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In an order handed down today, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman declared Texas's ban on same-sex marriages "unconstitutional."

The restriction of marriage to the "union of a man and a woman" violates the 14th amendment by excluding same-sex couples, the order says.

Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is out with his list of top priorities for lawmakers in Austin for the next 100 days.

In his first State of the State address, Abbott told a joint session of the Legislature that his emergency items include expanding pre-K education, securing the southern border and ethics reform. And he wants Texas to achieve those goals with lower taxes.

“I will reject any budget that does not include genuine tax relief to Texas employers and job creators. And I will also insist on property tax reduction for Texans,” Abbott said.

Watch: Abbott Delivers State of the State

Feb 17, 2015
Gage Skidmore/Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott delivered his first State of the State address as Texas governor today.

In his address, Abbott highlighted five emergency items for the state's legislative session: early and higher education, road funding, border security and ethics. Watch the governor's speech below.

In New Web Ad, Perry Touts New Hampshire

Feb 16, 2015

From the Texas Tribune:

After taking his Lone Star swagger 2,000 miles east to New Hampshire last week, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry released a new web ad on Sunday celebrating the Granite State's independence.

The ad — which was produced by RickPAC, Perry's federal political action committee — was obtained by the New Hampshire Journal, which called the video the "first campaign-style digital ad of the 2016 cycle."

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

It's about a month into the 84th Texas Legislative session, and this week saw the first cracks in any unified front among the state's Republican leadership.

Just like every Texas legislative session – ever, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House won't always agree on things. And that was highlighted this week in the debate over border security.

Morguefile/flickr

Alabama is now the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage. In January, a federal judge struck down that state’s gay marriage ban, and a federal appeals court let it stand.  

The process went like this:

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Two weeks ago Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick handed out his committee assignments, and, this week, House Speaker Joe Straus did the same. That means the sounds that now fill the House and Senate chambers –  of lawmakers giving congratulatory resolutions – is about to change.

Bills often make the news only to quickly disappear from public discourse. Some, like one that moved in the Legislature this week on open carry, gain attention and momentum. Why do some bills fade away while others don't? The answer sometimes lies with House and Senate committees.

How to Pass a Bill

The journey from bill filing to governor's signature is a long and, about 70 percent of the time, unsuccessful journey.  First up, bill referral, when bills are read for the first time in either the House or Senate and then sent to a committee.

Straus Names Otto as House's Chief Budget Writer

Feb 4, 2015
Todd Wiseman & Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

House Speaker Joe Straus released his committee assignments Wednesday, including new chairmen for the two high-profile committees that will take the lead on writing the budget and crafting tax cuts.

Straus picked state Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, as chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which crafts the chamber's budget plan. Otto, who has served in the House since 2005, has been a member of the Appropriations Committee since 2007. He is the first certified public accountant to serve as the House’s lead budget writer in more than 25 years.

Mengwen Cao/KUT

As he ramps up a possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has revealed through a spokesperson that he "foolishly experimented with marijuana" once as a teenager, but feels it was a mistake and has never tried it since. 

An unnamed Cruz spokesperson made the revelation to the UK paper The Daily Mail. The Cruz campaign confirmed to KUT News that the report is accurate. 

Rand Paul is Making His Play for Texas

Feb 3, 2015
Laura Buckman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Since 1988, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul watched his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, run three noteworthy but quixotic presidential campaigns. 

But if Rand Paul follows through on his own presidential bid — as he’s widely expected to do — he will not be running to pull the GOP over to the libertarian principles he grew up with. The Kentucky senator made clear this weekend during a swing through Texas that he would run to win.

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.

DanPatrick
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.

RickPerryGoodbye
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.

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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.

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