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Lege Lines: Senate Still Hasn’t Confirmed Texas Secretary of State David Whitley
Architect of recent “voter fraud” fiasco shifts blame to DPS
News Story  February 14, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison, Michael King, Austin Sanders and Mary Tuma

Lege Lines: GOP Sharpens Its Claws for Paid Sick Leave With SB 15
“Consistent Employment Regulations Act” would dismantle city’s right to protect workers
News Story  February 14, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison, Michael King, Austin Sanders and Mary Tuma

Lege Lines: Full-Day Pre-K Tops School Wish List
Bipartisan support emerges for plan to fund full-day pre-kindergarten
News Story  February 14, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison, Michael King, Austin Sanders and Mary Tuma

Human Rights Campaign Calls Texas a "High Priority" for LGBTQ Equality
A long way to go, but public opinion trends toward legislative action
News Story  February 7, 2019, by Sarah Marloff

Austin at Large: Put on Your Shrinking Caps
So why – let alone how – do we "need" to "reform" Texas property taxes?
News Column  February 7, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Or are they? Two years ago, a Legislature with more Republicans than it has now was unable to adopt a higher cap than is proposed now, one that will now apply to politically popular school districts as well as less favored cities and counties. Aside from wishes and promises, details have yet to emerge on how the state will make those schools whole; nobody's even pretending to make whole the cities, counties, college and health districts, and other authorities who would be on a glide path toward fiscal crisis if HB 2 works as promised..."

Lege Lines: The Voters Speak, the Governor Listens
Abbott leaves the red-state red-meat back at the mansion
News Story  February 7, 2019, by Mary Tuma, Sarah Marloff and Mike Clark-Madison

Dell Medical School Team Unveils Plans to Reinvent Austin State Hospital
Rising from the ashes of the aging mental hospital
News Story  February 7, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...The campaign to transform the historic, haunted, and exhausted Austin State Hospital into a world-class center for brain health has turned another corner, with last month's delivery to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission of the "ASH Redesign" study led by UT's Dell Medical School. This tees up a push to obtain from this Legislature, already in progress, the $280 million-$330 million needed to build a new hospital on the ASH campus in North Central Austin...."

News Story  February 7, 2019
"...That Trick Never Works: Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his "State of the State" address to the 86th Legislature Tuesday, citing as his "emergency" matters school finance reform, teacher pay, and property tax "reform," and not addressing how capping property taxes could be squared with supporting public schools...."

Will Texas Patch Up TABC Before It Bursts?
If ever an agency needed to be scorched by the state’s Sunset Act, it’s the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Com­mis­sion
News Story  January 31, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...1.) Stepping back into the policy perspective, neither progressives, nor populists, nor free-marketeers, nor social conservatives are super-convinced that TABC does or can "serve the people of Texas, and protect the public health and safety, through consistent, fair and timely administration of the Alcoholic Beverage Code," as laid out in its mission statement. The agency didn't even have a defined "mission" until it last went through Sunset in 2007; now, 12 years later, it's up to the 86th Texas Legislature to try to plug up some holes in a system that's close to bursting under pressure. "An Opportune Time"..."

The Battle of Small Beer vs. Big Distributors Rages on With Texas Beer-To-Go Bill
Another chippy round of political beer pong
Food Story  January 31, 2019, by Eric Puga
"...Here in Texas, the small, plucky craft brewers and the overdetermined parade of wholesale distributors are, unsurprisingly, back at it again for another chippy round of political beer pong in this, the 2019 Texas Legislature. Only this time, the brewers appear more organized by their industry guild and its political arm, CraftPAC, which sounds like either a sugary pudding from the Nineties or a collection of pissed-off, brass-knuckled beerists ready to take up for small business rights...."

Lege Lines: Texas GOP Tees up More Voter ID Nonsense
Secretary of State issues election advisory, ignites right-wing voter fraud frenzy
News Story  January 31, 2019, by Mary Tuma

Special Election Fills One of Three Vacant Seats in Texas House
Dem Art Fierro wins HD 79 while Houston's HD 145 goes to runoff
News Story  January 31, 2019, by Mary Tuma

Point Austin: How to Suppress the Vote
With its latest lies, Texas GOP reminds us: This is all they’ve got
News Column  January 31, 2019, by Michael King

Higher-Ed Commissioner Raymund Paredes Retires
Steps down after 15 years helping Texans access postsecondary education
News Story  January 31, 2019, by Austin Sanders
"...24. "You know it's getting close to the end when you talk to members of the Legislature and they all know the punch line to your jokes," Paredes said to laughs...."

Sex and the Senate
What will it take to curb sexual harassment at the Texas State Capitol?
News Story  January 24, 2019, by Mary Tuma
"...Not more than two days into the 86th Texas Legislature, the 150-member House of Representatives approved a new, stronger reporting process to secure justice for victims of sexual harassment at the Capitol. The unprecedented (at least in recent history) move comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which ousted abusive male figures from their perches in politics, journalism, and Hollywood..."

