11:21 am
Mon December 13, 2010

State Senator Wants To Ban Straight Ticket Voting

Image courtesy Dave Wilson Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawilson/

Texas is one of sixteen states that offers voters the option of simply checking a box for a political party at the ballot box, forgoing the task of individually voting for each candidate. The practice is called "straight-ticket voting" or "straight-party voting" and Republican State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) doesn't like it.

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10:40 am
Fri December 10, 2010

State Rep. Berman Wants To Jail Bureaucrats Who Enforce New Health Law

State Rep. Leo Berman's proposed legislation would put government workers in the clink if they tried to enforce the new health care bill.
Image courtesy Still Burning http://www.flickr.com/photos/stillburning/St

The same Texas state representative whose interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper went viral after he expressed doubt that President Obama was born in the US is attracting more attention for his proposal that health care officials be imprisoned for enforcing the new health care law.

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2:56 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

The ATM in the Lobby

Lawmakers can raise money for their campaigns until 30 days before the Legislature convenes.
KUT News

Big receptions hosted by members of the Legislature in the month-plus since the election have been fairly common. Some of the guest lists have been things in common, too.

Of the 181 members of next year’s Texas Legislature, 89 have held fundraising receptions in the five weeks since the November election. So reports Jason Embry in the Austin American-Statesman.

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11:12 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Another Round of Budget Cuts

Another round of immediate cuts are coming to state agencies.
Courtesy the Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislative leadership has sent a letter to state agencies announcing another round of immediate budget cuts. In the letter, Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus directed each agency to propose another 2.5% in cuts for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.

A release today said the cuts were needed, even though sales tax receipts have improved, to prepare for budget reductions in the 2012-2013 biennium.

Even while calling for additional cuts, Gov. Perry had a sunny message:

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4:55 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Obama's First Presidential Pardons Include Two Texans

Image courtesy Barack Obama http://www.flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/

President Obama issued the first pardons of his tenure as Commander-In-Chief today, if you don't include the traditional turkey pardons on Thanksgiving eve.  Obama let nine people off the hook.

Here are the two from Texas.

Timothy James Gallagher -Navasota, Texas

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine; 21 U.S.C. § 846. Sentence: Oct. 18, 1982; District of Arizona; three years of probation.

Scoey Lathaniel Morris -Crosby, Texas

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5:23 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Local Congressman Leads Call for Censure


The U.S. House voted today to censure Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY).  Rangel had apologized and asked for leniency from the House.  He was hoping for a private rebuke rather than a public censure after being found guilty of 11 counts of House ethics violations.  But the House overwhelmingly voted to conduct its first public rebuke since the 1980's.

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2:50 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Senator Wants Drunk Drivers to Wear Ankle Bracelet Booze Monitors

Senator Jane Nelson filed legislation that would put alcohol monitors in use across Texas for DUI offenders.
Image courtesy SCRAM

State Senator Jane Nelson filed this bill last month that would require some drunk driving offenders to wear alcoholic monitoring anklets, like the one actress Lindsey Lohan had to wear earlier this year.

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11:17 am
Thu December 2, 2010

Gov. Perry Will Make Chuck Norris An Honorary Texas Ranger

Chuck Norris at a Mike Huckabee campaign rally in 2008. Gov. Perry will name Norris an honorary Texas Ranger this afternoon.
Image courtesy Aaron Webb http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronw79/

For years, Chuck Norris played a Texas Ranger in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger.

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11:45 am
Wed December 1, 2010

Recount Underway in House District 48

House District 48 includes large sections of West Austin and the Hill Country.
Image courtesy Texas Legislature

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) could find out this week if she will keep her seat or surrender it to her Republican challenger, sports radio host Dan Neil.

Howard won the November 2 election by a narrow 16 votes. Neil requested a recount. This morning, the Travis County Clerk emailed us this press release to let us know the recount has begun.

House District 48 Recount Underway

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1:47 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Texas State Rep. Still Doubts Obama Was Born in the USA

A copy of President Obama's birth certificate
Image courtesy FactCheck.org

Is there anything the national broadcast media loves more than a beatdown of a radically conservative politician? If so, State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) is making it way too easy for Anderson Cooper.

Despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Berman took the bait last night on CNN.

You know I really don't know. If you look at my white hair, you can tell I've been around for awhile. And I've known everything about every president that I've come across for the last 70 some-odd years. I don't know anything about President Obama. I wish I did.

Check out the video.

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8:36 am
Tue November 30, 2010

Sen. Hutchison Fires Shot at Health Care Law

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Photo by KUT

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison renewed attacks on the federal heath care bill yesterday during a floor speech in the Senate.  Hutchison called some of the new law’s tax reporting requirements are an “overbearing government intrusion on free enterprise in our country” in her floor speech Monday.

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3:44 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Austin Koreans Worried About Tensions Back Home

Tensions between North and South Korea are troubling some Austinites with roots in the region.
Image courtesy Google Map Imagery, TerraMetrics, Mapabc, SK M&C, Zenrin

Relations between North and South Korea aren't exactly okey dokey these days. In March, North Korea sank a South Korean naval warship, killing 46 sailors.  Last week, the North shelled a South Korean island. Four people were killed then. We've also learned about the North's large uranium enrichment facility.

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5:05 pm
Wed November 24, 2010

DeLay Found Guilty

Mugshot of Tom DeLay when he was first booked on conspiracy and money laundering charges in 2005.
Image courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office.

A Travis County jury has convicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on conspiracy and money laundering charges.  Delay was accused of illegally funneling corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.

The crimes carry a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison, effectively a life sentence. DeLay's lawyer,Dick DeGuerin, indicated that he would prefer a judge to sentence his client instead of a jury. DeGuerin also made clear DeLay's intention to appeal the conviction.

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1:10 pm
Wed November 24, 2010

Farmers' Home Insurance Rates Going Up

Farmers Insurance Wants to Raise its Home Rates
Image by KUT News

Farmers Insurance wants to raise it's home insurance rate by nearly 4% next year.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Farmers' filled a 3.9% rate increase with the Texas Department of Insurance on Tuesday.  The rate would will affect about half of the company's Texas customers. 

4:08 pm
Tue November 23, 2010

How to File an Open Records Request

Curious to know if your school district is taking payments from gas drilling companies? Dying to hear the 911 tapes from a campus lockdown set off by a fake gun? That's just a taste of the information you can unearth with the help of Texas' Open Records Act, and you don't even need to be a lawyer to do it.  

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11:55 am
Mon November 22, 2010

Closing Arguments in DeLay Trial

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (left) and his lawyer Dick DeGuerin at the Travis County Criminal Justice Center on November 1, 2010.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Updated at 5:35pm: After the jury asked several questions of the judge during their deliberations, Judge Pat Priest says he will send jurors home for the night, without weighing in on one of their questions.  Deliberations will resume in the morning.

Updated at 1:43 pm: Closing arguments have finished the case has been handed to the jury.

Earlier: Lawyers in the  trial of former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay are finishing their closing arguments today. 

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9:05 am
Mon November 22, 2010

Gov. Perry on Fox News Sunday

In case you missed it yesterday, here's our Governor's Sunday TV appearance. He attracted some attention for calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" and not directly answering a question over whether he would support its dismantling.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

3:39 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Gambling Lobbyists Dream of Texas Casinos

Gambling lobbyists in Texas dream of building casinos as opulent as the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
Photo courtesy Talke Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/talkephotography/

We already knew gaming lobbyists were pushing hard  to convince lawmakers that one answer to the whopping budget gap could be found at the Blackjack tables. But what kind of adult wonderland do these people envisage? 

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Texas Speaker's Race
2:25 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Speaker's Race Hits Below the Bible Belt

The Speaker's Race Gets Personal
KUT News

Over the last few days there have been reports of campaign phone calls being made to voters in Dallas and San Antonio telling Republicans the "Christian" thing to do would be to elect a new speaker.  Supporters of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) say the calls are anti-Semitic...since the speaker is Jewish.

This afternoon speaker  candidates Ken Paxton (R-McKenny) and Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) released a statements rejecting the idea that faith has anything to do with the race.  You can read Chisum's statement below.


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