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Texas News & Politics


Rep. Dawnna Dukes indicted on 15 charges, booked at county courthouse

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes turned herself in at the Travis County courthouse on Wednesday afternoon after a grand jury on Tuesday indicted her on 13 felony corruption charges and two misdemeanors. Speaking outside the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center before going in to stand for a mug shot and give her fingerprints, Dukes, D-Austin, said she would plead not guilty on all charges and will continue...
Austin-born movement touts tea party tactics to trip up Trump

Austin-born movement touts tea party tactics to trip up Trump

When the history of grass-roots resistance to President Donald Trump is written, it might be recorded that the movement was born in Austin – prefigured at the Randalls supermarket on Brodie Lane in the summer of 2009, conceived at a North Loop neighborhood bar over Thanksgiving weekend 2016, and crafted in great part by battle-tested veterans of the office of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett. It was...
Texas official: Video justified Planned Parenthood ouster

Texas official: Video justified Planned Parenthood ouster

Two state health officials, both involved in the decision to remove Planned Parenthood from Texas Medicaid, took the stand Wednesday, focusing attention on a central point of this week’s federal court hearing — whether the organization’s ouster was justified. Stuart Bowen Jr., inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, testified that he sent the Dec. 20...
Joe Straus pans bathroom bill, exposes GOP divide

Joe Straus pans bathroom bill, exposes GOP divide

A proposal barring transgender people in Texas from using the bathroom of their choice is unequivocally bad for business, House speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday, in defiance of conservative leaders who have applauded the measure amid North Carolina’s economic upheaval due to a similar law. Straus’ comments underscore an escalating ideological battle between the GOP’s traditional...

State official: Video shows reasons to cut Planned Parenthood

The second day of a hearing on plans to cut Planned Parenthood from Texas Medicaid opened Wednesday with extensive testimony from the state official who moved to oust the organization. Stuart Bowen Jr., inspector general for the Health and Human Services Commission, testified that he sent the Dec. 20 termination notice to Planned Parenthood’s Texas affiliates after repeatedly viewing more than...
Inglis: Ann Richards warned us; now we march to protect women’s rights

Inglis: Ann Richards warned us; now we march to protect women’s rights

Inglis, a lifelong Austin resident, is a retired editor and neonatal intensive care nurse. You may reach her on her website, inglisopinion.com. I’ll be marching in the Texas version of the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. Why? Because women’s reproductive rights are being taken away, just as the late Gov. Ann Richards predicted. On a brisk night in October 1990, many of us...
Dawnna Dukes is booked into Travis Co. courthouse, gets mug shot taken

Dawnna Dukes is booked into Travis Co. courthouse, gets mug shot taken

3:20 p.m. update: After being indicted on corruption charges, state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Wednesday afternoon turned herself in at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center and stood for a mugshot. “I have been silent at the advice of my attorneys since February, and I am very relieved that my attorneys … are here today to begin the process of getting out the other side of the story...
Commentary: Texas Education Agency rankings are a work in progress

Commentary: Texas Education Agency rankings are a work in progress

Scheberle is senior vice president for education and talent at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. On Jan. 6, the Texas Education Agency released a preliminary report card for schools based on its new accountability system. It was a promising start. However, before we read too much into what receiving an “A” or an “F” means on any of the individual performance measures, there are...
Texas Senate, House budget proposals $5.3 billion apart

Texas Senate, House budget proposals $5.3 billion apart

Republican leaders of the Texas House and Senate Tuesday unveiled competing budget proposals for the 2018-2019 biennium, setting the stage for coming legislative battles over how much the state should spend on public education, border security and other priorities while managing a tight budget. Senate Bill 1, filed by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, spends $213.4 billion...
Judge: Video not crux of Texas Planned Parenthood case

Judge: Video not crux of Texas Planned Parenthood case

Although an undercover video is the centerpiece of the state’s case, a federal judge who will determine whether Planned Parenthood can be kicked out of Medicaid in Texas told lawyers Tuesday that he wants them to focus on more basic information if he is to make a ruling before Saturday’s planned ouster. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks gave the direction at the start of Tuesday’s hearing...
Texas joins other states in suit over federal mining rule

Texas joins other states in suit over federal mining rule

Angered at new Obama administration rules to protect waterways from coal mining, Texas joined a dozen states on Tuesday asking a court to halt their implementation. Texas and the other states are asking the federal district court in Washington, D.C. to vacate the new rules. The plaintiffs — Ohio, West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Texas, Utah, and...
Astronaut Gene Cernan to be buried at Texas State Cemetery

Astronaut Gene Cernan to be buried at Texas State Cemetery

Gene Cernan, the last human to walk on the moon, will become the first astronaut to be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in East Austin, officials said Tuesday. Cernan, who died at a Houston hospital Monday after ongoing health issues at age 82, will be buried with full military honors during a private service Jan. 25, said Harry Bradley, cemetery superintendent. “He was a strong Texan,&rdquo...

