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 Secessionist Movement Continues Its Push

Sep 3, 2015
Glyn Lowe / Flickr Creative Commons

The Texas Nationalist Movement made trips to 31 Texas cities last week to drum up support for the state’s secession from the United States, reports Reuters. The group is attempting to gather the necessary 75,000 signatures to get the question onto the primary ballot next spring.

Federal Government Squanders Food Safety Bill

Aug 31, 2015
Neil T / Flickr Creative Commons

We all remember the Blue Bell ice cream recall from earlier this year. But most don’t know that congress passed a White House bill in 2010 that would have prevented the deadly Listeriosis outbreak. However, according to a POLITICO investigation, congress and the Obama administration have yet to put the law into effect 5 years later.

A how-to recipe from the Huffington Post on how to create a teacher shortage following the Sunflower State example.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

State contracts for campaign to compel employers to follow federal law.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Two Kansas government agencies are teaming up on a $50,000 ad campaign urging employers to follow federal child support law.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

For years, the state of Kansas has partnered with a network of regional prevention centers to alert and connect people to mental health programs and those that prevent substance abuse, suicide and problem gambling.

But that network appears to be unraveling as state officials work toward implementing what they call a more holistic, data-driven approach.

Scala, Johnson, and Rogers 2015

A new study has found that rural voters don’t vote as universally Republican as it may seem, reports the Daily Yonder. Under the surface, things are a bit more complicated. But you have to know where to look for blue voters. And even in the areas where Democrats vote more heavily, they still lose.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting in September, Texas will have one set of procedures for politicians and bureaucrats and another set for everybody else.

Executive Office of the President of the United States

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Ceremony in Independence, Mo., marks golden anniversary of government-sponsored health coverage.

Advocates of government-sponsored health coverage gathered Thursday at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., to mark the anniversary of legislation that’s both a local story and a milestone for medical care in the United States.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

When the director of the state’s Legislative Budget Board recently questioned the legality of some of Governor Greg Abbott’s vetoes in the state budget, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took issue. The Texas Tribune reports that Patrick has called for a review of all legislative agencies—agencies which he himself oversees.  Patrick claims he wants to see “what reforms are needed, what guidelines are needed and what changes need to be made.” In reality, this could mean replacing current administrators with those of his own choosing.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Republican leaders in Texas take pride in how often they have sued the Obama administration. The state has filed 34 lawsuits against the executive branch, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. Most of the lawsuits were taken up by former attorney general Greg Abbott, who is now the governor. Ken Paxton, the current AG, has mounted three suits since January, with more to come. The total cost of the lawsuits amounts to $4.8 million.

When it comes to the budget, Kansas tax collections have come up short of estimations ten times in the last year. Four of those occurrences were at least $20 million below expectations. Shawn Sullivan is the state's budget director. He says he doesn't know if there's something his department should be doing differently. But, he plans on talking with colleagues in other states to learn how their processes work in the coming months.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Thursday announced $63 million in changes to the state budget.

Much of that comes from increases in federal aid, cost-cutting measures and some services costing less than initially projected. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, outlined the plan in a Statehouse news conference.

Mike Hoff / Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas officials have decided against participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a federal initiative that could have generated millions of dollars for behavioral health programs throughout the state.

Texas Debates Plan to Battle Future Droughts

Jul 28, 2015
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

Jul 28, 2015
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.

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