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Texas News & Politics


House, Senate converge on budget price tag, but not funding methods

The battle lines have been drawn for a showdown over the state budget between the Texas House and Senate, with the two chambers proposing to spend similar amounts of money but paying for their plans in different ways. The Texas House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a $106.8 billion state budget for the next two years that uses $2.5 billion from the rainy day fund, defers...
‘Veronica Mars’ started as a YA novel set at Austin-area Westlake High School

‘Veronica Mars’ started as a YA novel set at Austin-area Westlake High School

  A long time ago, “Veronica Mars” used to be set in Austin. But we haven’t thought about that lately at all.
Ken Paxton trial moved from Collin County, delayed

Ken Paxton trial moved from Collin County, delayed

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal trial will be moved from Collin County and postponed from May 1, a judge ruled Thursday in a series of orders that also rejected Paxton’s latest bid to dismiss charges linked to private business deals in 2011 and 2012. Ruling on final pretrial matters, state District Judge George Gallagher granted a request by prosecutors to move Paxton&rsquo...
EU official to Trump: Stop, or I’ll promote Austin’s secession from US

EU official to Trump: Stop, or I’ll promote Austin’s secession from US

Maybe talks of a “Texit” were thinking too big. On Thursday, the president of the European Union’s executive arm said he might advocate that Austin itself secede from the United States. “The newly elected US president was happy that the Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday...
Senate could consider made-over ‘private school voucher’ bill Thursday

Senate could consider made-over ‘private school voucher’ bill Thursday

The Senate could give preliminary approval on Thursday on a bill that would redirect some state money to help low-income students pay for private school tuition, among other non-public school expenses. Senate Bill 3, which has emerged as one of the most divisive education measures this session, underwent major changes over the last few days as the author of the bill Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood...
Will Trump build a 2,000-mile border wall? Turns out, maybe not

Will Trump build a 2,000-mile border wall? Turns out, maybe not

Candidate Donald Trump promised a “big, beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump has repeated that pledge. Trump’s border security executive order signed five days after he took office calls for “a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier.” Recent comments from Trump administration officials and...
Judge denies motion to dismiss Ken Paxton criminal case

Judge denies motion to dismiss Ken Paxton criminal case

A state district judge on Thursday denied Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to dismiss criminal charges related to private business deals in 2011 and 2012. State District Judge George Gallagher also granted a motion by prosecutors to move Paxton’s trial from Collin County, where Paxton lives and where prosecutors said they could not get a fair trial. The new location will...
Eight things you need to do in Central Texas before summer gets here

Eight things you need to do in Central Texas before summer gets here

Spring has sprung. This is old news, of course. Winter — what there was of it — has been in Austin’s rear view mirror for weeks.
Child-placement bill opens religious fight at Capitol

Child-placement bill opens religious fight at Capitol

The Texas Legislature opened debate Wednesday on the first of more than a dozen bills that would allow people, businesses or government employees to refuse to provide services based on their religious beliefs. Supporters say the legislation is essential to protecting the freedom of Texans to practice their religion in ways that do not violate their deeply held beliefs. Opponents argue that the bills...
U.S. Senate slows Trump border wall spending request

U.S. Senate slows Trump border wall spending request

Senate Republicans are putting the brakes on the Trump administration’s $1.5 billion initial request for a border wall, as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke acknowledged Wednesday the difficulty of building a wall in some parts of the Texas borderlands, including Big Bend National Park. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Wednesday that President Donald Trump speaks “metaphorically&rdquo...
Senate approves requiring cremation or burial of fetal tissue

Senate approves requiring cremation or burial of fetal tissue

The Senate gave initial approval of a bill Wednesday that would require medical facilities to bury or cremate aborted or miscarried fetuses. The measure was approved largely on party lines with the exception of state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, who voted in favor of Senate Bill 258. The bill’s author state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, said...
Senators mulling a scaled back version of ‘private school voucher’ bill

Senators mulling a scaled back version of ‘private school voucher’ bill

Amid concerns that he doesn’t have enough support in the Senate, the author of a bill that would divert some state money to help students pay for private school tuition, among other non-public education system expenses, is considering scaling back the measure. According to a document received by some Capitol staff members, the bill’s author Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, would limit the...
Senate approves union dues bill amid pushback from teacher groups

Senate approves union dues bill amid pushback from teacher groups

The Senate has given preliminary approval of a bill that critics have said would the strip the rights of employee unions to collect dues. Senate Bill 13 filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would prohibit the automatic deduction of union dues form the paychecks of governmental employees, including teachers. The bill would not apply to first responders because Huffman said that such unions have not...
Beto O’Rourke is poised to announce bid for Cruz’s Senate seat Friday

Beto O’Rourke is poised to announce bid for Cruz’s Senate seat Friday

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, appears poised to announce Friday that he is running in 2018 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Ted Cruz. In an email to supporters Wednesday, O’Rourke’s political operation wrote, “Beto’s been traveling across Texas for the past four months, meeting with people in communities big and small. The energy and passion he&rsquo...

