Politics

Politics
11:59 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Fight on 2/3rds Rule Delayed in Senate

There wasn't as much action under the Capitol Dome today, as some had expected.
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.  

Read more
Politics
10:42 am
Wed January 12, 2011

The Big 3 Lay Out Session Goals

Gov. Perry, Speaker Straus and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst stay on "No New Taxes" message
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.  

Read more
Politics
4:37 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Governor Names Emergency Items

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.

Read more
Politics
2:20 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Straus Elected House Speaker

The Texas House prepares to elect a speaker for the 82nd legislature
Ben Philpott/KUT

Republican Joe Straus of San Antonio has been re-elected as speaker of the Texas House by a 132-15 vote; two Republicans abstained. He fended off a challenge from conservatives who wanted to replace him with one of their own. Some conservative groups warned the speaker’s vote would serve as a litmus test for lawmakers’ performance at the end of the session.

politics
2:28 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Tom DeLay Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison

Travis County prosecutors Gary Cobb and Rosemary Lehmberg speaking to the media after the sentence was handed down.
Image by Matt Largey for KUT News

Former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison for money laundering and conspiracy.

DeLay was sentenced by senior judge Pat Priest to three years for the conspiracy conviction and five years for money laundering. The five years sentence was probated. That means DeLay would serve ten year probation instead.

DeLay is being booked right now at the Travis County jail, but will be released on $20,000 bond pending appeal.

Earlier details.

Politics
1:59 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

How To Watch The 2011 Legislative Session From The Comfort Of Home

Image Courtesy StarMama http://www.flickr.com/photos/thestarmama/

Political junkies who don't have time to spend all day at the Capitol can watch the Texas legislative session unfold from behind a TV or computer monitor.

Here's how you can do it:

Read more
Politics
11:35 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Estimated Texas Budget Gap Still Between $15 and $27 Billion

After today's eagerly awaited revenue estimate from the Texas Comptroller, it appears we are not much closer to knowing how deep and how wide the state's dreaded budget shortfall will be.

Listen to KUT's Ben Philpott talk about it with KUT freelancer Gretch Sanders.

Comptroller Susan Combs' revenue estimate, issued this morning, predicts the state will generate $72.2 billion to spend in the 2012-13 biennium, the two year time span for which legislators must draft a budget in the once-every-two-years session that begins tomorrow.

So that's how much money is coming in, but we won't know how big the budget gap is (and consequently, how severe cuts to government could be) until we receive a baseline budget from the Legislative Budget Board. No exact date has been set, but it is not expected for a couple weeks.

Read more
Politics
11:15 am
Mon January 10, 2011

DeLay Sentencing Hearing Underway

Update at 12:15 pmBoth sides have rested in the sentencing phase of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's trial.  DeLay himself is expected to address the court when it reconvenes at 1:15 pm.

The defense only called one character witness: former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert. He testified about DeLay's political motivations and values.  Under questioning from assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb, Hastert said DeLay had not expressed remorse for the crimes he was convicted of in November.

Read more
Politics
9:45 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Comptroller Projects State Revenue Will Be $72.2 Billion

Image by Dave Burnstein for KUT News

Texas comptroller Susan Combs estimates the state will generate $72.2 billion to spend on the 2012-2013 state budget. That's $5.6 billion less than the nearly $77.8 billion the state was certified to spend last legislative session two years ago. (Read the revenue estimate report here.)

The Comptroller says the state will bring in $76.5 billion over all, but Texas is already $4.3 billion behind on its current budget. The difference amounts to $72.2 billion.

Read more
Politics
4:43 pm
Sat January 8, 2011

Texas Lawmakers React To Shooting Of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Texas lawmakers are offering words of condolence and issuing calls for justice in the wake of a shooting in Tuscon, AZ that killed five people, including a federal judge, and critically wounded US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Image courtesy US Congress

Updated at 6:44 pm: Texas lawmakers are reacting with shock to a shooting in Tuscon, AZ that killed at least five people including US District Judge John Roll and critically injured US Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  NPR reports the suspected gunman has been taken into custody.

Giffords, who was re-elected to a third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

The suspect fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said. A congressional official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the gunman was using an automatic weapon.

US Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) was with Giffords the day before the shooting to discuss the healthcare repeal.  

"You know what she was doing is basically the same thing I do on a regular basis throughout Central Texas," Doggett told KUT News in a phone interview.

