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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

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has been generating a lot of talk in recent days in the Texas Panhandle. The controversial Republican from Stephenville is still being considered for a post in Donald Trump’s cabinet. Miller stopped into Amarillo and made some enemies at a local restaurant, even as he drew heat from The Texas Tribune for spreading false news on his social media accounts. As the Tribune notes, a brief survey of Miller’s Facebook page showed the commissioner reposting...

Getty/Politico

Oil and gas companies have reason to celebrate this week, as President-Elect Trump is expected to nominate a longtime oil ally to helm the Environmental Protection Agency. As Politico reports, Scott Pruitt has been a staunch opponent of climate regulations in his role as Attorney General of Oklahoma. The suggestion that an avowed climate change denier will head the agency charged with protecting the environment has left environmental advocates feeling devastated. As Oklahoma’s AG, Pruitt has...

Kansas City Star

Kansas has a new Speaker of the House, and he’s coming into the job with a hard row to hoe. As The Kansas City Star reports , Ron Ryckman is inheriting not one but two budget shortfalls. There’s the current budget gap of roughly $348 million, with seven months left in the fiscal year. And then, once the new fiscal year begins, the shortfall is expected to balloon to $582 million. And Governor Sam Brownback has decided to wait until January to propose a solution to the state’s budget crisis,...

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr Creative Commons

A retail liquor group in Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking a ballot initiative passed by over 65 percent of voters that would allow wine and cold beer to be sold at grocery and convenience stores.

The Denver Post

Going forward, it will be more difficult to get constitutional amendments on the ballot in Colorado.

The Wichita Eagle

Talk continues to swirl around the possibility that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback could be given a position in Donald Trump’s cabinet—most likely as Secretary of Agriculture. Now the question many in the Sunflower State are asking is, would it be easier for Kansas to fix its budget problems if Brownback moves up? As The Kansas City Star reports, some lawmakers and analysts in the state think the answer is yes—though those yesses are qualified by certain conditions. Many believe Brownback’s...

AFP/Getty Images

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the death penalty in Texas. Since the U.S. made the death penalty legal again in 1976, Texas has been responsible for more than a third of the prisoners executed in America. And, as The New Yorker reports, Texas has often put to death prisoners who would have been deemed exempt in other parts of the country due to intellectual disability. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that, no matter how heinous the crime, an intellectually...

Larry Smith / Flickr Creative Commons

As wind energy becomes more economically viable in Oklahoma, momentum is building on a political movement to limit tax breaks to wind farms in the state. As StateImpact reports, last week a panel that decides Oklahoma’s tax incentives decided to curb the credits being given to wind operations. The Incentive Review Commission has reported on ten different wind incentives under review this year. Collectively, those incentives reduce the amount of money the state takes in each year by about $150...

Olivier Douliery-Pool / Getty Images/Bloomberg

Donald Trump has promised to reverse much of President Obama’s legislation from the past eight years. But Texas is two steps ahead of the president-elect. Last week a federal judge in Texas halted Obama’s plan to give overtime pay to millions of American workers. This is just the latest blow to Obama’s legacy delivered courtesy of Lone Star judges. In the past two years Texas judges have struck down or suspended a number of Obama’s efforts. These include a rule that would have offered amnesty...

Ralph Barrera / Austin American-Statesman

Will Texas be the next state to decriminalize marijuana? During the elections this November, voters in eight states passed legalization laws. As The International Business Times reports, this has opened the door for cannabis advocates to push for similar laws in other states. On Nov. 5, the first day of bill filling for the 2017 legislative season, Texas lawmakers filed several requests to decriminalize pot. In January, when legislators meet, they’ll consider reducing charges for marijuana...

Chan Lone / Texas Tribune

Texas’s foster care system has been in crisis for years now. The Lone Star State has been plagued by reports of abuse and neglect in the system. State workers are severely overworked, and there were even reports of foster kids regularly sleeping in the offices of state foster care workers. Earlier this year a federal judge ordered Texas overhaul the system, and the directive was backed up by an independent review paid for on Texas’s dime. Now, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, Texas...

