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Texas News & Politics


In its 85th session, the Texas Legislature marched farther right

When state Rep. Jason Villalba was first elected to the Legislature in 2012, he was described as the future of the Texas Republican Party. Five years later, representing an affluent North Dallas district that Hillary Clinton carried and whose constituents include former President George W. Bush, Villalba is one of only three Hispanic Republicans in the Legislature. During his years in Austin, he has...
Legislature approves $216.8 billion state budget

Legislature approves $216.8 billion state budget

Both houses of the Texas Legislature approved a $216.8 billion state budget for 2018 and 2019 on Saturday that does little to improve the state’s widely criticized school finance system, boosts funding for scandal-plagued child protection agencies and maintains the state’s $800 million commitment to border security. The House voted 135-14 to approve the budget, with all “no&rdquo...
Most Texas House changes kept in voter ID bill

Most Texas House changes kept in voter ID bill

The voter ID bill emerged from conference committee Saturday with many of the House amendments intact — but with a compromise on the criminal penalty for lying on a document that allows registered voters to cast a ballot without a government-issued photo ID. The reworked bill will next be presented to the Senate and House for approval. If granted, Senate Bill 5 would go to Gov. Greg Abbott,...
Gov. Greg Abbott signs court safety law named for Judge Julie Kocurek

Gov. Greg Abbott signs court safety law named for Judge Julie Kocurek

Nearly 19 months after state District Judge Julie Kocurek was shot outside her West Austin home, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law named in her honor that aims to boost security for judicial officers. “The craven attack against Judge Julie Kocurek is deeply troubling, and Texas must be committed to protecting those who uphold the rule of law in this state,” Abbott said Saturday in a statement...
Texas Senate resurrects school finance, ‘school choice’ bill

Texas Senate resurrects school finance, ‘school choice’ bill

House Bill 21, the school finance and school choice bill that was declared dead earlier this week, might have been resurrected. Without much discussion, the Texas Senate on Saturday appointed senators to a conference committee to hash out differences in the bill with members of the House, who were appointed on Wednesday. Without a compromise by midnight Saturday, HB 21 is dead — again. Senate...
Fear of lawsuits prompts late change to Senate bill

Fear of lawsuits prompts late change to Senate bill

Language was stripped out of a relatively minor bill that would allow businesses to sue over local ordinances that affect their operations, including bars and strip clubs impeded by zoning or noise regulations, the Texas Municipal League said in an alert issued Saturday morning. Soon after, the Senate author of the bill — intended to void local regulations on what seeds can be planted &mdash...
Dan Patrick, Joe Straus share stage amid ‘bathroom bill’ showdown

Dan Patrick, Joe Straus share stage amid ‘bathroom bill’ showdown

Amid the legislative showdown over the so-called bathroom bill, the Republican “big three” of Texas state government — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus — shared the stage in the House on Saturday morning for a Memorial Day weekend event honoring Texans who have died while serving in the armed services. None acknowledged publicly what had happened...
Herman: Straus and Patrick and irreconcilable differences

Herman: Straus and Patrick and irreconcilable differences

Yeah, we kind of knew this political marriage — arranged by the voters of Texas — was destined for trouble. And Friday night, in escalating from what had been mostly behind-closed-doors unpleasantness, it seemed to heat up from possibly reconcilable differences to probably irreconcilable differences. As in some relationships, the flashpoint was bathrooms, though not the usual problems...
Public needs data to know if SB 4 increases racial profiling

Public needs data to know if SB 4 increases racial profiling

With the 2017 legislative session all but over, Texas police departments have begun the tough job of figuring out how to address one of the session’s most controversial laws: Senate Bill 4, aimed at eliminating so-called sanctuary cities and counties. Republican lawmakers passed the legislation over the objections of Democrats and police chiefs of major cities who said a certain provision of...

