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Texas News & Politics


Trump administration to defend ‘sanctuary cities’ ban in Texas lawsuit

Trump administration lawyers announced Friday that they will defend Texas’ Senate Bill 4, a state ban on “ sanctuary cities,” from myriad legal challenges when it heads to a federal courtroom next week. “The Department of Justice fully supports Texas’s effort and is participating in this lawsuit because of the strong federal interest in facilitating the state...
New Austin charter school gets state approval to open three campuses

New Austin charter school gets state approval to open three campuses

The State Board of Education on Friday gave a charter school permission to open three new campuses in Austin, likely pulling students from the Austin school district, which has for years endured declining enrollment. The state panel last approved a new charter school for Austin in 2014, although existing charter schools — which are privately run public schools — have opened new campuses...
WATCH: Man drags 6-foot shark back into water on Padre Island

WATCH: Man drags 6-foot shark back into water on Padre Island

Three men who caught a massive bull shark were caught on video dragging it back to its home in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Karen Wall, a Corpus Christi woman who posted a Facebook video of the men dragging the shark back into the water, said the men were fishing off Bob Hall Pier on North Padre Island on June 15 when they caught the 6-foot bull...
Commentary: West Texas figures out why Abbott hates on public schools

Commentary: West Texas figures out why Abbott hates on public schools

My hero this week is Graydon Hicks, Fort Davis superintendent of schools. A West Texas publication published his open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick raking them over the coals for “the lack of positive legislative action for public schools in Texas” at the most recent session, which adjourned at the end of May without passing a school finance bill. Hicks is a West...
NEW NOW: New Austin charter school wins approval of state panel

NEW NOW: New Austin charter school wins approval of state panel

The State Board of Education on Friday approved a charter school to open three new campuses over a five-year period in north and south Austin. The state panel hasn’t approved a suite of new charter schools, which are privately-run public schools, in Austin since 2014 even though existing charter schools have opened new campuses throughout the city since then. Officials with Valor Public Schools...
Commentary: Language barrier shouldn’t be a barrier to democracy

Commentary: Language barrier shouldn’t be a barrier to democracy

Though voting should be a simple process, it’s undeniable that some people face more obstacles at the polls than others. When English is not your first language, the voting process can be especially difficult. Though a controversial voter ID law here has grabbed national headlines, fewer Texans know about the state’s more obscure voting rights battle that’s threatening the right...
Straying from Texas Republicans, Ted Cruz opposes GOP health care bill

Straying from Texas Republicans, Ted Cruz opposes GOP health care bill

Texas conservative firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz and three of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate announced Thursday they oppose the latest proposed Republican health care overhaul — potentially imperiling the bill, which otherwise received widespread support from other officials in this GOP-dominated state. Their announcement came just hours after the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell...
Court sets fast pace for possible Texas voter ID penalties

Court sets fast pace for possible Texas voter ID penalties

With the next election season looming, a federal judge has set a fast-paced schedule for determining whether Texas should be penalized for a voter ID law found to have been written to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. Saying no additional hearings will be needed in her Corpus Christi courtroom, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos gave lawyers two weeks to file legal briefs on...
Commentary: How Senate health bill raises health costs for everyone

Commentary: How Senate health bill raises health costs for everyone

As Congress wrestles with replacing the Affordable Care Act, a big question is where they will finally land with Medicaid. Rolling back Medicaid hurts our country’s safety net by taking coverage away from millions of Americans — many of whom are low-income, working adults who aren’t offered health insurance through their employers or who work intermittent, contract jobs — and...
PolitiFact: If it feels hotter than ever, that’s because it is

PolitiFact: If it feels hotter than ever, that’s because it is

A Democrat hot after the U.S. House seat held by Republican climate-science skeptic Rep. Lamar Smith made a searing claim while strolling for support in South Austin, a news story shows. An American-Statesman story captured the scene when a resident told Democratic candidate Derrick Crowe she’s worried about climate change. Crowe responded: “That one actually keeps me up at night.&rdquo...
Texas student recreates family photos with her Chihuahua — your move, Austin dog people

Texas student recreates family photos with her Chihuahua — your move, Austin dog people

Look, we know Austin is full of dog lovers. Very serious, somewhat exhausting dog lovers. This Waxahatchie student might, just might, have all of you beat. As she told the Houston Chronicle, Marissa Hooper, a 21-year-old Sam Houston State University student, did what one does when it is summer -- she and her sister methodically recreated family photos in her parents home with similar photos...
Commentary: Why Dawnna Dukes’ incumbency is misguiding Democrats

Commentary: Why Dawnna Dukes’ incumbency is misguiding Democrats

I was dismayed to read a broadside from Vincent Harding, chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party, purporting to explain his heavy-handed refusal to allow a vote on a resolution calling for the resignation of state Rep. Dawnna Dukes. That resolution might or might not have passed. That’s why votes are held. I’ve served five terms as a Democratic Party precinct chair: three in Travis...
VOTER ID: Fast schedule set on Texas penalties for ‘discriminatory’ law

