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Posts Tagged ‘The Lege’

Interview with Laura Nicol

I know I previously said that I would only have two interviews with legislative candidates this year. That was indeed my plan originally, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the years that I’ve been doing these interviews it’s that things often diverge from my plans. The good news is that generally winds up […]

Early Matters presents its case

They’ve got a good coalition. Let’s see where they can go with it. Access to preschool programs – and their quality – varies widely across Texas. A broad coalition of Houston-area executives, educators and nonprofit groups assembled by Houston’s premier business organization is working to change that, though a major hurdle remains: securing funding in […]

Abbott appeals school finance case to Supreme Court

No surprise. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Friday appealed to the Texas Supreme Court a district court finding that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional. State District Judge John Dietz’s Aug. 30 ruling called Texas’ current school finance system inefficient and inadequate, saying it created an de facto statewide property tax in violation […]

Abbott and the Latino vote

I have four things to say about this. When Lily Benitez pulled into her driveway in the Donesta neighborhood here Saturday morning, she was surprised to see Greg Abbott coming toward her. It wasn’t just because he’s the attorney general of Texas and a candidate for governor. It was also because he’s a Republican, and […]

Interview with Susan Criss

My second legislative candidate interview is with one of my favorite people in politics, Susan Criss, who is running to succeed Rep. Craig Eiland in HD23. Criss is a longtime District Court judge in Galveston County, who survived the 2010 election by being good enough to not have drawn an opponent. She’s spent a lifetime […]

More on Early Matters

Scott McClelland, president of H-E-B Houston and also the chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Education Advisory Committee, pens an op-ed about the importance of pre-kindergarten and the latest effort to provide for it. It’s hard to believe, but more than 60 percent of children in Houston start kindergarten lacking basic letter identification skills and […]

Fifth Circuit hears HB2 arguments

As always with anything that involves the Fifth Circuit, pessimism is called for. Federal appeals court judges who got their first look at the latest challenge to Texas’ tough new abortion law Friday appeared to show support for the law but some reluctance to immediately allow it to be enforced as the legal fight over […]

Voter ID trial testimony ends

The state of Texas put on its case in the voter ID trial. Lawyers from the Texas attorney general’s office presented witnesses Wednesday in federal court defending the state voter ID law as necessary and attempting to rebuff claims that it is discriminatory. The state’s case in the federal trial, now in its second week, […]

Of course the film industry thinks we need more film incentives

It’s all money to them. Why wouldn’t they think the state should provide more funding for them? A Warner Bros. executive told a panel of Texas lawmakers they would have to pony up more cash for film industry incentives if they wanted to be in the movie business. “The Texas movie industry incentive program … […]

The best coverage of the voter ID trial

You want to know what’s going on with the voter ID trial, which enters its second and likely final week today, go check out the Brennan Center for Justice, which has daily coverage that would put any newspaper to shame. Here’s a sample of what they’ve written so far: Texas Photo ID Trial Update: Opening […]

Abbott issues bag ban opinion

It’s complicated. Do plastic bag bans and restrictions in cities like Austin, Laredo, and Brownsville violate Texas law? According to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office handed down on Friday afternoon, that depends on how you define two phrases: “container or package” and “solid waste management.” Opinions on Texas law from the […]

Fifth Circuit will hear HB2 enforcement arguments next Friday

The temporary reprieve will last at least one more week. Texas abortion providers’ next hurdle in their legal fight against strict abortion regulations is set for next week in a hearing scheduled for federal court. State attorneys and lawyers representing a coalition of abortion providers will face off on Sept. 12 in New Orleans, where […]

It’s about more than the Davis campaign

Gromer Jeffers highlighted something recently that I think hasn’t gotten enough attention. In her race for Texas governor, Wendy Davis’ sisters have her back. I’m not talking about her biological family. Davis is getting support from a group of female House candidates who are piggybacking on her policy proposals and helping her take aim at […]

What next for school finance?

That depends on the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, but one way or the other it’s up to the Legislature. State lawmakers from both parties agreed the responsibility for funding public schools falls on them. But history suggests the Legislature is reluctant to act until its hand is forced. “I would be surprised if […]

Abbott appeals HB2 ruling

As expected. As expected, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit Court Sunday to overturn a recent federal court ruling that found parts of Texas’ abortion law, House Bill 2, unconstitutional. Abortion providers filed suit over a regulation, that was set to take effect today (Sept. 1) that would mandate […]

Voter ID trial starts today

As one trial ends, the next one begins. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi will begin hearing arguments Tuesday on one of the nation’s most stringent voter ID measures, which Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed into law in 2011. A ruling is unlikely before Election Day, meaning that 13.6 million registered voters […]

Second phase of redistricting trial over

Much like the first phase, with some insults for one of the state’s key players thrown in for effect. Lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department and minority groups said in closing arguments in federal court Tuesday that state lawmakers illegally targeted Latino and African-American voters when redrawing congressional districts in 2011. Meanwhile, lawyers for the […]

