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Posts Tagged ‘The Lege’

Early voting ends for HD139 special election

Here are the final early voting totals from the HD139 special election. The disparity between absentee ballots and in-person votes is pretty amazing, isn’t it? I’m going to guess that the Saturday in-person total will be less than the 200 early votes, making the overall total in the 1500 to 1600 range. As I noted […]

Houston’s anti-pollution ordinance killed by Supreme Court

Alas. In passing two ordinances designed to regulate air pollution, the city of Houston overstepped its authority and illegally subverted state law, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday. The ruling is a victory for a coalition of industrial facilities whose emissions were subject to inspection and possible prosecution by the city. The case pit the […]

Reynolds hit with $500K judgment

Geez. State Rep. Ron Reynolds has been ordered to pay $504,000 in damages for failing to give a grieving mother her share of settlement money from a 2010 lawsuit. The embattled lawmaker, who is also an attorney, failed to give his former client, Nancy Ann Calloway, her share of a $250,000 settlement from a lawsuit […]

Uber says it will leave Houston if it does not change its fingerprinting requirement

I called it. Uber announced Wednesday that the company plans to cease operations in Houston if the city council does not repeal its existing regulations relating to vehicle-for-hire companies. Houston is one of two cities in the country where Uber continues to operate despite a local requirement that its drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Uber […]

Dan Patrick supports potty package check legislation

Of course he does. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing into a national controversy over transgender restrooms, said Tuesday he supports keeping men out of women’s restrooms, even if it takes legislation to do so. Since the issue erupted into controversy nationally, some Texas lawmakers have said they will support a state law for single-sex restrooms, […]

Endorsement watch: Why bother?

The Chronicle barely musters a shrug for the special election in HD139. The winner of this election will cast no ballots in the state Legislature – presuming that Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t call an unexpected special session. At the very best, that person will get to sit on a few interim committees and use the […]

Early voting for May 7 elections begins today

Hey, remember that special election to fill out Mayor Turner’s unexpired term in HD139? Early voting for it – and for the other elections on the May 7 ballot – begins today. Who knew, right? Here’s the press release from the County Clerk’s office: The Early Voting Period for the May 7, 2016, Special Election […]

The state is starting to feel the squeeze

Things are tough all over. The state is facing big problems affecting vulnerable populations that will take significant money to fix at the same time that a slump in the energy industry is chipping into its revenues, House Speaker Joe Straus warned Tuesday. “Writing a balanced and disciplined budget that appropriately funds our top priorities […]

Don’t expect Congress to pay for a Gulf Coast floodgate system

I sure don’t. After nearly a decade of bickering and finger pointing, Texas scientists and lawmakers finally seem to agree that building some version of a “coastal spine” — a massive seawall and floodgate system — would best help protect the Houston region from a devastating hurricane. But with a price tag sure to reach […]

Oh, Borris

Not good. State Rep. Borris Miles, a Houston Democrat, repeatedly failed to disclose his business interests in three companies as state law requires. The lawmaker did not report on state ethics forms for several years that he had an ownership stake in two hospice agencies or that he owned an entertainment company that operates a […]

First look at how HISD will balance its budget

Seems to be fairly well-received. The Houston school district’s interim superintendent on Thursday rescinded his proposal to reduce funding for gifted students amid concerns from parents and board members. At the same time, Ken Huewitt proposed bolstering the budgets of schools with significant concentrations of low-income students, using $21 million from federal funds. Schools with […]

Your increasingly regular Sid Miller update

What a piece of work this guy is. For years, a sticker affixed to more than 170,000 gas pumps in Texas featured a straightforward headline — “Fuel Feedback?” — alongside a toll-free number, email address and instructions for consumers with questions. But in his latest effort to remake the embattled Agriculture Department, Commissioner Sid Miller […]

Weekend scandal news roundup

If anything comes from the Texas Rangers investigation into his questionable expenditures, Ag Commissioner Sid Miller would be prosecuted in Travis County. If embattled Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is prosecuted for misusing government funds, his trial would be in Travis County, officials said Friday, despite a new law that sends some corruption cases against […]

Immigrant harboring law blocked

Good. A federal judge has blocked part of the state’s omnibus border security bill that makes harboring undocumented immigrants a state crime. Under a provision of House Bill 11, which went into effect in September, a person commits a crime if they “encourage or induce a person to enter or remain in this country in […]

More on the possible Trump effect in Texas

I have three things to say about this. While one should hesitate to feed the megalomania, there is no point in denying that there is a meaningful distinction between pre-Trump and post-Trump politics in the United States. The mogul turned presidential candidate has not been the sole author of this shift — he has, to […]

Tesla takes its auto dealership fight nationwide

There’s more than one way to get into a market. Tesla Motors Inc. hopes to capture mainstream auto buyers with its Model 3, an electric car it [recently unveiled] at a price about the same as the average gasoline-powered vehicle, but it may need a federal court ruling to succeed. The Palo Alto, Calif., auto […]

Have I mentioned lately that the revenue cap is stupid public policy?