VOTER ID: Fast schedule set on Texas penalties for ‘discriminatory’ law

With the next election season looming, a federal judge has set a fast-paced schedule for determining whether Texas should be penalized for a voter ID law found to have been written by Republicans to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. Saying no additional hearings will be needed, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos gave lawyers two weeks to file legal briefs on the matter, with...
Commentary: Why Texas should eye gerrymandering cases at Supreme Court

Commentary: Why Texas should eye gerrymandering cases at Supreme Court

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Gill v. Whitford, a case involving a challenge to Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative maps. The challengers claim that these maps put Democratic legislators at an unfair disadvantage by preventing them from gaining seats in the legislature despite their popularity among voters. At the heart of the case is a constitutional challenge to partisan...
Best Texas books to read in June 2017

Best Texas books to read in June 2017

We’ve learned more about the Nueces River, Texas birding, a standout West Texas Congressman, the King Ranch and Texas swimming holes. “The Nueces River: Rio Escondido.” Margie Crisp with artwork by William B. Montgomery. Texas A&M Press. Much admired Texas artist and naturalist Margie Crisp made quite a splash with her award-winning “River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado...
Texas Aggie is hero of dramatic Iraqi battlefield rescue caught on video

Texas Aggie is hero of dramatic Iraqi battlefield rescue caught on video

Among the many things that are required of a freshman in Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets — from buzzed hair, to shined shoes to elaborate rituals for nearly every situation — is to memorize a simple Bible verse. John 15:13. These are not hollow words in Aggieland. It happened famously in Corregidor. Tragically in Fallujah. In the trenches of World War I and mountains of Afghanistan....
Blasting State Rep. Dawnna Dukes for her ‘worst lawmaker’ ranking, potential rival calls for her resignation

Blasting State Rep. Dawnna Dukes for her ‘worst lawmaker’ ranking, potential rival calls for her resignation

The day after Texas Monthly named Austin Democrat Dawnna Dukes one of the state’s ten worst lawmakers, a potential opponent joined the calls Wednesday for Dukes to resign. Michael Hendrix, a District 46 resident who said he is considering running for Dukes’ seat in the state House, joined a half-dozen friends and supporters at an ad-hoc, hastily called event at East Austin’s...

Texas Digest: Houston to join ‘sanctuary city’ lawsuit

HOUSTON Houston to join ‘sanctuary city’ lawsuit Houston city leaders have voted to join a lawsuit trying to halt a Texas law that would crackdown on “sanctuary cities.” Houston City Council voted 10-6, with one abstention, Wednesday to join the lawsuit, filed in San Antonio federal court. Houston joins Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso County and several organizations,...
Ex-nurse, suspected of killing dozens, hit with another indictment

Ex-nurse, suspected of killing dozens, hit with another indictment

A former Texas nurse who prosecutors say might be responsible for the deaths of up to 60 young children was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge for the second time in two months. The Bexar County district attorney’s office said in a statement that Genene Jones was charged in the September 1981 death of 2-year-old Rosemary Vega. She was charged with a separate count of murder last month in...
Texas has more LGBT pride than 47 states, according to ranking

Texas has more LGBT pride than 47 states, according to ranking

Say it loud and say it proud, Texas. According to a new list, you’ve got LGBT pride to spare, at least on social media. It’s Pride month, and Internet service provider resource High Speed Internet ranked the U.S. states according to how often they used Pride-related hashtags on their photos of marches, parades and festivals. Texas landed at No. 3, behind only  New York at No...
Texas appeal to reinstate fetal burial rule can proceed, court says

Texas appeal to reinstate fetal burial rule can proceed, court says

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton can proceed with an appeal seeking to resurrect a state rule that requires fetal tissue to be buried or cremated, a federal appeals court has ruled. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a request, filed two weeks ago by several abortion providers, to dismiss Paxton’s appeal. The court’s three-judge panel gave no explanation for the...
What’s happening with El Niño? LCRA forecaster has an unexpected answer

What’s happening with El Niño? LCRA forecaster has an unexpected answer

El Niño, after looking fairly likely for months to make an appearance this year, will probably not appear in its full majesty after all, according to Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose. “Recent observations and forecasts now indicate the develop of El Niño is not nearly as certain as it was just a month ago,” Rose said in a video blog entry. A National...
People think this dog looks exactly like Ted Cruz

