Politics

2015 Legislative Session
12:24 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Bill Filings Begin: Four Things to Look for in the 2015 Texas Legislature

The Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13, but what will lawmakers be considering?
Liang Shi for KUT

It's that time of the biennium.

The 84th Texas Legislature is just a few short months away, and state lawmakers are already filing their bills for the first Rick Perry-less session this side of the millennium. So far, the bills include legislative pet projects like texting and driving bans, open carry initiatives and tax cuts. Other proposals target tougher statewide issues like transportation funding and state budgeting.

You can find a roundup of issues that state lawmakers are considering below.

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Texas Standard
3:31 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

What Conventional Wisdom Gets Wrong About Texas Politics

The Texas Delegation at the Republican National Convention in 2008
Tom LeGro for PBS NewsHour Flickr; https://flic.kr/p/5ixDyb

For much of this election year there was powerful conventional wisdom about the race for governor in Texas: Democrat Wendy Davis couldn’t win, Republicans couldn’t lose and Texas wouldn’t change.

Now that Election Day has come and gone, it’s clear that that conventional wisdom got a good bit right. But in the eyes of author and commentator Richard Parker, [it] got a good bit wrong as well. 

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Politics
2:33 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

What's In Store For The Texas Legislature?

The Texas House of Represenative chambers
flickr.com/garyjd

Now that the elections are over the big question on everybody’s mind is – what now? What changes will we see coming in the state and what battles will be fought in the halls of the Texas Legislature? If Texas knows anything - it’s how to make legislative waves. In recent memory Texas gained national notoriety for a variety of topics ranging from its voter ID law to its much debated abortion restrictions.

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Texas Standard
12:47 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Did Campaign Ads Work in Texas?

A still from Wendy Davis' controversial "wheelchair" ad.
youtube.com

Now that Election Day's come and gone, you've probably noticed something different on your television screen – the election cycles' wide assortment of political ads have finally relented.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, about $62 million was spent on campaign ads in Texas this election cycle – earning it the No. 2 spot on ad spending nationally.  

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2014 Texas Elections
10:30 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Biographies Collide in Race for Texas Comptroller

Mike Collier (D) and Glenn Hegar (R) each believe their work experience will make them a good Comptroller.
via Texas Tribune

The Texas Comptroller has the very important job of telling lawmakers how much money they have to spend in each 2-year budget. Getting that answer wrong can lead to millions or billions in unnecessary budget cuts.

The top two candidates running this year both say they'll be the person to make the office better.

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2014 Texas Elections
9:00 am
Tue November 4, 2014

The Invisible Campaign for Texas Attorney General

Democrat Sam Houston (left) has been alone on the campaign trail, as Republican Ken Paxton (right) has made few public appearences.
Texas Tribune: Michael Stravato / Cooper Neill

Texas is a Red state. All things being equal, if two candidates have equal access to money and equal get out the vote efforts, the Republican is going to be favored and might even win by double digits.

The 2014 race for Texas Attorney General is setting up to be a pure representation of that Republican advantage.

The GOP nominee, State Senator Ken Paxton, has refused to speak to the press, has made almost no public campaign appearances. He has admitted to violating state securities law, and hasn't released a campaign ad since his GOP primary. And yet, recent polls have him 20 points ahead of Democrat Sam Houston.

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2014 Texas Elections
7:00 am
Tue November 4, 2014

The Race for Texas Lieutenant Governor

State Senator Dan Patrick (left) and state Senator Leticia van de Putte.
Credit Bob Daemmrich / Alyssa Banata/Texas Tribune

It's known as the most powerful office in Texas government. And for the first time in 12 years, this Election Day, Texans will choose a new Lieutenant Governor to run the Texas Senate.

Republican nominee state Senator Dan Patrick defeated the incumbent David Dewhurst in a rough GOP primary, where the candidate who won the title as the 'most conservative' won the voters' favor.

Patrick has taken up the mantle of Tea Party crusader in the Texas Legislature. If elected, he has promised to do things that the most conservative activists have wanted to see for years. He's pushing for the elimination of a Senate rule that requires a bill to have support of two-thirds of senators before it can come up for vote.

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2014 Texas Elections
6:15 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Central Texas Boasts Many Legislative Races, Little Intrigue

Credit Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis have criss-crossed the state and spent millions on who will be the state's next governor. But here in Central Texas, the local races for state office have left little to no intrigue.

Now, we're not the Associated Press; we're not calling races. And KUT doesn't endorse candidates. But, there are a number of races where, barring an upset of historic proportions, we already know who's going to win.

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2014 Texas Elections
5:05 am
Tue November 4, 2014

A Lyrical Guide to Austin's Long Election Day Ballot

A ballot this long can have all the drama and emotion of a night at the opera.
flickr.com/photos/philippeos/

It's finally Election Day.

After months of campaigning, thousands of commercials, and tons of ads stuffing your mailbox, statewide and local races will be decided today. But be warned, with Austin’s city elections moving to November, this year's ballot is LONG.

But luckily, KUT's Ben Philpott is here with a lyrical guide to getting through the ballot.

2014 Texas Elections
4:32 am
Tue November 4, 2014

In Davis vs. Abbott, Hopes For a Competitive Race for Texas Governor

State Senator Wendy Davis (left) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (right).
Credit Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich

This year's governor's race was billed as the first actual competitive race for Texas governor since Ann Richards lost to George Bush in 1994. Current Governor Rick Perry was stepping down, making way for Attorney General Greg Abbott to take the GOP nomination. Newly-minted national political celebrity State Senator Wendy Davis made a run for Democrats.

But unless something unexpected happens today, the race could be a repeat of the GOP 12 point win in 2010.

