Governor's Race

With Rick Perry retiring in 2014 after an unprecedented 14 years as Texas Governor, all eyes are on the race for Texas’ top elected official.

Gov. Perry hopes to pass the baton to Republican Greg Abbott, Attorney General for the state of Texas. Abbott has used his perch to aggressively challenge the Obama Administration on issues including Texas’ Voter ID laws and environmental regulations. Prior to that role, Abbott served as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

For Texas Democrats, not since Ann Richards has the star of a party official risen as fast or conspicuously as that of state Sen. Wendy Davis. Davis is considering either running for reelection  to her Fort Worth Senate seat, or making a run for the Governor's office. Democrats across the state have gotten excited about a possible run at the top of the 2014 ticket, especially since the minority party doesn't have any candidates signed up to run for statewide office so far.

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News
4:27 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Wendy Davis Wants to Empower Women Everywhere

Wendy Davis visits KUT studios on September 11, 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas Standard:

In this era of political cynicism, you could argue that few people of either party inspire the sort of fascination that Fort Worth Democrat Wendy Davis once did.

It was a spectacular moment on the floor of the Texas Senate in 2013. It seemed to come out of nowhere too – a woman in tennis shoes, holding her ground in outrage over limits to reproductive freedom. Seemingly overnight, Davis became the de facto face of Democratic Texas, the loyal opposition on the rise. But after a run for the state’s top office – and a crushing loss to Governor Greg Abbott – Davis seemed to disappear from the political stage.

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Texas
6:02 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Amended Pre-K Bill Approved by Senate, Will Return to House

The Senate approved a bill intended to improve the quality of Texas pre-K by implementing accountability measures and curriculum standards.
Jennifer Whitney/Texas Tribune

Governor Greg Abbott’s bill to improve pre-kindergarten got one step closer to his desk yesterday. The Texas Senate approved House Bill 4 in a 25-6 vote. The Texas House had already approved the bill before sending it to the Senate, but it still has a few more hurdles to jump through.

The bill puts $130 million dollars toward pre-K programs, but those programs would have to meet certain standards to receive the money, including teacher certification and curriculum standards.

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Texas
2:42 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

What the Heck is the Texas State Guard Anyway?

Maj. Gary Sherman, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, uses a compass to determine his bearing during a Land Navigation joint training exercise in Henrietta, Texas, October 11, 2014.
CW2 Janet Schmelzer, PAO, 4th Regiment, TXSG

This week, a lesser-known unit of the Texas Military Forces got some attention when Governor Greg Abbott called on them to “monitor” U.S. military training exercises planned for this summer.

Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to ensure that Texans’ rights were not being infringed and help facilitate communication with residents during the exercises designated “Operation Jade Helm 15.” The operation is set to take place in Bastrop and several other locations across Texas and in some neighboring states between July 15 and September 15.

Exactly how that monitoring will be carried out is still unclear. When asked for details, the Governor’s office told us to call the Texas State Guard. In an email response, the Guard said “we are always ready to answer the call of the Governor and currently leadership from our Texas State Guard are in the process of examining the best way to meet the Governor's intent.”

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Texas
1:58 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Abbott Orders Texas Guard to 'Monitor' Planned Military Exercises

Soldiers in a First Army Division West NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan team conduct convoy lanes training on North Fort Hood, Texas, July 20, 2012.
soldiersmediacenter/flickr

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor a two-month long U.S. military exercise scheduled to be held in Bastrop County this summer. The move comes amid suspicions from some residents (and the Internet) about the motivations behind the training.

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Agenda Texas
11:02 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Gov. Abbott's 5 Emergency Items: Where Are They Now?

Gov. Abbott laid out his call for this session's emergency items in his State of the State speech.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The Texas constitution requires lawmakers to pass one bill each session: the state budget, which was under (rather lengthy) discussion last week in the House and in the Senate this week. But governors can push their own to-do list at the start of each session in the form of emergency items.

In February, newly minted Gov. Greg Abbott named five of those priorities during his February State of the State speech, and today we're going to see how those bills are doing, by ranking their legislative progress so far this session.

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Immigration
9:30 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Feds Ask Court to Move Forward with Immigration Program, Perhaps Without Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott appeared on Fox News Sunday to talk about Texas' resistance to the Obama administration's Deferred Action Program.

The Obama administration wants to move forward with its Deferred Action Program that would shield some illegal immigrants from deportation. But a federal court halted the administration's program last week.

On Monday, the administration asked the court to lift last week's order. In its request, the administration is offering options: Let the program go forward nationwide or let it go forward everywhere except in Texas.

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Politics
10:44 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Watch: Abbott Delivers State of the State

Credit 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.

Texas
2:58 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Rep to Staff: Ask Muslim Visitors to Pledge Allegiance

Credit Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Freshman state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, was not in Austin today to celebrate Texas Muslim Capitol Day. But she left instructions for the staff in her Capitol office on how to handle visitors who were, including asking them to declare allegiance to the United States.

"I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws," she posted on Facebook. "We will see how long they stay in my office."

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Crime & Justice
2:58 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Texas' First Execution of the Year Set for Wednesday

Credit Andres Rueda/via Flickr

The first Texas execution of 2015 is scheduled to happen today sometime after 6 p.m.

Arnold Prieto, 41, will be put to death for the murder and robbery of three people in 1993 in Bexar County. Two of the victims were Prieto's own great-aunt and great-uncle. No late appeals were filed to try to stop the execution from taking place.

