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

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.

ICE/Creative Commons

Texas’s controversial new “sanctuary cities” law has raised some thorny legal questions, notes The Houston Chronicle.

First, does Texas now have the legal authority to force a town or county to deport a resident?

OklahomaWatch

For months, Oklahoma was overtaken by fears that drastic cuts were coming to state agencies, in order to plug the state’s massive budget gap.

But this week, as OklahomaWatch reports, lawmakers finally came to an agreement on a budget that raises enough to avoid those staggering cuts. Here are some of the winners and losers in the deal.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Senators have approved a plan for funding K-12 schools. The 23-14 vote sends the bill to the House for consideration.

The proposal would increase spending by around $230 million over two years, after the state Supreme Court ruled in March that Kansas schools are inadequately funded.

kansastravel.org

A bill that would have raised $1.2 billion in tax revenue during the next two years was approved by the Kansas Senate and then promptly rejected by the House Tuesday night.

Julian Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

The dust is still settling from the last official day of the Texas legislature, which was fraught with tensions and even a scuffle on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Among the many battles between the Texas House and Senate during the past session, one of the most acrimonious involved the Senate’s wish to slash funding for disabled children in Texas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a staunch supporter of cutting funding for speech, physical and occupational therapy services for kids with disabilities, calling the programs wasteful. Speaker of the House Joe Straus was hoping to restore that funding this session.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Lawmakers in Texas are fed up with educators having sex with students.

The number of teachers having inappropriate relationships with their students has been rising, and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt has even called the problem a “statewide plague.”

KFOR

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is growing  frustrated with the slow pace of criminal justice reform in her state.

As KFOR reports, last week Fallin lamented the fact that 10 separate criminal-justice bill had failed to make it to her desk.

Texas Legislature passes $217 billion two-year budget

May 28, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Texas lawmakers approved a $217 billion, two-year budget Saturday.

As The Texas Tribune reports, both chambers of the Texas Legislature voted to approve the budget, which will boost funding for the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency and avoid serious reforms to the state’s much-criticized school finance system.

The budget is shored up by $1 billion from the state’s savings account and $2 billion from a pot of funding intended for highway projects.

Hickenlooper signs Colorado budget into law

May 28, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With a stroke of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pen, Colorado’s $26.8 billion budget that boosts school funding, averts cuts to hospitals and secures funding for a new state-led program to combat homelessness, was signed into law Friday.

As The Denver Post reports, the final version of the bill includes a $185 per-pupil increase in education funding and $15 million new spending on an affordable housing program aimed at helping the homeless,

Kansas Department of Corrections

Nearly 150 mental health inmates currently held at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility will be transferred to the El Dorado Correctional Facility, as part of plan to convert the former into a medium-security prison.

Cassandra Pollock/Alexa Ura / Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers finally approved a budget this weekend, but the news was overshadowed by the rancorous issue of rights for trans Texans. This session, the so-called “bathroom bill” that targets transgender citizens has dominated the headlines. As of Saturday the Legislature remains locked in a stalemate over the matter, reports The Texas Tribune.

NewsOK.com

Late Tuesday night, as the clock struck midnight, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced two budget bills that had been eagerly awaited for weeks.

As The Oklahoman reports, one of the bills includes funding for teacher pay raises, and the other doesn’t. The bills were introduced at 11:14 p.m., and the House budget committee had 46 minutes to approve them before midnight, to meet a procedural deadline. Legislators now have a few days to review the bills.

Reynaldo Leal / Texas Tribune

A little-noticed bill in the Texas Legislature has drawn the attention—and the alarm—of health care professionals.

As The Texas Tribune reports, House Bill 3236 would speed up the process by which promising, experimental drugs can get into the hands of terminally ill patients.

Kansas Public Radio

The filing deadline isn’t until next June. But candidates already are lining up for what could be the toughest job in Kansas: succeeding Gov. Sam Brownback.

Four hopefuls are at least tentatively in the race and several more are thinking about getting in, including some Republican heavyweights.

