Texas Legislature

Austin
6:29 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Austin Rep. Mark Strama Resigns to Run Google Fiber Rollout (Update)

State Rep. Mark Strama is leaving politics for a tech job.
Spencer Selvidge via Texas Tribune

Update: Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced a special election to fill the State House of Representatives seat formerly held by Austin State Rep. Mark Strama will be held Nov. 5.

Strama resigned late last month to become the head of Google Fiber in Austin. The person elected will serve out the rest of Strama’s term – which expires in January 2015.

Original Story (June 26): Democratic Austin State Representative Mark Strama is leaving politics to become the head of Google Fiber in Austin.

Strama announced earlier this year that he’d be resigning his seat in the Texas House. At the time, he was considering running for Austin mayor.

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Agenda Texas
5:30 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Rick Perry's Announcement and the Political Domino Effect

Both Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (left) and Attorney General Greg Abbott will be affected by the domino effect following Gov. Perry's decision.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as you’ve no doubt heard, announced Monday he won’t seek a fourth term in office.

Gov. Perry will stay in office until his replacement takes over in January 2015. But the scrambling to be that replacement – and the dominoes falling into place – has already begun.

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Agenda Texas
5:30 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Issue in Texas Abortion Debate: What's an Ambulatory Surgical Center?

A surgical suite in the San Antonio ASC abotion clinic.
Ben Philpott

A bill that would regulate and restrict abortion in Texas has been approved by a House committee and is expected to be approved by the full House next week. Debate over the bill has played out between protestors in the halls and grounds of the Capitol as much as it has between lawmakers.

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Politics
12:09 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Texas Passes 50 Justice Bills, Covering Death Row to Juvenile Hall

Texas is now required to preform DNA testing on cases seeking the death penalty. The requirement is one of 50 reforms passed in the regular legislative session.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The 2013 regular session ended with  50 new criminal and juvenile justice bills passed and signed into law.

Legislators passed bills focused on reducing the number of individuals wrongfully convicted or incarcerated in Texas. That included Senate Bill 344, which will "require state to perform DNA testing in any capital offense where the state is seeking the death penalty."

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Politics
10:00 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Audio: Filibuster Fallout and Gov. Perry's Exciting Future Plans

The Tribcast Crew review the week's big political moments
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

TribCast: Filibuster Fallout and Exciting Future Plans by KUT News

On this week's Texas Tribune Tribcast, Reeve Hamilton, Evan Smith, Ross Ramsey and KUT's Ben Philpott discuss the fallout from last week's filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), the Voting Rights Act, the effort to impeach a university regent, and Governor Rick Perry's coming announcement of "exciting future plans."

Texas
6:38 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Travis County Looks at Funding Options for Public Integrity Unit

After the governor's announcement to de-fund the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County — an investigative unit with cases across the state. County Commissioners discussed future funding options at their meeting today.
Image by Matt Largey for KUT News

The future of the Public Integrity Unit - an arm of the Travis County's District Attorney's Office with about 600 statewide fraud cases open that was recently defunded by Gov. Rick Perry - is anything but certain. 

Today, the Travis County Commissioners Court  looked at some alternatives to fund the office, which could shutter its doors on Sept. 30 and leave 31 employees jobless. 

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Politics
6:00 am
Tue July 2, 2013

After the Rally, What’s Next for Texas Legislature's Abortion Debate

Sen. Wendy Davis speaking yesterday. “For years too many Texas politicians have tried to boost their careers by bullying women who need help with their health care," Davis said.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Texas lawmakers are back in Austin for a second special legislative session. The first one ended last week with protests and a late night filibuster to block abortion legislation. And the short time off between sessions has only galvanized activists on both sides of the issue.

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Business
4:29 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Smaller Texas Banks Stand to Gain from Ban on Debit Surcharge

A prohibition on surcharges on debit cards issued by smaller banks takes effect in September.
U.S. Navy/LaTunya Howard

This year the Texas Legislature passed HB 3068, banning the surcharge placed on debit cards. The bill was championed by The Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT), an organization that provides resources to the state’s smaller, community banks.

IBAT Executive Vice President Stephen Scurrlock says the law will have a positive impact on Texas’ small businesses – and that by scuttling the additional cost of using a card not affiliated with a giant bank, payment by debit card will no longer discriminate against community banks. 

