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

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Tensions in the Texas Legislature have been simmering this session, as the moderate leadership in the state House of Representatives has clashed with more conservative factions within their own rank and file, as well as the staunchly right-wing Senate of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Austin American-Statesman

The firing of FBI director James Comey by President Trump continues to dominate news cycles nationwide. The Austin American-Statesman took a look this week at how Texas politicians reacted to the director’s dismissal.

Sen. Ted Cruz threw his support behind the White House, saying he believed the move was justified as “Mr. Comey had lost the confidence of both Republicans and Democrats, and frankly, the American people.”

Colorado Department of Agriculture

Industrial hemp is making headlines once again on the High Plains. The versatile plant—which lacks the levels of THC required to get a person high—still suffers from prejudice by association, and hemp growers aren’t able to access the same farm loans and insurance as other crop growers.

Topeka Capital-Journal

The Kansas Legislature continues to struggle with ways to increase tax revenue and fill the state’s staggering budget gap of almost a billion dollars.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, a tax committee appointed by the Senate has proposed a bill to raise the upper rate for income tax while reducing the rate for the lower bracket. The bill would also lower the state’s 6.5 percent sales tax on groceries to 6 percent in 2020.

ACLU / Twitter

In the wake of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s signing of legislation making so-called “sanctuary cities” illegal, the American Civil Liberties Union this week issued a strongly worded “travel advisory” for those thinking of visiting the Lone Star State.

As The Hill reports, the advisory warns that potential travelers to Texas may encounter “illegal arrests,” “racial profiling,” and “demands to see your papers.”

Wikipedia

Texas Governor Greg Abbott took to Facebook Live in an unannounced ceremony Sunday and signed a ban on sanctuary cities. 

As The Guardian reports, the measure allows police, during routine stops, to ask whether someone is in the U.S. legally and threatens jail time for police chiefs and sheriffs who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Elizabeth Brockway / Daily Beast

A new Texas bill could allow adoption agencies to reject potential new parents based on their religion or sexual orientation, CNN reports.

Lawmakers insist their bill does not amount to discrimination, however, because the measure requires that the rejected applicants be given choices from other agencies than the one that rejected them.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Legislation that would have given Colorado lawmakers the ability to increase hunting and fishing fees died in a Senate committee last week.

As The Denver Post reports, House Bill 1321 would have helped Colorado Parks and Wildlife raise money to  avoid reducing access to hunting and fishing areas, closing fish hatcheries, slashing license allotments and reducing conservation work.

MyHighPlains.com

Amarillo held citywide elections this weekend, and according to myhighplains.com for the first time in 70 years, all incumbent candidates on the City Council were defeated.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

A bill that would make it illegal for cities to refuse orders to arrest undocumented immigrants cleared its final hurdle in the Texas Legislature last week.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the controversial measure banning so-called “sanctuary cities” now heads to the desk of Governor Greg Abbot, to become law. Abbott is expected to sign it.

CREATIVE COMMONS CC0

Colorado lawmakers Thursday announced Thursday an agreement to avoid massive cuts to the state’s hospitals.

As The Denver Post reports, the measure would reverse a planned $528 million cut to hospitals, while boosting funding to roads and schools.

Yi-Chin Li / Houston Chronicle

Texans may soon no longer be required to get their vehicles inspected, reports The Houston Chronicle.

State lawmakers last week approved Senate Bill 1588, which would ensure that annual state safety inspections are no longer required for all personal vehicles. Commercial vehicles would still need to be inspected, however, and some cars in urban areas with smog problems will still need to pass emissions tests.

amarillo.com

Amarilloans head to the polls tomorrow to cast their votes in city-wide elections.

According to The Amarillo Globe-News, early-voting turnout has been stronger this election than in the last three Amarillo elections.

Avery White / Oceti Sakowin Camp / Creative Commons

A bill is making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature that would result in stiff penalties for some activists who protest on state land.

As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, House Bill 1123 would outlaw trespassing on what the legislation calls “critical infrastructure,” a blanket term that includes dams, water treatment and chemical plants, to oil and gas hubs, petroleum refineries and storage facilities.

Colorado budget bill heads to governor's desk

May 4, 2017
50states.com

Colorado’s $26.8 billion state budget bill headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk Wednesday after the Senate approved the final version on a 33-1 vote.

