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

Austin American-Statesman

A new lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could open the door for nuclear waste storage in the Lone Star State.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, Paxton is suing the federal government to force a decision on whether Texas can store high-level radioactive waste within its borders.

KFOR

The Oklahoma Senate drew praise from Governor Mary Fallin this week, after passing several measures aimed at improving criminal justice efforts in the state.

As KFOR reports, the eight reforms passed this week were initially recommended by a task force convened by the Governor last year. In her State of the State address earlier this year, Fallin urged lawmakers to consider the proposals.

Ralph Barrera / Austin American-Statesman

Texas Legislators clashed this week in Austin over whether to raise the state’s minimum wage.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, Republicans praised the current rate as an efficient entry-level pay rate, while Democrats called the hourly wage a “misery rate,” too low for anyone to live on.

Stephen Crowley / The New York Times

President Trump unveiled his proposed budget last week, and some parts of America, like military centers, look to be big winners. But other areas, including rural regions that supported the President during his election last year, will be hit hard if the budget is passed.

STEPHEN KORANDA / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

The Kansas House approved a bill last week that would offer up to $100 million in income tax credits over five years to investors throwing resources into job-creating business developments in rural areas of the state.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, provisions of the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 97-22, would be implemented starting in 2020. The amount of the tax credits issued wouldn’t exceed $20 million annually and investment companies could begin applying for eligibility after Jan. 1, 2018.

CC0 Public Domain

Scores of Kansans concerned about inadequate mental health resources visited the Kansas Statehouse on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to take notice of the issue. 

KFOR

A new Oklahoma bill that would allow county officials to carry guns into courthouses has passed its first hurdle, reports KFOR.

The bill, proposed, by Republican Rep. Bobby Cleveland, passed the state House of Representatives on an 85-11 vote this week. Now the bill goes to the Senate, and if it passes there it will got to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk for ratification.

Ralph Barrera / Austin American-Statesman

Texas Legislators held a hearing this week to debate abolishing the Texas Film Commission, which some lawmakers have referred to as a form of corporate welfare.

As The Austin American Statesman reports, Texas currently budgets about $32 million in tax incentives to attract the movie industry to Texas. That’s down substantially from almost $100 million two years ago.

KFOR

Oklahoma’s budget crisis brought more potential bad news this week, as it was announced that budget cuts could cause many state parks to close across the state.

As KFOR reports, the state tourism industry is hunkering down as Oklahoma announced yet another round of deep cuts to state funding.

KPRC

A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bipartisan measure that would end the requirement for vehicle inspections in the Lone Star State, reports KPRC.

State Sen. Don Huffines of El Paso says Senate Bill 1588 would help drivers save $7 per vehicle across the state.  

Huffines called the state vehicle inspection program a “relic of the past,” pointing to modern technological advances in vehicle design and technology that obviate the need for yearly inspections.

tOrange.us / Creative Commons

State agencies in Oklahoma are buckling up for a bumpy ride ahead as lawmakers prepare to slash the budget, in order to get the Sooner State’s $900 million budget deficit under control.

As KFOR reports, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has announced that it’s been asked to find a way to cut 15 percent of its budget. In a statement, the DPS said such a drastic cut will place citizens, local law enforcement and state troopers at risk.

Steve Snodgrass / Wikimedia Commons

A bipartisan coalition of Texas lawmakers has proposed a series of reforms that would help poor defendants get out of jail, reports The Houston Chronicle.

KCUR

TOPEKA – The Kansas House of Representatives conducted its 11 a.m. session Monday and then recessed until 4:45 p.m. That is intentionally aimed at speeding up procedures for House Bill 2387, which contains sales tax relief for those recovering from the wildfires.

"We want to fast track that bill," House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton said.

MyHighPlains.com

For those Texas Panhandle residents who grumble every autumn when the clocks fall back and the sun suddenly sets shortly after five p.m., help may be on the way.

As MyHighPlains.com reports, three bills have been introduced in the Texas legislature this session, all aimed at abolishing daylight savings in the Lone Star State.

Legislature grapples with school finance future

Mar 14, 2017

TOPEKA – The Kansas Supreme Court gave an “F” to the Legislature for fulfilling its Constitutional duty to adequately fund public schools, and some legislators were steamed when they returned to work last week for first time since the March 2 decision.

“There’s nothing that says they’re the supreme authority over us,” said Rep. John Whitmer, R-Wichita.

