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

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.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who catapulted to national prominence on the strength of his anti-immigration views, announced his candidacy for Kansas governor Thursday.

Kobach made the announcement two days after Kansas lawmakers voted to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a tax package that would raise $1.2 billion over the next two years — a rejection of Brownback’s signature 2012 tax cuts.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

A new bill passed by the Texas State Legislature aims to make it easier for the elderly to vote, reports The Texas Tribune. The measure would also theoretically prevent voter fraud in nursing homes.

The bill was backed by both parties, a rare effort that sailed through the statehouse with ease amid a legislative session otherwise marked by partisan and intraparty rancor.

NY Times

As HPPR has reported in the past, the mortality rate for new mothers in Texas has skyrocketed in recent years.

Texas now has a higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than anywhere in the developed world.

Yet, as Jezebel noted this weekend, Texas lawmakers did virtually nothing to try to fix the problem during the legislative session that just ended.

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

Amid the budget talks during Oklahoma’s recently concluded legislative session, one of the major sticking points revolved around how much to raise the production tax on oil and gas companies.

As Oklahoma Watch notes, while Oklahoma is theoretically a two-party system, it often seems as though there’s a third party in the room during important economic discussions. That third party is the oil industry.

GAGE SKIDMORE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18 to work on bathrooms, abortions and school finance.

As The Texas Tribune reports, Abbott gave lawmakers a 19-item agenda to work on and called the overtime round “entirely avoidable.”

HART VAN DENBURG / COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in not signing two measures, will in essence allow them to become law.

As The Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper’s decision not to sign the bills into is a rare move that he said is designed to protest actions by lawmakers to “veil a bill’s true cost to the taxpayers.”

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning requiring abortion providers to give patients information listing their credentials, any disciplinary actions meted out against them and whether they have malpractice insurance.

The bill also requires the information to be provided at least 24 hours before a procedure and printed on white paper in black 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Kansas lawmakers have voted to roll back a series of major tax cuts that became an example for conservative lawmakers around the country but didn't deliver the growth and prosperity promised by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

A coalition of conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, sided with moderates and Democrats to override Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

A bill to replace funding for Medicaid and the Kansas mental health system lost to budget-balancing cuts last year is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Senate substitute for House Bill 2079 would increase a fee that health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, pay to do business in Kansas from 3.31 percent to 5.77 percent. HMOs are a type of health insurance that typically has lower premiums but only covers care within a network of doctors and hospitals. 

A school finance plan that will add nearly $300 million over two years gained approval Monday night in the Kansas Legislature and now moves to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could make a special session likely.

Annie Langthorn/Elle

Oklahoma’s Democratic Party has elected its youngest party chair ever.

In a profile in Elle magazine, 24-year-old Annie Langthorn says she became interested in politics in high school, volunteering and interning with candidates. She even skipped her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention.

Langthorn beat out four other candidates for her new role as state chair.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Late last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law a bill that loosens restrictions on the state’s controversial voter ID law.

Oklahoma governor signs state budget into law

Jun 5, 2017
OKLEGISLATURE.GOV

Gov. Mary Fallin last week signed Oklahoma’s Fiscal Year 2018 state budget into law.

As KGOU reports, Fallin signed the $6.8 billion budget that keeps funding flat for 16 state agencies, including the Department of Education and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and cuts funding for all other state agencies by an average of 4 percent.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago when President Donald Trump was rumored to be on the fence about whether to abandon the Paris climate agreement, 22 Republican Senators sent him a letter urging him to back out of the deal.

The letter’s signatories included Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and both Senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Certain sectors of the oil and gas industry have supported leaving the Paris accords, assuming deregulation will drive oil profits.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has postponed his announcement about whether he will call the state Legislature back for a special session, reports The Texas Tribune. The Governor had indicated that he planned to make the announcement late this week.

But now he says he’s holding off until next week.

Tom Reel / San Antonio Express News

A couple of prominent Texas Republicans are doing their best to save American trade with Mexico, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Will Hurd have been urging business leaders to try to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The regular session of the Texas Legislature has ended, but some of the high-profile bills passed into law this year will likely end up in court, reports The Texas Tribune.

Pages