HPPR Government & Politics

Government:
state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
local government (city & county)
regional agencies & authorities
policies
budgets & taxes
laws, rules & regulations

Politics:
district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
voting patterns

Texas Debates Plan to Battle Future Droughts

2 hours ago
Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

The current drought in Texas began in 2010. Though the situation has improved somewhat, the drought is still with us—and so are the conditions that caused it, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and NPR.

Dole Leads Effort to Build Ike Memorial

2 hours ago
Public Domain

Efforts to build a national Dwight Eisenhower memorial have stalled, and Senator Bob Dole is spearheading the effort to get them back on track, the Washington Post reports. The former Republican presidential candidate served under Ike in World War II, and he has called Eisenhower “one of the great Americans.” Both Dole and Ike hail from Kansas.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

The State of Kansas would like to dismiss a federal lawsuit taken up by the ACLU last year, in which several gay couples have sued for equal treatment under the law, alleging discrimination from religious organizations in the state. 

Abbot Campaign Takes in Massive Nine-Day Haul

Jul 19, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Potential challengers to Governor Greg Abbot in the 2018 elections will be in for a fight, reports the Texas Tribune.  Last month, Abbot raised $8.3 million over a period of nine days.

In the first six months of this year, Abbot’s campaign has spent $2.5 million, leaving him with a war chest of almost $18 million dollars—a daunting sum for even the most well-heeled of opponents.

KHI News Service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The three companies that administer KanCare have donated more than $50,000 to the campaigns of current Kansas legislators since the $3 billion Medicaid program began in 2013.

Creative Commons

President Obama visited Oklahoma on Wednesday, and stopped by Durant to speak to the Choctaw Nation about expanding economic opportunities, reports KFOR. The president gave a speech focusing on improving conditions for all kinds of American communities, including the Choctaw Nation.

Rick Perry Speaks Frankly on America's Race Problem

Jul 9, 2015
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Last Thursday, Rick Perry spoke before the National Press Club in Washington and surprised many by his frank remarks on race, reports The Washington Post. He began by recounting the horrific lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, in 1916, before going on to address America’s difficulties in grappling with its racist past.

Creative Commons

News outlets have exhaustively reported the wide field of Republicans who are running for president in next year’s election. But those organizations are, in fact, underreporting the numbers, notes Mother Jones. In reality, 448 people from around the country have filed the form to run for president. Along with various other, smaller party affiliations there are 118 independents, 100 Republicans, and 74 Democrats who’ve thrown their hats into the ring—and that’s a lot of hats.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

When it comes to gerrymandering, or the redrawing of political lines to favor a political party, Texas has come under fire over the past couple of decades. Republican lawmakers in Austin have consistently redrawn the map to ensure that Republicans would fare better in elections.

Sarah Nichols / Flickr

McAlister, Oklahoma, has had a ban on oil drilling within its city limits since 1974. But now Governor Mary Fallin has signed controversial legislation outlawing municipal drilling bans, and the mayor of this small town in southeastern Oklahoma isn’t happy, reports KOSU. In fact, he wrote a eulogy for the death of his town’s 41-year old drilling ban, referring to the ordinance by the name “Ordie.” The requiem  reads, in part, “Ordie . . .

Creative Commons

Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky became the first major-party presidential candidate in history to accept money from the marijuana lobby. Now Colorado Public Radio has published a story reporting on where the various candidates stand on the issue of marijuana legalization.

Federal Wiretaps on the Rise in Kansas

Jul 2, 2015
Flickr Creative Commons

Authorities are instituting more wiretaps in Kansas, a new government report has found. As The Kansas City Star explains, when the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts issued its annual report to Congress this week, it found that the number of wiretaps across the nation declined slightly over the last year. But in Kansas, the number of wiretaps authorized by federal judges last year jumped from 5 to 29. The number is higher than every year dating back at least to 2009.

Texas to Create Gold Bullion Depository

Jun 29, 2015
Bullion Vault / Flickr Creative Commons

In regional news, Texas has signed a law to establish the creation of a “Texas Bullion Depository,” a vault to hold gold bullion and increase the stability of Texas’s gold reserves. The gold that will be put in the vault, worth more than $660 biillion, is currently being held in a bank in Manhattan, Reuters reports.

Putin Encourages Texas Secession

Jun 27, 2015
Creative Commons

Politico.com reports that Vladimir Putin has cast his eye toward the Lone Star State. The US’s lead role in imposing sanctions on Russia after the country’s annexation of the Crimea and incursions into the Ukraine has fostered Russian resentment against America. Now Putin has engaged his propaganda machine to encourage fringe groups who would like to see Texas secede from the US.

Oklahoma to Allow Online Voter Registration

Jun 24, 2015
Vox Efx / Creative Commons

A new law will allow Oklahoma voters to register online, reports the Southwest Times Record. The law, which goes into effect November 1st, authorizes a secure online system that will accept voter registration applications from voters with a valid Oklahoma Drivers License or ID card.  The new measure is one of several election reforms proposed by Senator David Holt, a Republican from Oklahoma City. More than two dozen other states already have electronic voting systems.

