HPPR Government & Politics

state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
local government (city & county)
regional agencies & authorities
budgets & taxes
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district-level and statewide office campaigns
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Texas Tribune

In Texas, all state agencies must win legislative permission every 12 years to remain open. But who decides if these agencies stay alive? The task is handled by what’s known as the Sunset Advisory Commission, reports The Texas Tribune. It’s the commission’s job to periodically recommend changes in how agencies operate.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

An Oklahoma legislator is drawing heat for remarks he made last week concerning African-Americans and Native Americans, reports member station KGOU. The statements by state Rep. Todd Russ, a Republican of Cordell, came during house debate about the state’s new alcohol laws. Russ opposes the laws, which would allow wine and strong beer sales in grocery and convenience stores. During the debates, Russ said Native Americans are “predisposed to alcoholism.”

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

When Texas lawmakers leave office, they often have a sizable amount of money still sitting in their campaign war chests. What they choose to do with that money can vary widely, reports The Texas Tribune. For example, Sen. Kevin Eltife, who is not seeking re-election, had well over a million at the end of last year. And Rep.

Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he does in deed plan to run for re-election in 2018. This came as a surprise to some observers, including The Texas Tribune. The Tea Party favorite is currently under multiple indictments.

The Wichita Eagle

If you live in Kansas, you might have heard the phrase “tobacco securitization” lately. It’s an idea that could help ease the burden from the state’s $290 million budget hole, reports The Wichita Eagle.

Governor Sam Brownback loves the idea. But what is it?


As Texas grapples with pervasive troubles in its foster care system, Oklahoma looks to be trying to match its neighbor to the south. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services warned this week of catastrophic cuts.

Cliff Owen / AP photo

A controversial pro-life bill has passed both houses of the Oklahoma Legislature and is heading to the desk of Governor Mary Fallin. The bill would revoke the license of any doctor who performs an abortion, Reuters reports. Democratic opponents say the measure is unconstitutional. They’re promising a legal battle if the Governor signs the bill.

Fallin has not yet indicated her intentions regarding the measure. The bill would strip any doctor who performs an abortion of his or her medical license.

Nick Krug / LJWorld.com

Even amid a budget crisis, struggling public schools and rural hospital closures, the Kansas GOP legislature and Governor Sam Brownback continue to double down on their tax-cutting strategies. On Wednesday, the state slashed projections for tax collections by another $348 million.

Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News via AP

The once-fringe Texas secession movement is gaining ground, and has become a priority for some conservative grass-roots Texans. A new Washington Post article reports that when Texas Republicans assemble for their state convention next month, it’s possible they’ll debate whether to secede. The Post makes clear that there’s little chance secession will actually happen.

Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma’s economy remains sluggish—an understatement—as lawmakers continue to try to find solutions to the state’s $1.3 billion budget deficit. And things continue to go in the wrong direction. In March the state received $17 million less in gross receipts than a year ago at the same time, according to The Norman Transcript. That marks the eleventh consecutive month the state has collected fewer taxes than the previous year.


Kansas legislators were grilled this weekend by a small but vocal group of citizens. The interrogators wanted the lawmakers to justify the state’s low revenue and reasons for not expanding Medicaid. The exchange occurred at a South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation meeting, reports The Wichita Eagle.

National Center for Transgender Equality / fivethirtyeight

North Carolina recently caused a national firestorm when the state legislature passed a law requiring bathrooms to be gender-segregated, to prevent people from using facilities that don’t correspond to their biological sex.

Sam Hodgson / Reuters

A new study has found that people who back Ted Cruz for president seem less culturally anxious about immigration than those who back Trump. The PRRI / The Atlantic poll suggests the answer to that question is helping to shape the presidential race.

Creative Commons

All five of the incumbent Republican U.S. House members from Oklahoma will face challengers this fall, reports News9. Steve Russell and Markwayne Mullin have Democratic opponents, while U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine faces at least two Republicans and an independent. Rep. Frank Lucas will face a GOP challenger, and Rep. Tom Cole will face a Libertarian.

