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Posts Tagged ‘The Lege’

Early eminent domain dispute for Texas Central

It was over before it started. Lawyers for a proposed high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas withdrew their request for entry to a local landowner’s property, after opponents and the landowner opposed it in front of a Harris County judge, according to opponents of the project. “It is a great day for the vindication […]

Rep. Dawnna Dukes to resign

Our first special election for 2017 is now on the clock. State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who is facing a criminal investigation over her use of state funds, will resign from her seat in the Texas House in January, according to the Quorum Report, a Texas political news website. The 11-term Austin Democrat cited medical issues […]

Endorsement watch: Against recapture

The Chron recommends a No vote on the forthcoming HISD referendum to authorize recapture. Voters will face a test on Election Day, and whether they answer correctly will determine the future of the Houston Independent School District. It should be a simple question, but it’s written in the obtuse vernacular of lawmakers who really don’t […]

Interview with Ben Rose

There are basically two interesting legislative races in the Houston area this November. The first is HD144, where former Rep. Mary Ann Perez should reclaim her seat against 2014 winner Rep. Gilbert Pena. I did an interview with Perez for the primary, which you can revisit here if you care to. The other is in […]

Kinder Institute analyzes Mayor Turner’s pension reform plan

From the inbox: Rice University’s Kinder Institute has done the preliminary math on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s historic pension reform plan and determined the numbers appear to add up if all of the components are implemented as envisioned. The institute is one of several agencies to analyze the mayor’s proposal since it was unveiled last week. […]

More on the Sandra Bland settlement

State Rep. Garnet Coleman is working to implement the reforms mandated by the Sandra Bland lawsuit settlement. House Democrats sparred with state law enforcement officials over questions of racial profiling Tuesday at a sometimes contentious hearing. It was the latest in a series of House County Affairs Committee hearings on policing in advance of the […]

Judge orders state to reword its voter ID outreach materials

Let’s try this again, shall we? In the continuing fight over Texas’ voter ID law, a federal judge on Monday ordered state officials to change, where possible, the language used to inform voters and poll workers about acceptable voting procedures for the November election, according to a lawyer for those challenging the state law. U.S. […]

HISD board members against the HISD ballot item

I missed this when it first appeared. Three Houston school board members on Thursday evening publicly urged voters to oppose a measure that would authorize the district to forfeit $162 million to the state. Trustees Jolanda Jones, Harvin Moore and Rhonda Skillern-Jones went on the offensive at the live-streamed board meeting, asking voters to join […]

Another story about the possible Trump Effect on downballot races

It’s mostly about one legislative race in particular, but that’s okay. When he worked in the oil industry, Thomas Benavidez traveled to drilling sites across Texas and northern Mexico. The work was exciting, and the pay was good. He rarely paid attention to politics. But after being laid off two years ago, the 24-year-old South […]

TEA will review special ed limits

It’s a start. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said Wednesday that his office is reviewing a monitoring system that sets an 8.5 percent benchmark for special education enrollments and strictly audits school districts with enrollments that exceed that rate for students with disabilities. The Chronicle reported Sunday that TEA officials had arbitrarily selected the 8.5 […]

More on the pension deal

The full version of the Chron story adds a lot of detail. Under the tentative deal, the funds would assume more realistic investment returns – 7 percent rather than 8 percent to 8.5 percent – and would recognize all recent market losses on their books at once. The city also would erase the plans’ underfunding […]

ACC makes it three

So long, North Carolina. Just two days after the NCAA announced they were moving scheduled tournaments out of North Carolina in protest of the state’s anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2, the Atlantic Coast Conference—which includes North Carolina’s biggest Division I programs like Duke, UNC, NC State, and Wake Forest—announced it would also relocate several of their […]

Mayor Turner announces pension fund deal

From the inbox: Negotiators for the City, the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund and the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System have developed Preliminary Points of Understanding on a structural approach to long term, sustainable, defined benefit pension reform. Detailed formal plans continue to be developed and will need […]

Some officials take note of special education funding restrictions

It’s a start. The vice chairman of the State Board of Education, a Houston school board member, a key state senator and scores of parents and disability advocates all expressed strong opposition on Monday to a Texas Education Agency performance-based monitoring system that has kept thousands of disabled children out of special education since 2004. […]

City loses in appeal against firefighters’ pension statute

Here’s a pension fund-related litigation update for you. Houston can’t overhaul a state-governed firefighter pension system that the mayor claims is pushing the city towards insolvency, a Texas appeals court ruled. Houston sued the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund in January 2014, seeking a declaration that a state law setting how the fund is […]

“Denied”

This is worth your time to read. During the first week of school at Shadow Forest Elementary, a frail kindergartner named Roanin Walker had a meltdown at recess. Overwhelmed by the shrieking and giggling, he hid by the swings and then tried to escape the playground, hitting a classmate and biting a teacher before being […]

NCAA removes all championship games for 2016 and 2017 from North Carolina

Actions, they have consequences. Based on the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion, the Association will relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year. The NCAA Board of Governors made this decision because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections. In its decision Monday, the Board of Governors emphasized that NCAA […]