Severe storms thrash North Texas but pull punches in Austin metro area

After days of forecasts calling for damaging winds of up to 60 mph, large hail and even the possibility of tornadoes, Austin seems to have gotten off relatively easy compared with other parts of Texas that were hit by a line of storms Wednesday morning. Lower Colorado River Authority rain gauges across Travis County tallied rain totals ranging from a little under an inch to just over 1.5 inches through...
Hate Austin rent prices? Online list says Leander is cheaper

Hate Austin rent prices? Online list says Leander is cheaper

  We all know it’s expensive to live in Austin. One recent study suggested that it takes a yearly salary of at least $52,578 to afford a home here, something that is becoming increasingly more difficult to afford if you’re a single man or woman.
Beto O’Rourke poised to announce run for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat Friday

Beto O’Rourke poised to announce run for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat Friday

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s political operation has sent an email to supporters Wednesday promising a “big announcement” on Friday, an almost certain sign that the El Paso Democrat will be announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Ted Cruz. “Beto’s been traveling across Texas for the past four months, meeting with people in communities big...
Chief Texas property rights group states concern about border wall

Chief Texas property rights group states concern about border wall

To the list of groups and people anxious about a border wall cutting through rural and wild areas of Texas, add one of the state’s most powerful landowner rights and conservation groups. The executive committee of the Texas Wildlife Association announced this week that it is “concerned that a physical barrier along the rural Texas/Mexico border would result in substantial condemnation...
Annie Nelson introduces chocolates infused with ‘Willie’s Reserve’ marijuana

Annie Nelson introduces chocolates infused with ‘Willie’s Reserve’ marijuana

Willie Nelson and his wife Annie Nelson listen at the unveiling of the Willie Nelson statue at the corner of West 2nd Street (Willie Nelson Boulevard) and Lavaca Street on Friday April 20, 2012.

Opinion: Legislature must revisit property tax breaks to corporations

From 2002 to 2016, Texas has awarded more than $7 billion in tax credits to companies through an economic program known as Chapter 313. The program is intended to attract investors by providing abatements to offset some of the property taxes that companies pay to school districts. The fundamental flaw with the program is that, although the credits were a determining factor for several companies that...
Remember Rosillo! Texas won its (very brief) independence 204 years ago today

Remember Rosillo! Texas won its (very brief) independence 204 years ago today

How well do you know your Texas history? You celebrate San Jacinto, of course. Certainly, you remember the Alamo. Perhaps even Goliad. But do you know the Battle of Rosillo? At a confluence of creeks 9 miles southeast of present-day San Antonio — 204 years ago today, and some two decades before those major events of the Texas Revolution — the Republican Army of the North fought Spanish...
House panel approves $1.6 billion more for public education

House panel approves $1.6 billion more for public education

The House Public Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would give public education an extra $1.6 billion over the next two years. Under House Bill 21 filed by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, most school districts would see a boost but because of the complex school finance system, some would actually see less money. “When I first got elected to a school board over 14 years ago, it was...
Straus rebuffs effort to introduce transgender bathroom debate

Straus rebuffs effort to introduce transgender bathroom debate

Flexing his parliamentary muscle, House Speaker Joe Straus headed off efforts Tuesday to bring a vote to the House floor on the regulation of the use of bathrooms by transgender people. In a showdown with socially conservative members, Straus ended debate on a bill about the fate of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas operations, by announcing there were no further amendments...
License-free gun bills draw Capitol crowd

License-free gun bills draw Capitol crowd

More than 100 people signed up Tuesday to speak on two bills that would allow legal gun owners to carry handguns, either concealed or in a holster, without having to first acquire a state-issued license in Texas. All were drawn to the first-ever Capitol hearing granted to a bill that would allow license-free “constitutional carry” — a top priority for the Republican Party of Texas...
Texas House member Mark Keough injured in crash in Austin