Viewpoints: Public needs data to know if SB 4 creates racial profiling

Republican lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4 over the objections of Democrats and police chiefs of major cities who said a certain provision of the law would trigger increased episodes of racial profiling and selective enforcement. That fell on deaf ears, with Gov. Greg Abbott noting that racial profiling is illegal in Texas. That is akin to saying that because the legal speed limit is 55 miles per hour...
Joe Straus, Dan Patrick snipe on bathroom bill, special session

Joe Straus, Dan Patrick snipe on bathroom bill, special session

Speaker Joe Straus said the House will budge no further on transgender bathroom legislation and that the Senate can take the measure the House passed Sunday, which Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick did not feel went far enough, or leave it. “The House approved language last Sunday night that required schools to make private accommodations for students who want them,” Straus said Friday at a brief press...
Legislature keeps cuts to program for poor kids with disabilities

Legislature keeps cuts to program for poor kids with disabilities

Over Democratic objections and against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ wishes, the Legislature this year won’t undo severe cuts adopted in 2015 to a program that serves low-income children with disabilities. The House on Friday voted 115-21 to go along with a Senate budget plan that declines to alter the dramatic reductions — totaling about $350 million in state and federal money...
Former nurse accused of killing dozens of kids in 1980s

Former nurse accused of killing dozens of kids in 1980s

A Texas nurse who is in prison for the 1982 killing of a toddler has been charged with murder in the death of an infant a year earlier, and authorities said Friday that they think she might have killed as many as 60 young children around that time. Genene Jones, 66, is serving concurrent 99-year and 60-year sentences at a Gatesville prison for the 1982 killing of 15-month-old Chelsea McClelland and...
Herman: When Greg Abbott joked about gun violence and reporters

Herman: When Greg Abbott joked about gun violence and reporters

There’s nothing funny about gun violence, threatened or otherwise. Ditto for physical violence. And — and I’m getting close to home here — there’s nothing funny about threatened gun or physical violence against members of my esteemed and respected-by-all craft. Look, I know Gov. Greg Abbott was joking Friday at a South Austin shooting range when, showing off a target...
Sweeping abortion regulations sent to Gov. Abbott

Sweeping abortion regulations sent to Gov. Abbott

Eleven months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion regulations that would have left only nine clinics open in Texas, sweeping new restrictions are on their way to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. Voting 22-9, the Texas Senate on Friday gave final approval to Senate Bill 8, which requires fetal tissue to be buried or cremated, restricts the most common procedure for second-trimester...
George P. Bush: Coast-to-coast border wall ‘probably not feasible’

George P. Bush: Coast-to-coast border wall ‘probably not feasible’

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush on Friday said President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border is “probably not feasible,” joining other Texas Republicans who have cast doubt on Trump’s signature campaign promise. “We need to have a strategic, methodical process to deal with illegal immigration and to work on enhancing legal immigration...
Power and devastation of the Jarrell tornado, by the numbers

Power and devastation of the Jarrell tornado, by the numbers

The Jarrell tornado, which struck on May 27, 1997, was one of the most destructive events in Central Texas history. It wiped out an entire subdivision and wreaked the worst tornado damage ever captured on film. Here are some numbers that convey what Central Texas endured that day: • 24: The number of tornadoes that struck the region. The night before, severe thunderstorms that had developed over...

Sales tax holidays this weekend encourage energy, water conservation

Texans get two sales tax holidays in one weekend: From May 27-29, shoppers can save money on certain items carrying an Energy Star logo or the WaterSense logo. Energy Star tax holiday According to the Texas comptroller’s office, the number of qualifying items you can buy is unlimited and you don’t need an exemption certificate. You can buy, rent or lease only these Energy Star-labeled...
Commentary: How to vote on health care if you’re a Christian lawmaker

Commentary: How to vote on health care if you’re a Christian lawmaker

Many political leaders who support the U.S. House or Senate version of a new health care bill proudly identify themselves as Christian — “pro-life” and “pro-family.” What puzzles me is how these leaders reconcile their personal values and commitments with embracing a plan that limits or excludes poor people as well as persons with pre-existing conditions. In other words...
Texas Legislature: What is sine die? 

Texas Legislature: What is sine die? 

If you’ve seen the term sine die floating around, it’s not a typo. Sine die is an important day at the Texas Capitol -- learn a little more about it below: Sine die is the final day of the Texas legislative session and the last day the Legislature gathers at the Capitol. It marks the end of the regular session.  Sine die translates quite literally from Latin to mean &ldquo...
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott jokes he’ll carry riddled target ‘in case I see any reporters’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott jokes he’ll carry riddled target ‘in case I see any reporters’

After signing into law Senate Bill 16, which reduces the fee for a handgun license in Texas, at The Range, an indoor shooting range in South Austin, Abbott did some target shooting with a SIG Sauer P320 pistol. Abbott proved a good shot and, proudly displaying the target showing his marksmanship, the governor joked, according to the Texas Tribune reporter and photographer who were within earshot,...
Commentary: How TxDOT continues the wrong approach to Texas 45 SW

