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

Fibonacci Blue / Wikimedia Commons

The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would allow government clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, on religious grounds. The measure now moves to the House for a vote.

But, as Slate reports, the bill has an interesting provision that hasn’t been seen in other efforts by the Texas Senate to legislate same-sex marriage licenses.

www.ccPixs.com

The League of Kansas Municipalities is planning to push legislation that would allow greater flexibility in increasing property taxes without first seeking voter approval.

Hispanic Reading Room, Library of Congress

There is a new effort emerging In Mexico to nullify a treaty that allowed the United States to annex most of Mexico’s historic territory – what is now Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California.

As KUT Public Radio reports, backers of the effort to nullify the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – which Mexican officials were forced to sign in 1848 at the close of the Mexican-American War – argue that the treaty violates now-accepted international legal norms, and therefore is invalid.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the long delays in seating his replacement leaves rural America without a voice in the Trump administration.

Vilsack, a Democrat who served as USDA chief during both terms of the Obama Administration, cites President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal as an example of what happens without a Cabinet position dedicated to rural issues.

Creative Commons CC0

Colorado lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday about the financial difficulties facing much of rural Colorado, which helped a bill aimed at preventing cuts to rural communities in the state pass its first test.

As The Denver Post reports, officials from rural schools, hospitals and business groups testified about the dire financial situation facing much of rural Colorado – a situation that they fear will only get worse in coming years.

Federal judge rules Texas voter ID law discriminatory

Apr 13, 2017
DEBAIRD / CREATIVE COMMONS

A federal judge has ruled, for the second time, that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Latino and black voters in passing a strict voter identification law in 2011.

As The Texas Tribune reports, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled Monday that Texas did not meet its burden in proving that legislators passed the nation’s strictest photo ID law – Senate Bill 14 – without knowingly targeting minority voters.

U.S. SEN. JERRY MORAN, R-KANSAS

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran held a town hall meeting in Garden City, where health care and education were the primary topics of discussion.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, Moran said he that while he wants every American to have access to health care, he doesn’t believe it’s guaranteed by the federal government.

KFOR

Oklahomans may soon experience deep cuts to their Medicaid subsidies, if the state decides to slash funding to the state’s Medicaid agency, reports KFOR.

The proposed cuts could result in a funding cut of as much as 25 percent. These cuts would severely hurt the state’s patients and hospitals, especially in rural areas.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

State Treasurer Ron Estes won the election to become the next Republican Congressman to represent the 4th District in Kansas. Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson by less than ten points. Libertarian Chris Rockhold was also on the ballot and drew two percent of the vote.

Elvert Barnes / Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate is considering instituting a rule that would guarantee construction workers frequent breaks, reports The Texas Tribune.

The proposed legislation is an attempt to ease hardship on Texas construction workers, who frequently endure brutal heat and other weather-driven struggles.

Wallethub

How much tax burden do residents of your state carry compared with other states?  

The personal finance website WalletHub has compiled a list of all states, comparing their various tax responsibilities.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

After weeks of momentum, Texas “school choice” was handed a serious setback last week, in what The Dallas Morning News called “a serious, perhaps lethal blow” to the movement.

CC0 Public Domain

Under a proposal added to the Texas House budget last week, funding could go to a program to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking.

Proposed bill would designate a state gun in Texas

Apr 11, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Texas may soon have a state gun, joining chili as the state dish, pecan as the state tree, and Guadalupe bass as the state fish.

As The Guardian reports, there are currently three proposals to designate a state gun, one of which passed through a senate committee hearing Thursday that if passed, would make the cannon the official state gun.

Another calls for the 1847 Colt Walker pistol to be recognized as the official handgun of the Lone Star State.

Creative Commons

When it comes to support for Governor Sam Brownback’s ideas about how taxation should work in Kansas, it appears the tides have turned.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, last week Brownback proposed legislation that would have asked every person in the Sunflower State, regardless of income level, to pay a flat tax of 4.6 percent. But when the measure appeared on the floor of the State Senate, it was resoundingly rejected.