Federal judge extends oversight of Pasadena’s election system

The election system for a Houston suburb that implemented a voting plan meant to dilute Latino power at the polls will be under federal oversight for the next six years. U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal issued an order Monday saying that Pasadena must receive approval from the U.S. attorney general or the court before altering its election system until June 30, 2023, to ensure “the city cannot...
200 rally at Capitol to stop efforts to loosen gun restrictions

200 rally at Capitol to stop efforts to loosen gun restrictions

More than 200 gun safety advocates rallied at the Capitol on Tuesday to call on lawmakers to beat down any legislation aimed at loosening gun laws they say are already too lax. As they gathered on the south steps of the Capitol around 9:30 a.m., heavy rain forced the members of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to go inside until the storm passed. They entered...

West Texas sheriff criticizes Sid Miller’s account of border ‘attack’

A claim by state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller that “illegal aliens” attacked a hunting party in remote West Texas is being discounted by the local sheriff who says the hunters fired on one another. Miller said in a recent Facebook post that the attack is another reason why a wall must be built to secure the Texas border. “Anyone who says that the people illegally crossing...

Police: Kids taken 3 decades ago are found, mom is arrested

Two sisters who disappeared from Rhode Island with their mother in 1985 have been located in the Houston area, and their mother was charged with snatching them, police announced Tuesday. An anonymous tip two days before Christmas led police to Kimberly and Kelly Yates and their 69-year-old mother, Elaine, said Rhode Island State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin. Elaine Yates, who had been living in...
Texas House budget proposal would spend $1.5B more on public schools

Texas House budget proposal would spend $1.5B more on public schools

Republican leaders of the Texas House and Senate Tuesday unveiled competing budget proposals for the 2018-2019 biennium, setting the stage for coming legislative battles over how much the state should spend on public education, border security and other priorities while managing a tight budget. Senate Bill 1, filed by Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, spends $213.4 billion...
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett joins Democratic boycott of Trump inauguration

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett joins Democratic boycott of Trump inauguration

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, has joined some 50 House Democrats — including two others from Texas — who will not be attending President-elect Trump’s inauguration on Friday as the 45th president of the United States. “We are sending a message to Mr. Trump. Respect, like Pennsylvania Avenue, is a two-way street,” Doggett said in a tweet Tuesday...
Judge: Video not crux of Planned Parenthood hearing

Judge: Video not crux of Planned Parenthood hearing

Updated at 1:20 p.m. After hearing lengthy testimony on the contents of an undercover video showing Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue practices, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks told lawyers they were on the wrong track Tuesday morning. For the purposes of an initial hearing, Sparks said, he needed to know the number of patients who would be affected by the state’s plan to oust Planned Parenthood...
Dale: It’s time to act on statewide ride-hailing services

Dale: It’s time to act on statewide ride-hailing services

Dale represents southwestern Williamson County, which includes Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek and parts of Austin and Round Rock. It has been just over a year since the Austin City Council chose to rewrite regulations for ride-hailing services that led to a shakeup of transportation in the city. It claimed that fingerprinting drivers was absolutely necessary to guarantee public safety. However...

Gun control advocates to rally Tuesday morning at Texas Capitol

Activists pushing for tighter gun control legislation will gather at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday morning to call on lawmakers to axe bills that would loosen gun restrictions. Volunteers from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and gun violence survivors from the Everytown Survivor Network plan to rally on the south steps of the Capitol at 9:30 a.m. to speak out against permitless carry legislation...
A&M spokesman Lane Stephenson retiring after 50 years on the job

A&M spokesman Lane Stephenson retiring after 50 years on the job

When Lane Stephenson was hired as the spokesman for Texas A&M University, tools of the trade included manual typewriters and telegrams dispatched from a Western Union office on campus. He dictated many a press release over the phone to reporters. Stephenson, the director of news and information services, is retiring at the end of this month after an A&M career that has spanned 50 years, 10 school...
H-E-B’s Charles Butt pledges $100 million to train school leaders

