Political news

From the Texas Tribune:

During an appearance on Fox News Wednesday, former Gov. Rick Perry told host Sean Hannity that he realized how unprepared he was to run for president in 2012.

He started an "intensive program" in late 2012, he said, with domestic policy, foreign policy and monetary policy, "So when I stand on the stage and debate this next time, you're going to see a person who is very, very well prepared and able to talk across the board about the issues that the President of the United States is going to have to deal with as we go into 2017."

Watch: Day After Judge's Ruling, Perry Vows to Keep Fighting Indictment

Jan 28, 2015
Ben Philpott/KUT News

From the Texas Tribune:

Former Gov. Rick Perry decried a criminal case against him as an attack on his right to free speech and amounted to "the criminalization of politics," one day after a judge ruled that the case could move forward.

"I know my actions were right when faced with a public official's illegal, unethical, and embarrassing public behavior," Perry said, referring to Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's drunk driving arrest in 2013.  

KUT News

A judge struck down former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's second request for dismissal of the indictment against him today. This means the case will likely extend for several months more in court, even as Perry continues to mount his presumed presidential campaign.

In August 2014, a Travis County grand jury indicted Perry on two felony charges related to his 2013 veto of funding for the county's Public Integrity Unit.

Bob Daemmrich

From the Texas Tribune:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick cast doubt Tuesday on the possibility that a bill legalizing the open carry of handguns could pass during the current legislative session. 

“Second Amendment rights are very important, but open carry does not reach to the level of prioritizing at this point,” he said. “I don’t think the votes are there.” 

Patrick, whose comments came during an interview with with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith, also left open the fate of another red-meat measure: repealing in-state tuition at Texas community colleges and universities for children of undocumented immigrants. 

Todd Wiseman & Stuart Seeger/Texas Tribune

Agenda Texas is KUT's weekly report on the Texas Legislative session. Each week we'll take a deeper look into the policies being considered and explain what they could mean for you and your life. From transportation to education to the environment and everything in between.

Two weeks down in the 84th Texas Legislature. This one was filled with the pomp of Inauguration Day, and the curious circumstance of the Texas Senate's rules for bringing up a bill. But today's Agenda Texas talks about the state budget.

Out of the billions and billions spent, there are two numbers to focus on to help understand it all.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

With a new lieutenant governor installed for the first time in more than a decade Wednesday — and over the cries of Democrats — the Texas Senate voted to break from an almost 70-year tradition intended to encourage compromise among its 31 members.

Now the approval of only 19 senators instead of 21 will be required to bring legislation to the floor for debate. The change — passed on a vote of 20-10 — has the practical effect of allowing Republicans to consider a bill without a single vote from one of the chamber's 11 Democrats. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, has targeted the tradition known as the two-thirds rule since he first entered the Legislature in 2007.

President Obama's State of the Union address as prepared for delivery on Jan. 20, 2015:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Texas’ new governor and lieutenant governor were inaugurated this morning at the State Capitol. Both delivered remarks, and the two speeches struck very different tones.

For Gov. Greg Abbott, much of the speech focused on thanks and gratitude to the family, friends, and state that allowed him to succeed.

"I am living proof that we live in a state where a young man's life can literally be broken in half, and yet he can still rise up to be governor of this great state,” he said.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Watch below: The Texas Tribune livestreamed the inauguration of Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Agenda Texas is KUT's weekly report on the Texas Legislative session. Each week we'll take a deeper look into the policies being considered and explain what they could mean for you and your life. From transportation to education to the environment and everything in between.

It's KUT's political podcast that let you know what's happening under the dome, and explain how it hits home.


This week, lawmakers from across the state have returned to Austin for the 84th session of the Texas Legislature. The beginning marked the end, at least for now, of the two long political careers of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry.

Bryan Winter/KUT News

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry gaveled in the legislative session today at noon. The one constitutionally required duty for state lawmakers is to pass a budget for the next two years. They have $113 billion to work with – $10 billion more than when lawmakers last met in 2013.

