2011 Legislative Session

Politics
4:00 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Senate OKs "Loser Pays"

The Texas Senate passed a so-called "Loser Pays" bill on a unanimous vote Tuesday.
Photo by Erik Reyna/KUT News

The Senate unanimously passed a major tort reform bill today that would allow courts to grant attorneys' fees to prevailing parties under certain circumstances.

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Politics
9:00 pm
Sat May 21, 2011

The Budget: Where Everything Stands

Lawmakers are poised to get all their budget work done in the next few days.
Photo Courtesy The Texas Tribune

Where did the time go? Texas legislators are a mere nine days away from the end of the session and still have to finish work on several bills to finish up their budget for the two-year period that starts September 1.

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Politics
10:17 am
Sat May 21, 2011

Texas House Gives Smoking Ban Early OK

A final attempt to get a smoking ban passed in Texas had initial success Friday night.
Photo by KUT News

The Texas House tentatively approved a statewide ban on smoking in public places Friday night, adding the measure onto another bill that must pass in order to make the two-year state budget balance.

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Politics
8:54 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Sanctuary Cities Bill Back on Track in Texas Senate

Sen. Williams made the change Friday afternoon.
Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune

Sanctuary cities legislation was revived today and will be sent to the Texas Senate for consideration.

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Politics
12:35 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Budget Delays Affecting UT Health Insurance Program

With no agreement on the budget - those waiting to find out how much money they'll get are delaying some programs.
KUT News

The University of Texas system has informed employees that several health insurance decisions are being put on hold while the Texas legislature tries to figure out how much money its willing to spend on higher education in the next budget.

The letter was followed by an e-mail to those in the UT System highlighting the immediate delays.

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2012 Presidential Election
10:14 am
Fri May 20, 2011

Why Doesn't Anyone Believe Rick Perry When He Says He's Not Running?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry visits with House members to discuss the state budget issues at the back railing on May 19, 2011.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

It’s Rick Perry versus the nincompoops. That’s not a slap at the rest of the Republican field, but at the political chatterers who just can’t or won’t believe the Texas governor when he says he doesn’t want to run for president.

Nobody believes him, which makes it easier for some to contend that he is making a grab at the highest political office in the land.

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Politics
12:17 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

TribLive: "We're Not a Crazy State," Turner Says

At this morning's TribLive conversation, state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, warned his House Republican colleagues about overreaching in exercising their supermajority power.

Politics
1:29 pm
Tue May 17, 2011

Texas Comptroller Adds $1.2 Billion to Available Revenue

Comptroller Combs says Texas economy will provide more revenues in the future.
Photo Courtesy The Texas Tribune

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs gave the state's couches a good search and has come up with an extra $1.2 billion to spend in the next budget biennium.

The increase in funds available for the 2012-2013 budget was based on what her office considers is a strengthening economy. That increase will also send an extra $300 million to the state's so called Rainy Day fund.

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Education
6:19 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

What $7.8 Billion Less Looks Like for Your District

Photo by Ryan Murphy, Morgan Smith and Todd Wiseman

Whether final reductions to the state public education spending end up closer to $7.8 billion or $4 billion, how much districts will individually bear depends on how — or if — the Legislature rethinks the state’s school finance system. 

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Politics
5:39 pm
Sat May 14, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Touch

The Texas House sends a message to the TSA: Watch where you're touching airline passengers.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Senate will consider a bill that would ban public servants from touching people in otherwise private areas of the body during a pat-down search.

Politics
12:23 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

House Deadline Kills Thousands Of Bills

Voting continues in the House, so does the slow debate on some bills.
Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune

Just in case you didn't know, last night was the final night for the Texas House to pass House bills on second reading. That killed (mostly) any bills that didn't get up by then. And there were thousands of bills killed when the clock struck midnight.

Now the House is on to debating House bills on third reading. Passing there sends a bill on to the Senate. The House also a few days left to consider Senate bills. There are upcoming deadlines on those bills too but watching the debate today, you'd never know anyone was in a rush.

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Politics
11:08 am
Thu May 12, 2011

What If Texas Doesn't Pass a School Finance Bill?