H-E-B’s Charles Butt pledges $100 million to train school leaders

H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt has pledged to invest $100 million in the creation of a training and leadership development center in Austin for school district leaders from across Texas. Butt envisions that the Holdsworth Center — named for his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, who was an educator and lifelong philanthropist — will support current leaders and develop future...
Commentary: Texas should not push narratives that put lives at risk

Commentary: Texas should not push narratives that put lives at risk

Sylvester is an author in Austin. As Texas legislators prepare for the 85th session, state Rep. Jason Villalba is planning a celebration of Texas authors. I am honored to be part of our state’s literary community and appreciate the invitation to be recognized. However, I won’t be going. My novel, “Chasing the Sun,” was published in 2014 and “Everyone Knows You Go Home&rdquo...
What to expect in the Texas case against Planned Parenthood

What to expect in the Texas case against Planned Parenthood

Texas officials are back in federal court this week over abortion-related policy, this time to defend efforts to oust Planned Parenthood from Medicaid. Planned Parenthood has asked U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks to block the ouster as illegal, unjustified and unfair — an improperly political move that could deprive about 11,000 low-income Texans of access to contraceptives, cancer screening...
Will lawmakers expand disclosure of lobbyist spending, transparency?

Will lawmakers expand disclosure of lobbyist spending, transparency?

Two years after attempts to strengthen the state’s ethics rules died in dramatic fashion, state Sen. Van Taylor has outlined his plan to take another bite at the apple this legislative session. The package by Taylor and state Rep. Charlie Geren, both North Texas Republicans, will include measures that gained broad support in the 2015 Legislature — such as expanding disclosure of lobbyists&rsquo...

Federal government criticizes Houston affordable housing procedures

Houston’s procedures for approving some low-income housing perpetuate segregation and violate the Civil Rights Act, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The federal housing agency also says racially motivated opposition from residents persuaded Mayor Sylvester Turner to reject a housing project in the city’s affluent Galleria area. The findings were disclosed...
Statesman analysis: Texas A-F school grades give boost to charters

Statesman analysis: Texas A-F school grades give boost to charters

Statesman data reporter Dan Hill contributed to this story. Critics of the new A-F grading system for Texas schools have long warned that the state’s letter grades would give an undeserved boost to charter schools. An American-Statesman analysis of the advisory A-F grades issued this month shows that charter schools did fare better compared with their traditional public school peers under the...
Beachcomber in Galveston finds foreign coins believed stolen

Beachcomber in Galveston finds foreign coins believed stolen

Robert Hodsdon was having a typical day on the beach before he struck gold. The Galveston County Daily News reports Hodsdon’s usual beach day involves using his metal detector. He searches for items in the sand with a group called the Galveston Island Treasure Club, but he doesn’t anticipate more than a few bottle caps or some stray jewelry. On Sunday, however, Hodsdon came across something...

Kelso: Time for legislators to get their minds out of the bathroom

I really don’t understand all this fuss about who goes where to the bathroom. Oh, it’s a big deal at the Capitol. State Rep. Matt Schaefer, a Republican from Tyler, is so concerned about the issue that he proposed an amendment requiring people to use johns corresponding to their biological sex in the House’s bathrooms. The Legislature is facing a budget shortfall because of a lagging...
PolitiFact: With flip-flop, Dukes hangs onto House seat

PolitiFact: With flip-flop, Dukes hangs onto House seat

Months ago, Dawnna Dukes declared that she’d resign her Texas House seat, effective Jan. 10. Yet on that date, the 11-term Austin Democrat, who’s been under investigation for possibly using taxpayer resources for nongovernmental purposes, joined House colleagues in getting sworn in to serve a fresh two-year term. Dukes’ actions prompted us to roll out the PolitiFact Texas Flip-O-Meter...
Legislature should address state’s biggest crisis: Texas children

Legislature should address state’s biggest crisis: Texas children

If one were looking for a moral theme for the legislative session that convened last week, it would not be bathroom bills nor so-called sanctuary cities. It would be Texas children. Specifically, the welfare of children in the state’s beleaguered foster care system and the more than 5 million children attending public schools. Those are the crisis points. And lawmakers would be wise not to delay...
Commentary: The Texas death penalty is dying

Commentary: The Texas death penalty is dying

Johnson is communications fellow at the Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, a statewide grassroots organization working to end the death penalty, recently published its annual death penalty report, which illustrates that some Texans are rethinking their views on capital punishment. The findings by the coalition, also known as TCADP, reveal...
Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn heap praise on Trump Cabinet picks

Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn heap praise on Trump Cabinet picks

