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

Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Back in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, many Republicans leaders in Texas stood in staunch opposition to an aid package to help New York and New Jersey recover from the devastation.

Now, as POLITICO reports, those chickens are coming home to roost. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Senator Ted Cruz and other Texas lawmakers are asking for aid from the Federal government.

senate.texas.gov

A prominent Amarillo restaurateur will challenge Texas state Senator Kel Seliger for his seat next year, The Amarillo Globe-News reports. Victor Leal is the former mayor of Muleshoe, Texas, and he owns the popular restaurant Leal’s in Amarillo.

Leal is running as a Republican. He previously sat on the board of directors of an influential conservative think tank known as the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Kansas Political Leaders Discuss Future Of Ag

Aug 28, 2017
CCO Public Domain

Political leaders strategized about the future of ag in Kansas at the Summit on Agricultural Growth held in Manhattan Thursday.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall of the rural 1st district in Congress, said the government was prepared to endorse the conversion of sorghum oil into bio-diesel. Sorghum is mainly used as livestock feed so the addition would bolster the market value of the grain.

Jonathan McIntosh / Wikimedia Commons

Activists in Texas are gearing up for a fight. Donald Trump indicated this week that he would end the DREAMer program, which provides temporary work permits and "deferred action" for undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children. The program, which was started by the Obama administration in 2012, gives legal protection to around 800,000 young people nationwide.

Meanwhile, the controversial SB 4 law is set to go into effect in Texas soon. The law would give police the right to ask the immigration status of just about anyone they choose.

Candidates are lining up to run for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s job. The latest entrant has been feuding with Kobach over a claim he’s made in his campaign for governor.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper responded to a letter sent in July by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that raised “serious questions” about the state’s ability to regulate legal marijuana and prevent illegal activities.

whiteafrican / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge may soon require the State of Texas to send all requests for election law changes through the Federal Government for approval.

As The Huffington Post reports, in the last couple of weeks, federal courts have ruled in three separate cases that Republican lawmakers intentionally redrew Texas congressional districts to discriminate against minorities.

Creative Commons

The oil and gas industry has largely been supportive of the Trump administration’s efforts to deregulate energy. But now, as POLITICO reports, some in the petroleum realm are growing worried that the administration’s no-holds-barred approach could backfire.

DEBAIRD / CREATIVE COMMONS

Texas was blocked by a federal judge Wednesday from enforcing its revamped voter ID law.

As The New York Times reports, Federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled Wednesday that the law did not go far enough and perpetuated discrimination against black and Hispanic voters.

Another state lawmaker is joining the race for the 2nd District congressional seat in eastern Kansas.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to leave office early for a diplomatic post, and appears to be passing the torch to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. However, at an ag industry summit in Manhattan on Thursday, Colyer spoke only in generalities.

The lieutenant governor called agriculture the key driver of the Kansas economy. But even in an interview after his speech, Colyer stuck to the theme of listening, rather than saying what he’d do as governor.

“We’ll be laying out a lot of policy things as they come forward here," Colyer says. "Today is just not yet the day.”

Public Domain

The Amarillo City Council meeting grew heated on Tuesday night, as opposing forces gathered to debate whether a statue of a Confederate soldier should be removed from Ellwood Park.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, members of the NAACP and Indivisible Amarillo showed up to try and convince civic leaders to take down the monument.

Laura Skelding / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

The differences between the state's top legislative leaders will inform the coming Republican primaries, because Dan Patrick and Joe Straus reflect different wings of the Texas GOP.

The guns of August are blazing.

Doug Smith / Wikimedia Commons

The State of Oklahoma will not execute any inmates in 2017.

As KOKH reports, this year marks the third straight year that the death chamber has remained quiet in the state.

A Democratic candidate for Kansas governor says the Brownback administration is bent on privatizing a key mental health facility.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has unveiled a proposal to build a new mental hospital at Osawatomie, which a Tennessee company would run.

But Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward says the agency should be exploring in-house options.

"This administration has a terrible history of privatization. Whether it be child support collection, DCF, KanCare,” Ward says.

Facing what could be a tough race for re-election, Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder appeared determined to strike a bipartisan tone Tuesday night in his first in-person town hall meeting since last year’s election.

He stressed the importance of civility and working across the aisle several times during the meeting sponsored by the Kansas City Star, touting his work with Democrats to expand child-care tax credits and strengthen privacy laws.

A former employee of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office said in federal court Monday that she was fired in part for not attending church, which left her confused and depressed.

Kansas Democratic House Leader Jim Ward is finally jumping into the race for governor.

U.S. House and Senate lawmakers are still months away from passing a new Farm Bill. The legislation, which governs an array of federal agricultural and food programs, is set to expire in 2018.

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. That committee and the House Committee on Agriculture are currently working to rewrite the Farm bill.

Roberts says his goal is to get the bill passed in October, or at the very latest, early next year.

defense.gov

Rural Texas residents stand to be hurt if President Trump’s proposed budget is adopted, reports the Texas Observer. The White House budget cuts billions in federal aid for residents of Texas’s most sparsely populated areas, including the Panhandle.

News of White House strategist Steve Bannon’s resignation broke Friday afternoon during U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s town hall meeting in Topeka.

The second-term Republican was fielding questions about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office when a man in the back of the American Legion hall reading the news on his cell phone shouted that Bannon was out

With the rising incidence of terrorist attacks in recent years, concern is growing about potential threats to the nation’s food supply. Sponsors of a new federal law to address the risk of agro-terrorism talked with officials about best practices and policies on Friday, Aug. 21, in Kansas City.

It was a roundtable of military, political and academic officials who might find themselves responding to such a threat.

Trump Refers To Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts As 'Farm Guy'

Aug 17, 2017
U.S. Department of Agriculture

President Donald Trump refers to Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts as “Farm Guy.”

As The Dodge City Globe reports, Roberts appeared at High Plains Journal in Dodge City Tuesday to give a legislative update where the longtime senator told those on hand that the president referred to him as ‘Farm Guy’ during a recent meeting concerning crop insurance.

Roberts said another reason he met with Trump was to discuss exports – namely peanuts and cotton.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced immediate pay increases for corrections officers during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state prison in El Dorado. 

Brownback said all officers will receive an immediate 5 percent salary increase, and starting pay will be increased across the corrections system. The hourly pay rate for entry-level corrections officers will climb from $13.95 to $14.66.

At El Dorado, where the staff vacancy rate is 47 percent, the hiring hourly rate will go from $13.95 to $15.75, he said.

Industrial Hemp Could Be Legalized ... Finally

Aug 16, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

This could be year that Congress legalizes industrial hemp.

According to The Cannabist, a bipartisan group of lawmakers are again calling for industrial hemp to be legally separated from marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Texas lawmakers are preparing to adjourn from their special legislative session on Tuesday night.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, Greg Abbott is extremely displeased with the progress made on his agenda, and the Governor is even threatening to call another special session until he feels his priorities are being addressed. Of the 20 items on Abbott’s agenda, not a single one has yet received a simple up or down vote.

NASA.gov

President Donald Trump may soon announce an Oklahoman to lead NASA.

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

A decade after Kansas unveiled plans to migrate its driver’s license records from an aged mainframe to modern information technology infrastructure, the effort remains incomplete and, auditors say, troubled.

AF.mil

The special session of the Texas Legislature is drawing to a close, and child advocates are concerned about a major issue that lawmakers have yet to resolve.

Two years ago, Texas legislators cut more than $300 million to therapy services for disabled children.

And now, as KXAN reports, educators and therapists worry that Texas may one day have a sizable number of disabled adults if lawmakers don’t take action.

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