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

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The League of Women Voters will be hosting registration events in the Texas Panhandle Saturday reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The events will be held at the United Supermarkets in Amarillo and Canyon, as well as the Amigos Supermarket in Amarillo, between 10 a.m. and two p.m.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

Despite testimony about loved ones who have died in car crashes caused by distracted driving, a proposal to ban the use of cellphones for all Colorado drivers was rejected by the state’s Republican-led Senate committee Wednesday.

As The Denver Post reports, the measure would have prohibited the use of hand-held mobile devices for talking and texting without a hands-free device but failed in a 3-2 vote by the Senate committee.

From Texas Standard.

Bacon, blue jeans and beer: three commodities that many Texans take for granted are at stake as Mexico, Canada and the U.S. resume talks about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, this week.

New York Times Reporter Ana Swanson writes that the outcome of these talks may have a more serious impact on Texans’ everyday lives than many realize.

Over the decades, Republicans and Democrats both made it hard for the public to know what goes on in the Statehouse. But in the wake of a Kansas City Star series highlighting the lack of transparency, some members of both parties are pushing for change.

Recent days have seen a flurry of activity.

Austin Lamar Allison / Wikimedia Commons

ABC News recently profiled the Texas town of Miami, calling the small West Texas hamlet “the most pro-Trump town in America.” Miami, a ranching community of 600 near Pampa, went all in for the New York billionaire during the 2016 presidential election.

Out of 550 who voted in the town, 524 went for Trump.

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The 2018 session of the Oklahoma Legislature begins in just over two weeks, and one particular bit of potential legislation is already garnering a good deal of attention, reports KFOR.

A federal judge has ruled Texas will continue to need oversight of how it cares for vulnerable children, even after sweeping legislative changes last year.

In a 116-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack ruled on Friday afternoon that Texas leaders will remain under the watchful eye of federal special masters for three years as they implement more policies for how abused and neglected children are protected. She wrote in her ruling that “the system remains broken and DFPS has demonstrated an unwillingness to take tangible steps to fix the broken system.”

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As of yet, the shutdown of the Federal Government is having a limited effect on the Texas Panhandle.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas congressional delegation was hard at work this weekend, trying to help broker a deal to end the shutdown.

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The national men’s health and fashion magazine Esquire took an acerbic tone this week as it lambasted a “rising star” in the Sooner State’s Republican Party.

Ryan Dahm, a GOP State Senator from Broken Arrow, Okla., gained national notoriety this week after submitting a bill to the state Legislature that would officially designate Oklahoma’s wildlife as “the property of Almighty God.” 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday isn't the only holiday this week for state employees in Texas. They can also take off Friday for a state holiday that has been a source of controversy: Confederate Heroes Day.

Roughly 80 politicians gathered Wednesday for an early morning meeting at the Kansas Statehouse.

The session wasn’t technically mandatory, more encouraged by legislative leaders determined to be seen as doing something in response to the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations.

Several of the women in attendance nodded at what they heard — that four in five women and one in five men have suffered some form of sexual harassment.

Some states fear that a Kansas voter record system could fall prey to hackers, prompting a delay in the annual collection of nearly 100 million people’s records into a database scoured for double-registrations.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach touts the program, called Crosscheck, as a tool in combating voter fraud. Last year, 28 states submitted voters’ names, birth dates, and sometimes partial social security numbers, to Kobach’s office.

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The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Texas Democrats to re-examine whether congressional districts in the Lone Star State were redrawn along partisan lines.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, the High Court said it lacked jurisdiction in the case. However, the Supreme Court is still slated to hear similar cases from Wisconsin and Maryland, and those cases may ultimately affect the way Texas (and every other state) is allowed to redraw political lines.

Facebook campaign pages / The Texas Tribune

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White raised over $200,000 during the first three weeks of his campaign, while one of his better-known primary opponents, Lupe Valdez, took in a quarter of that over roughly the same period.

From The Texas Tribune:

A push by the Brownback administration to keep turning to private firms to run its Medicaid program for years to come faces resistance from key Republican lawmakers.

Those legislators have signaled they want existing problems repaired with KanCare — particularly application backlogs, delays in provider payments and disputes over services for Kansans with disabilities. Only then should the state go ahead with Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to launch KanCare 2.0 and its new lifetime limits, work requirements and other policy changes.