Read more
Politics
2:35 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

On Monday, We Find Out How Much Money Texas Has Until 2013

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It's one of the most eagerly awaited events in Texas politics: on Monday, state comptroller Susan Combs will provider her revenue estimate. It's a projection of how much money the state will have to spend over the next 2012-13 biennium.

Read more
Politics
3:45 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Dan Neil Lawyers Reviewing Travis County Election Documents

Lawyers for Dan Neil reviewing election documents at the Travis County Clerk's Office. Neil subpoenaed the documents in his bid to overcome a narrow 12 vote loss in Austin's House District 48.
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Republican candidate who lost to State Representative Donna Howard in Austin's House District 48 has subpoenaed documents from the Travis County Clerk's Office. Dan Neil's lawyers are reviewing them today.

Mary Faro, a spokesperson for County Clerk Dana Dana DeBeauvoir, said attorneys from Howard's camp were there observing. She said the subpoena (posted below) commanded the Election's Office to provide documents locked in a closet that can only be unlocked by the County Sheriff.

Read more
Immigration
1:40 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Immigration Battles Heat Up...Again

State Representative Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas) will lead the charge against immigration laws in the House.
KUT News

Ever since Arizona passed its controversial immigration law last year, some Texas lawmakers have been chomping at the bit for their chance to push similar legislation here.

Read more
Politics
11:19 am
Thu January 6, 2011

Are Looming Job Cuts At TEA Sign Of Things To Come?

Most Texas Education Agency employees work in the Wililam B. Travis building on Congress Ave. near 17th St. A letter to employees from Education Commissioner Robert Scott is promising job cuts at the agency this year.
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott sent a letter to staff this week, welcoming them back to work from the holidays and warning them they might be fired. With state lawmakers ready to begin a legislative session next week that will require closing a budget gap as big as $25 billion or more, is this an impending sign of the pain that will be wrought on Austin's economy?

Read more
Politics
11:19 am
Wed January 5, 2011

Odessa Lawmaker Wants To Cancel Cesar Chavez Day

An image produced by the US Department of Labor to promote Cesar Chavez Day on March 31. One Texas lawmaker has filed legislation that would cancel Cesar Chavez Day and replace it with Texas Hispanic Heritage Day.
Image courtesy US Department of Labor

State Representative Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) filed House Bill 505 yesterday, a piece of legislation that would eliminate an optional state holiday celebrating labor and civil rights Cesar Chavez on March 31. The optional holiday would be replaced with Texas Hispanic Heritage Day on September 16.

Read more
Politics
10:52 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Voters Already Expect New Congress to Disappoint

The more things change...the more voters expect to be disappointed.
Image courtesy Andy-Beal www.flickr.com/photos/sel/

According to a new Rasmussen poll, the more things change in Washington, the more voters do not expect better results.  

Read more
Politics
12:29 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

These People Don't Want Lawmakers To Take An Ax To State Government

Image by Erik Reyna for KUT News

After months of speculation, we will finally get an idea of just how big Texas' budget shortfall is when the Comptroller Susan Combs releases her revenue estimate within the next seven days. Meanwhile, a group of mostly progressive organizations has banded together to urge a "balanced" approach to closing the budget shortfall.

Read more
Politics
6:25 pm
Tue December 28, 2010

Hartnett Appointed Discovery Master in District 48 Race

State Rep. Will Hartnett (R-Dallas) will issue a report on the outcome of November's District 48 election
Image courtesy of the Texas House of Representatives

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) appointed Representative Will Hartnett (R-Dallas) to serve as "master of discovery" to determine a winner in the Donna Howard-Dan Neil race in House District 48

Read more
Politics
12:45 pm
Fri December 24, 2010

Medical Marijuana Is A Long Shot This Legislative Session

Some medical pot purchased legally in California. The odds of the Texas legislature moving to tolerate medical pot are slim this session, according to an Austin lawmaker who keeps pushing the issue.
Image courtesy eggrole http://www.flickr.com/photos/eggrole/4822581291/sizes/l/in/photostream/

While states like California and Washington debate the merits of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Texas State Rep. Elliot Naishtat (D-Austin) couldn't even get a hearing on his conservative medical pot bill. Naishat's proposal wouldn't legalize marijuana, but it would permit judges and juries not to send legitimately sick people to jail if they're caught puffing weed on the advice of a doctor.

Read more

Pages