Greg Abbott

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor a two-month long U.S. military exercise scheduled to be held in Bastrop County this summer. The move comes amid suspicions from some residents (and the Internet) about the motivations behind the training.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The Texas constitution requires lawmakers to pass one bill each session: the state budget, which was under (rather lengthy) discussion last week in the House and in the Senate this week. But governors can push their own to-do list at the start of each session in the form of emergency items.

In February, newly minted Gov. Greg Abbott named five of those priorities during his February State of the State speech, and today we're going to see how those bills are doing, by ranking their legislative progress so far this session.

The Obama administration wants to move forward with its Deferred Action Program that would shield some illegal immigrants from deportation. But a federal court halted the administration's program last week.

On Monday, the administration asked the court to lift last week's order. In its request, the administration is offering options: Let the program go forward nationwide or let it go forward everywhere except in Texas.

Watch: Abbott Delivers State of the State

Feb 17, 2015
Gage Skidmore/Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott delivered his first State of the State address as Texas governor today.

In his address, Abbott highlighted five emergency items for the state's legislative session: early and higher education, road funding, border security and ethics. Watch the governor's speech below.

Rep to Staff: Ask Muslim Visitors to Pledge Allegiance

Jan 29, 2015
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Freshman state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, was not in Austin today to celebrate Texas Muslim Capitol Day. But she left instructions for the staff in her Capitol office on how to handle visitors who were, including asking them to declare allegiance to the United States.

"I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws," she posted on Facebook. "We will see how long they stay in my office."

Texas' First Execution of the Year Set for Wednesday

Jan 21, 2015
Andres Rueda/via Flickr

The first Texas execution of 2015 is scheduled to happen today sometime after 6 p.m.

Arnold Prieto, 41, will be put to death for the murder and robbery of three people in 1993 in Bexar County. Two of the victims were Prieto's own great-aunt and great-uncle. No late appeals were filed to try to stop the execution from taking place.

Not only is this the first execution of the year, it is the first execution to happen under the governorship of Greg Abbott. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Texas’ new governor and lieutenant governor were inaugurated this morning at the State Capitol. Both delivered remarks, and the two speeches struck very different tones.

For Gov. Greg Abbott, much of the speech focused on thanks and gratitude to the family, friends, and state that allowed him to succeed.

"I am living proof that we live in a state where a young man's life can literally be broken in half, and yet he can still rise up to be governor of this great state,” he said.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Watch below: The Texas Tribune livestreamed the inauguration of Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick.

Gage Skidmore

Several events take place in Austin today as part of the inauguration of Texas’ new governor and lieutenant governor, from a swearing-in ceremony to a black-tie ball.

The day kicks off on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol at 11 a.m. Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick will take the oath of office, and so the 48th governor and 42nd lieutenant governor of Texas will be sworn in.

Kate McGee/KUT News

The sun is just beginning to rise as Denise Cisneros greets her pre-school students at the Lucy Read Pre-K center as they enter her classroom.

"How are you going to greet me today?" Cisneros asked a student at the front of the line.

"I would like a bug hug please," the little girl replied, giving Cisneros a hug before walking into the classroom.

Austin ISD offers full-day pre-K programs, but has to pay for half of the program itself because Texas only funds half-day preschool programs for qualifying students: low-income students, English Language Learners, and students with learning disabilities. But lawmakers filed at least four bills to require all school districts to offer free, full-day pre-kindergarten classes. Austin ISD would like to offer universal pre-K to all students. This year, Austin ISD also started a few pre-K programs for three-year-olds.

Bryan Winter/KUT News

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry gaveled in the legislative session today at noon. The one constitutionally required duty for state lawmakers is to pass a budget for the next two years. They have $113 billion to work with – $10 billion more than when lawmakers last met in 2013.

While lower oil prices are putting pressure on Texas economic growth, incoming Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is sticking to his campaign pledge to lower taxes. He and Governor-elect Greg Abbott will be sworn in to office next week, marking the end of Governor Rick Perry’s record 14 years in office.

The next Texas governor said his wife is making history as the “first Hispanic first lady of Texas.” The Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas fact-checking team was on the case, digging up ancestry research to assess the validity of Abbott’s claim.

Abbott made the declaration in early December on an episode of Meet the Press.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott says his staff is ready to get to work when the 2015 legislative session begins in January. At a press conference on Monday, he laid out his priorities.

Education started off the list. Abbott says he wants more pre-kindergarten classes and improved reading and math skills by the time students reach the third grade. He says he also wants to elevate the quality of Texas universities.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Texas is part of a lawsuit filed by 17 states over President Obama's executive action on immigration. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Federal District Court in Texas and names the heads of immigration enforcement agencies as defendants. 

Mariana Salazar for KUT

President Barack Obama announced broad changes to national immigration policy last night, affecting up to five million undocumented U.S. residents.

Immigrants who have been living in the United States for at least five years, who have children who are U.S. citizens or whose children are legal residents, may stay in the U.S. temporarily without fear of deportation, provided they register with the government, pass a criminal background check and pay their taxes. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Governor-elect Greg Abbott says he has a plan to unite Texas, and it includes whom he appoints to key state offices.

In fact, Abbott began reaching out to minority groups as part of his landslide election victory. He says he’ll continue those efforts to communicate with minorities as governor.

He says he recently attended a Texas Legislative Black Caucus meeting, and he’s picked a Hispanic to be the next secretary of state, pending senate confirmation -- Judge Carlos Cascos of the Rio Grande Valley.

Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich

This year's governor's race was billed as the first actual competitive race for Texas governor since Ann Richards lost to George Bush in 1994. Current Governor Rick Perry was stepping down, making way for Attorney General Greg Abbott to take the GOP nomination. Newly-minted national political celebrity State Senator Wendy Davis made a run for Democrats.

But unless something unexpected happens today, the race could be a repeat of the GOP 12 point win in 2010.

The race opened with Abbott finally stepping out of Governor Perry's nearly 14 year shadow. Perry announced he would not seek a fourth full term on July 8th. Less than a week later, after years of waiting...and raising a bunch of money, Abbott finally announced his run for the governor's office.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

There seems to be a clear line dividing the Texas governor and lieutenant governor candidates this election year: girls on one side, boys on the other. But these gender differences may be more than trivial. They can affect the candidates’ experiences running for office. Across party lines, women engage in more grassroots campaigning and, according to some women’s organizations, have a harder time asking for money.

screen capture of Glenn Hager video

Early voting wraps up today. Candidates have spent the last two weeks focused on get-out-the-vote efforts, making sure supporters don't forget to cast a ballot. But campaigns have also released final campaign videos, maybe in hopes of winning the votes of those few remaining undecided Texans.

These ads can take many different forms, from traditional television ads to testimonials from supporters. So for your viewing pleasure, we've compiled a short list of ads from the state's top races that have been released in the last week.

Mark Graham / Cooper Neil via the Texas Tribune

Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis are in the home stretch of their battle to become the next Texas Governor. And by now, the candidates have done pretty much all they can to make sure voters know who they are and what their plans for are for the state. But just in case you weren't sure, here's a look at the differences, and similarities, between the two on 5 specific issues.

Let's start with education, specifically K-12 public schools.

Here, and you might see a pattern throughout this story, both candidates say they want Texas to have an elite public school system.

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