Texas House member Mark Keough injured in crash in Austin

State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, was injured in a car wreck in Austin while heading to the Capitol Tuesday morning. A post to Keough’s Facebook page around 10:20 a.m. said he was stable and did not suffer any broken bones, but additional details on the circumstances of the crash were not available Tuesday. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, sent a tweet on Tuesday morning...
House committee considers bill raising smoking age from 18 to 21

House committee considers bill raising smoking age from 18 to 21

A House committee considered legislation Tuesday that would raise the minimum smoking age in Texas from 18 to 21, the sixth such attempt in recent years. House Bill 1908, filed by state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, has the support of a bipartisan group of 16 House members. A companion bill in the Senate is co-authored by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio...
Texas Farm Bureau announces support for feral hog poisoning

Texas Farm Bureau announces support for feral hog poisoning

In February, after Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller championed the sale of a poison to hasten what he called the “feral hog apocalypse,” he was met opposition from hunters and environmentalists. Now an important ally has presented itself. A Texas Farm Bureau official on Tuesday asked lawmakers not to slow down the roll-out of Kaput, a poison meant to kill the destructive hogs...
U.S. Supreme Court rules for Texas death row inmate

U.S. Supreme Court rules for Texas death row inmate

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Texas death row inmate Bobby James Moore on Tuesday, saying the state’s highest criminal court failed to heed medical experts’ changing views about how best to measure intellectual disabilities when it certified him as eligible for execution. By ignoring advances in science, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals created “an unacceptable risk...
Texas Senate budget trims many agencies, avoids using rainy day fund

Texas Senate budget trims many agencies, avoids using rainy day fund

The Texas Senate on Tuesday approved a two-year, $217.7 billion state budget that includes significant cuts to many state agencies, relies on a disputed $2.5 billion accounting maneuver and doesn’t tap the state’s $10.2 billion rainy day fund. The 31-0 vote sends Senate Bill 1 to the House, where Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has harshly criticized the Senate plan, setting...
State Rep. Jason Isaac defends groundwater law after Statesman report

State Rep. Jason Isaac defends groundwater law after Statesman report

Following an American-Statesman report on efforts to water down oversight on groundwater pumping in the Hill Country, a Hays County lawmaker on Tuesday accused his colleagues of “playing games” on water protections. State Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who authored legislation in 2015 aimed that extended groundwater regulation in fast-growing Hays County, claimed some of his colleagues...
Herman: The Texas Railroad Commission and bathroom attendance

Herman: The Texas Railroad Commission and bathroom attendance

It was a Tuesday that careened between low rhetoric and high drama as the Texas House churned toward the unlikely intersection of energy industry regulation and who should go to which bathroom. The day’s highlight was the bill needed to keep the Texas Railroad Commission in business. Lurking in the background were amendments that would have set rules for bathroom usage at the commission&rsquo...
Gay student who won A&M election invites Rick Perry for talks

Gay student who won A&M election invites Rick Perry for talks

In a diplomatically worded letter, the first openly gay person elected student body president at Texas A&M University has invited U.S. Energy Secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who has questioned the legitimacy of Bobby Brooks’ victory — to talk things over. Perry suggested in a Houston Chronicle column last week that a “quest for diversity” was behind the disqualification...
House panel approves $1.6 billion boost to public education

House panel approves $1.6 billion boost to public education

The House Public Education Committee has approved a bill that would boost public schools by $1.6 billion over the next two years. House Bill 21 filed by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, would raise the basic amount of money school districts receive per student to $5,350 ($210 more) while also receiving more weighted funding for certain subpopulations, including students with dyslexia and who are English...

In oil and gas debate, House unexpectedly wades into immigration issue

Debate over a relatively tame measure regarding oil and gas regulation got a jolt on Tuesday when lawmakers in the Texas House adopted language demanding businesses working in the oil patch verify their workers are here legally. State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, had tendered an amendment calling for the verification, known as e-verify, as a way of pointing out what he called Republican hypocrisy...
U.S. Supreme Court sides with Texas death row inmate

U.S. Supreme Court sides with Texas death row inmate

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Texas death row inmate Bobby James Moore on Tuesday, saying the state’s highest criminal court failed to heed medical experts’ changing views about how best to measure intellectual disabilities. By ignoring advances in science, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals created “an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will...
Will Texas House members force a debate on transgender bathrooms?

Will Texas House members force a debate on transgender bathrooms?