National Conference of State Legislatures / fivethirtyeight

Are higher-paid legislators better at running their states? There are two schools of thought. Many experts believe when it comes to state government, you get what you pay for. Conversely, states where lawmakers bring in higher salaries have often been linked with corruption. Even so, states like Texas with a very low legislative income are certainly not free from corruption. And low pay can limit state representation to the wealthy.


In recent years, Oklahoma has seen a resurgence of a very old crime: cattle rustling. The Times Record reports that, often, these modern rustlers steal cattle to fuel their drug habits.

Eric Gay / AP photo

As The Texas Tribune has pointed out, Monday was a tough day for the "Class of 2014" in Texas--the group of Lone Star pols who rose to prominence two years ago, including Gov. Greg Abbott, AG Ken Paxton, and Ag Commish Sid Miller. Here’s a recap:

Chris Neal / Topeka Capital-Journal

Last week Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt discussed a partnership with the Kansas Motor Carriers Association and Truckers Against Trafficking to fight sex trafficking in Kansas and to support victims of the practice, reports The Garden City Telegram.

AP photo

The state of Kansas has been facing the prospect of losing $60 million in annual tobacco payments. The money currently funds children’s programs such as early childhood development and reading comprehension.


Whatever state you live in, you might be wondering if your governor is gearing up for a run at the White House—or maybe it hasn’t occurred to you to ponder the possibility. In any case, The Texas Tribune has devised a handy flow chart to help you determine your governor’s political aspirations. I plugged the names of some High Plains governors into the chart, and here’s what I came up with.

Texas Tribune

After months of scrutiny and controversy, the foster care system in Texas appears to be worsening instead of improving, according to The Texas Tribune. Abused children are being left in psychiatric facilities far past the eight to 10 days covered by Medicaid. In fact, that’s an understatement: As of August, children were being held for an average of 768 days.


First rural hospitals in Oklahoma began to falter and close. Now nursing homes are in grave danger, thanks to the state’s economic woes.

The state may cut Medicaid again, this time by 25%. If these cuts are approved, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is anticipating that 93% of the state’s nursing homes could close. If that happens, thousands of Oklahoma’s elderly could have nowhere to go, reports KJRH.

Orlin Wagner / AP photo

In an attempt to understand how well Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s grand experiment of slashing taxes to stimulate economic growth has affected unemployment, The Pittsburgh Gazette recently compared the state’s stats with those of Nebraska.

Maxim Ahner / Thinkstock

The dream of many Oklahomans to one day be able to buy beer and wine in grocery stores came one step closer to fruition this week, reports KFOR.


Over the years controversy and debate have run rampant concerning the original choice for Oklahoma’s state flower.  To cover all the bases and please various strong willed groups from the Sooner State, officials wound up with three floral choices and three honorary titles.    


AP photo

Kansas GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo released an unusual and strongly worded statement this week condemning Senator Jerry Moran’s recent flip on whether to consider Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, reports Politico. Moran had previously said that he intended to “do his job” and take up consideration of the nominee.

Tamir Kalifa / AP photo

With its controversial voter ID law, Texas has become ground zero for the battle over who should be allowed to vote. But now, reports The New York Times, the US Supreme Court has made the voting issue in the state even more controversial.


A group of Oklahoma state employees lamented this week that the state’s ongoing budget cuts are hurting Oklahoma services and citizens. KFOR reports that 20 state employees appeared at the capitol in Oklahoma City on Tuesday to implore state lawmakers to hear them out. They asked legislators to institute revenue-generating measures. They also begged the state to avoid further cuts to services like education, prisons, health care and state parks.

Wichita Eagle

You might remember the story of Shona Bandy, the Garden City mom who has become the public face of marijuana use in Kansas. Last year Bandy’s 11-year-old son was removed from her home by state authorities after he mentioned at school that his mom smoked pot. Now Bandy is suing the state and some of the agencies who questioned her son, reports Kansas.com.

Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

New evidence suggests Nebraska is breaking some stereotypes when it comes to Red State social issues. According to NetNebraska.org, a recent survey found that three out of four Nebraskans favor laws protecting lesbians and gays from job discrimination.