While lower oil prices are putting pressure on Texas economic growth, incoming Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is sticking to his campaign pledge to lower taxes. He and Governor-elect Greg Abbott will be sworn in to office next week, marking the end of Governor Rick Perry’s record 14 years in office.

Hegar: 'Moderate Expansion' of Economy is Expected

Jan 12, 2015
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Amid concerns that tumbling oil prices could push the Texas economy into a recession, Comptroller Glenn Hegar offered a cautiously optimistic tone on the future of the Texas economy Monday, announcing that lawmakers will have $113 billion to haggle over in crafting its next two-year budget.

“Our projections are based on expectations of a moderate expansion in the Texas economy and reflect uncertainties in oil prices and the possibilities of a slowing global economy,” Hegar said.

The biennial revenue estimate sets a limit on the state’s general fund, the portion of the budget that lawmakers have the most control over. The general fund typically makes up nearly half of the state’s total budget.

Courtesy of City of Austin

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Wasting no time, Austin’s newly inaugurated City Council launched into a proposal Thursday to change its meetings and committee structures. The changes, members say, will make for a more efficient, more transparent city government.

For now, the details of the change remain tentative. Council will hold a public hearing Jan. 22 to discuss the change and plan to take up the changes for a vote at the first meeting, set for Jan. 29.

“I’ve been here seven years,” said City Manager Marc Ott. “And I can’t even remember how many times things have gotten to the point of my desk or even to the Council’s agenda where we recognized they had not been fully vetted. So, in other words, we found ourselves dealing with unanswered questions about staffing impact, fiscal impact and other kinds of impacts.”

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

The next Lieutenant Governor of Texas has announced the Senate will not restore funding to the Public Integrity Unit. The operation, based in the Travis County District Attorney's office, had its funding vetoed by Governor Rick Perry in 2013. That came after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested and spent time in jail for drunk driving.

The next Texas governor said his wife is making history as the “first Hispanic first lady of Texas.” The Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas fact-checking team was on the case, digging up ancestry research to assess the validity of Abbott’s claim.

Abbott made the declaration in early December on an episode of Meet the Press.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

Hundreds of people attended the swearing in of Austin's new mayor and City Council last night. Once the council chamber was full, people stood in stairways and hallways and watched on screens as the new council members delivered their first messages to the geographic districts that elected them.

The diversity of those in attendance was significant. In the crowd, there were toddlers in their parents' arms and folks whose age demanded they move with the help of canes. Some wore the most sophisticated brands and others wore simple attire. But the faces of those in the crowd were similar in that they all looked hopeful, according to political consultant and former journalist Mike Madison.

"Even the people here who do this for a living, who have to be here every week, who are going to be fighting with these people going forward on issues that come up – they're still not jaded. They wouldn't be anywhere else,” Madison said.

Austin Public Library

The new Austin City Council being sworn in tonight is historic in that it is the city's first council where the majority of its members – seven out of eleven – are women. 

It took more than a century for the first woman to make it to council. And even after that, Austin's female population continued to struggle for fair representation.

In 1977, Carole Keeton was the first woman to be elected mayor of Austin. No other woman has held that office since.

"Before this election there had only been 15 women – that's counting me as mayor, 14 council members and me as mayor – 15 women since 1839, and now, we've got seven out of eleven,” said Keeton, who calls this election "historic."

The search begins Monday for the jurors who will decide the fate of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It was the deadliest act of terrorism in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks, and the trial is one that many have been waiting for.

A couple of dozen survivors are expected in court for at least part of the trial — including Heather Abbott, who lost a leg in the attack. She's hoping for answers to both why and how the bombing was carried out.

Dozens of congressional staff members walked out of the Capitol at 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday, in a show of support for protesters angered by recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

As momentum grows behind a push to let Texans carry handguns openly, the biggest fight may be among Second Amendment advocates themselves.

A conflict is emerging over how far changes to the current state law should go, and some gun-rights supporters fear that the divide may sink efforts to lift handgun restrictions during the legislative session that begins in January.