Commentary: How TxDOT continues the wrong approach to Texas 45 SW

For over 35 years, Save Barton Creek Association has worked to protect Barton Creek and Austin’s crown jewel, Barton Springs. One of the gravest threats we see to this iconic natural resource is the construction of Texas 45 Southwest. Part of Texas 45 SW is to be built through land critical to the springs’ flow. Over the years, the Texas Department of Transportation has attempted to avoid...
Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Republicans would have us believe that few issues require the immediate attention of state lawmakers more than regulating which bathrooms transgender Texans can use. Such urgency for a manufactured problem conjured by Republicans has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with mandating the type of bathrooms transgender Texans, including students, can use in...
Review this checklist before you hit the road Memorial Day weekend

Review this checklist before you hit the road Memorial Day weekend

  An estimated 2.8 million Texans are expected to be on the roads this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA Texas. The group anticipates that more than 330,000 drivers will require a roadside rescue – at least 21,500 in Texas alone – AAA Texas spokeswoman Anne O’Ryan said. So here are some safety steps that O’Ryan says motorists should take if they&rsquo...
Gov. Abbott predicts agreement on tax and bathroom issues Saturday

Gov. Abbott predicts agreement on tax and bathroom issues Saturday

Gov. Greg Abbott predicted Friday that House and Senate negotiators will reach agreement on property tax reform and transgender bathroom legislation Saturday. “As you may have heard, conference committees have been assigned for those two issues,” Abbott told reporters. “That’s positive. It means the House and the Senate are going to be getting to work on those two issues and...
Court: Texas must reveal execution drug supplier

Court: Texas must reveal execution drug supplier

A state appeals court ruled Thursday that Texas prison officials must identify the pharmacy that supplies the state with drugs used in executions. Prison officials have worked for years to avoid identifying the source of its lethal injection drugs, fearing the publicity would produce protests and threats from death penalty opponents that would deter suppliers from selling to the state. The Austin-based...
Bills aimed at restricting lobbyists die in Texas House

Bills aimed at restricting lobbyists die in Texas House

When meetings of the Texas House stretch late into the night, some legislators take breaks from the action by walking out the back of the House chamber, taking the elevator down to the basement and enjoying some food or a drink in what’s known as Club Geren. In Room GW.15, the office of state Rep. Charlie Geren, lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists mingle behind closed doors as the people&rsquo...
Rep. Terry Canales says Sen. Charles Schwertner ‘lacks a spine’

Rep. Terry Canales says Sen. Charles Schwertner ‘lacks a spine’

In an angry speech on the Texas House floor, Rep. Terry Canales on Thursday tore into Sen. Charles Schwertner for derailing a bill that would have required governments to disclose how much they pay performers at parades following a controversial open-records fight over how much the city of McAllen paid singer Enrique Iglesias for a 2015 concert. Schwertner, a Georgetown Republican who killed the bill...

Dallas seeing a sharp increase in drive-by shootings

Dallas police say an increase in gang violence has led to a spike in drive-by shootings that are often fueled by social media. Interim Police Chief David Pughes told The Dallas Morning News that more than 120 drive-by shootings have been reported so far this year, compared with not quite 50 during the same period last year. Most of the shootings have occurred in southern Dallas. While overall crime...

Texas Digest: Woman leaps from RV before man shoots self

ARLINGTON Woman leaps from RV before man shoots self Authorities say a woman suffering gunshot wounds jumped from a motor home on a North Texas highway to escape her assailant before two young children were later released and the RV was destroyed by fire. Investigators say the woman and the man who abducted her are the parents of the children who were also in the RV. Arlington police Lt. Christopher...
Lockhart balloon crash hearing, safety calls scheduled for October

Lockhart balloon crash hearing, safety calls scheduled for October

The final investigatory hearing into the deadly Lockhart balloon crash, where officials will make what could be far reaching safety recommendations for the ballooning industry, has been tentatively scheduled for mid-October, according to a draft version of the National Transportation and Safety Board’s hearing calendar. At the hearing, investigators will also release their findings into what...
Texas Senate trims House bills to address STAAR, A-F rating system