With time running out, lawmakers still don't have a new public school funding system that would allow billions of dollars in cuts.
Texas Tribune

Nobody wanted to think about it in January. But as the middle of May approaches, with little more than two weeks left of the 82nd legislative session, a growing chorus of voices is asking: What happens if lawmakers can’t agree on school finance reform?

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Politics
4:01 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

You Will Soon Be Able To Hunt Hogs From Helicopters

The Texas Senate gave final approval to a bill today that would allow farmers to rent spaces in helicopters from which people could hunt feral hogs.
Photo by Dave Govoni (Va bene!) http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgovoni/

Farmers are already allowed to fire up a helicopter and gun down feral hogs tearing up their property. But a bill is now headed to the Governor's desk that will allow property owners to rent out seats in helicopters to anyone willing to pay for the privilege of hunting wild pork from the sky.

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Politics
2:51 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Proposed Senate Map Would Split Travis County In Four Parts

Travis County would be split into four different state senate districts under a proposal by Senate Redistricting Chairman Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). Click to see the existing Travis County boundaries.

Travis County's influence on state politics would be watered down in a proposed redistricting map proposed by Senate Redistricting Chairman Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). The county would be sliced four ways in the redistricting map for the state senate, with each quadrant rolling into more politically conservative counties that surround it.

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Politics
11:25 am
Wed May 11, 2011

Planned Parenthood Prez Wants Texas Bill Squashed

Planned Parenthood president Ceclie Richards says Texas Senate Bill 1854 will limit low income women's access to family planning resources. But the bill's proponents say the state should not provide any funding to any organization that performs abortions.
Photo by mysticchildz http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysticchildz/

After dining with President Obama at a private fundraiser in West Lake Hills last night, Planned Parenthood's national President Cecile Richards was at the State Capitol this morning to rail against a lstate bill that would limit state funding for services provided by her organization.

"We are absolutely committed to ensuring that women in Texas can continue to receive services from Planned Parenthood for basic preventive care," Richards said during a news conference in the Senate Press Room. 

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Politics
5:18 pm
Sat May 7, 2011

Texas House Meltdown Ends in GOP Show of Force

It was a day of procedural maneuvers on the House floor.
Photo Courtesy The Texas Tribune

A day of parliamentary chaos in the House ended with the passage of Gov. Rick Perry’s newest emergency item: a tort reform bill. And a powerful message from Republicans to Democrats: mess with us at your own peril.

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Politics
3:41 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

This Week In Texas Politics

In case you couldn't keep up, our buddies at KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, have got you covered.

Politics
5:03 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Texas House Approves "Choose Life" License Plate

Photo by Ryland Barton

The Texas House voted 94-29 this afternoon to create a “Choose Life” Texas license plate. An identical bill has already passed the Senate. Revenue generated from the license plate will go to support organizations that provide counseling for mothers considering adoption.

Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), the author of the House version of the bill, says that the license plate’s message isn’t political.

“We’re not limiting anybody’s viewpoint. This choose life license plate is going to go benefit adoptions,” Rep. Phillips told his colleagues on the House floor today.

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Politics
3:27 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Planned Parenthood Again in Lawmakers' Crosshairs

Photo by Jacob Villanueva for the Texas Tribune

GOP lawmakers' battle against Planned Parenthood resumed today, as lawmakers on a Senate subcommittee passed out a bill that would renew the Texas Women's Health Program, but prohibit the country's most prominent family planning organization from participating.

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Politics
1:31 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

New Letter to Texas Senators: No Really, Hands Off Rainy Day Fund

Senate Budget Writer Steve Ogden is still trying to get the votes he needs to bring the budget up in the Senate
Picture courtesy The Texas Tribune

Conservative groups that aren't happy with the Senate's budget proposal delivered letters today reminding lawmakers that they don't want ANY of the Rainy Day fund used.

The letter from Texans for a Conservative Budget is actually a reminder of a 2009 letter that told lawmakers to not use any of the Rainy Day fund - unless: "the alternative is higher taxes or essential-program cuts."

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