City of Garden City, KS / Garden City Regional Airport

Small towns like Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal, Hays, Great Bend and Salina, Kansas rely on a federal program that provides a subsidy to airlines that keeps air service from operating at a loss but under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, that funding would be eliminated.

DAVID SHANKBONE / Wikimedia Commons

A bill allowing grocery stores, convenience stores, big-box stores and other retailers holding cereal malt beverage to sell beer with 6.0 percent alcohol content passed the Kansas Senate Friday.

As The Hutch News reports, the Senate voted 27 to 11 in favor of the measure, which passed the house by a vote of 80 to 45 earlier in the week.

Austin American-Statesman

For 20 years, Texas has granted automatic admission to state universities for all Texas students who rank in the top ten of their graduating class.

But now, as The Austin American-Statesman reports, an Amarillo Senator has introduced a new bill into the Legislature that would do away with the “10 percent law.”

KMUW

A Federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to produce documents he showed to President Donald Trump in a private meeting.

As The Kansas City Star reports, Kobach was asked by the White House to outline a plan to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security. The district court in Kansas City, Kansas, has requested to see the documents, to determine whether they’re relevant to an ongoing Kansas Voter I.D. lawsuit.

Kansas City Star

This week Democrats in the Kansas House of Representatives attempted to roll back a law that allows concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses across the state.

As The Kansas City Star reports, the effort was ultimately derailed because moderate Republicans decided to side with their colleagues on the right rather than cross the aisle. The law, which was instituted in 2013, allows handguns in most public buildings in Kansas, including college and university buildings.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature is gearing up to end the last remaining major wind-energy tax incentive in the state. And, as StateImpact reports, some in the wind industry are calling the move a betrayal.

James Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

The Oklahoma House has voted unanimously to enshrine what’s being called a “crime victim’s bill of rights” into the state constitution.

Soon voters will head to the polls to ratify the bill.

The proposed measure, also known as “Marsy’s Law,” ensures that crime victims receive the same treatment as suspects and perpetrators. Seems simple enough.

Cooper Neill / The Washington Post

The Washington Post recently paid a visit to rural Durant, Oklahoma, to investigate how Trump’s policies are sitting with rural Americans.

The town is still standing behind their choice of Donald Trump, though some cracks in their affection for the New York billionaire are becoming visible.

Kansas City Star

The Kansas Legislature does not have sufficient votes to override Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of the state’s Medicaid expansion, reports The Kansas City Star.

Last week the Governor sent health-care advocates into a rage by vetoing a law that would have provided health care to roughly 150,000 low-income Kansans. The law would have opened the door to millions of dollars’ worth of Federal matching funds.

Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle

A new law passed by the Kansas Legislature could allow Kansas to share firefighting resources with neighboring states like Oklahoma.

As The Wichita Eagle  reports, HB 2140 has already been approved by the House and the Senate, and is now waiting for Governor Sam Brownback’s signature. Similar proposals have languished in Kansas for two years, and the sharing capability would have been helpful this month as the biggest fires in state history raged across the High Plains.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

It appears Democrats will need the Lone Star State to come through for them if they hope to win back the Senate next year.

As POLITICO reports, the electoral map is so grim for the Dems that they’re relying on taking Ted Cruz’s Senate seat from the G.O.P. But the odds of a victory are long in the traditionally Republican stronghold of Texas.

James M. Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Under President Trump’s proposed budget, High Plains cities that profit from air and rail  services stand to suffer.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, Trump has suggested at least $2.4 billion in funding cuts, and included in that figure are subsidies for passenger rail service and rural commercial flights. For towns that are already isolated in many ways, like Garden City and Amarillo, these cuts could hurt.

Andrew Harrer / The Washington Post

Sonny Perdue, Donald Trump’s appointee to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, faced some tough questions last week during his confirmation hearing.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

The Colorado Legislature is proposing a major overhaul to the state’s budget, in a move that would redirect money toward rural schools and roads.

Ilana Panich-Linsman / NY Times

Texans may soon be able to purchase and openly carry firearms with no permit of any kind required, reports The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The gun proposal currently under consideration in the Texas House is known as Constitutional Carry. It would also ensure that Texans can carry guns without any required safety training.

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