Texas Senate trims House bills to address STAAR, A-F rating system

The Texas Senate early Thursday passed stripped-down versions of House bills that would address state standardized tests and how the state evaluates school districts and campuses starting in 2018. House Bill 22, which passed 29-2, would reduce the number of categories from five to four in which schools and districts would be graded under the A-F accountability system. Those categories would evaluate...
State officials close to deal to expand Pedernales Falls State Park

State officials close to deal to expand Pedernales Falls State Park

A deal meant to protect the views in a popular Hill Country state park appears to be near completion, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials and a landowner said Thursday. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will buy, at no more than half the market rate, 200 acres of private property on a bluff opposite Pedernales Falls State Park; landowner Mike Maples also will voluntarily mark an additional...
New Texas law aims to crack down on teacher misconduct with students

New Texas law aims to crack down on teacher misconduct with students

Superintendents and principals who intentionally hide improper relationships between students and teachers will now face jail time. Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law Senate Bill 7, one of the priority bills this legislative session that’s aimed at cracking down on the rising number of cases of improper relationships between students and teachers. “Unfortunately, a small number...
Will Gov. Abbott call a special session over bathroom bill and taxes?

Will Gov. Abbott call a special session over bathroom bill and taxes?

Gov. Greg Abbott said on Thursday that he is not yet ready to talk about a special session to address what he considers insufficient efforts to restrict bathroom use by transgender people and rein in property taxes. The regular legislative session ends Monday. “We’ve got plenty of time to continue in this regular session. I think it is highly inappropriate for a football player playing...
No special session on redistricting, Ken Paxton tells court

No special session on redistricting, Ken Paxton tells court

There will be no special legislative session on redistricting, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told a federal court Thursday. The announcement came in response to a question posed last week by a three-judge panel that will determine whether the state’s maps for 36 congressional districts and 150 state House districts were drawn in ways that discriminate against African-American and Latino...
Austin asks judge to toss ‘sanctuary cities’ suit

Austin asks judge to toss ‘sanctuary cities’ suit

The city of Austin has asked a federal judge to toss Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit over the Senate Bill 4 ban on so-called sanctuary cities from the courts. In a motion filed Wednesday, attorneys representing the city said Paxton’s lawsuit violates the Constitution and that it is out of bounds because SB 4 hasn’t yet taken effect. “The city has been consistent...
Abbott: How SB 7 protects students from predators in the classroom

Abbott: How SB 7 protects students from predators in the classroom

Our schools should be safe places for our children and youth to learn and advance. The toughest challenges they face should be solving math problems and choosing a career and college path. With Senate Bill 7 now signed into law in Texas, we have taken much-needed steps to forever bar from our classrooms any teacher who would prey on our students and to penalize administrators who turn a blind eye...
Herman: Prayer that Texas lawmakers ‘rot and be blown away’ too much?

Herman: Prayer that Texas lawmakers ‘rot and be blown away’ too much?

While we’re waiting to see what the Legislature does about bathroom and locker room usage by our transgender neighbors, you might want to know that God has been asked to train his considerable wrath upon those who oppose the so-called bathroom bill. But first, our word of the day: imprecatory. It’s new to me. I like learning new words. Looks like this one means “to invoke or call...
In fatal struggles with police, a controversial killer is often blamed

In fatal struggles with police, a controversial killer is often blamed

Juan Lozano’s death in South Texas during the summer of 2006 was a mystery. Dimmit County Sheriff’s deputies came upon the 26-year-old Crystal City man around midnight after a call about a man behaving bizarrely: screaming, running in the street and hiding in the bushes. A struggle broke out — officers say they pushed him to the ground after he tried to flee — and Lozano was...
Gov. Abbott: ‘Plenty of time’ to avoid special legislative session

Gov. Abbott: ‘Plenty of time’ to avoid special legislative session

Gov. Greg Abbott said on Thursday that he is not yet ready to talk about a special session to address what he considers insufficient efforts to restrict bathroom use by transgender people and rein in property taxes. The regular legislative session ends Monday. “We’ve got plenty of time to continue in this regular session. I think it is highly inappropriate for a football player playing...
New Texas law aims to crack down on teacher misconduct with students

New Texas law aims to crack down on teacher misconduct with students

Superintendents and principals who intentionally hide improper relationships between students and teachers will now face jail time. Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law Senate Bill 7, one of the priority bills this legislative session that’s aimed at cracking down on the rising number of cases of improper relationships between students and teachers. “Unfortunately, a small number...
More Texas News & Politics Stories