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

Erika Rich / Texas Tribune

Since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill into law, several Texas communities have signed onto a lawsuit in hopes of stopping the law before it goes into effect.

The suit was originally brought by Maverick County and the West Texas City of El Cenizo. But now, El Paso County and the cities of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas have also signed on to the suit.

NY - HTTP://NYPHOTOGRAPHIC.COM/

‘I need more Mexicans.’

Several southwest Kansans are featured in a June 20 Bloomberg Businessweek article with that headline – a message the article reports Kansas farmers are sending to President Donald Trump.

According to Blooomberg, arrests of suspected undocumented workers have jumped 38 percent since Trump signed a pair of executive orders targeting immigration in January. This has some in the state worried about the impact on the rural economy.

50states.com

Political strategists from both parties are expecting the 2018 governor’s race in Colorado to shatter state campaign spending records.

Fueling this belief, as The Denver Post reports, is the entry of one – possibly two – wealthy candidates who could take advantage of Colorado’s campaign rules to overwhelm the opposition with money from their own pockets.

JIM MCLEAN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim Barnett is throwing his stethoscope into the ring.

Again.

The 63-year-old doctor and former state senator is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Again.

Barnett, who represented an Emporia-centered district in the Kansas Senate for a decade, won the 2006 GOP primary over a relatively weak field but lost in a landslide to incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the general election.

Four years later he came up short in a race against Tim Huelskamp for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Yesterday HPPR reported on a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll that showed Gov. Greg Abbott outperforming Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus among Texas voters. Today, we’re going to see how Texans are feeling about some of the state’s other lawmakers.

Jacob Villanueva / Texas Tribune

According to a recent poll, Gov. Greg Abbott remains the most popular politician in Texas.

The latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll shows Abbott with a 45 percent approval rating, while 38 percent of the electorate disapproves of the job he’s been doing. However, Abbott’s disapproval rating has risen five points from 33 percent since the last poll, which was taken in February.

Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on Congressional redistricting that could have future implications for the balance of power in the Lone Star State.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the case centers on a redistricting effort in Wisconsin that resembles in many ways the attempts by the Texas GOP to redraw district lines to favor their own party, a process known as "gerrymandering."

San Antonio Express News

Tourism officials in Texas are decrying funding cuts made by the statelLegislature and approved by Gov. Greg Abbott as part of the official state budget.

As The San Antonio Express-News reports, state lawmakers slashed the tourism budget in half this year, dropping funding levels from $68 million down to $34 million.

Jacob Villanueva / Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Republican voters in the Lone Star State remain staunch in their support of the President, despite the Russian fog that has descended over the White House.

As The Texas Tribune reports, while only five percent of Democrats believe Donald Trump has the right temperament to occupy the Oval Office, more than two out of three self-identified Republicans say Trump is the right kind of person for the job.

Texas Tribune

In the state of Texas, it’s now legal for child welfare officials to use their personal religious beliefs to decide who will be allowed to adopt.

Kobach featured in New York Times article

Jun 15, 2017
State of Kansas Office of the Secretary of State

Kansas Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach was featured in a New York Times piece this week that touches on his plans to remake America through restrictive voting and immigration laws.

Duncan Banner

Those who choose to drink and drive in Oklahoma will soon face a tougher penalty.

As The Duncan Banner reports, Governor Mary Fallin has signed a law that will result in an ignition interlock on all Oklahoma offenders’ vehicles after their first offense. Previously, the state only required the interlock for multiple offenders and first-timers with a .15 blood-alcohol level.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Two weeks after the conclusion of a rancorous legislative session, the State of Texas now officially has a budget. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the $217 billion document into law this week—but not before vetoing $120 million in funding to various state programs. As The Texas Tribune reports, areas receiving funding cuts include poor communities near the Mexican border and environmental groups. Abbott also slashed funding that would have improved air quality in Texas.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Last week Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a new budget, and green groups were cheered to see what appeared to be a boost in funding to environmental agencies.

However, as StateImpact reports, it appears those funding boosts were nothing but smoke and mirrors.

50STATES.COM

A sales tax hike to improve Colorado roads will not make it to the ballot in November.

As The Denver Post reports, FixItCO, a coalition pushing for the sales tax hike, made the announcement last week, but the organization is pledging to renew its efforts for the 2018 election.

Courtesy photo / San Antonio Express News

Texas’s most prominent and controversial new law may be in trouble already.

In the short time since Gov. Greg Abbott signed the controversial “sanctuary cities” bill into law, at least six Texas localities have filed lawsuits in opposition to the order. Now, as The Huffington Post reports, the federal judge in charge of one of those lawsuits issued a separate ruling this week that indicated he may be sympathetic with plaintiffs who would like to see the law struck down.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

After waiting almost two weeks to answer the question of whether he would call Texas lawmakers back to Austin for a special session to tackle the controversial bathroom bill, Governor Greg Abbott announced on Sunday that he would indeed call a special session.

As The Texas Tribune reports, Abbott expects Texas Legislators back in the capital in mid-July.

Polis throws hat in the ring for Colorado governor

Jun 12, 2017
Office of Congressman Jared Polis

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis joined the ever-increasing ring of candidates running for governor of Colorado.

Polis announced his plans to enter the race during an interview with The Denver Post on Sunday.

Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, says he wants to work at a state level to fight the Trump Administration – that he can do more good working in Colorado on renewable energy and improving education than he can in Washington right now.

It took 113 days instead of the scheduled 100, but Kansas lawmakers finally ended their 2017 session Saturday.

Their final act was to approve a two-year budget plan that supporters say will start the process of repairing damage done by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts. But the session’s climatic moment occurred a week earlier when lawmakers overrode Brownback’s veto of a bill that largely reversed those cuts. 

Jim Malewitz / Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a law that supposedly defangs the state’s controversial Voter ID law, the nation’s most stringent such law.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, opponents of the former law aren’t backing down, saying instead that the new law does nothing to fix the old law’s discrimination—nor does it absolve Texas Republican lawmakers of their effort to disenfranchise minority voters.

CC0 Public Domain

Colorado schools will soon get funding to voluntarily test for lead in their drinking water.

As The Denver Post reports, House Bill 1306 received bipartisan backing and plenty of support from school and health officials. Lead in drinking water can lead to long-term health problems in children.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the measure into law last week.

NPS.GOV

The Kansas Legislature passed a budget bill Saturday, which marked the 113th day of the Legislative session.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the two chambers took up the budget bill, which was hacked out during hours of negotiations that ended Friday between the two legislative bodies, with sometimes considerable disagreement about allocations.

Creative Commons

In response to passage of a controversial immigration enforcement measure, a 15,000-member association of attorneys and law professors are relocating a 2018 convention out of Texas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which was scheduled to hold its three-day event in Grapevine, Texas next year, said Senate Bill 4’s “dangerous, destructive and counterproductive proposals” go against the group’s mission.

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.

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