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Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

"Who doesn't know what's going on with Dawnna Dukes?"

On a rainy Sunday two days before a case against Dukes, the longtime state representative of House District 46, is scheduled to get a grand jury hearing, Joseph Frederick, 57, asked the question with a laugh while getting his hair cut in Delton's Pecan Street Barber Shop in Pflugerville.

That Other Paper/Flickr

The 2017 Texas Legislative session is underway. State legislators meet every other year for 140 days in a frenzy of debating (sometimes arguing), deal-making, stand-taking, bill-killing and, occasionally, law-making.

We want to know what you want to know about the Legislature: how it works, why it works the way it does and what you want lawmakers to do.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature gaveled in this week, kicking off 140 days of press conferences, hearings, debates and votes on new legislation. But while that action begins to ramp up, another major political pastime is on hold.

Lawmakers are not allowed to raise campaign cash during a legislative session. But that didn't stop the state's top officials from letting potential opponents know how much money they have in the bank.

Bill Clark for The Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial on criminal securities fraud charges is set to begin May 1.

Jury selection will be held April 20-21 and April 27-28, according to a recent order by George Gallagher, the judge presiding over Paxton’s case. He also scheduled a hearing on pretrial motions for Feb. 16.

Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT

This week, state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, announced that she plans to stay in office.

It was just last year that she told voters, as she was running for re-election for House District 46, that she would resign at the beginning of this legislative session. At the time, she cited health reasons. The announcement also came while Dukes was under a criminal investigation, an investigation which is still ongoing.

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Texas allows parents to have their kids opt out of vaccinations for measles, mumps and other diseases. Two years ago, California stopped allowing those exemptions; a similar Texas effort fell short. This session in Austin, the sponsor of that bill isn't trying to end the "conscientious" exemption. His allies are using a different strategy.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

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

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick continued to fire back Wednesday at criticism of the so-called "bathroom bill" he has championed, saying its opponents are concentrated in the media and denying that Texas could experience the same economic — and political — fallout North Carolina did when it passed similar legislation.

 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The NPR Politics team and reporters across the newsroom live-annotated a news conference with President-elect Donald Trump today, fact-checking and providing background to his remarks in real time.

JIM WATSON / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Former Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. The secretary of state nominee, who has never held a position in government, does have extensive experience dealing with foreign countries on behalf of Exxon, where he has worked since 1975.

Texas Tribune/Bob Daemmrich

The 85th session of the Texas Legislature opened Tuesday to lots of pomp, plenty of circumstance and, well, not much else.  

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

NPR's politics team and reporters across the newsroom live-annotated President Obama's farewell address in Chicago last night. 

Via Texas Tribune

Prosecutors will ask a grand jury to indict state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who was sworn into her position earlier today, on charges of misusing campaign funds and tampering with government documents. Travis County prosecutors and the Texas Rangers will bring their case to jurors next Tuesday, the District Attorney’s office confirmed.

Alex Brandon / AP

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, will face the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday for his confirmation hearing. Sessions, a Republican who has served in Congress for two decades, has had his nomination protested for his record on civil rights, voting rights and criminal justice. A key controversy: In 1986, the Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions' nomination to be a federal judge.

Via Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune: State Rep. Dawnna Dukes confirmed to The Texas Tribune in an email Monday that she is not resigning from her post representing House District 46. The confirmation comes two days after news reports surfaced indicating she had changed her mind.

Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune: Facing sluggish economic forecasts amid low oil prices along with billions in tax revenue already dedicated to the state highway fund, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Monday that lawmakers will have $104.87 billion in state funds at their disposal in crafting the next two-year budget, a 2.7 percent decrease from his estimate ahead of the legislative session two years ago.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune: The members of the Texas Legislature may be elected to represent all corners of the state, but they’re not necessarily reflective of it.

White lawmakers make up almost two-thirds of the Legislature, but only 43 percent of the state population is white. Men make up half of the state’s population but hold almost 80 percent of the Legislature's seats. Just about any way you slice the numbers, the makeup of the Legislature is at odds with the state.

With the 85th Legislative Session set to gavel in Tuesday, here’s a look at the demographics of the Legislature by lawmakers’ race, gender, age, education and religion.

Charlie Pearce/Texas Tribune

UPDATE (6 p.m., Saturday): A longtime spokesperson for Rep. Dawnna Dukes told KUT News Saturday evening that the report of Dukes' change of plans would be news to him.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

The intelligence report on Russia's interference in the U.S. elections concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" that aimed to help President-elect Donald Trump.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune


After months of sparring over whether transgender Texans should be allowed to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday officially set the legislative stage for the debate.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: A hotly contested legislative session in 2015 led to two controversial gun laws: One that allows for the open carry of handguns and another that permits the concealed carry of handguns on Texas college campuses. 

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