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KUT

An Austin lawmaker has introduced a bill in the Texas Senate that would modify the laws governing “sexting” by minors.

State Senator Kirk Watson worked with Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott to craft the bill. It would create a series of graduated punishments for kids under 18 who transmit sexually-explicit material via cell phones.

    

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart made a stop in Texas a few weeks back to tape a story on the Texas House Speaker's race.  The reason for the trip was the inclusion of some anti-semitic messages in the campaign to oust current Speaker Joe Straus, who is Jewish.  The segment aired Thursday night.  

Austin's state Representative Elliott Naishtat, who's also Jewish, was interviewed for the story but sadly didn't make the final cut.

Image by KUT

Gov. Rick Perry's office sent us this statement:

"Because of winter weather conditions that have created an unprecedented demand on the state's energy grid, many Texans across our state are experiencing power outages today," Gov. Perry said. "Texas power and emergency management experts are working very closely with ERCOT and various utility providers to ensure power is restored as quickly as possible. Until that happens, I urge businesses and residents to conserve electricity to minimize the impact of this event."

Image courtesy of the Texas Tribune

Testimony is underway before a Special Master of Discovery and members of a House select committee to determine a winner in last November's House District 48 election.

Democratic incumbent Donna Howard won the election by 12 votes, following a recount.  But Republican challenger Dan Neil claims that a handful of votes were cast by people not eligible to vote in the Travis County house district.

Image courtesy Al Jazeera English http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/

The political unrest in Egypt has parallels to the recent uprising in Tunisia, but the two countries have their own unique set of political and economic conditions, according to University of Texas political scientist Clement Henry.

Henry is scheduled to chair the political science department at the American University in Cairo this fall. Henry still plans to visit Cairo in March.  He spoke to KUT News by phone.

From our political reporting partner The Texas Tribune comes this video of State Sens. John Whitmire (D-Houston) and Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) debating the importance of voter ID, which Gov. Rick Perry has declared a legislative emergency.  Wondering what the heck that means? The Texas Tribune explains.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Some Texas lawmakers and their staffs will be getting a course in CPR training, starting this week.

The Texas Society Anesthesiologists is organizing the training sessions, with help from the American Heart Association and the Seton Family of Hospitals.  State Rep. John Zerwas (R-Simonton) is an anestheologist and former society president.  He performed CPR on then-State Rep. Edmund Kuempel, after the Seguin Republican suffered a near-fatal heart attack and collapsed in a Capitol elevator during the 2009 legislative session. 

Picture by KUT News

The Texas Senate has added its take on the 2012-2013 Texas budget to the ongoing debate.  The Senate's version spends $158.7 billion.  That's $2.3 billion more than the Texas House's version of the bill.  The additional money includes about $500 million more for both the public education and higher education budgets.

Photo by Torrie Hardcastle for KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry designated pre-abortion sonograms as emergency legislation today at the annual Rally for Life. The rally marks the 38th anniversary of what Perry calls the “tragic” Roe v. Wade court decision, which gave women the legal right to abortion.

Photo by Chris Kosho/KUT.

Gov. Rick Perry has declared two more emergency items for the 2011 legislative session. The new emergency items include legislation that would require voters to show identification at the ballot box, and a bill calling for a new balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and the integrity of the ballot box are critical to the people of Texas,”  Perry said in a press release today.  “Under this emergency declaration, Texas lawmakers will be able to address these priority issues more quickly.”

Since U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s announcement last week that she will not seek re-election to the in 2012, names of several possible candidates, from both major parties, are beginning to surface. And while it’s still early, the GOP appears to be in prime shape to keep the seat regardless of who runs, according to a recent Public Policy Polling poll.

Photo by Chris Kosho for KUT News

Updated at 1:40 pm: We have added audio of Governor Perry's speech and swearing-in ceremony. You may listen to that here, or download the mp3 by right clicking on the player and choosing "Save Link As..."

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Culture war issues might figure less prominently in Texas education politics after the five freshmen members of the State Board of Education are sworn in tomorrow. Two of those five are moderate Republicans replacing socially conservative members of the board who often voted as part of a bloc on controversial issues.

Because religious conservatives did not increase their numbers on the board in the last election, their voting bloc has effectively been reduced from seven members to five.

picture courtesy Michael Williams

 

Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams appears ready to make his campaign to replace U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison a full time job.  Ross Ramsey over at KUT's political reporting partner The Texas Tribune, says Williams will resign his commissioner's seat to focus his efforts on the race for higher office.

Image courtesy office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Update at 1:30 pm:  Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune, KUT's political reporting partner, reports that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst told him, "I'm really focused right now on this session.  I've got my plate full."  Dewhurst said he will talk about his political plans after the session.

Earlier:  Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison announced this morning that she will not seek another term in the Senate in 2012, according to a press aide to the senator.

Image by KUT

The first wave of political rhetoric to follow Saturday's shooting in Tucson, Arizona speculated on whether Jared Loughner was influenced by far right extremism or socialist dogma.

picture courtesy of The Texas Tribune

The referees have been named for the election battle between State Representative Donna Howard (D-Austin) and her Republican challenger Dan Neil.  Texas House Speaker Joe Straus sent out an e-mail today with a list of the 9 lawmakers on the House Select Committee on Election Contest.

Photo by KUT News

The Texas Senate was expected to take up its rules for the 2011 legislative session today.  But, they did not.  In fact they gaveled in and gaveled out in 10 minutes.  

Photo by KUT News

Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus held their 1st weekly breakfast of the 2011 legislative session today.  After the meal (which included eggs, according to Speaker Straus) they met with the Capitol press corps to say basically the same thing they've been saying for the last years:  The state will balance the budget without any revenue increases.  

Texas Governor Rick Perry has handed out the first assignments for lawmakers in the 2011 legislative session.  In separate speeches before lawmakers in the House and Senate, Mr. Perry announced he was making the protection of private property rights and eminent domain along with abolishing sanctuary cities in Texas emergency items for the session.

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