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

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Back in 2012 when voters swept a wave of Tea-Party Republicans into power, Oklahoma lawmakers looked admiringly to their neighbor to the north. Gov. Sam Brownback and his fellow Kansans had begun drastically cutting taxes in expectation that the move would result in a windfall of state revenue.

Gov. Sam Brownback defended his signature tax cuts this week after lawmakers overrode his veto of a bill repealing them, but he may have exaggerated their impact.

Pu Ying Huang / KUT

The number of refugee families that the State of Texas has helped resettle has dropped drastically this year, reports KUT.

Part of the reason: Despite the fact that President Trump’s travel ban has been repeatedly struck down by Federal courts, the effort has still wreaked havoc on refugee resettlement in Texas.

Aaron Rippenkroeger, president and CEO of Refugee Services of Texas, explains that the Texas resettlement system has a lot of moving parts.

Bob Daemmerich / KUT

Despite the gridlock and acrimony of the 2017 Texas legislative session, there was one group who came out as undeniable winners: the 12 member far-right contingent of the Texas House of Representatives known as the Freedom Caucus.

Wikimedia Commons

National press reports of significance of override of Brownback agenda

Several national news outlets, following the Kansas Legislature’s override of Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase Tuesday night, reported about the move’s significance.

GAGE SKIDMORE

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law new abortion restrictions requiring abortion providers to dispose of aborted fetal tissue through burial or cremation, despite a block on the regulation already imposed by a U.S. court.

As Reuters reports, anti-abortion group, Texas Right to Life, praised Abbott and the legislation, calling it the “most significant pro-life victory” of the regular legislative session.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who catapulted to national prominence on the strength of his anti-immigration views, announced his candidacy for Kansas governor Thursday.

Kobach made the announcement two days after Kansas lawmakers voted to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax package that would raise $1.2 billion over the next two years — a rejection of Brownback’s signature 2012 tax cuts.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

A new bill passed by the Texas State Legislature aims to make it easier for the elderly to vote, reports The Texas Tribune. The measure would also theoretically prevent voter fraud in nursing homes.

The bill was backed by both parties, a rare effort that sailed through the statehouse with ease amid a legislative session otherwise marked by partisan and intraparty rancor.

NY Times

As HPPR has reported in the past, the mortality rate for new mothers in Texas has skyrocketed in recent years.

Texas now has a higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than anywhere in the developed world.

Yet, as Jezebel noted this weekend, Texas lawmakers did virtually nothing to try to fix the problem during the legislative session that just ended.

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

Amid the budget talks during Oklahoma’s recently concluded legislative session, one of the major sticking points revolved around how much to raise the production tax on oil and gas companies.

As Oklahoma Watch notes, while Oklahoma is theoretically a two-party system, it often seems as though there’s a third party in the room during important economic discussions. That third party is the oil industry.

GAGE SKIDMORE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18 to work on bathrooms, abortions and school finance.

As The Texas Tribune reports, Abbott gave lawmakers a 19-item agenda to work on and called the overtime round “entirely avoidable.”

HART VAN DENBURG / COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in not signing two measures, will in essence allow them to become law.

As The Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper’s decision not to sign the bills into is a rare move that he said is designed to protest actions by lawmakers to “veil a bill’s true cost to the taxpayers.”

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning requiring abortion providers to give patients information listing their credentials, any disciplinary actions meted out against them and whether they have malpractice insurance.

The bill also requires the information to be provided at least 24 hours before a procedure and printed on white paper in black 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Kansas lawmakers have voted to roll back a series of major tax cuts that became an example for conservative lawmakers around the country but didn't deliver the growth and prosperity promised by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

A coalition of conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, sided with moderates and Democrats to override Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

A bill to replace funding for Medicaid and the Kansas mental health system lost to budget-balancing cuts last year is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Senate substitute for House Bill 2079 would increase a fee that health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, pay to do business in Kansas from 3.31 percent to 5.77 percent. HMOs are a type of health insurance that typically has lower premiums but only covers care within a network of doctors and hospitals. 

A school finance plan that will add nearly $300 million over two years gained approval Monday night in the Kansas Legislature and now moves to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could make a special session likely.

Annie Langthorn/Elle

Oklahoma’s Democratic Party has elected its youngest party chair ever.

In a profile in Elle magazine, 24-year-old Annie Langthorn says she became interested in politics in high school, volunteering and interning with candidates. She even skipped her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention.

Langthorn beat out four other candidates for her new role as state chair.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Late last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law a bill that loosens restrictions on the state’s controversial voter ID law.

Oklahoma governor signs state budget into law

Jun 5, 2017
OKLEGISLATURE.GOV

Gov. Mary Fallin last week signed Oklahoma’s Fiscal Year 2018 state budget into law.

As KGOU reports, Fallin signed the $6.8 billion budget that keeps funding flat for 16 state agencies, including the Department of Education and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and cuts funding for all other state agencies by an average of 4 percent.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago when President Donald Trump was rumored to be on the fence about whether to abandon the Paris climate agreement, 22 Republican Senators sent him a letter urging him to back out of the deal.

The letter’s signatories included Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and both Senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Certain sectors of the oil and gas industry have supported leaving the Paris accords, assuming deregulation will drive oil profits.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has postponed his announcement about whether he will call the state Legislature back for a special session, reports The Texas Tribune. The Governor had indicated that he planned to make the announcement late this week.

But now he says he’s holding off until next week.

Tom Reel / San Antonio Express News

A couple of prominent Texas Republicans are doing their best to save American trade with Mexico, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Will Hurd have been urging business leaders to try to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The regular session of the Texas Legislature has ended, but some of the high-profile bills passed into law this year will likely end up in court, reports The Texas Tribune.

ICE/Creative Commons

Texas’s controversial new “sanctuary cities” law has raised some thorny legal questions, notes The Houston Chronicle.

First, does Texas now have the legal authority to force a town or county to deport a resident?

OklahomaWatch

For months, Oklahoma was overtaken by fears that drastic cuts were coming to state agencies, in order to plug the state’s massive budget gap.

But this week, as OklahomaWatch reports, lawmakers finally came to an agreement on a budget that raises enough to avoid those staggering cuts. Here are some of the winners and losers in the deal.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Senators have approved a plan for funding K-12 schools. The 23-14 vote sends the bill to the House for consideration.

The proposal would increase spending by around $230 million over two years, after the state Supreme Court ruled in March that Kansas schools are inadequately funded.

kansastravel.org

A bill that would have raised $1.2 billion in tax revenue during the next two years was approved by the Kansas Senate and then promptly rejected by the House Tuesday night.

Julian Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

The dust is still settling from the last official day of the Texas legislature, which was fraught with tensions and even a scuffle on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Among the many battles between the Texas House and Senate during the past session, one of the most acrimonious involved the Senate’s wish to slash funding for disabled children in Texas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a staunch supporter of cutting funding for speech, physical and occupational therapy services for kids with disabilities, calling the programs wasteful. Speaker of the House Joe Straus was hoping to restore that funding this session.

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