Texas Legislature

If you’re a renter in Texas, there may be a clause in your lease you haven’t noticed: a landlord’s lien. The clause gives your landlord the right to come into your home and take your personal belongings if you fail to pay rent.

From Texas Standard.

A bill targeting online sex trafficking is up for a vote today in the U.S. House. Authors of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, say it would make it easier for underage victims or prosecutors to hold websites and online services accountable for sex-trafficking activities that occur on their platforms. But the tech industry has been divided on the issue.

From Texas Standard.

Despite an economy that is reportedly continuing to grow, the state’s budget chief is looking ahead to the next legislative session and warning lawmakers that some bills with hefty price tags are set to come due – and that revenue will be tight.

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A raft of new Texas laws takes effect today, reports The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

One new law will allow retailers to reject a sale if a shopper fails to produce a valid photo ID to match their credit or debit card. The law is an effort to cut down on debit card fraud.

As of Jan. 1, Texas will also unveil a new revamped voter ID law. The new legislation comes after the former ID law was ruled unconstitutional by courts, which charged that the law discriminated against minorities.

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The United States Supreme Court may soon strike down a ban on sports betting that has existed for decades in many states.

But, as The Austin American-Statesman reports, that doesn’t mean Texas Panhandle residents will legally be able to call the local bookie and plop down a grand on the Cowboys anytime soon.  

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If you live in Texas, you might have wondered why you can’t purchase liquor or buy a car on Sunday.

According to The Texas Tribune, these prohibitions are some of the last remnants of the so-called “Blue Laws” in the Lone Star State. These laws have actually been on the books since before Texas—or even the United States—was founded.

The purpose of the laws was to encourage citizens to focus on church and resting on what was widely considered to be the Lord’s Day.

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In Texas, more Democrats are running for public office than at any time in the last couple of decades—and Amarillo is no different from the rest of the state.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, for the first time in ten years state Rep. John Smithee will not run unopposed. Mike Purcell, a retired educator, will run against Smithee for his seat, which covers southern Amarillo and Canyon, and most of the western portion of the Panhandle.

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Two members of the Texas State Senate are pushing back against allegations that they sexually assaulted and harassed women, according to a report published in The Daily Beast and further investigated by The Austin American-Statesman.

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Many Texans may not know that their state has a part-time legislature. State lawmakers only gather once every two years to conduct the business of the Lone Star State. By contrast, the Legislatures of all of the other HPPR states—Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska—meet on a yearly basis.

What’s more: Legislators in Texas only earn a little over $7,000 a year.

You may be wondering, why does the second largest economy in the U.S.—and the 10th largest in the world—only require its lawmakers to meet on a biennial basis?

Texas House Republicans Agree To Select Speaker Candidate In Caucus

Dec 5, 2017
Bob Daemmerich / The Texas Tribune

Texas House Republicans agreed Friday to change their rules for selecting the next house speaker, potentially paving the way for a more conservative leader of the chamber in 2019.

From  The Texas Tribune:

Texas House Republicans agreed Friday to change their rules for selecting the next house speaker, potentially paving the way for a more conservative leader of the chamber in 2019.

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.

Ed Schipul / Wikimedia Commons

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.

Jonathan McIntosh / Wikimedia Commons

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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