You are still free to discriminate against LGBT people

Just a reminder. Campus Pride usually highlights the best colleges for LGBT youth, as expensive as they may be. But for the first time today, the advocacy group is calling out the worst campuses for queer students. “Most people are shocked when they learn that there are college campuses still today that openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth,” said Campus […]

Rep. Reynolds files for bankruptcy

This was expected. Embattled state Rep. Ron Reynolds has filed for personal bankruptcy following a judge’s order to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a former client. The filing comes as Reynolds, the Democratic whip in the House, is also appealing a conviction last year in Montgomery County on barratry charges, commonly known as […]

Reducing pot prosecutions one county at a time

Some Texas cities are taking direct action to dial back the drug wars and reduce their jail population. As lawmakers have wrestled in recent years with easing restrictions on marijuana use – an issue they likely will confront again when they convene in January – prosecutors in the state’s most populated areas are relaxing their […]

We now have data about police shootings of civilians

The Chron reviews the first year’s worth of data. Texas police reported shooting 159 people in the first year that the state tracked such cases under a groundbreaking new law. Officers in Houston shot 31 of them – compared to eight in San Antonio and Dallas and five apiece in Fort Worth and Austin. Houston’s […]

“Unholstered”

Some really good work by the Trib here. The Texas Tribune spent almost a year attempting to collect information on police shootings from departments in the state’s 36 largest cities, which have a population of 100,000 or more, and was able to confirm 656 fatal and nonfatal shooting incidents involving 738 individuals that occurred between […]

Stuck in the MUD

Tricky things, these municipal utility districts. MUD 187 came to be when a Houston developer arranged for two people to move their trailer onto a 519-acre site on the edge of Richmond in Fort Bend County, which at the time was an empty field. As the only “residents” within the municipal utility district’s boundaries, the […]

The recapture blues

What are you gonna do? At least once a year, an official from a property-wealthy Texas school calls Christy Rome and tells her they’re just not going to do it. They don’t want to send a big chunk of their tax dollars to the state, even though they’re required to do so under a state […]

How do other states regulate ridesharing?

The Texas Legislature would like to know. As Texas lawmakers consider filing legislation next year related to ride-hailing companies, they learned Tuesday that more than 30 states have passed laws calling for some level of regulation of companies like Uber and Lyft. A report presented by Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute analyzed state and municipal […]

Black women face much higher risk of pregnancy-related death in Texas

Any time you’re being compared to a third world country, it’s not a good thing. Black women bear the greatest risk for pregnancy-related death in Texas by far, according to a much-awaited new report, commissioned because the state rate resembles that of many Third World countries. The report, which follows the publication of a national […]

Microbreweries win their distribution rights lawsuit

Excellent news. A Texas law that prohibits brewers from selling territorial rights to distribute their beer is unconstitutional, a judge ruled Thursday, serving up a major victory to beer companies seeking to expand their presence in stores, bars and restaurants throughout the state. The decision says the government has no compelling interest in prohibiting brewers […]

Schedule set for voter ID discrimination arguments

The next phase of the voter ID litigation will begin shortly after Election Day. A federal judge has scheduled oral arguments for Jan. 24 to determine if the Texas Legislature approved a voter ID law in 2011 with the intent to discriminate against minorities. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that […]

STAAR test lawsuit survives motion to dismiss

On to trial. After a group of parents sued the Texas Education Agency over the 2016 administration of STAAR exams, state lawyers argued this summer that the parents had no standing and asked the courts to drop the case. This week, the first day of school for many Texas children, Travis County District Court Judge […]

Why are so many pregnant women dying in Texas?

Better yet, what are we going to do about it? The rate of Texas women dying of pregnancy-related causes nearly doubled from 2010 to 2014, with the state seeing more than 600 such deaths in the four-year span. In a new study, set to be published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers […]

Laredo plastic bag ban overturned

Ugh. The Fourth Court of Appeals on Wednesday sided with merchants and free-market groups who argued that Laredo’s ban on single-use bags is illegal because it is pre-empted by state law regulating solid waste disposal. The 2-1 ruling overturned a lower court’s decision, the latest setback for environmentalists and advocates of local control in Texas. […]

Pension reform update

Things are happening. Longtime firefighters pension fund chairman Todd Clark has retired from the department and resigned his post, a move City Hall observers interpret as perhaps the clearest sign yet that Mayor Sylvester Turner’s push for pension reform may succeed. The municipal pension also is in upheaval, having bought out former director Rhonda Smith’s […]

Too many kids are not getting vaccinated

We let this happen, thanks to the fervor of a vocal minority. The number of Texans who exempt their children from vaccination for non-medical reasons rose nearly 9 percent last school year, continuing a now 12-year-long trend that public health officials worry could eventually leave communities vulnerable to outbreaks of preventable diseases. The new numbers […]

Strange HISD referendum to be on the ballot

This will be weird. Because of the state’s byzantine financing system, HISD will have to either send almost $162 million in local taxpayers’ money to the state or stand by to see some of the district’s most valuable properties assigned to other school districts by the Texas Education Agency. (Local businesses aren’t too wild about […]