Did they make any suggestion whose taxes we should raise? Whitemer asked.

The Supreme Court ruling did not require a specific additional sum or even flatly order more money, although that’s the interpretation.

KHOU

A newly proposed bill in the Texas Legislature would outlaw red light cameras in Texas, reports KHOU.

A hearing was held on the measure, which is known as Bill 88, last week. Some Texas law enforcement agencies showed up to oppose the bill; they say stoplight cameras decrease accidents in the intersections where they’re installed.

However others in Texas, including the largest city in the state, disagree. Houston removed its red light cameras several years ago.

James Gibbard / Tulsa World

A group of Oklahoma residents grew upset last week after a Republican Oklahoma lawmaker asked them to fill out a questionnaire that they described as “hateful.”

As KFOR reports, State Rep. John Bennett greeted three Muslim students who recently visited his office in honor of Muslim Day, a celebration of the Islamic faith at the State Capitol. Bennett responded to the students’ visit by handing them a questionnaire.

Edward A. Ornelas / Austin American-Statesman

A federal court has ruled that Texas Republican Legislators tried to discriminate against voters of color when they redrew district lines in 2011, reports The Austin American-Statesman.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that lawmakers drew a map that intentionally diluted the voting power of Latino and black citizens.

Kansas Senate commitee approves medical marijuana bill

Mar 12, 2017
iStockphoto

A Kansas Senate committee approved a bill Thursday that would allow doctors and physicians to prescribe and dispense “non-intoxicating” cannabinoid medicine, medicine that’s derived from marijuana.

Todd Wiseman / Becca Aaronson / The Texas Tribune

Republicans in Congress unveiled their healthcare plan this week, and the proposed legislation has many in Texas scratching their heads. As The Texas Tribune reports, the effects of the proposed plan in the Lone Star State are unclear.

Anne Davis 773 / Flickr Creative Commons

A newly proposed law in Oklahoma would allow property owners to shoot down drones flying over their land, reports Ars Technica.

However, the law would conflict with federal legislation that says it’s illegal to shoot at aircraft. The federal law includes drones in its definition of “aircraft.”

Bob Jagendorf / Wikimedia Commons

Kansas is gaining international attention for a bill that would compensate wrongfully convicted Kansans.

The weekly British newspaper The Economist recently published a story about the bill, which would give wrongfully convicted Kansans $80,000 for each year spent in prison.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

President Donald Trump has nominated former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary, bucking a recent trend of Midwest leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and making many in the farm country of the Midwest and Great Plains a little leery.

Coupled with the appointments of leaders from Oklahoma and Texas to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy, respectively, there looks to be a shift in the power center of the parts of the federal government that most directly impact agriculture.

amarillo.com

Amarillo has a big election coming up on May 6th, reports MyHighPlains.com, and the city will be choosing a new mayor and selecting a city council.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

As expected, the latest legislative session in Texas has been defined by a struggle between the priorities of the House of Representatives, personified by House Speaker Joe Straus, and the aims of the State Senate, represented by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Wikimedia Commons

Kansas was recently featured in a New York Times piece criticizing the state for its budget shortfall resulting from the biggest tax cuts in Kansas history.

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Dr. Saeedeh Salmanzadeh became a U.S. citizen at a naturalization ceremony in October 2015.

When the presiding official asked if any of the new citizens wanted to speak, she was one of the first to raise her hand.

By then Salmanzadeh had spent 15 years in America, after leaving her home in Iran where she was a doctor.

She had spent two years with no pay, studying for exams so she could practice in the United States.

Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of tax legislation last week represents a “credit negative” to ratings agency Moody

Steve Sisney / The Oklahoman

A couple of new Oklahoma bills would consider questions that have occupied the Sooner State for decades, reports The Oklahoman.

One measure proposes to leave Sunday liquor sales up to the counties. If Senate Bill 211 passes, voters in each individual county could decide whether to allow liquor stores to open between noon and midnight on Sundays.

Meanwhile, under House Bill 1686, consumers would pay no sales tax on beer, wine and spirits. Instead, they would pay higher excise taxes.

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

Texas was one of the few bright spots for Democrats in last year’s election, notes The Texas Tribune.

Though the GOP retained a safe hold of the state in a year where the nation trended red, Texas was shown to be moving in a decidedly blue direction. And that trend appears to be continuing, if new election data is to be believed.

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