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Agenda Texas
8:58 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Texas House Passes Restrictive Abortion Bill (Update)

Republicans mill around empty House floor after marathon abortion debate. Democrats could show back up later this morning.
Ben Philpott

Update: House members voted 95 to 34 to pass Senate Bill 5. Now it’s back to the Senate, which already approved the bill, but will have to vote on it again – because its initial version didn’t include the abortion ban after 20 weeks.

Lawmakers are running out of time to take action during this special session. It ends tomorrow at midnight. There’s talk of a filibuster in the Senate to run out the clock.

Update: House gaveled in just after 9 a.m. A handful of Democrats have showed up.

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Agenda Texas
5:30 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Is There a Future for Texas' Political Corruption Investigation Unit?

Governor Perry vetoed Public Integrity Unity money on Friday.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry has eliminated funding to the only office in the state that investigates and prosecutes political corruption cases.

It started with a mistake that landed Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg in jail for drunk driving.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Agenda Texas: Texas Monthly Picks 10 Best Lawmakers

The Texas Monthly Best List
Graphic Courtesy Ronald Kurniawan from Texas Monthly

We talked about the people on Texas Monthly's 2013 list of worst lawmakers. Now, now let’s hear about the best. All picked using Texas Monthly Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka’s guiding principle.

“It’s a lot about how you play on the playground with the other children," Burka said.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Agenda Texas: Texas Monthly Picks 10 Worst Lawmakers

Who made the worst list, and why.
Graphic Courtesy Ronald Kurniawan from Texas Monthly

You may have heard, this week Texas Monthly magazine released its list of best and worst lawmakers for the 2013 Legislative session. So I sat down with their writers to go over who made which list and why.

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Politics
4:08 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Perry Signs 'Merry Christmas' Bill

Religious symbols in schools are OK under the new law.
Liang Shi, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry ceremonially signed a bill today making clear that it’s okay to say things like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” at public schools.

The law also says religious symbols may be displayed, as long as more than one religion is represented.

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Politics
9:03 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Putting Together Texas Monthly's Best and Worst List

Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Lawmakers List
Graphic Courtesy Ronald Kurniawan from Texas Monthly

At the end of every legislative session, Texas Monthly releases lists of the best and worst lawmakers from the 140 days under the dome. It’s a tradition that’s both praised and scorned by lawmakers, often based on which list they find themselves on.

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Politics
5:05 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Senate to Vote on Court-Drawn Legislative Districts

The Senate will debate whether to go with the districts used in 2012.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A plan to use court-drawn political boundaries is on its way to the full Texas Senate.

Today the Senate Committee on Redistricting approved the district boundaries set by a federal court in San Antonio for the 2012 elections.

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Transportation
4:36 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Texas Senate Considers Transportation Fund

Transportation infrastructure is on the agenda for this special session.
Liang Shi, KUT News

One of the matters Gov. Rick Perry is having lawmakers take another look at this month is money for transportation infrastructure.

Today the Senate Finance Committee took up a constitutional amendment that would divert part of the oil and gas taxes from the Rainy Day Fund into a state highway fund.

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Politics
12:57 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Texas Monthly Names the Best and Worst Legislators of 2013

Texas Monthly has released its list of best and worst lawmakers from the 2013 session.
Lizzie Chen, KUT News

Texas Monthly has released its list of the 10 best and 10 worst lawmakers during the 2013 legislative session.

For now, there's no explanation of why people ended up on either list. That comes later as the magazine hits newsstands. So without further ado, here's the list:

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Politics
5:30 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Agenda Texas: Higher Education Missing Construction Bonds

Property tax breaks for veterans leads this year's list of 10 propositions.
KUT News

Everything was going so well for higher education during the 2013 legislative session. With less than a week left in the session, House Higher Education committee chairman Dan Branch (R-Dallas) was pleased.

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2013 Legislative Session
9:01 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Redistricting: Battle Over Fair Maps at the Capitol, and in Court

Laura Rice, KUT News

The story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM.

The Texas Senate is holding a public hearing this morning on redistricting.

It’s a chance for people to tell lawmakers what they think about district maps drawn for state House, Senate and Congressional elections.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Agenda Texas: Redistricting Court Battle

Texas is required to re-draw its electoral maps, to not run afoul of the Voting Rights Act
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

It was a busy final day in the Texas Legislature. The House adjourned at a couple minutes past five Monday. The Senate joined them about ten minutes later.

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