School finance system ruled unconstitutional again

A little light reading for your holiday weekend. Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state’s school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor. In an almost 400-page opinion released Thursday, District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin said that the state’s school […]

The slow decline of the death penalty in Texas

Maybe a little. Perhaps nothing symbolizes this state’s swagger over being tough on crime like “Old Sparky,” an electric chair that was used to execute 361 inmates and is now the centerpiece of a prison museum. It sits just minutes from the Texas penitentiary where it was forever unplugged 50 years ago this summer following […]

More about TPJ

The Chron profiles Texans for Public Justice, the group that filed the complaint that led to Rick Perry’s indictments. [Craig] McDonald’s Texans for Public Justice, which operates out of a small office west of the University of Texas-Austin campus and currently has less than $1,000 in the bank, is known as the state’s preeminent group […]

More education policy from Davis

A lot to like here. Saying she wants to expand Texas high schoolers’ access to technical job training programs, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis announced a plan to create a Career-Technical Coordinating Board. The plan is the latest in a string of education reform proposals from Davis. It also includes recommendations on college affordability and […]

Trying again with pre-K

Different approach, hopefully a different result will follow. On the first day of school for most Houston-area children, a coalition called “Early Matters” organized by the Greater Houston Partnership announced Monday it would release a 10-year “game plan” at a summit next month to expand pre-kindergarten and child care programs and assist parents so they […]

“Environmental tort reform”

Oh, hell no. After failing in their attempt to limit cities and counties’ ability to take industrial polluters to court, some Houston businesses and statewide lobbyists now want to limit how much local governments can collect in penalties, a sort of environmental tort reform effort aimed squarely at a Harris County Attorney’s office they say […]

We need more mobile ID stations

From the inbox, from the League of Women Voters. LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF TEXAS CALLS ON SECRETARY OF STATE TO EXPAND AND IMPROVE EFFORTS TO PROVIDE ELECTION IDENTIFICATION CERTIFICATES AUSTIN, TX – “We are deeply concerned that eligible voters could be disenfranchised this November and we urge the Secretary of State to expand her […]

Shine a light on dark money

I totally favor this. Secret campaign donors in Texas may soon be forced out of the shadows. The Texas Ethics Commission, already fighting a conservative group in court over whether it can regulate dark money disclosure, appears poised to approve a proposal aimed at requiring some politically active nonprofits to start revealing their anonymous donors. […]

LVdP for Medicaid expansion

No surprise here. Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte vowed to overturn Republican opposition to expanding the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act if elected lieutenant governor, saying the state should act to protect poor, uninsured adults. The San Antonio Democrat’s “Texas First Health Care Plan,” which she announced Friday at the […]

The Public Integrity Unit probably won’t have to worry about a veto next year

They’ll have bigger things to worry about. With Republican partisans campaigning loudly to strip Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg of her control of the unit, chances of getting the funding restored under her by the GOP-dominated Legislature that convenes in January do not look good. Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said […]

Just a reminder that “more gambling” does not necessarily mean “more revenue”

If Atlantic City can go bust… The winning streak has run cold for Atlantic City, N.J. Earlier this week, the upscale Revel Casino Hotel announced it will close, bringing the total number of casinos in the city expected to close by the end of the year to four. Thousands of workers are confronting unemployment. The […]

Ninety years later, we could still use an Equal Rights Amendment

I have three things to say about this. Drafted by a suffragette in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment has been stirring up controversy ever since. Many opponents considered it dead when a 10-year ratification push failed in 1982, yet its backers on Capitol Hill, in the Illinois statehouse and elsewhere are making clear this summer […]

Parker proposes new firefighter pension plan

We’ll see about this. With the city of Houston facing huge and rising pension costs, Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday unveiled a proposal to put new firefighters in a separate, less generous plan that would do away with expensive automatic cost-of-living adjustments. The move would not affect current firefighters covered by the Houston Firefighters Relief […]

Look behind the scenes

There’s another angle to consider the Perry indictment saga, which is that the indictment isn’t so much about what Rick Perry said publicly regarding Rosemary Lehmberg and the Public Integrity Unit but what he was saying behind the scenes. Erica Greider explores this, with a minor detour first. To review those facts, in 2013 the […]

Just don’t call it “Medicaid expansion”

It’s the public policy that dare not have its name spoken, at least by Republican legislators. State lawmakers renewed efforts Thursday to find a “Texas solution” to expand health-insurance coverage for low-income residents without accepting the Medicaid expansion in President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Social-services advocates and local officials are among those pushing […]

More on the Perry indictment

Just some more thoughts and links relating to the big story that turned a relatively quiet Friday into one of the busiest news day of the year so far. Let’s start with a reality check from Harold Cook. First of all, I’m a bit puzzled by the indictment. It seems weak to me. When the […]

From the files of privatization failures

A story from last week. State officials have decided to slow the rollout of a controversial overhaul of the foster-care system after the private contractor running a pilot program abruptly pulled out Friday. Judge John Specia, commissioner of the state Department of Family and Protective Services, said a second pilot of the overhaul will continue […]