The New York Times

America has been a majority-urban country since 1920. But, as The New York Times reports, this country’s political process has always been intentionally tilted to favor rural votes. When it comes to national elections rural citizens hold disproportionate power. In two of the last five presidential elections, the candidate who won the popular vote did not move into the White House two months later. And that’s because the rural voters selected the opposing candidate. As it stands now, the way...

Rural Blog

A Wisconsin case on legislative redistricting could have wide-ranging effects on rural voters across the U.S. As The Rural Blog reports, a panel of three judges in Wisconsin has determined that the state’s Republican party acted unconstitutionally when it redrew state legislative districts in 2011. The judges ruled that the state GOP intentionally tried to favor Republican candidates. The case opens the door for the U.S. Supreme Court to fix the system for redistricting both legislative and...

Oklahoma's teacher shortage not helped by election

Nov 25, 2016

A teacher shortage in Oklahoma could grow even larger following the election, in which Oklahomans shot down a one-cent sales tax hike that would have increased teachers’ annual salaries by $5,000. According to KOSU.org , teacher pay in Oklahoma is among the lowest in the nation, which prior to the election had prompted hundreds of teachers to leave the profession in search of better pay. The shortage has resulted in overcrowded classrooms and forced the state’s department of education to...

Fewer women in Oklahoma legislature following election

Nov 25, 2016
Getty Images

Despite an uptick in the number of female candidates running for seats in the Oklahoma legislature this year, women will hold fewer seats in 2017. There will be 19 women among 149 elected representatives in Oklahoma’s legislature when it reconvenes in 2017, compared to 22 in 2016, Oklahoma Watch reports. There were 77 candidates for the House and Senate and 56 reached the general election, according to Oklahoma Watch, but running against an incumbent or being a Democrat in a predominantly red...

AP photo/Topeka Capital-Journal

The Sunflower State is making a particularly strong showing when it comes to filling jobs in Donald Trump’s White House. As the Topeka Capital-Journal­ reports, there are more Kansas names being floated this year than in any presidential transition in recent memory. There have been at least five Kansas names speculated about for potential top posts since the election. Sen. Jerry Moran, Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Gov. Sam Brownback have all been part of the conversation surrounding who will fill...

Rural Blog

A pastor recently wrote an editorial in The Lexington Herald Leader attempting to explain Hillary Clinton’s loss in the heartland. According to Paul Prather, a pastor in rural Kentucky, Democrats brought the election of Donald Trump upon themselves by ignoring the needs of small-town Americans. Prather noted that many Americans without college degrees find it almost impossible to earn a living. As recounted in The Rural Blog, the pastor didn’t mince words: “They can’t pay their car loans,” he...

Crispin Havener / KKCO

A Colorado ballot measure that would have removed a reference to the slavery in the state’s constitution has failed, reports Colorado Public Radio. When counting concluded on Friday, the Secretary of State's office had the votes to keep the slavery language leading by almost 18,000 votes. The amendment’s backer, Democratic State Rep. Jovan Melton of Aurora, conceded, saying the voters had spoken. However, it’s not totally clear that Colorado voters really did want to keep the slavery...

The Wichita Eagle

Last week Donald Trump named Kansas rep. Mike Pompeo as his choice to head the CIA. Now the question for Kansans becomes, who will take Pompeo’s vacant seat in congress? As The Wichita Eagle reports, it’s now up to Kansas’ 4th Congressional District to choose a successor. Two candidates, one Republican and one Democratic, have already expressed interest. One is State Treasurer Ron Estes, who considered running for the 4th District seat earlier this year. In a statement, Estes said he’s been...

Mark Makela / Getty Images/The Guardian

An editorial by a rural West Texas woman appeared in the British newspaper The Guardian last week. The essay by Jane Lindsay was entitled “I am a Democrat in rural, red-state America. My party abandoned us. In her editorial, Lindsay said she understands why people voted for Trump, though she may not agree with their decision. She said rural America has been hurting for a long time, and rural communities need help turning their communities around. There was only one party that paid attention...