Lege Lines: Yes, Dan Patrick Is Really That Petty
Committee assignments spawn high-school drama in the Senate
News Story  January 24, 2019, by Mary Tuma and Mike Clark-Madison
"...The first throwing of hands in the 86th Texas Legislature has gone down within the ruling GOP, between Lt. Gov..."

Michael Cargill Wins Right to Pack Heat at City Hall
Court rules in favor of local gun enthusiast, City fined for violating open carry statute
News Story  January 24, 2019, by Nina Hernandez
"...Livingston also fined the city $9,000 for violating the statute – much less than Paxton had wanted, with the judge levying the statutory fine only for those days when the AG's own investigators were disarmed at the City Hall doors. "Consistent with the Court's order, we will continue to ban handguns from City Hall during those times when the legislature's limitations allow, and we will be amending our communications to clarify when our handgun ban will be in effect," the city said in a statement..."

Friends and Family Gather to Honor Activist Nadine Eckhardt
Eulogies and memories at Saengerrunde Hall
DAILY News  January 23, 2019, by Michael King
"...In 1966, Curtis Graves was the first African-American to be elected to the Texas Legislature since 1899. He campaigned alongside Eckhardt, who was running for Congress in a north Houston district that overlapped that of Graves..."

Point Austin: The Definition of Insanity
Waiting for the Legislature to finally do its duty on school finance
News Column  January 17, 2019, by Michael King
"...Fresh from reviewing the News staff's upbeat interviews with the incoming Central Texas legislative delegation – Democrats all – I began the year ready to believe that the 86th Legislature was indeed going to be different. Reactionaries would retreat, open misogyny would return to the shadows, racism would be kept at arm's length, and the Capitol might actually accomplish some progress on school funding, health care, transportation ......"

Signs of hope in the Capitol
Columns  January 17, 2019, by Sarah Marloff
"...As they say in Game of Thrones, the Lege is long and full of terrors. OK, that's not a direct quote, but if the Texas Legislature existed in the same world, I'm quite certain it would be..."

Quote of the Week
News Column  January 17, 2019
"..."The plaque should never have been put up by the Legislature in the first place, and it certainly shouldn't have taken sixty years to remove it."..."

False Confederate Capitol Plaque Removed – And It Only Took Six Decades!
Efforts by Democrat Rep. Johnson led the way
DAILY News  January 14, 2019, by Mary Tuma
"...Johnson tempered his enthusiasm for the vote, saying that while he’s glad the Board voted to remove the plaque from the Texas Capitol, it “should never have been put up by the Legislature in the first place, and it certainly shouldn’t have taken 60 years to remove it.” Johnson said, “None of us in state government should be high-fiving each other or patting ourselves on the back today.” [image-2]..."

Van Boven Fallout Continues
While appeals proceed, Baylor professor campaigns to save SOAH
DAILY News  January 10, 2019, by Michael King
"...Beal argues that the committee could choose to convene a hearing on Ginn’s qualifications, but Watson says he disagrees. “That only applies to recess appointments,” Watson said, in which case a new Legislature “may” legally convene a committee to consider an appointee whom the governor hasn’t confirmed by reappointment..."

Lege Lines: Only 139 Days to Go for the 86th Texas Legislature
House, Senate gavel in with new leadership
News Story  January 10, 2019, by Mary Tuma
"...It was nothing but jovial, halcyon times at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 8, the first day of the 86th Texas Legislature..."

Texas Comptroller Gives Legislature More Money to Spend
But don’t go crazy y’all
News Story  January 10, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...But don't go buy a new school system just yet! Hegar, as usual, sounded notes of caution in his BRE release, which for previous comptrollers has been an occasion for major grandstanding. "The Legislature will again face some difficult choices in balancing this budget," he said, citing both the need to close expected (Medicaid) and surprise (Harvey) shortfalls in the current biennium, as well as the inexorable pressure for "a potentially large boost in education spending to reduce the property tax burden and reform school finance."..."

News Story  January 10, 2019
"...Oh, Pro Tempores: City Council inauguration days aren't heavy on the headlines, but Monday evening the new Council was confirmed – including brand-newbies Natasha Harper-Madison and Paige Ellis, and new Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, nominated by predecessor Kathie Tovo. On Tuesday, in the 86th Texas Legislature, Austin Sen..."

Sen. Kirk Watson on the 86th Texas Legislature
“In Texas, we don’t focus on what our needs are; we focus on what we want to pay”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Michael King
"...KW: Unfortunately, I don’t feel as optimistic there. I don’t think the Legislature is thinking about health care from the perspective of what we need, instead of what we are willing to pay..."

Rep. John Bucy III on the 86th Texas Legislature
“We’ve got to do everything we can to keep attention on Medicaid expansion”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Michael King
"...JB: We’ve got to stand in the way of infringing on local control, when it comes to taxes. That’s why we have local elections; the people pick local officials to make those decisions, and it shouldn’t be our job at the Legislature...."