As The Denver Post reports, the Senate approved the final version of the budget despite reservations about a move to balance the budget by cutting $264 million from hospitals – a move that is worth double that once federal matching dollars are added.

Texas Tribune

This week the Texas Senate gave the nod to new legislation known as the Sandra Bland Act, named for the black woman who was found hanged in a cell while in police custody two years ago.

STEPHEN KORANDA

Kansas House leaders have delayed a vote on a tax proposal after some members of the chamber had questions about the bill. The plan would reinstate a third income tax bracket and raise income tax rates. The bill would also reinstate income taxes for thousands of business owners.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr / KUT

A recent poll found that, in a head-to-head matchup, sitting U.S. Senator Ted Cruz would lose to Democratic challenger Rep. Joaquin Castro if the election were held today.

Now, as POLITICO reports, that scenario appears to be an impossibility. Castro announced this week that he would not run for the Senate, instead remaining in the House to focus on national security issues.

The Denver Post

A ballot measure approved by Colorado voters in November is being challenged in federal court.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

While most Texans were asleep in their beds last Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives tentatively approved a Senate bill that would make so-called “sanctuary” cities illegal in the Lone Star State.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the 93-54 vote fell along party lines. The approval came at three a.m., after 16 hours of contentious and sometimes even tearful debate.

Tamir Kalifa / Texas Tribune

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Richards had high hopes for his plan to bring on what he called the “feral hog apocalypse.”

Billy Calzada / Austin American-Statesman

Beto O’Rourke, a challenger to Ted Cruz’s seat in the U.S. Senate, will make an appearance in Amarillo this Saturday, April 29th.

news9.com

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has announced that she plans to create a task force to deal with the immense backlog of rape kits in the state.

As News 9 reports, the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence will investigate all of the sexual assault forensic evidence kits in Oklahoma, to determine how many have yet to be tested.

Proposed hemp bill gaining support in western Kansas

Apr 25, 2017
Creative Commons

A bill that would allow Kansas farmers to grow hemp and Kansas State University researchers to explore its varieties and identify its industrial uses is gaining support in western Kansas.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, Representatives Russ Jennings of Lakin and John Wheeler of Garden City  both voted for House Bill 2182, as amended. 

Put America first by lifting the Cuban embargo

Apr 25, 2017
U.S. SEN. JERRY MORAN, R-KANSAS

Approximately 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside America’s borders. Markets in the United States will continue to evolve to meet domestic consumer demand, but the vast majority of the future growth in food and agriculture markets will be made through exports. And the best way to boost prices for American producers now and in the future is to export more of our agriculture products to these foreign markets.

Perdue approved as secretary of agriculture

Apr 25, 2017
Courtesy / U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Public Domain

The U.S. Senate April 24 voted to confirm the nomination of Gov. Sonny Perdue, R-GA, by a vote of 87-11, as secretary of agriculture. Perdue's cousin, Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, voted present. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, did not vote.

President Donald Trump Jan. 19 announced his intention to nominate Perdue. The secretary of agriculture’s job was the last Cabinet position for which Trump had not named a candidate.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that would raise the legal age at which accused criminals are tried as adults in the Lone Star State.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the measure is known as the “Raise the Age” bill, and it would ensure that 17-year-old offenders would no longer be classified as adults. Instead, they would be moved to the juvenile justice system, beginning in 2021.

Kansas judges seek pay raises

Apr 24, 2017
KSCOURTS.ORG

Kansas Chief Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss told the Topeka Capital Journal’s editorial board Thursday that state funding of judicial branch salaries had fallen unacceptably below average salaries of peers in neighboring states.

CC0 Public Domain

The Texas House Thursday approved a bill designed to inject over a billion dollars into public schools and simplify complicated funding formulas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, State Rep. Dan Huberty succeeded at a difficult task Wednesday: getting the Texas House of Representatives to vote for legislation overhauling the funding system for public education, without a court mandate.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Bob, Robbie and Leah Maass ready equipment for planting season on their farm near Ellsworth, Iowa.Credit AMY MAYER / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIAEdit | Remove

Three months after his nomination, Sonny Perdue faces a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate Monday for the post of secretary of agriculture.

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