In a joint appearance Friday at a conservative policy event in downtown Austin, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn lavished praise on President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, with Cruz saying he expects the Republican majority in the Senate to confirm them all. “These Cabinet appointments are phenomenal,” Cruz said, describing the Trump Cabinet as prospectively “the most...
Herman: Driver needed. Must be willing to spend time with Sid Miller

Herman: Driver needed. Must be willing to spend time with Sid Miller

It seems that Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, he of the cowboy ways and colorful words, drives some people nuts. Now you have an opportunity to drive him everywhere. The commish is looking for a driver. The official title on the job posting is “Special Assistant to the Commissioner — Vehicle Driver,” and the “job objective” portion of the posting says the special...
Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn heap praise on Trump Cabinet picks

Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn heap praise on Trump Cabinet picks

In a joint appearance Friday at a conservative policy event in downtown Austin, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn lavished praise on President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, with Cruz saying he expects the Republican majority in the Senate to confirm them all. “These Cabinet appointments are phenomenal,” Cruz said, describing the Trump Cabinet as prospectively “the most...
Meet some Central Texas Trump supporters heading to the inauguration

Meet some Central Texas Trump supporters heading to the inauguration

It was Donald Trump’s last rally of the 2016 presidential campaign at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Mich. Trump did five rallies in five states that day and, by the time the candidate took the stage before a fervent crowd that had begun assembling at 9:30 a.m. and had come from as far as Chicago, it was past midnight and into Election Day Trump was in rare form. “It...
This day in Texas history: Hard living kills an English noble in a cowboy town

This day in Texas history: Hard living kills an English noble in a cowboy town

The town of Big Spring as it appeared in 2005, 120 years after the death of one of its most unusual residents.
Candidates hoping to replace state Rep. Dawnna Dukes aren’t going away

Candidates hoping to replace state Rep. Dawnna Dukes aren’t going away

Embattled state Rep. Dawnna Dukes may have reneged on her plans to step down on Tuesday, but the candidates who stepped forward to replace her in a special election aren’t going away. Democrats Sheryl Cole and Jose “Chito” Vela III both held campaign kick-off events this week, promising to run for House District 46 at the next opportunity, be it a special election or the 2018 primary...
Texas lawmakers look to courts as they make new run at bag bans

Texas lawmakers look to courts as they make new run at bag bans

Two years ago, libertarian-minded lawmakers convening at the Capitol were gunning to take down bag bans enacted in cities such as Austin. Now, after several sessions of foundering legislation, they’re hoping for relief from the courts. At a session of a downtown Austin public policy conference on Thursday titled “The Californiazation of Texas: Plastic Bag Bans,” one of those lawmakers...
Ken Paxton fraud trial set for May

Ken Paxton fraud trial set for May

Additional material from staff writer Katie Hall. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal trial on securities fraud charges will begin May 1. The Collin County trial is expected to last two to three weeks, after which Paxton should know whether he can remain in office or, with a guilty verdict, whether he will spend time in prison or on probation for actions related to private business...
Gov. Greg Abbott fattens campaign account with another $9 million

Gov. Greg Abbott fattens campaign account with another $9 million

Gov. Greg Abbott has not announced whether he will seek a second term as governor next year, but if money talks, his fundraising for the last half of 2016 suggests the answer is an unambiguous “yes.” Texans for Greg Abbott, his campaign organization, announced Thursday that it had raised $9 million between July 1 and Dec. 10, bringing its cash on hand to $34.4 million, an enormous sum...
Lawmakers propose easing STAAR testing requirements permanently

Lawmakers propose easing STAAR testing requirements permanently

A state law that has allowed thousands of high school students to bypass state standardized testing requirements to graduate is set to expire in September. Kel Seliger, the Republican state senator from Amarillo who originally proposed the law, has filed a bill that would keep the policy in place permanently. “Even though assessment systems are important, there’s nothing magical about...
In national spotlight, Texas judge laments civic illiteracy

In national spotlight, Texas judge laments civic illiteracy

Saying we live in an era of “staggering civic illiteracy,” Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett told a conservative think tank Thursday that schools must provide a far richer education on the rights and duties of U.S. citizens. Speeches by members of a relatively obscure court typically don’t get much media attention, but Willett’s profile has risen significantly since...
Bill to fund protective vests for officers marked as high priority

Bill to fund protective vests for officers marked as high priority

A Dallas senator filed a bill Thursday that would create a fund for Texas law enforcement agencies to buy protective vests capable of stopping high-caliber bullets. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is making Democrat Sen. Royce West’s bill a high priority in the Texas Senate, giving the bill a coveted low number. “You may think that all Texas police officers and sheriffs already have bulletproof vests...