Politics

Political news

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.

Photo by KUT News

And then there were three.

State Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) has announced he's running to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.  The Associated Press reports that Rep. Paxton has thrown his hat into the ring because voters sent a message "that they favor leadership dedicated to protecting our freedoms and fighting government growth."

Conservative Republicans have been critical of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) for not being conservative enough.  Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) has already announced that he's challenging Rep. Straus for the Speaker's chair.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Republicans have 99 seats in the 2011 Texas House. They’re 16 votes away from having an even 100.

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) hung on to her House District 48 seat by 16 votes, after absentee ballots were added into the Election Night totals. Republican challenger Dan Neil hasn’t said publicly whether he’s going to call for a recount…yet.

Texas house Speaker Joe Straus has responded to Rep. Bryan Hughes's accusation that someone on his leadership team threatened to change the districts of lawmakers that don't back Straus. His statement in full is below. "These allegations are outrageous and I have a call into Rep. Hughes to insist that he name the individual with whom he had this alleged conversation.  I did not and would never authorize, allow, or condone linking redistricting in any way with the Speaker’s race, and anyone who knows me knows better than to give that assertion any credence.    When Rep.

Long hallway in the State Capitol
Photo by KUT

UPDATE:

Today Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) withdrew his pledge for Straus. In a statement he said he made his decission after receiving a phone call from an unnamed lawmaker he says is on Straus's leadership team.

Texas House District 44
Image of HD 44 courtesy Texas Legislative Council

Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered a special election for December 14 in House District 44.  State Representative Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin) died of a heart attack Thursday after being reelected there on November 2.

George W. Bush isn't the only high profile Texas Republican on a book tour. Texas Governor Rick Perry, fresh off his reelection victory last week, is touring the East Coast in support of his new critique of the federal government, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.

Last night he appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Here's the segment.

George W. Bush
Official photograph portrait of former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Former President George W. Bush's presidential memoir goes on sale today. The Dallas Morning News reports that hundreds are lined up this morning at a Border's store about a mile from Bush's home in Dallas.

More than 500 people, some of whom camped out overnight, had shown up this morning at the Borders at Preston Road and Royal Lane for a chance to meet the former commander in chief and buy his new memoir, Decision Points.

Democratic incumbent Donna Howard has defeated her Republican challenger Dan Neil in House District 48.

Travis County Elections released final results tonight including provisional ballots (such as those cast by service members overseas):

Howard (DEM) 25,026 48.54%

Neil (REP) 25,010 48.51%

Ben Easton (LIB) 1,1518 2.94%

Travis County says results will be presented to the County Commissioners Court for final canvass on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Senator Kirk Watson of Austin are proposing an initiative to help curb "sexting" in Texas. Sexting is a relatively recent phenomenon where teenagers exchange sexually explicit text messages or images.

State Representative Debbie Riddle
Image courtesy Debbie Riddle Campaign

Today was the first day to file bills for the 2011 legislative session and State Representative Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) slept on the floor outside the Chief Clerk's office for two days to ensure she would be first in line.

Rick Perry is on the road promoting his new book
Photo by KUT News

As recently re-elected Governor Perry continues his promotional tour for his new book FED UP! Our Fight to Save America From Washington, we here at KUT thought it’d be a good idea to see how the third-termer was faring out there in the non-Texas states.

First, a NPR interview with the man himself:

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