Jim Malewitz, Texas Tribune

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Graphic by Todd Wiseman

SAN ANTONIO — The state of Texas faced a healthy dose of judicial skepticism on Saturday as its lawyers laid out final arguments in a trial over whether lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters in enacting current Texas House and Congressional district maps.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas’ new voter identification law fully absolves the state from discriminating against minority voters in 2011, and courts should not take further action in a battle over the state’s old voter ID law, President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice argued in a legal filing Wednesday

Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, nearly two years into his fight against state securities fraud charges, is continuing to get plenty of help from his friends to cover his soaring legal bills.

The Republican accepted nearly $218,000 in 2016 earmarked for his legal defense from “family friends” and others who Paxton says are exempted from state bribery laws that bar elected officials from receiving gifts from parties subject to their authority, according to a newly released financial disclosure statement.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday in a North Carolina gerrymandering case could have major implications for the drawing of political maps nationwide — including Texas' long-disputed redistricting maps.

In a 5-3 decision seen as a major victory for minority rights groups, the court struck down two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling that lawmakers illegally packed African-American voters into them, minimizing their political influence in the state.

Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, accused of misleading a former client who invested in a company in which Uresti has a financial stake, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 charges over his involvement in the alleged investment Ponzi scheme, one of two separate indictments issued Tuesday. 

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

If President Donald Trump picks U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to lead the FBI, it’s not a given that the Texan would sail through the confirmation process in his own chamber.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, on Sunday said he was uneasy about picking Cornyn — or anyone else with a political background — to succeed James Comey, who Trump last week ousted as FBI director amid the agency’s investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. 

Eric Schlegel

The Texas Senate on Wednesday passed legislation requiring three-point seat belts be installed on newly purchased school buses across the state. 

Senate Bill 693, authored by Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, cleared the chamber in a 25-6 vote following strong pushback from one Republican who suggested seat belts make buses less safe.

“Seat belts save lives,” Garcia said on the floor.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Bob Daemmrich

A lot has happened since 2013, when then-Gov. Rick Perry followed through on a threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which investigated public corruption and was housed in the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate tentatively approved legislation Monday that would revamp the state’s voter identification rules, a response to court rulings that the current law discriminates against minority voters.

Following more than an hour of debate, the chamber voted 21-10 to move the bill to a final vote, likely later this week. 

Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Groups suing Texas over its political maps are asking a federal court to block the state's current congressional boundaries ahead of the November 2018 elections.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state's voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send the legislation to the full chamber.

Illustration by Anneke Paterson / Todd Wiseman

Some of Texas’ 36 congressional districts violate either the U.S. Constitution or the federal Voting Rights Act, a panel of federal judges ruled Friday.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Department of Justice is ditching its longstanding position that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minority voters by passing the nation’s strictest voter identification law in 2011, according to lawyers who are challenging the state’s law.

Bob Daemmrich

FBI and IRS agents raided the San Antonio law offices of state Sen. Carlos Uresti on Thursday morning — confiscating documents and other items.

A law enforcement source told the San Antonio Express-News, which first reported the raid Thursday, that it was connected to Uresti’s involvement with a now-bankrupt fracking sand company that he held a financial stake in.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman/Paul Hudson

Texas House and Senate leaders unveiled dueling budget proposals — starting nearly $8 billion apart — in separate moves Tuesday that foreshadowed remarkably different priorities in the two chambers during a legislative session that promises to be even more tightfisted than usual. 

Texas Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson on Tuesday proposed a $213.4 billion two-year base budget.

Cooper Neill for The Texas Tribune

ARLINGTON — North Texas was freezing during a three-day stretch last month, but Mary Garcia refused to turn on the heat in her cramped apartment. She feared that doing so would too quickly drain her pay-as-you-go account with Penstar Power, a Dallas-based electricity provider.

 

On Dec. 19, with just $15.31 in her account and the outside thermometer showing 27 degrees, Garcia composed a plea to Lite-Up Texas, a state program that had long helped low-income folks pay their electricity bills.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Chris Suprun, a Texas Republican elector, caused a stir this year by raising the possibility that he would cast his Electoral College ballot for someone other than President-elect Donald Trump.

Journalists bombarded the Dallas man with questions following his admission. Among them: For whom did he vote in November?

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Thousands of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's followers on social media might believe that terrorists are — in his words —preparing "for their jihad against the state and our nation” from a training compound outside of Houston.

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