Texas Legislature

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Stuart Seeger / Flickr Creative Commons

During the legislative term that concluded last week, Texas lawmakers approved a measure that would legalize certain unrecognized stem cell therapies.

As STAT.com reports, this means Texas is the first state legislature to explicitly give these experimental treatments the go-ahead.

But the deal isn’t done yet; Gov. Greg Abbott still has to sign the bill.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a measure that would prevent doctors from vaccinating foster children—even when those vaccinations would prevent them from later getting cervical cancer.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

A bill aimed at improving the housing conditions of migrant farmworkers died in the Texas House late last week.

As The Texas Observer reports, because farmworkers relocate from harvest to harvest, they depend on housing provided by employers. Many are on “guest worker” visas that under federal law, require their employers to provide adequate housing, but nine out of 10 lack access to licensed housing and live in structures that lack running water, electricity and ventilation. 

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Tensions in the Texas Legislature have been simmering this session, as the moderate leadership in the state House of Representatives has clashed with more conservative factions within their own rank and file, as well as the staunchly right-wing Senate of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature has been hard at work this month trying to come up with a budget. And among those watching the proceedings closely, says The Texas Tribune, few have more to lose than Texas’s colleges and universities.

Even as enrollments continue to rise statewide, many schools are likely to see funding cuts. That means less money for more students.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

A bill that would make it illegal for cities to refuse orders to arrest undocumented immigrants cleared its final hurdle in the Texas Legislature last week.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the controversial measure banning so-called “sanctuary cities” now heads to the desk of Governor Greg Abbot, to become law. Abbott is expected to sign it.

Yi-Chin Li / Houston Chronicle

Texans may soon no longer be required to get their vehicles inspected, reports The Houston Chronicle.

State lawmakers last week approved Senate Bill 1588, which would ensure that annual state safety inspections are no longer required for all personal vehicles. Commercial vehicles would still need to be inspected, however, and some cars in urban areas with smog problems will still need to pass emissions tests.

Texas Tribune

This week the Texas Senate gave the nod to new legislation known as the Sandra Bland Act, named for the black woman who was found hanged in a cell while in police custody two years ago.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

This week the Texas House Public Education Committee heard testimony on a bill that would decrease the number of standardized tests faced by students in the Lone Star State.

At first blush, the idea seems like it might carry broad support among Texas educators. But, as The Texas Tribune reports, teacher opinions on the idea actually constitute a mixed bag.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that would raise the legal age at which accused criminals are tried as adults in the Lone Star State.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the measure is known as the “Raise the Age” bill, and it would ensure that 17-year-old offenders would no longer be classified as adults. Instead, they would be moved to the juvenile justice system, beginning in 2021.

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The Texas House Thursday approved a bill designed to inject over a billion dollars into public schools and simplify complicated funding formulas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, State Rep. Dan Huberty succeeded at a difficult task Wednesday: getting the Texas House of Representatives to vote for legislation overhauling the funding system for public education, without a court mandate.

Austin American-Statesman

A Federal court has once again ruled that the Republican Party in Texas intentionally tried to disenfranchise minority voters when it redrew district lines in 2011.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, the 2-1 ruling attested that the GOP diluted minority votes in an attempt to gain more power in the state.

Jennifer Carlson / Wink Threadings Salon

Becoming a licensed hairstylist may soon be a much easier prospect in Texas, if the state Legislature has its way.

As The Texas Tribune reports, three new bills would make the process of obtaining a cosmetology license in the Lone Star State much less arduous.

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.

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.

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