the Texas Department of Transportation from spending any state funds toward “subsidizing or assisting […]

Pointless “pastor protection” bill comes to the House

From the Observer. Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) said Wednesday he doesn’t plan to introduce an anti-gay marriage amendment to the so-called Pastor Protection Act scheduled for a House vote Thursday. However, with 12 days remaining in the session, Bell said he continues to look for another means of resurrecting House Bill 4105, which was designed […]

Where the education reform bills stand

As we know, the attempt to take a first stab at school finance reform did not make it to the House floor. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some action on school-related issues. This Chron story from the weekend recapped a couple of the major bills that did make it through. Lawmakers likely could have killed […]

What next for Metro now that peace with Culberson has broken out?

We’ve all had a chance to read over and digest the agreement Metro struck with Rep. John Culberson now. It looked good to me up front (though not to everyone – more on that in a bit), but as always with something this involved, there are many questions. What do some of these items mean, […]

Stickland not out of the woods

Despite what he says. A state investigation into allegations that state Rep. Jonathan Stickland improperly registered witnesses to testify on a bill banning red light cameras has cleared Stickland of wrongdoing, his office announced Monday. But two officials involved in the investigation disagreed with the Bedford Republican’s declaration Monday evening. “I can confirm that we […]

Senate still trying to pass “sanctuary cities” and DREAM Act repeal

Time is running out on these bad bills, but as the man said, it ain’t over till it’s over. After sitting idle in the Senate for more than a month, a controversial bill to eliminate in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants is back on the upper chamber’s calendar. But it remains unclear whether the Senate […]

Metro and Culberson announce the terms of their agreement

Gotta say, this all sounds pretty good. First, Congressman Culberson supports METRO’s proposed legislation pending in the State Legislature that expands the size of the METRO Board, increases the eligible length of Board member service and allows the existing board to elect a chairman in October with an odd initial term. These changes will help […]

House approves limited medical marijuana bill

And there it is. On a 96-34 vote, the House passed Senate Bill 339, from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, which would legalize oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. If the House gives final passage in a follow-up vote, the measure will be Gov. […]