The Texas House is scheduled to take up the sunset bill Tuesday for the Texas Railroad Commission, which has primary oversight of the state’s oil and natural gas industry. Subject to the Texas Sunset Act, the agency will be abolished Sept. 1, unless continued by the legislature. The floor debate could be an early chance to see how Speaker Joe Straus handles efforts to tack on amendments involving...
In Hays County, water fight springs anew

In Hays County, water fight springs anew

Two years after expanding the reach of an Austin-area groundwater district to regulate pumping in Hays County, lawmakers are considering measures that would water down oversight. The measures appear to favor Greg LaMantia — a politically connected South Texas beer distributor and owner of the 5,000-acre Needmore Ranch east of Wimberley — who unsuccessfully fought efforts in the last legislative...
LEGISLATIVE DIGEST: Voter ID bill gets initial approval

LEGISLATIVE DIGEST: Voter ID bill gets initial approval

VOTER ID Voter ID bill gets initial approval Over Democratic objections, the Texas Senate gave initial approval Monday to a bill that would loosen several requirements in the state’s voter ID law while creating a harsh penalty for violations. Senate Bill 5 would codify many of the court-ordered changes to the 2011 law after a federal appeals court ruled last year that it discriminated against...
With riveting words from Julie Kocurek, son, panel OKs security bill

With riveting words from Julie Kocurek, son, panel OKs security bill

Riveted by state District Judge Julie Kocurek’s recollection of “the most terrifying moments of my life” — the unsuccessful 2015 assassination attempt in the driveway of her West Austin home — a Texas Senate committee on Monday quickly approved legislation to improve security for courthouses and judges across Texas. But it was her teenage son, Will Kocurek &mdash...

Texas Digest: ICE detains 26 doing community service, sheriff says

TARRANT COUNTY Sheriff: ICE arrests 26 during community service Authorities in Fort Worth say federal immigration agents arrested 26 parolees living in the country illegally as they performed community service. Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn told KXAS-TV that his office participated in Sunday morning’s operation at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. An ICE spokesman...
Voter ID bill gets initial Texas Senate approval

Voter ID bill gets initial Texas Senate approval

Over Democratic objections, the Texas Senate gave initial approval Monday to a bill that would loosen several requirements in the state’s voter ID law while creating a harsh penalty for violations. Senate Bill 5 would codify many of the court-ordered changes to the 2011 law after a federal appeals court ruled last year that it discriminated against minority and poor Texans, including an estimated...

Senate sends abortion insurance bill to House

Voting 21-10, the Texas Senate on Monday approved a bill to ban insurance coverage for abortions in the state. Senate Bill 20 by state Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, would prohibit abortion coverage in private plans, under the Affordable Care Act and in state-issued insurance plans, except for medical emergencies. Those interested in abortion coverage would have to purchase supplemental coverage...
Watch: North Texas storms drop golf ball, softball-size hail

Watch: North Texas storms drop golf ball, softball-size hail

Severe weather blanketed portions of North Texas Sunday night, dropping hail and damaging outdoor property. Hail ranging from pea to softball-size hail fell across Denton and Collin counties. Lewisville hail @DFWscanner pic.twitter.com/M6crBWQrSO — LA (@ThisIsLAinTx) March 27, 2017 According to the Dallas Morning News, forecasters are working to confirm at least one tornado touched down...
Commentary: Bills would allow nurses to fill doctor shortages

Commentary: Bills would allow nurses to fill doctor shortages

In the shadow of Congress failing to improve health care, Texas lawmakers have a golden opportunity to sharply increase access to care: They could substantially increase the number of primary-care providers — and it wouldn’t cost a dime. We’ve got a real problem here. According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation, in 2015 Texas ranked dead last regarding access...
Commentary: Austin tree ordinance violates private property rights

Commentary: Austin tree ordinance violates private property rights

Trees are timber — a natural resource that belongs to private property owners in the same way as a backyard garden. It would be absurd to require a government permit to harvest your peppers and potatoes — yet many Texas cities strictly regulate trees on your land. Overregulation of landowners and their ability to trim and remove tress is the focus of a major property rights fight at the...
Rick Perry chimes in on A&M student election; social media reacts

Rick Perry chimes in on A&M student election; social media reacts

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and current U.S. energy secretary, questioned the legitimacy of Texas A&M’s student elections in an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle. Perry wrote that his alma mater’s disqualification of former student body president candidate Robert McIntosh, who garnered the most votes but was accused of voter intimidation and failure...
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