Travis Morrisse / Hutchinson News/AP photo

Beleaguered outgoing Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp says a person closely associated with president-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has contacted him about the possibility of becoming Agriculture Secretary in the new administration. Huelskamp was defeated during the Kansas Republican primary by challenger Roger Marshall. The loss came after Huelskamp was removed by GOP leadership from his influential spot on the House Agriculture Committee. During the primary, Huelskamp’s re-election...

KDVR

Colorado residents may be changing the way they carry their driver’s licenses, according to KDVR. The Centennial State is part of a pilot program that would make it one of the first states in the nation to offer a digital driver’s license. Colorado participants will download their license onto a mobile app. When drivers are pulled over, they will simply show their smartphone to the officer. This will do away with the need to carry a card version in their purse or wallet, and save drivers who...

The Wichita Eagle

Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan may look familiar to folks in Kansas, reports The Wichita Eagle . That’s because the president-elect’s plan is very similar to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s 2012 legislation, which Brownback referred to as his “real-live experiment.” According to analysts, both plans include a rate cut for individual income tax. Both plans also require cuts to business income. By most metrics, Brownback’s plan has not been successful. This fall the Federal Reserve Bank of...

pulseheadlines.com

Conservative Texas lawmakers have seen hope in the election of Donald Trump when it comes to abortion legislation. As The Daily Beast reports , in the wake of Trump’s election, Texas Republicans have filed multiple bills banning abortions. The laws are being decried by critics as a bridge too far, even by Texas standards. One law would require women to bury or cremate fetal remains in every instance, including cases of miscarriage. According to The Atlantic , laws governing fetal remains are...

Colorado voters pass ballot to increase minimum wage

Nov 18, 2016

Colorado is one of four states to pass a ballot measure this election that will increase the minimum wage. According to The Atlantic , Colorado, Arizona, Maine and Washington passed the measures, which will increase the minimum wage between now and 2020. The Coloradoan reports that Colorado’s amendment will raise state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 an hour for untipped workers, effective Jan. 1. The state will then be required to increase the minimum wage 90 cents per year until 2020...

Dallas Morning News

Hundreds of bills were filed this week by Texas lawmakers, who are hoping to shepherd their legislation through the process of becoming law. Most of the bills are DOA. Last year, for example, 6,400 bills were filed in the Lone Star State. And only one in five of those made it all the way to becoming law. Here are some of the more unique potential laws on offer this year, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News . Republican Rep. Dan Flynn is hoping to make it legal for farmers to deliver raw milk...

AP photo

Democrats are blaming their loss in this year’s election on Hillary Clinton's lack of attention to rural areas. And, as Politico reports, progressives are also worried about farm-state Senate races during the midterm elections in 2018. Since last week’s defeat, Democrats have been second-guessing Hillary Clinton's “decision to largely surrender the rural vote” to Donald Trump. The party seems to have assumed votes in the nation’s urban centers would make up for the votes coming from sparsely...

The Wichita Eagle

Kansans continue to debate how Trump’s presidency is going to affect the Sunflower State, reports The Wichita Eagle . Areas being watched particularly closely include health, veterans affairs, international trade and immigration. That’s because all of these realms are heavily influenced by federal policy, and they’re all areas where Trump has said he will reverse President Obama’s efforts. State Democrats are hoping some of Trump’s statements don’t amount to more than campaign bluster. “It’s...

Todd Wiseman/Lucas Jackson (Reuters)/Bob Daemmrich / Reuters/Texas Tribune

Some well-known Texans are being talked about for top posts in a Trump administration. As The Texas Tribune reports, the names being discussed most frequently for cabinet positions are former Gov. Rick Perry , U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Dallas. Countless other names are coming up, as well. The Lone Star State’s top two politicians have expressed little eagerness to work in the Trump White House. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick...

KWCH

Donald Trump has named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to his immigration transition team, KWCH reports. Kobach said the job will take some of his time, but won’t take him away from home much. “I've got plenty to do here in Kansas,” he said. An avowed immigration hard-liner, Kobach advised Trump on immigration throughout his campaign. As the LA Times reports, t he Kansas Secretary of State has been a lightning rod for criticism in recent years. Kobach has drawn nationwide criticism as...

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