Because it is. Sales taxes are Houston’s second-largest source of revenue for the general fund, which pays for most core services. Just as concerning for city officials, however, was more news about the city’s largest general fund revenue source: property taxes. Mayor Sylvester Turner, as he did in February, criticized what he said is an […]

Anti-vaxxers gain ground in Texas

There’s a lesson in here that we need to learn. On a Friday night little over a year ago, a Texas mother of three was attending a school dance when she got a text message that stopped her cold. A state lawmaker from Dallas had filed legislation taking aim at a provision in state law […]

Is the Evenwel decision the last word on “one person one vote”?

Maybe not. With a long-running legal struggle raging over one of the nation’s strictest voter identification laws, Texas was already a prime battleground in a war between conservatives and liberals over voting rights. And on Monday, experts here and elsewhere say, the Supreme Court may have opened a second front. The court said unanimously that […]

Once again with “religious freedom” legislation

I have three things to say about this. State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, says he plans to re-file legislation next session that would supplement the state’s existing law to allow business owners to refuse services to people whose lifestyles clash with their religious beliefs. “Nobody should be forced to go against their conscience or […]

We precinct chairs will have at least one more nomination to fill

As everyone knows, Democratic precinct chairs in Commissioners Court Precinct 1 will be selecting a nominee to replace the late El Franco Lee on the November ballot. If we wind up selecting someone who is also on the November ballot for this slot – Sen. Rodney Ellis being the prime, possibly only, example of this […]

The Chron looks at Rodney Ellis

Not a very flattering look. Over the past 26 years, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, has voted to confirm gubernatorial appointments to the Lower Colorado River Authority, a powerful electric utility in Central Texas. During the same time, financial firms he either owned, worked for, or owned stock in have profited handsomely by helping underwrite […]

AG upholds Dallas Zoo ban on guns

For now. The Dallas Zoo can continue to ban guns at its 106-acre campus in Oak Cliff after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week rejected a citizen complaint that the zoo’s firearms policy violated state law. Paxton’s office said in a letter dated Wednesday that the zoo qualifies as an amusement park. That’s an […]

We haven’t heard the last of TMF

He’ll be back. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer says he laments nothing about a failed gambit for the state Senate that will end his 16-year stint with the Texas Legislature. The boisterous San Antonio Democrat, however, is leaving office at the end of the year with a message: Don’t write off his political career just […]

What will the business lobby do to prevent a North Carolina anti-equality law being passed in Texas?

That’s the question that needs to be asked. Texas business leaders and LGBT advocates hope economic backlash over an anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina will deter lawmakers from taking up similar legislation next year in Austin. More than 100 CEOs and business leaders, including Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, sent a letter this week to […]

Earthquake!

It’s a real risk in Dallas now. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has a 1 to 5 percent chance of experiencing an earthquake strong enough to damage buildings in the next year, the U.S. Geological Survey said Monday. That risk has grown tenfold since 2008, when the area began experiencing a surge of mild to moderate-sized […]

FDA makes medical abortion safer

Good news, at least until the Legislature reconvenes. Texas women will be able to obtain medical abortions later into their pregnancies under newly approved changes by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The FDA on Wednesday announced revised rules for drug-induced abortions — a method used early in a pregnancy — that will increase the […]

If we really cared about improving mental health in Texas

We would have expanded Medicaid at our first opportunity. Federal health officials say people with mental illness and addictions are being left behind in Texas because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid to more low-income adults. The health care program for the poor is controversial for many Republicans. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that expansion was […]

It’s not easy going green

And by “going green” I mean legalizing pot, at least in Texas. Advocacy groups and lawmakers say marijuana policy reform in Texas could be the fiscally responsible thing to do in light of the state’s decreasing oil and gas revenues. Texas legislators should look to marijuana policy reform to save, and even make, money in […]

More Congressional seats are likely on the way

If current trends continue, that is. Texas could pick up two, perhaps three, new congressional seats following the 2020 decennial Census if current population growth continues through the decade, political and demographic experts said Thursday. With continued growth in Texas’ four major metropolitan areas, they said, the state could almost match the gains it made […]

“Prison gerrymandering” tossed by federal court

Noted for the record. The Federal District Court for Florida’s Northern District ruled Monday that the prison gerrymandering in Florida’s Jefferson County unconstitutionally dilutes the voting power of its residents. By packing inmates who can’t vote into a district, but counting them when drawing electoral maps, District Judge Mark Walker said the county had violated […]

Can SCOTUS please intervene in the voter ID case?

The plaintiffs would like to know. Civil rights groups challenging Texas’ voter identification law are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the measure from being used during the 2016 general election. […] The civil rights groups filed a motion Friday with the Supreme Court asking it to vacate a Fifth Circuit ruling that has […]

Alma Allen for HISD Superintendent?

It could happen. State Rep. Alma Allen, a former school principal, has emerged as a high-profile contender for the HISD superintendent’s job during the early stages of the search. The Houston Democrat, who retired from the Houston Independent School District in 2000 and served on the State Board of Education for much of the 1990s, […]

North Carolina takes a big step backwards on equality

Shameful. Wednesday was a whirlwind day in North Carolina’s government. The legislature convened a special session, a complicated multi-part bill was introduced, it passed through the House and Senate — both Republican controlled — and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed it into law. Just like that, North Carolina became the state with the most hostile […]