Creative Commons

The Department of Transportation has reversed a ruling that would phase out a requirement that railroads must disclose publicly when they’re transporting crude oil. The Rural Blog reports that the rule will now remain in effect. Media outlets have raised concerns about trains transporting crude oil through dangerous or populated areas. The number of oil train spills has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing from 25 in 1975 to 141 in 2014.

John Moore / Getty Images

Texas is suing the Obama Administration to block its plan to offer amnesty to millions of immigrants. But a recent report by the Center for American Progress has concluded that Texas actually stands to profit immensely if the president’s ambitious plan is upheld. The Huffington Post notes that the president’s plan would benefit Texas’s GDP to the tune of $38.3 billion over ten years.

Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

While marijuana is now legal in Colorado, you can still be fired for testing positive for the substance. The Washington Post reports that the state supreme court ruled 6 to nothing this week against a man who was trying to get his job back after failing a drug test. Colorado now becomes the fourth state to rule against an employee in such a case.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Officials and researchers from states that have legalized marijuana or are considering making the substance lawful met in Washington State this week to evaluate the impact of the legislation, reports the Washington Post. The conference drew lawmakers from the legal pot states of Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska, as well as Vermont and California—states that may legalize the substance in the future.

Legislators from the Texas Panhandle were successful in getting many of their efforts passed this session. Sen. Kel Seliger filed about 75 bills, and the Texas Legislature passed nearly 20. In the House of Representatives, Four Price and John Smithee both fared well. Nine of Smithee’s 37 bills passed. As for Price, eight of the 27 bills he authored passed. He also sponsored nine Senate bills, and all passed.

Kansas Legislators have finished the longest session in the state's history. The wrapped up their work late Friday and left Topeka. Lawmakers faced an $800 million deficit. They found a way to balance the budget. They will return to the capitol later this month for the ceremonial end to the 2015 legislative session.

Supreme Court to Rule onTexas Voting Rights Case

Jun 15, 2015
Todd Wiseman

The US Supreme Court has taken up a Texas voting rights case, known as Evenwel v. Abbott, reports the Texas Tribune. At issue is whether Texas voting districts fairly represent their citizens.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Because of an AP reporter’s determination this week, Kansas voters learned of several proposed statewide budget cuts that they would not otherwise have been made aware of, including the laying off of prison guards, cutting of public school funds, and reduced payments to health care providers and nursing homes.

Lars Plougmann

In the waning days of the Texas Legislature’s  84th Session, House and Senate leaders proposed a constitutional amendment, to be voted on by Texans in November, that would dedicate a portion of all future motor vehicle sales taxes to  the state’s highway fund, starting in 2019.

As the Kansas legislative session winds down, a late-session attempt to make Medicaid expansion a bargaining chip was sidelined by debates on a tax and budget plan. Expansion would have made all Kansas adults with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty eligible.

Governor Greg Abbott signed a number of bills that will spend a record breaking amount to provide security along the Texas-Mexico border. The issue was named one of Abbott's emergency items at the beginning of the legislative session. Abbott says Texas is a safer place because of these bills.

kansascity.com

Last week Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill threatening to defund the entire state judiciary if it rules against a law he favors reports Slate.

The Huffington Post says Brownback has spent much of his tenure attempting to curb the Kansas Supreme Court and consolidate power in the executive branch. 

Skyrocketing appraisal rates in some Texas counties could have homeowners paying more this year even with the increased Homestead Exemption. That’s according to analysis put together by the Texas House Ways and Means Committee on the last days of the session. Dale Craymer is a budget expert with the Texas Taxpayer and Research Association and says in areas like Bexar County where appraisal rates rose by almost 12-percent, you will likely pay more this year. Craymer says on average homeowners will still save $130 on their property taxes, but for those living in those more populated counties, that $130 is off of the thousands of dollars they may owe. At the Start of the session Governor Greg Abbott stressed to lawmakers that they pass some form of property tax relief and that its impact be long-lasting. But even Abbott says this session’s property tax relief effort was just a starting point to keep rates from skyrocketing in the future.

Plaintiffs in a settled lawsuit say not enough progress is being made to improved the foster care system in Oklahoma. The Pinnacle Plan is a result of the suit claiming the Oklahoma Department of Human Services had policies leading to the harm of abused and neglected children in state custody. The plan contains a list of specific improvements to be met by 2017, complete with progress goals along the way. Plaintiffs have written a letter to program monitors asking them to push for faster change. A spokeswoman for the department says a written response will be given by today.

Pantex will soon have safety issues resolved says a top official from the National Nuclear Security Administration. The two program-related issues were revealed during a Code Blue review by the NNSA. A code blue review is similar to a safety review. The two issues are not related. One problem was about ensuring proper documentation required was complete. The other was related to weapons shipping container safety. Frank Klotz is a NNSA Administrator. He says these aren’t a safely issue for the public or for Pantex employees. He says the concerns are because they are ultra-cautious about everything they do, and becaue of the type of work they do.

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