Texas Legislature

At The Texas Capitol, Victims Of Sexual Harassment Must Fend For Themselves

Nov 15, 2017
Shelby Tauber / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Interviews with more than two dozen current and former lawmakers and legislative aides indicate sexual harassment regularly goes unchecked at the Texas Capitol. And sexual harassment policies rely on officials with little incentive or authority to enforce them, particularly in cases of harassment by lawmakers.

Disgust overwhelmed her when she felt his tongue on her hand.

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Texas Panhandle Congressman Four Price announced this week that he will seek re-election next year, the Amarillo Globe-News reports.

Price has proven a popular candidate in the 87th district that includes Potter, Sherman, Moore, Carson and Hutchinson counties. He ran unopposed last year, and in his 2014 re-election bid he took 85% of the vote. 

Pi Ying Huang / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

A blast of retirements and a grim political climate for the GOP could dramatically reshape the future of the Texas Republican delegation.

WASHINGTON – For those closely watching the Texas delegation in Congress, Tuesday night provided lots to chew on.

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Medicaid is failing children with disabilities in Texas, according to The Austin American-Statesman.

Medicaid services in Texas have steadily declined in recent years for children with the most severe disabilities. The decline is due to cost-cutting measures by congressional leaders.

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Texas lawmakers are considering changing the way the state punishes residents who default on payments for furniture and merchandise rentals.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the law currently allows companies to pursue felony charges against furniture rental defaulters.

That means not making your payments on that sectional sofa could land you in prison—and critics say that punishment is overly harsh.

Bob Daemmerich / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, announced Wednesday he will not run for re-election. He did not rule out running for higher office.

Some Texas Republicans In Congress Again Outraised By Challengers

Oct 17, 2017
Michael Stravato / The Texas Tribune

  From The Texas Tribune:

The latest round of campaign fundraising reports show continued signs of of Democratic enthusiasm, though some Republican incumbents, including U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions and Will Hurd, posted strong third quarters.

*Correction appended

Michael Barera

The Texas Legislature’s controversial “bathroom bill” generated a strong backlash among the business community this year. The proposal was ultimately stopped, largely due to the moderate leadership of House Speaker Joe Straus.

Now, as The Texas Tribune reports, Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas is smart about attracting new companies going forward.

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Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has been drawing fire all year from far-right lawmakers, including members of the so-called “Texas Freedom Caucus” in the State House of Representatives, who have called for Straus’s job.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, Straus is taking the calls for his ouster in stride. Brushing aside complaints that he’s too moderate, Straus welcomed all challengers.

“I don’t own this job,” he said.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A new Texas law gives financial institutions greater authority to stop transactions that they suspect are aimed at defrauding elderly or disabled clients.

Prompted by a man she had never met, an elderly woman in Dallas County recently decided to sell her home and wire the $200,000 windfall to a mysterious bank account, a victims advocate recalled. 

The man, who claimed to be communicating from Nigeria, promised to marry her. It was all a scam. Today, the woman is homeless.

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Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has asked the State Preservation Board to remove a plaque in the State Capitol that honors the Confederacy, reports The Austin American-Statesman. Straus and other critics have charged that the plaque distorts history in order to glorify the Confederacy.

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Texas Senator Kel Seliger formally announced his bid for re-election this week, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

First elected to the state Senate in 2004, Seliger says he is particularly interested in maintaining local control for Texas communities, after the Texas Legislature recently passed a number of bills aimed at weakening the power of Texas municipalities.

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A prominent Texas legislator is taking four of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to task for their refusal to vote for a relief package to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Mac Thornberry, the congressman who represents the Texas Panhandle, was one of the legislators who voted against sending a $15.25 billion initial aid package to the coast.

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A prominent Amarillo restaurateur will challenge Texas state Senator Kel Seliger for his seat next year, The Amarillo Globe-News reports. Victor Leal is the former mayor of Muleshoe, Texas, and he owns the popular restaurant Leal’s in Amarillo.

Leal is running as a Republican. He previously sat on the board of directors of an influential conservative think tank known as the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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Activists in Texas are gearing up for a fight. Donald Trump indicated this week that he would end the DREAMer program, which provides temporary work permits and "deferred action" for undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children. The program, which was started by the Obama administration in 2012, gives legal protection to around 800,000 young people nationwide.

Meanwhile, the controversial SB 4 law is set to go into effect in Texas soon. The law would give police the right to ask the immigration status of just about anyone they choose.