The race opened with Abbott finally stepping out of Governor Perry's nearly 14 year shadow. Perry announced he would not seek a fourth full term on July 8th. Less than a week later, after years of waiting...and raising a bunch of money, Abbott finally announced his run for the governor's office.

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Politics
8:33 am
Mon November 3, 2014

As Planned, Right-To-Die Advocate Brittany Maynard Ends Her Life

This undated photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, who ended her life on Saturday.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 12:33 pm

Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor, went through with her plan to end her life on Saturday at her home in Oregon.

Maynard, who spoke publicly about her choice to end her life, revived the debate of assisted suicide in the United States.

In an obituary posted to her site on Sunday night, Maynard is said to have had a "brief but solid 29 years." This past year, she was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor.

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Texas Standard
3:48 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Texas Learns High Voter Registration Doesn't Always Mean High Turnout

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Today's the last day of early voting in Texas.

Reports had voter turnout trending well above average on that first day of polling, but that narrative has since fizzled. The Texas Tribune reports overall voter turnout is down in most of the state, compared to the last midterm election in 2010 ­– or at least so far. So what happened?

Texas Standard’s David Brown sits down with Regina Lawrence, the director for the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and a professor at UT-Austin, to discuss Texas’ voter turnout. 

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2014 Texas Elections
2:40 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Texas Candidates Release Last Second Ads

Glenn Hegar's recent ad.
screen capture of Glenn Hager video

Early voting wraps up today. Candidates have spent the last two weeks focused on get-out-the-vote efforts, making sure supporters don't forget to cast a ballot. But campaigns have also released final campaign videos, maybe in hopes of winning the votes of those few remaining undecided Texans.

These ads can take many different forms, from traditional television ads to testimonials from supporters. So for your viewing pleasure, we've compiled a short list of ads from the state's top races that have been released in the last week.

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2014 Elections
12:22 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Lack of Early Voting Locations in Dove Springs Concerns Residents

Credit Photo by KUT News

Isabel Rios is standing outside the Fiesta Supermarket on Stassney Lane, approaching shoppers as they walk toward the store. It's the only early voting location near Dove Springs.

"Hola!" she says, walking toward a couple shoppers. "Hello. Votan? Votan, señoras?” 

Rios is stumping for District 2 city council candidate Edward Reyes at Fiesta, the closest early voting location to the Dove Springs neighborhood. She and Reyes say their job has turned from campaigning to encouraging people to vote at all. 

“Just talking and encouraging people to vote," Rios says. "Trying to engage people as we can.”

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Texas Governor's Race
6:00 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Before You Vote: 5 Things to Know About the Texas Governor's Race

Abbott and Davis have filled the airwaves explaining their plans for Texas.
Mark Graham / Cooper Neil via the Texas Tribune

Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis are in the home stretch of their battle to become the next Texas Governor. And by now, the candidates have done pretty much all they can to make sure voters know who they are and what their plans for are for the state. But just in case you weren't sure, here's a look at the differences, and similarities, between the two on 5 specific issues.

Let's start with education, specifically K-12 public schools.

Here, and you might see a pattern throughout this story, both candidates say they want Texas to have an elite public school system.

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Politics
6:35 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Are Wendy Davis' Book Sales That Bad?

State Sen. Wendy Davis released her book Sept. 9.
Texas Tribune

Democrat for Texas Governor Wendy Davis sold at least 4,450 hard copies of her memoir Forgetting to Be Afraid since it was published on September 9th, Nielsen BookScan reports. Conservatives have bashed the number as dismal, but some independent book industry veterans say the sales figure is actually respectable.

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2014 Elections
10:46 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Some Low-Profile Local Races Go Unnoticed at the Bottom of the Ballot

Get comfortable at the polls, voting could take a while.
Photo by Marjorie Cotera for the Texas Tribune

There’s been plenty of attention this election season at the top of the ballot – to the governor’s race. But some local ballots in Texas can be up to 4 pages long. And voter attention spans drop off dramatically after checking the box for governor.

In 2010, the gap between those who voted for governor and lieutenant governor statewide was more than 44,000. That's 44,000 people who walked into the voting booth, check governor, and said, "I'm done."

It's what Rice University political scientist Mark Jones calls "drop-off."

So, why's it so hard for voters to completely fill out a ballot?

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2014 Elections
10:44 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Ahead of Elections, Perry Channels the Gipper in Reagan Library Speech

Gov. Perry at a press conference announcing the state's infectious disease task force on October 7, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California last night, talking about next week's elections.

Perry's speech played off a 1964 speech by Reagan called – perhaps fittingly, in light of Perry’s presidential aspirations – “A Time for Choosing,” which launched the career of the “Great Communicator” and future president.

However, presidential allusion aside, the speech wasn’t Rick Perry throwing his hat into the ring for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

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Politics
5:14 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Who Sounds More Texan: Greg Abbott or Wendy Davis?

Marjorie Kamys Cotera & Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

The words a political candidate uses mean a lot. But how those candidates say those words can make a big difference, too. Especially in a place like Texas.

UT linguist Lars Hinrichs studies the Texas accent. He and some students wanted to see how the two leading candidates for Texas governor match up when it comes to sounding Texan.

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2014 Elections
9:51 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Block-Walking Ramps Up as Election Season Winds Down

Canvassers Mark Sterling (left) and Christopher Nicholson (right) are hitting the pavement to raise awareness for the Wendy Davis campaign this week before the end of early voting on Friday.
Ben Philpott/KUT

We're finally in the home stretch of the 2014 elections. And while you're likely to see dozens of campaign ads on TV this last week...it's a knock on a door that may determine the outcome of several elections. The "get out the vote" campaigns being run by Republicans and Democrats are ramping up before the end of early voting this week.

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