Politics

Politics
5:50 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Senate Passes Budget Package

Texas Senate Chamber.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News.

The Texas Senate passed a $176.5 billion budget package for the next biennium late this afternoon.  The 19-12 vote clears the way for negotiations with the House to come up with a final budget plan.  The Senate plan makes about 11-billion dollars in cuts, but those cuts aren't as deep as the House version.

Politics
4:24 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Texas House Passes Anti-Bullying Bill

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

An anti-bullying bill has cleared a major hurdle towards becoming law. House Bill 1942 cleared the Texas House by a final vote of 94-41.

The bill, authored by State Rep. Diane Patrick (R-Arlington), hopes to, according to the bill's analysis, "take a preventive approach to reducing bullying in Texas public schools and to provide a minimal framework for schools to use in adopting and implementing a bullying policy, while being cognizant of the local control independent school districts should have in developing policy reflective of their respective communities."

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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
4:18 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Digging Through Comptroller Data Exposure Documents

Lots of info from the Comptroller's office, but nothing on the day the breach was discovered.
Picture courtesy The Texas Tribune

KUT got its batch of emails and other documents relating to last month's announcement that more than 3.5 million Texans had their personal data, including Social Security Number and birth date, exposed by the Comptroller's office.

So far the information is divided into two major categories:

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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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Politics
2:48 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Abortion Sonogram Bill Clears Another Hurdle

Sen. Dan Patrick (l), R-Houston, listens to an amendment by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, during the debate on HB15 on May 2, 2011.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Senate lawmakers have tentatively passed a controversial measure to require women seeking abortions to receive sonograms — and have the details of the fetus described to them — prior to the procedure. Pending a final vote tomorrow, the bill will head back to the House so the lower chamber can sign off on the Senate's changes. 

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Politics
4:52 pm
Fri April 29, 2011

Senate Approves "Bath Salts" Ban

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman

Don’t trust the name “bath salts,” warned state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls.

“Bath salts has nothing to do with taking a bath and has nothing to do with salt,” Estes said. “Bath salts” are a drug that can have effects similar to cocaine or amphetamines and can be bought legally online or in smoke shops.

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Politics
2:58 pm
Fri April 29, 2011

House Committee Approves Tax Breaks For Yachts

Image courtesy Chrissy Olson http://www.flickr.com/photos/islandgyrl/131024031/lightbox/#/photos/islandgyrl/131024031/

Hold on to your yacht club officer hats! The Texas House Ways and Means Committee has approved a tax break for big yachts, the San Antonio Express News reports.

The bill, authored by State Rep. John Davis (R-Houston) would limit Texans’ sales tax on boats to $18,000, matching Florida’s sales tax, regardless of the cost of the yacht.

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Politics
4:11 pm
Thu April 28, 2011

Texas Comptroller Combs: "I Am Responsible" For Security Breach

Comptroller Susan Combs giving the biennial revenue estimate in Austin January 10, 2011.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has announced another move to help the 3.5 million Texans who had their personal data exposed by her state office. Earlier initiatives to help Texans in the Teacher's Retirement System, Employees Retirement System and Texas Workforce Commission provided discounted subscriptions to credit monitoring services.

Now, Combs says she'll use campaign funds to pay for one year of credit monitoring and Internet surveillance - along with identity restoration services. Combs talked with Ben Philpott, who covers state politics and policy for KUT and the Texas Tribune, about the data breach. You can hear the full interview below.

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Politics
3:14 pm
Thu April 28, 2011

Ogden: Still No Budget Deal in Texas Senate

State Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Senators left a meeting this morning looking no closer to an agreement on the budget — and Finance Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the method of financing remains the sticking point.

“If we’re not going to use the Rainy Day fund when it’s raining, we might as well get rid of it," Ogden told reporters after this morning's caucus. "This is what it’s for.”

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Politics
1:38 pm
Thu April 28, 2011

Proposed Congressional Map Angers Democrats

A proposed map of Travis County's congressional seats following redistricting.
Image courtesy Office of Rep. Lloyd Doggett

A proposed map of new Congressional districts in Texas has one incumbent representative steaming mad.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) issued a statement about the map earlier today, claiming it effectively splits Travis County up into four Congressional districts.

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Politics
9:35 am
Mon April 25, 2011

Lobbying for the Texas Budget

The Texas Public Policy Foundation has thrown its support behind the House budget
Graphic courtesy the Texas Public Policy Foundation

The Texas Senate is expected to vote on its version of the state budget this week. Their plan spends about $12 billion more than the House, including increased spending in education and healthcare. A raucous House/Senate conference committee is expected, as the two sides try to work out the differences.

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Politics
11:31 am
Thu April 21, 2011

Texas Senate Budget Spends Another $3 Billion From Rainy Day Fund

In an 11-4 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved a spending plan that draws another $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Senate Finance Committee has approved a budget that spends down an additional $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day fund, according to our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune.  The 11-4 vote came faster than expected this morning, and it sets up a showdown between House and Senate lawmakers.

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Politics
5:17 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Comptroller Offeres Additional Credit Protection

Comptroller Combs offeres 2nd credit monitoring discount.
Photo Courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

Comptroller Susan Combs is continuing to clean up the privacy mess her office made when it exposed the Social Security numbers and birth dates of about 3.5 million Texans. In a press release, Combs said her office had negotiated a 2nd discounted credit monitoring subscription for those affected by the security breach.

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