People think this dog looks exactly like Ted Cruz

The internet has found the dog doppelganger of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. A Reddit user posted a picture of a Corgi with its face smushed through the bars of a kennel with the caption “This dog looks like Ted Cruz." Eight hours later, the post had nearly 15,000 upvotes and 260 comments.  “Looks like the Zodiac killer to me,” the most popular commenter wrote, referencing ...
Herman: Gov. Greg Abbott neither vetoes nor signs hundreds of bills

Herman: Gov. Greg Abbott neither vetoes nor signs hundreds of bills

Statistics don’t lie, but sometimes we don’t know what they’re trying to say. With that in mind, this: Gov. Greg Abbott has let hundreds of bills become law without signing them. This year he did so on bills on a variety of topics, including guns, beer and NASCAR. Civics 101: The gubernatorial power to sign or veto a bill is among the most important powers a Texas governor has. Most...
Mother charged in 4-year-old’s death undergoing mental exam

Mother charged in 4-year-old’s death undergoing mental exam

A Houston-area mother charged in the fatal stabbing of her 4-year-old daughter “doesn’t seem well” and is being examined for mental health issues, her attorney said Tuesday. Laquita Lewis, 34, was arraigned on a capital murder charge for the Sunday slaying of her daughter, Fredricka Allen. “If the facts prove out to what (the district attorney) is saying, she’s probably...
Remains of sailor killed at Pearl Harbor remains to be buried in Texas

Remains of sailor killed at Pearl Harbor remains to be buried in Texas

The remains of a Texas sailor who died in the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are returning home. George Anderson Coke Jr.’s remains were recently identified after his family provided DNA samples for testing, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Before then, his remains had been buried in a mass grave in Hawaii alongside other crewmen. The Arlington man went into service in early 1941...
Young: In replacing ACA, Team ‘Mean’ hands off duty to ‘Coward Caucus’

Young: In replacing ACA, Team ‘Mean’ hands off duty to ‘Coward Caucus’

Donald Trump didn’t just say the House-passed bill to replace the Affordable Care Act was mean. He called it “mean, mean, mean.” That’s “mean” times three. Interesting. When he invited the House White Caucus, er, Republican Caucus, over for a celebratory photo op after its passage, he said the bill was “incredibly well-crafted.” But let’s give...
Texas redistricting case based on racial, not partisan, gerrymandering

Texas redistricting case based on racial, not partisan, gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to examine partisan gerrymandering, announced Monday, came as lawyers in Texas were preparing for a July trial on whether state Republicans adopted districts in 2013 that were improperly drawn along racial lines. Texas Democrats argue that Republican gains in the U.S. House and Texas House were made by improperly reducing the voting strength of Latinos and African...
Williams, back in home district, gives emotional remarks on attack

Williams, back in home district, gives emotional remarks on attack

A group of about 25 Republican lawmakers took to a baseball field in suburban Washington, D.C., for practice around 7 a.m. last Wednesday, the day before the Congressional Baseball Game — their annual faceoff against Democratic rivals, played for charity and bragging rights. The team coach, Austin-area U.S. Rep. Roger Williams — a car dealer who once had dreams of playing in the pros &mdash...
Restoration of native plants could help ocelots

Restoration of native plants could help ocelots

Native plants in the Rio Grande Valley are nothing if not tenacious. Each one seems to have some type of thorn or sticker or tough skin designed to make it as difficult as possible to eat, or enabling it to fend off insects or to keep from being colonized by parasites. But even this resilient and drought-resistant flora can use a helping hand. A program at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge...
Already pinched, Texas parks not getting promised state money

Already pinched, Texas parks not getting promised state money

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department won’t see $36 million in promised state money over the next two years even as the agency grapples with millions of dollars in backlogged park maintenance. In 2015, state lawmakers passed a law to dedicate 94 percent of sporting good tax money to the state parks department, but that portion has fallen to 83 percent — or $278 million — as the...
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is running for re-election

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is running for re-election

George P. Bush announced Monday that he will seek re-election as land commissioner in 2018. Bush, 41, has served since 2015 as head of the state agency that oversees state lands and natural resources, which are used, among other purposes, to provide revenue for the Permanent School Fund. The $37 billion fund is the nation’s largest education endowment, providing $1 billion in 2016 to help school...
Choked with emotion, U.S. Rep. Williams gives first remarks in Austin since Alexandria shooting

Choked with emotion, U.S. Rep. Williams gives first remarks in Austin since Alexandria shooting

Just a week after nearly being gunned down in a hail of bullets at a baseball field in a suburb of Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, held an emotional press conference at the Texas Capitol about the attack that left a senior Republican lawmaker near death. “We were attacked by a gunman Wednesday morning at baseball practice,” he began. “As we have seen there are...
George P. Bush announces reelection bid for land commissioner

George P. Bush announces reelection bid for land commissioner

George P. Bush has officially announced that he will run for reelection as land commissioner in 2018. Bush, 41, has served since 2015 as head of the state office that oversees state lands and natural resources, which are used, among other purposes, to maintain revenue for the Permanent School Fund. The $37 billion fund is the largest education endowment in the nation and parts of it every year is...
Mike Collier: ‘Nobody better to run against Dan Patrick than me’