Who?

Well, Kansas Secretary of State and political lightning rod Kris Kobach for one. Interviewed at the Kansas Republican Party’s state convention earlier this year, he said, “I am taking a very serious look at the governor’s race.”

Laura Skelding / Texas Tribune

Earlier this week we reported on how Dan Patrick, the Texas Lt. Gov., was threatening to send the state Legislature into a special session if the state House of Representatives didn’t approve the so-called “bathroom” bill, as well as a measure that would make it difficult for communities to raise property taxes.

Creative Commons

A bill that would place a statewide ban on texting while driving in Texas has cleared the Texas Senate, KUT reports.

The measure outlasted a last-ditch effort by the Senate to substantially weaken the bill. It now moves forward in its original form, back to the House, where it’s expected to be approved again as no changes have been made. Then, the bill will head to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, where it will become law barring a veto by Abbott.

Wikimedia Commons

TOPEKA – Sen. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City, will try to ax a proposed $120 annual charge to water right owners to finance public schools.

“It has nothing to do with utility bills,” Estes said at the Monday afternoon meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance.

Senate Bill 251 contains the Senate’s proposed school finance formula and it would levy a $2.25 monthly charge on residential water, electric and natural gas bills. For non-residential customers, the monthly charge would be $10 on each of the three utilities.

Flickr Creative Commons

Yesterday HPPR looked at the balance of power among Republicans and Democrats in state legislatures across the High Plains. Today we thought we’d have a look at the tally when it comes to governorships and national officeholders in our listening region.

Jim Beckel / The Oklahoman

It’s no secret that Republicans tend to win more elections on the High Plains than Democrats. But with the recent struggles in Donald Trump’s White House, the national media has been flooded with stories about how the GOP may be in trouble in next year’s midterm elections.

With that in mind, we decided to have a look at exactly what the balance of power looks like in our listening area.

Nick Youngson http://nyphotographic.com/

As the Texas Panhandle faces a rising number of foster children without homes, the Texas Legislature Monday passed a law that would turn away some prospective parents for religious reasons.

As ABC 7 Amarillo reports, there is a growing need for foster homes in the Texas Panhandle.

Kansas Agland /

  A bill that would enable farmers to eventually obtain a license to plant industrial hemp has moved to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

The move is one hemp supporters wanted to help get the bill passed this session. The bill was referred to the committee on Thursday.

Meanwhile, hemp supporters are planning a forum from 6 to 8 p.m. June 5 at the public library in Coffeyville, said Kelly Rippel, who is with Kansans for Hemp.

Jim Beckel / The Oklahoman

Attempts in the Oklahoma Legislature to fix the state’s massive budget shortfall fell apart this weekend, reports The Oklahoman.

Both chambers had hoped to reach a last minute deal to avoid a special session. But by the end of Saturday it was clear that Oklahoma lawmakers were not going to find enough common ground to avoid working overtime.

CC0 Public Domain

Kansas superintendents are calling on lawmakers to put more money into a school funding bill.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, several superintendents traveled to Topeka last week to tell the Senate education committee to add more money to Senate Bill 251.

nps.gov

A measure aimed at repealing Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policy was withdrawn by House negotiators Thursday.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, House negotiators withdrew an offer to the Senate for simultaneous votes on nearly full repeal of tax cuts signed five years ago by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

In the waning days of the Texas Legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is playing hardball to get his agenda passed.

As The Texas Tribune reports, Patrick has put out a list of bills he expects the House to pass. If the lower chamber doesn’t comply with his wishes, Patrick says he will direct his Senate to let so-called “must-pass” legislation falter.

This imperative legislation includes the state budget.

Robert Cheaib / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas is considering officially putting a stop to underage marriage in the state, reports The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Texas currently has the second highest child marriage rate in the country; only West Virginia has a higher rate. The legal age to marry in Texas is 14 with parental consent, and lawmakers say many young girls in Texas are forced into marrying older men by their parents.

Pages