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Posts Tagged ‘The Lege’

Pension deal takes a step forward

Not quite there yet, but getting close. Houston’s police and municipal pension boards have agreed to a landmark reform package produced over months of intensive negotiations at City Hall, and Mayor Sylvester Turner hopes the firefighters fund will follow suit with a vote Monday. The pending proposal, which puts Houston the closest it has come […]

Chron overview of HD27

Like it or not, Rep. Ron Reynolds will be back for another term. When State Rep. Ron Reynolds learned he would face Democratic primary opposition this year for the first time since he won his seat, he called it “the biggest challenge of my political career.” Reynolds went on to battle three candidates from the […]

Another look at the case for HISD recapture

Dale Craymer taps the brakes on the vote-NO-on-recapture train. Houston Independent School District voters face an unhappy choice this November – vote “YES” or “FOR” on Proposition 1 to authorize the state to recapture roughly $160 million of the school district’s property taxes or just vote “NO” or “AGAINST.” It seems like a no-brainer. School […]

Chron overview of HD150

This could be interesting. The business card for Michael Shawn Kelly, a landscape architect who wants to represent the deep-red suburbs of far north Harris County in the Texas House, touts his conservative values and quotes the late Republican politician Jack Kemp. The card, however, makes no mention of party affiliation. That is because Kelly […]

Chron overview of HD23

We go to Galveston for one of the few interesting Legislative races in the area. A former Democratic state legislator is trying to recapture the Texas House District 23 seat from the first Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction. In one of the few competitive legislative contests, Democrat Lloyd Criss, who represented Galveston County […]

Chron overview of HD134

The Chron looks at that perpetual swing district, HD134 Artful redistricting has squeezed the general election suspense from nearly all of Harris County’s legislative races, rendering most districts solidly red or blue. Democrat Ben Rose is hoping to prove his west Houston district can be the exception. The 31-year-old political newcomer is seeking to leverage […]

MUDs and debt

Another story about the least-understood form of debt and taxation in Texas. In Houston’s conservative suburbs, where local governments are loath to raise taxes, the thankless task of hiking revenues has fallen to hundreds of so-called municipal utility districts created for developers to finance water and sewage systems, roads and other amenities. These MUDs, as […]

Three State Rep race overviews

In the order of their publication, beginning with HD149: For more than a decade in Texas House District 149 – where Harris and Fort Bend counties meet – a growing, ethnically diverse voting population has done something rare for the Houston suburbs: Elect a Democrat. State Rep. Hubert Vo, whose district includes Alief and Katy, […]

Endorsement watch: More State Reps

Part 2: State Representative, District 135: Jesse A. Ybanez Consider this an endorsement against Gary Elkins. The Republican incumbent has been in office for 22 years, and his greatest claim to fame is a consistent self-serving advocacy for payday lenders and other shady financial businesses. As the Texas Observer reported in 2014, Elkins owns a […]

Statewide registrations top 15 million

Not too shabby. Texas has a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote ahead of the November election, the Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday. Texas has 15,015,700 voters registered according to a preliminary estimate — over 777,000 more than were registered in time for the March primaries. The deadline to register to vote was […]

Endorsement watch: Back to the State House, part 1

The Chron ventures outside Houston to make some Legislative endorsements. State Representative, District 13: Cecil R. Webster As an engineer who worked in weapons testing and procurement, retired Col. Cecil R. Webster knows his way around a firearm. But decades of experience couldn’t prepare him for the challenge of open-carry in Texas – specifically, procuring […]

Endorsement watch: In case you didn’t hear us the first time

The Chron reiterates its opposition to the HISD recapture referendum. Statewide property taxes are unconstitutional in Texas, but don’t tell that to the legislators in Austin. For decades, the Legislature has been shifting its obligation to fund public education to local communities. Now, this November, Houston is facing a new sneaky invoice from the state. […]

Chron overview of Harris County Tax Assessor race

It’s deja vu all over again. Republican Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan once again faces a challenge from Democrat Ann Harris Bennett, a rematch from four years ago for an office that oversees billions of dollars in property tax collections, maintains voter rolls and registers more vehicles than any other county in the state. […]

Feds intervene in Texas special education mess

Good. The federal government on Monday ordered Texas state officials to eliminate an 8.5 percent benchmark on special education enrollment enforced in the state’s 1,200 school districts unless they can show that it had not kept children with disabilities from receiving appropriate educational services. The U.S. Department of Education directed the state to report back […]

How anti-business does Dan Patrick have to be for businesses to oppose him?

I remain skeptical that there is such a threshold, but if one does exist, the next legislative session will test it. The Texas Association of Business (TAB) has formally come out against discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation, including so-called “bathroom bills.” The board of the state’s 4,300-member chamber of commerce overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday opposing “legislation […]

Superintendents begin speaking out against special education limits

Good for them. The leaders of two of the state’s biggest school districts are calling on the Texas Education Agency to stop penalizing districts for giving specialized education to more kids than the agency has deemed prudent. Superintendents Michael Hinojosa of Dallas and Pedro Martinez of San Antonio came out against the arbitrary enrollment target […]

Hey, here’s an idea: Increase funding for public education

That’s just crazy talk. Texas House budget and public education leaders said Wednesday that the best way to overhaul the state’s school finance system is to increase the base amount of money it gives to each district per student. While costly, boosting the “basic allotment” — currently $5,140 per student — would help ease systemic […]

First contenders line up for HD46

There will be more. The race to replace longtime Austin state Rep. Dawnna Dukes got underway hours after her Monday morning announcement that she will resign effective Jan. 10. First out of the gate was former Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, who issued a statement saying she is “seriously considering running.” Joe Deshotel, son […]

Endorsement watch: Three State House races

Possibly the only State Rep race endorsements we’ll get, depending on how much the Chron cares about the less-competitive races. House District 23: Lloyd Criss We endorse Lloyd Criss, a Democrat whom Texas Monthly rated as an outstanding freshman legislator back in 1979, the first of his six terms in office. Now the legislative expert […]

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 […]