Ludovic Bertron / Wikimedia Commons

For months, political prognosticators in the Lone Star State have been predicting a possible “blue wave” of successful Democratic candidates in upcoming elections.

Now, as The San Antonio Express-News reports, that same blue wave may soon result in a surge of newly elected gay officials in Texas. The ballots for 2018 contain a record number of LGBTQ candidates. In fact, the number of gay candidates on this year’s ballot is double the previous record.

From Texas Standard.

Texans don’t care about primary elections – at least if history is any indication. Single-digit turnouts are not uncommon in non-presidential election years. But there’s reason to think conventional wisdom could be turned on its head this March.

An unlikely coalition of business groups and educators are coming together to get out the vote, and they appear to have rattled allies of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Lexey Swall / The Texas Tribune

Texas immigrants and their advocates said they're pleased that a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place. But they said they remain focused on the push in Congress to make the program permanent.

From The Texas Tribune:

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Gov. John Hickenlooper gave his final state of the state address Thursday and as The Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper spoke at length about the challenges facing rural Colorado.

Hickenlooper pointed out that rural communities face a number of issues, including teacher shortages, jobs and access to rural broadband.

From Texas Standard.

When you think about the challenges of roadway construction, obstacles above the ground come to mind – getting over or through mountains, rivers, and the like. What’s under the ground isn’t usually on most people’s minds.

On Loop 88, a project just west of Lubbock, the Texas Department of Transportation found something unexpected: bones.

Fellow Republicans on Wednesday characterized Gov. Sam Brownback’s spending plan — more than $6.6 billion a year — as a beeline return to deficits and an abdication of responsibility in a budding crisis.

The governor, poised to leave for a spot in the Trump administration, unveiled a five-year, $600 million increase in school funding Tuesday evening. When lawmakers dug into that proposal Wednesday, they griped about key details.

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U.S. Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continue to disagree about marijuana policy.

As The Denver Post reports, the two met Wednesday and Gardner said Sessions gave no indication that he would re-think his decision last week to reverse the Obama-era Cole Memorandum, which basically left states that legalized marijuana alone.

CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback effectively said goodbye last night in a State of the State speech that was short on policy recommendations but long on reflection. We get this recap from (KCUR’s) Jim McLean (of the Kansas News Service). 

Brownback’s self-described “swan song” to a joint session of the legislature was less political than his past State of the State speeches.

There is a wave of women running for public office in Texas this year.

As The Texas Tribune reported last week, about 50 women have filed to run for Congress. Patsy Woods Martin, the executive director of Annie’s List, says there is the same trend in races for the Texas Legislature.

Southwest Kansas Lawmaker Apologizes For Racist Remarks

Jan 8, 2018
Public Domain

After a western Kansas lawmaker suggested black people respond to the use of marijuana differently, the Republican leader of his party condemned the remarks.

On Saturday in Garden City, Rep. Steve Alford, a Republican from Ulysses, said the drug should remain illegal because of the way he contended it affected African-Americans.

The White House may have scrapped the controversial national election integrity commission that he was helping to lead, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is still rooting out alleged voter fraud in his home state.

Armed with powers not usually assigned to a secretary of state, Kobach filed a pair of criminal complaints Thursday against two people he said voted when, and more, than they had the right to.

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The earliest political primary in the United States is in Texas this year, and that means candidates in the Lone Star State have only a few weeks to win over the votes of their potential constituents.

Steven Nass / Wikimedia Commons

An Oklahoma group is mounting a ballot effort to prevent the state’s legislature from redrawing congressional boundaries for their own benefit, a process known as gerrymandering.

Redistricting work is expected to begin after the 2020 census, but as Oklahoma Watch reports, a group called Represent Oklahoma is trying to put a stop to the effort. Represent Oklahoma has launched a website and set up a $400,000 fundraising goal, in hopes of putting a state question on this year’s state ballot.

As long as Sam Brownback waits for Congress to approve his at-large ambassadorship for religious freedom for the Trump administration, he’ll continue to meet his responsibilities as governor.

Kansas Democrats have filed two gun control bills for the upcoming legislative session. The proposals could be a tough sell, though, as some lawmakers might not be interested in another gun control debate.

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