Mike Collier: ‘Nobody better to run against Dan Patrick than me’

Mike Collier, who unsuccessfully ran for state comptroller in 2014, launched a long-shot bid for lieutenant governor on Saturday under a beating midday sun at Prete Main Street Plaza. “I’m Dan Patrick’s worst nightmare. I’m a Democrat with a CPA license,” Collier, a graduate of Georgetown High School and the University of Texas, declared before a crowd of about 75 Williamson...
How one Austin affordable housing district escaped Abbott’s veto

How one Austin affordable housing district escaped Abbott’s veto

Gov. Greg Abbott and his veto pen will not kill the city’s “homestead preservation district” program, city officials said. But the veto will keep it from growing. Over the past few years, Austin has been working on establishing such districts to raise money for affordable housing in certain gentrifying areas. As the tax base in a district grows, the city puts a portion of the...
Larry Fitzgerald, longtime public face for Texas death row, dies at 79

Larry Fitzgerald, longtime public face for Texas death row, dies at 79

Larry Fitzgerald, who for years was the Texas prison system’s spokesman, working as the public face of the busiest death chamber in the nation, died June 12 at his Austin home, according to his family. Fitzgerald was the Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman for eight years during which Texas was building new prisons and dealing with the attention drawn by then Gov. George W. Bush&rsquo...
Backers of parental equality during divorce hold rally at Capitol

Backers of parental equality during divorce hold rally at Capitol

Two days before Father’s Day, about 40 people, mostly fathers, gathered in front of the Texas Capitol on Friday to air their frustrations with family court practices and with the demise of House Bill 453, which died during the legislative session in May. The bill would have established equal custody of children during family court proceedings following a divorce. Currently, judges award primary...
Deported veterans optimistic after Texas lawmaker’s dinner with Trump

Deported veterans optimistic after Texas lawmaker’s dinner with Trump

Deported military veterans living in Mexico say they are hopeful that a recent dinner between a freshman Democratic congressman from McAllen and President Donald Trump will open the door to their return to the United States and make it harder to deport those who served in the military. “We’re very, very hopeful that things are moving forward,” said Hector Barajas, a deported veteran...
FREEDOM DAY: The history of Juneteenth in Texas

FREEDOM DAY: The history of Juneteenth in Texas

 The history of Juneteeth (aka Freedom Day or Emancipation Day) is tied up with Texas history and American history. The story is likely well known to Texans: On June 19, 1865, Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army, issues General Order 3 after marching into Galveston. Emancipation arrived two months after the end of the Civil War. “The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation...
Fort Hood gets personnel boost from Congress

Fort Hood gets personnel boost from Congress

Fort Hood will get a personnel boost thanks to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The post will see the return of an aviation training brigade — and about 137 soldiers — to its 1st Army Division West, which trains and mobilizes Army Reserve and National Guard units at Fort Hood. And Fort Hood will retain the 206th Military Intelligence Battalion, which was formerly scheduled...
Viewpoints: CPS leaders should focus on stability to build on progress

Viewpoints: CPS leaders should focus on stability to build on progress

Some of the long-sought changes necessary to overhaul the state’s embattled child protection agency — such as more staff and better pay — are steadily but slowly taking shape. But agency leaders must not lose sight of those who stand to have the greatest impact on improving care for some of the state’s most troubled children: its staff members. The latest sign of overhaul at...
Gov. Greg Abbott’s veto choices show ‘disdain’ for Austin, lawmakers say

Gov. Greg Abbott’s veto choices show ‘disdain’ for Austin, lawmakers say

Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday vetoed 50 bills passed by the 85th session of the Legislature and extended his war against what he considers meddlesome and unnecessary local lawmaking. “This is Austin-bashing at its finest,” said state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, of the governor’s veto of his bill, House Bill 3281, aimed at helping local residents stay in homes in gentrifying...
Sandra Bland Act signed into law to address mental health of prisoners

Sandra Bland Act signed into law to address mental health of prisoners

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law the Sandra Bland Act which, among several provisions, requires more training for jailers on mental health issues of prisoners. “It is time that we make progress in criminal justice reform that will keep both law enforcement and the public safe and prevent future tragedies like Sandra Bland’s,” said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who authored...
Poll: Texas Republicans largely loyal to Donald Trump

Poll: Texas Republicans largely loyal to Donald Trump

Texans remain divided down the middle on whether Donald Trump is competent to be president. Lone Star state residents also are more likely to think he is neither honest nor trustworthy nor temperamentally suited to lead the nation, according to the results of a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Thursday. Beneath the 43 approval to 51 percent disapproval rating — in which 25...
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