Political news

Dollar bill cut by scissors
Courtesy the Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislative leadership has sent a letter to state agencies announcing another round of immediate budget cuts. In the letter, Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus directed each agency to propose another 2.5% in cuts for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.

A release today said the cuts were needed, even though sales tax receipts have improved, to prepare for budget reductions in the 2012-2013 biennium.

Even while calling for additional cuts, Gov. Perry had a sunny message:

Barack Obama
Image courtesy Barack Obama http://www.flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/

President Obama issued the first pardons of his tenure as Commander-In-Chief today, if you don't include the traditional turkey pardons on Thanksgiving eve.  Obama let nine people off the hook.

Here are the two from Texas.

Timothy James Gallagher -Navasota, Texas

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine; 21 U.S.C. § 846. Sentence: Oct. 18, 1982; District of Arizona; three years of probation.

Scoey Lathaniel Morris -Crosby, Texas


The U.S. House voted today to censure Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY).  Rangel had apologized and asked for leniency from the House.  He was hoping for a private rebuke rather than a public censure after being found guilty of 11 counts of House ethics violations.  But the House overwhelmingly voted to conduct its first public rebuke since the 1980's.

SCRAM bracelet
Image courtesy SCRAM

State Senator Jane Nelson filed this bill last month that would require some drunk driving offenders to wear alcoholic monitoring anklets, like the one actress Lindsey Lohan had to wear earlier this year.

Chuck Norris
Image courtesy Aaron Webb http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronw79/

For years, Chuck Norris played a Texas Ranger in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger.

Map of Texas House District 48
Image courtesy Texas Legislature

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) could find out this week if she will keep her seat or surrender it to her Republican challenger, sports radio host Dan Neil.

Howard won the November 2 election by a narrow 16 votes. Neil requested a recount. This morning, the Travis County Clerk emailed us this press release to let us know the recount has begun.

House District 48 Recount Underway

Obama birth certificate
Image courtesy FactCheck.org

Is there anything the national broadcast media loves more than a beatdown of a radically conservative politician? If so, State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) is making it way too easy for Anderson Cooper.

Despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Berman took the bait last night on CNN.

You know I really don't know. If you look at my white hair, you can tell I've been around for awhile. And I've known everything about every president that I've come across for the last 70 some-odd years. I don't know anything about President Obama. I wish I did.

Check out the video.

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Photo by KUT

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison renewed attacks on the federal heath care bill yesterday during a floor speech in the Senate.  Hutchison called some of the new law’s tax reporting requirements are an “overbearing government intrusion on free enterprise in our country” in her floor speech Monday.

Korean Penninsula
Image courtesy Google Map Imagery, TerraMetrics, Mapabc, SK M&C, Zenrin

Relations between North and South Korea aren't exactly okey dokey these days. In March, North Korea sank a South Korean naval warship, killing 46 sailors.  Last week, the North shelled a South Korean island. Four people were killed then. We've also learned about the North's large uranium enrichment facility.

DeLay Found Guilty

Nov 24, 2010
Tom DeLay mug shot
Image courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office.

A Travis County jury has convicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on conspiracy and money laundering charges.  Delay was accused of illegally funneling corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.
The crimes carry a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison, effectively a life sentence. DeLay's lawyer,Dick DeGuerin, indicated that he would prefer a judge to sentence his client instead of a jury. DeGuerin also made clear DeLay's intention to appeal the conviction.

home construction in Austin TX
Image by KUT News

Farmers Insurance wants to raise it's home insurance rate by nearly 4% next year.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Farmers' filled a 3.9% rate increase with the Texas Department of Insurance on Tuesday.  The rate would will affect about half of the company's Texas customers. 

Curious to know if your school district is taking payments from gas drilling companies? Dying to hear the 911 tapes from a campus lockdown set off by a fake gun? That's just a taste of the information you can unearth with the help of Texas' Open Records Act, and you don't even need to be a lawyer to do it.  

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Updated at 5:35pm: After the jury asked several questions of the judge during their deliberations, Judge Pat Priest says he will send jurors home for the night, without weighing in on one of their questions.  Deliberations will resume in the morning.

Updated at 1:43 pm: Closing arguments have finished the case has been handed to the jury.

Earlier: Lawyers in the  trial of former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay are finishing their closing arguments today. 

In case you missed it yesterday, here's our Governor's Sunday TV appearance. He attracted some attention for calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" and not directly answering a question over whether he would support its dismantling.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas
Photo courtesy Talke Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/talkephotography/

We already knew gaming lobbyists were pushing hard  to convince lawmakers that one answer to the whopping budget gap could be found at the Blackjack tables. But what kind of adult wonderland do these people envisage? 

Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) celebrates GOP victories on Election Night
KUT News

Over the last few days there have been reports of campaign phone calls being made to voters in Dallas and San Antonio telling Republicans the "Christian" thing to do would be to elect a new speaker.  Supporters of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) say the calls are anti-Semitic...since the speaker is Jewish.

This afternoon speaker  candidates Ken Paxton (R-McKenny) and Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) released a statements rejecting the idea that faith has anything to do with the race.  You can read Chisum's statement below.


Image courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Center

George W. Bush broke ground today on his new Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The $300 million facility isn't slated to open until 2013, but our friends at the Dallas NPR station KERA got a tour of some of the items that will be on display.  Take a look.

Texas State Capitol Building
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Sen. Kirk Watson is getting some face time in the local media today because of a legislative preview he held this morning at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. KXAN says Watson called on Texas Comptroller Susan Combs to release detailed numbers on the state's finances.

People voted all Republican or all Democratic at the highest rate of any gubernatorial election in twelve years, according to a study by Austin Community College's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies (CPPPS).

Texas is one several states that allows people to check one box for a political party, which prompts the electronic voting machine to fill in the "X" automatically for every race on the ballot.  The CPPPS study showed almost 58 percent chose that option in the most recent election.