Not only is this the first execution of the year, it is the first execution to happen under the governorship of Greg Abbott. 

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2015 Texas Inauguration
4:26 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Texas' New Leaders Strike Different Tones With Inaugural Speeches

Gov. Greg Abbott, with wife Cecilia and daughter Audrey, at the inauguration ceremony at the Texas Capitol.
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.

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Texas Statehouse
10:25 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Watch: Abbott, Patrick Get Inaugurated

New Texas Governor Greg Abbott is sworn in at today's inaugural ceremony.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

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

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2015 Legislature
9:08 am
Tue January 20, 2015

After Today's Inauguration, Legislature Will Get to Work

Several events take place in Austin on Jan. 20 in the inauguration of Texas’ Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick.
Gage Skidmore

Several events take place in Austin today as part of the inauguration of Texas’ new governor and lieutenant governor, from a swearing-in ceremony to a black-tie ball.

The day kicks off on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol at 11 a.m. Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick will take the oath of office, and so the 48th governor and 42nd lieutenant governor of Texas will be sworn in.

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Education
10:11 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Austin ISD Plans to Lobby Lawmakers for Full-Day Pre-K

Denise Cisneros helps two of her preschool students practice their letters. Cisneros teachers full day pre-K at the Lucy Read Pre-K center.
Credit Kate McGee/KUT News

The sun is just beginning to rise as Denise Cisneros greets her pre-school students at the Lucy Read Pre-K center as they enter her classroom.

"How are you going to greet me today?" Cisneros asked a student at the front of the line.

"I would like a bug hug please," the little girl replied, giving Cisneros a hug before walking into the classroom.

Austin ISD offers full-day pre-K programs, but has to pay for half of the program itself because Texas only funds half-day preschool programs for qualifying students: low-income students, English Language Learners, and students with learning disabilities. But lawmakers filed at least four bills to require all school districts to offer free, full-day pre-kindergarten classes. Austin ISD would like to offer universal pre-K to all students. This year, Austin ISD also started a few pre-K programs for three-year-olds.

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Politics
3:21 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

In Photos: The 84th Texas Legislative Session

Governor Elect Greg Abbott is welcomed onto the Texas State Senate floor on the first day of the 2015 legislative session.
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.

Politics
2:27 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Checking the Facts: Is Greg Abbott's Wife Really Texas' First Hispanic First Lady?

Gov. Greg Abbott on NBC's Meet the Press in December.

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.

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Texas
8:21 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Gov.-Elect Abbott Lays Out His Priorities for His Term in Office

Attorney General Greg Abbott, seated next to his wife, Cecilia Abbott, lists his priorities for his term in office as future governor of Texas.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott says his staff is ready to get to work when the 2015 legislative session begins in January. At a press conference on Monday, he laid out his priorities.

Education started off the list. Abbott says he wants more pre-kindergarten classes and improved reading and math skills by the time students reach the third grade. He says he also wants to elevate the quality of Texas universities.

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Politics
4:53 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Texas Leads State Coalition Lawsuit Against Presidential Immigration Action

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, announcing a lawsuit over the Obama administration's executive order on immigration policy.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Texas is part of a lawsuit filed by 17 states over President Obama's executive action on immigration. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Federal District Court in Texas and names the heads of immigration enforcement agencies as defendants. 

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Texas Standard
4:27 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

What Can Immigrants Expect Following Obama's Executive Order?

Immigration reform advocates protest in this file photo from 2009.
Mariana Salazar for KUT

President Barack Obama announced broad changes to national immigration policy last night, affecting up to five million undocumented U.S. residents.

Immigrants who have been living in the United States for at least five years, who have children who are U.S. citizens or whose children are legal residents, may stay in the U.S. temporarily without fear of deportation, provided they register with the government, pass a criminal background check and pay their taxes. 

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2014 Elections
7:04 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Abbott Picks Hispanic Republican as His First Nomination as Governor-Elect

Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott introduced his pick for secretary of state, Judge Carlos Cascos of Cameron County, at the Capitol on Nov. 11, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Governor-elect Greg Abbott says he has a plan to unite Texas, and it includes whom he appoints to key state offices.

In fact, Abbott began reaching out to minority groups as part of his landslide election victory. He says he’ll continue those efforts to communicate with minorities as governor.

He says he recently attended a Texas Legislative Black Caucus meeting, and he’s picked a Hispanic to be the next secretary of state, pending senate confirmation -- Judge Carlos Cascos of the Rio Grande Valley.

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2014 Texas Elections
4:32 am
Tue November 4, 2014

In Davis vs. Abbott, Hopes For a Competitive Race for Texas Governor

State Senator Wendy Davis (left) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (right).
Credit Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich

This year's governor's race was billed as the first actual competitive race for Texas governor since Ann Richards lost to George Bush in 1994. Current Governor Rick Perry was stepping down, making way for Attorney General Greg Abbott to take the GOP nomination. Newly-minted national political celebrity State Senator Wendy Davis made a run for Democrats.

But unless something unexpected happens today, the race could be a repeat of the GOP 12 point win in 2010.

The race opened with Abbott finally stepping out of Governor Perry's nearly 14 year shadow. Perry announced he would not seek a fourth full term on July 8th. Less than a week later, after years of waiting...and raising a bunch of money, Abbott finally announced his run for the governor's office.

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