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Texas lawmakers are preparing to adjourn from their special legislative session on Tuesday night.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, Greg Abbott is extremely displeased with the progress made on his agenda, and the Governor is even threatening to call another special session until he feels his priorities are being addressed. Of the 20 items on Abbott’s agenda, not a single one has yet received a simple up or down vote.

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The special session of the Texas Legislature is drawing to a close, and child advocates are concerned about a major issue that lawmakers have yet to resolve.

Two years ago, Texas legislators cut more than $300 million to therapy services for disabled children.

And now, as KXAN reports, educators and therapists worry that Texas may one day have a sizable number of disabled adults if lawmakers don’t take action.

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With seven days remaining, the special session of the Texas Legislature appears thus far to be a bust. Gov. Greg Abbott convened the session in hopes of furthering his own legislative agenda, after a contentious and mostly fruitless regular session.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, not a single bill has made it through both houses and advanced to the Governor’s desk during this special session.

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The Texas legislature this year has been defined by a contentious battle between the far-right Tea Party conservatives led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and the more moderate business-minded conservatives of House Speaker Joe Straus.

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One of the overarching struggles in Texas this year has been a pitched battle between cities and the state over who should have the right to make laws for local municipalities. This battle has manifested in myriad ways, from heated debates over bathroom usage and “sanctuary cities,” to arguments over property taxes, school vouchers, and texting-while-driving laws.

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A number of new laws will take effect in Texas next month, reports KTRK.

This September, Texas will become the 47th state to ban texting while driving. The law has drawn criticism from Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, as it preempts Amarillo’s stricter texting-while-driving law.

Texas Senator Kel Seliger also called the law an example of state legislative overreach.

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As the special session continues in Austin, lawmakers in the Texas Capitol passed a number of bills last week aimed at restricting access to abortions for Texas women.

As USA TODAY reports, in just one week, four anti-abortion bills passed the Senate and another passed the House. Texas has frequently made national news over the past few years with its repeated attempts to limit access to abortion.

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In Texas, the biggest political battle of this generation may not be between Democrats and the GOP, but between Centrist Republicans and their far-right counterparts. And the contentious bathroom bill being re-introduced to the legislature this week is the battlefield upon which that war is being waged.

The Los Angeles Times this week published an overview of the bathroom bill and the internecine struggle for the soul of the conservative movement in the Lone Star State.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

In what seems to be an overture to the House, Gov. Greg Abbott added two new education-related issues to his special session call Thursday: school finance reform and increased benefits for retired teachers.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. 

By Aliya Swaby, The Texas Tribune

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In Texas, the special legislative session began yesterday with lawmakers returning to Austin to try to hash out various lingering issues from the contentious regular session. You might be wondering how much the 30-day special session will cost Texas taxpayers.

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A prominent Amarillo politician and state senator had some strong words regarding the special legislative session that begins today in Austin. As Amarillo.com reports, Senator Kel Seliger has called the special session an assault on the ability of local communities in Texas to govern themselves.

“There’s no other way you can look at it,” Seliger added.

Before his successful senatorial campaigns, Seliger was the mayor of Amarillo for eight years—and it’s clear that he still carries something of a mayor’s mentality toward local control.

Many of the 20 items on the special-session agenda are aimed at stifling the ability of local municipalities to decide their own tax policy or even who can use the bathrooms in their communities.

One controversial bill supported by Gov. Greg Abbott would place a limit on how much a city can raise its property taxes, even if the city itself favors the tax raise.   

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A landmark redistricting trial got underway this week in Texas, with prosecutors attesting that Republican lawmakers intentionally redrew district maps in 2013 in order to weaken the voting power of minorities in Texas, a move that would have bolstered the political heft of the GOP and led to an unfair balance of power.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

An upcoming Supreme Court case involving a Colorado wedding cake shop’s refusal to serve a gay couple could have major implications in Texas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, in 2012 a baker at the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado denied service to a gay couple, citing his own religious exceptions to gay marriage. If the high court rules in favor of the baker, the decision could affect a number of recent prominent cases in Texas.

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The Texas Legislature will meet next month in a special session, and LGBT advocates are gearing up for battle once again.

As The San Antonio Current reports, champions of LGBT rights have already named the 2017 Texas legislative session “The Session of Oppression.”

The issue of vehicle inspections gained some attention earlier this year, after the Texas Senate approved a bill that would make the necessity for inspections a thing of the past.

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