Political news

Liang Shi/KUT News

The Texas legislative session ends Monday, and there's not a bunch left for lawmakers to do between today and next week. No more bills can be voted on. Now it's all about conference committees. Those are the groups made up of five House members and five Senators who will be huddled together in meeting rooms and hallways around the Capitol this weekend, trying to come to an agreement on bills that the House and Senate each passed different versions of.

This week on The Ticket: We continue our review of presidential contenders with an analysis of the Carly Fiorina campaign on Stump Interrupted. And with candidate announcements falling from the sky like rain from a Texas thunderstorm, we talk with Washington Post writer and The Fix blogger Chris Cillizza about how the 2016 race is shaping up.

The entertainment industry was shocked when state legislators slashed $63 million from the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentives Program from the state’s budget. It’s a program that was created in 2008 to attract businesses by giving companies grants for hiring Texas workers to develop film, tv, commercial or video game projects in the state. Now the film and video game industries are trying to figure out what went wrong.

Todd Wiseman/Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a case that centers on how Texas draws its political districts, a longtime point of dispute between the state and voting rights advocates.

The high court said it will take up Evenwel v. Abbott, which involves whether Texas should use total population or voting age population when composing districts. The debate is especially pertinent in Texas, where some districts include many people living in the country illegally who are not eligible to vote. 

House Will Take Up Abortion Insurance Coverage Ban

May 25, 2015
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: In a dramatic turn of events, the House Calendars Committee on Sunday night reversed course and sent a controversial bill prohibiting health insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Act's marketplace from covering abortions to the full chamber for a vote.

Earlier in the night, the committee voted not to place Senate Bill 575 by Republican Sen. Larry Taylor on the lower chamber’s calendar for Tuesday — the last day a Senate bill can be passed by the House. After fireworks on the House floor instigated by a lawmaker who believed he had entered into an agreement to get the bill to the full chamber, the committee reconvened and reconsidered its vote. 

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

After more than six hours — and a testy debate that escalated dramatically when unusual alliances formed between a few Democrats and a group of Tea Party-backed Republicans — the Texas Senate approved a measure loosening state restrictions on handguns Friday.

The legislation allowing Texans with licenses to carry handguns openly eventually passed on a final 20 to 11 vote along party lines.

Patrick Svitek/Texas Tribune

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — Former Gov. Rick Perry on Monday weighed in on the latest issue to animate the GOP’s 2016 presidential field, volunteering that he would not have invaded Iraq knowing what he does now. 

The Ticket: Marco Rubio and Gearge Seay

May 14, 2015
Screenshot courtesy ABC News

This week on The Ticket: We break down the presidential campaign announcement by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and chat with Rubio supporter George Seay, who was Rick Perry's state finance chairman in the 2012 campaign.


Today the Texas Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill — the Pastor Protection Act — that would allow religious ministers the right to deny performing a marriage ceremony to a couple if doing so would violate his or her religious beliefs. While the bill's sponsor, Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), acknowledged an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer that could legalize same-sex marriage, he said the bill is designed to protect clergy members from potential lawsuits.  

KUT News

Elections were held this weekend in a number of cities and school districts in the Austin area, but not in Austin itself. In the Eanes Independent School District, there was a $52.5 million bond proposition, approved by 65% of the votes. Eanes ISD says the bond package addresses capital improvements, replaces buses, improves technology and returns land to campuses by moving district functions into a District Operations Center.


From the Texas Tribune: Epilepsy patients in Texas would have access to medicinal oils containing a therapeutic component found in marijuana under legislation the state Senate passed Thursday.  

Senators voted 26-5 to pass Senate Bill 339, by Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, which would legalize oils containing cannabidiol (CBD), a component found in marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. If the measure passes the House, by 2018, the state would be able to regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication. 

This week on The Ticket: We'll break down the presidential announcement video from Hillary Clinton and interview Garry Mauro, a 4-term Texas Land Commissioner, state campaign director for multiple presidential candidates, and unofficial (for now) worker on the Clinton 2016 campaign.

The Ticket, produced by KUT and the Texas Tribune, is our new podcast focused on the 2016 presidential race.

In the second episode of The Ticket, KUT's Ben Philpott and the Texas Tribune's Jay Root break down the presidential campaign announcement speech of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in another edition of “Stump Interrupted.”

They also talk with Mathew Dowd, who directed President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

Senate Approves Drug Testing for Political Candidates

Apr 29, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Any candidate seeking elected office in Texas would be required to take a drug test when he or she files to run, under a proposal that the state Senate approved Tuesday. But the idea may never take effect, since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned a similar law in the 1990s.

There wouldn’t be any consequences for failing the test under the rule, which was included as an amendment on far-reaching ethics legislation. But the results would be posted on the Texas Ethics Commission’s website.

The Ticket, produced by KUT and the Texas Tribune, is our new podcast focused on the 2016 presidential race.

In the pilot episode of The Ticket, KUT's Ben Philpott and the Texas Tribune's Jay Root bring back the Tribune's “Stump Interrupted” feature to break down Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential announcement speech at Liberty University last month and talk with former Texas GOP Chairman and current Rand Paul campaigner Steve Munisteri.

Liang Shi / KUT News

A point of order from state representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) delayed a vote on a bill that would remove a key function of the Public Integrity Unit. Among the duties of the Unit, a division of the Travis County District Attorney's Office, is investigating allegations of corruption leveled against state-level officials, such as members of the Texas Legislature or employees of state agencies.

Under the bill authored by state representative Phil King (R-Weatherford), that function would go away. Investigation would be the responsibility of the Texas Rangers, an elite division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Prosecution would be handled by the District Attorney's Office in the home county of the accused.   

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The Texas constitution requires lawmakers to pass one bill each session: the state budget, which was under (rather lengthy) discussion last week in the House and in the Senate this week. But governors can push their own to-do list at the start of each session in the form of emergency items.

In February, newly minted Gov. Greg Abbott named five of those priorities during his February State of the State speech, and today we're going to see how those bills are doing, by ranking their legislative progress so far this session.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune; Screenshot from Fox News

First there was Ted Cruz. Then yesterday, Rand Paul joined the mix. Eventually, former Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to announce his run — his second — for the Republican Presidential nomination. His first run, in 2011-12, didn’t end well.

But the former Texas Governor and his team have been working to undo past damage and build a better Perry: Perry 2.0.

Via Win Henerson

Two companion bills in the House and the Senate aim to change the way you interact with your insurance company.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced today that he will seek the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

"I have a message — a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words," he told supporters in Louisville, Ky. "We've come to take our country back."