Rep. Vikki Goodwin on the 86th Texas Legislature
“I worry when people talk about property tax caps [and not] where the revenue is going to come from instead”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Austin Sanders
"...I'm not in favor of the A-F [accountability] rating system. It hasn't been around long enough [for the Legislature] to make the decision on whether or not it's good for districts, but I personally am not in favor...."

Rep. Donna Howard on the 86th Texas Legislature
“Let’s target some new money toward childhood literacy, toward high school success, toward teacher quality – the kind of things that research shows make a difference”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Austin Sanders
"...I think that should encourage a move toward the middle from the right. There might be more willingness to look at what we can do that would be acceptable to the more conservative members of the Legislature...."

Rep. Erin Zwiener on the 86th Texas Legislature
“We were always very clear that being progressive and being tribalist weren’t the same thing”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Nina Hernandez
"...A lot of folks often don’t really know anything about Hays County politics, or were just new voters in general, or very infrequent voters. And we talked to a lot of folks who were unlikely to turn out, and the main issue we would talk about is the connection between their property taxes and the legislature’s funding for public schools..."

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez on the 86th Texas Legislature
“I’ll be working against issues that will unfairly treat Latinos in the state”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Mary Tuma
"...ER:I’ve been at the Legislature for 16 years and served with Dennis. We’ve gone head to head on several issues, but we’ve also worked together on bills..."

Rep. Gina Hinojosa on the 86th Texas Legislature
“We need to have the state pay its fair share into the school finance system”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Mary Tuma

Rep. Sheryl Cole on the 86th Texas Legislature
“We’ve always been on defense, and we’ve got to learn how to play offense”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Nina Hernandez

Rep. Celia Israel on the 86th Texas Legislature
“Pandering to 3% of the electorate is not in anyone's best interest”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Austin Sanders
"...My political sensibilities tell me it's all about timing. The Legislature keeps shedding its responsibility [on] property taxes and support for public schools, [and] the timing is right for us in the House to make a statement about that No..."

Rep. James Talarico on the 86th Texas Legislature
“There isn’t a blue or red way to fix public education – there’s only a right way”
News Story  January 3, 2019, by Austin Sanders
"...AC: What about that experience prepared you for the 86th Legislature?..."

Central Texas Lawmakers Speak Out About the 86th Legislative Session
Interviews with the team representing 2.1 million Austin metro residents
News Story  January 3, 2019, by the News Staff
"...It's hard to imagine the 86th Texas Legislature being any crazier than the last three, or four, or five sessions, but as our state grows ever larger and more bumptious, so do the built-up political pressures under the pink dome. With a new speaker, a much purpler House, an electorally chastened Senate (and lieutenant governor), and an awful lot of new faces, the Legislature faces many possible outcomes as it wrestles the greased anaconda of school finance and deals with the rest of the state's business..."

The Future May Finally Be Brightening for Texas Film Incentives
The sequel to film rebates?
Screens Story  January 3, 2019, by Richard Whittaker
"...The national scene for film, TV, and gaming incentives is undoubtedly in flux. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states offer incentives, down from 44..."

Point Austin: The Gavel Descends
The 86th Texas Legislature: Hoping for the Best ...
News Column  January 3, 2019, by Michael King
"...In a few days (Tuesday, Jan. 8, to be exact), the caverns of the Capitol will once again host a celebratory gathering of legislators, families, and supporters with the formal opening of the 86th Texas Legislature..."

Public Notice: Happy New Year?
Hoping for new starts at each level of government
News Column  January 3, 2019, by Nick Barbaro
"...Lots of political new beginnings this week and next: The new Congress gets sworn in today in D.C., the new Texas Legislature takes over Tuesday, and the new City Coun­­cil is seated Monday – with significant shifts in the power blocs at all three levels...."

News Story  January 3, 2019
"...Pink Dome Party! And then, on Jan. 8, unto us an 86th Texas Legislature is born, with mostly ceremonial and celebratory business aside from the presumptive ascension of Rep..."

The Top 10 Austin News Milestones of 2018
Days like these
News Story  December 27, 2018, by Mike Clark-Madison, Mary Tuma, Nina Hernandez, Sarah Marloff, Austin Sanders and Michael King
"...Matt Krause, R-Ft. Worth, has already filed a bill for the upcoming 86th Texas Legislature that would ban cities from implementing paid sick leave rules..."

Lawsuits Challenge Pro-Israel Loyalty Oaths
Pflugerville speech therapist challenges anti-boycott requirement in Texas law
News Story  December 20, 2018, by Mary Tuma
"...Somewhat under the radar, the Texas Legislature passed in 2017, with broad bipartisan support, House Bill 89 by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, which prohibits all government entities from contracting with any entity that boycotts Israel, and corresponding language has now begun to appear in public-sector contracts..."

Budget Cuts, Name Changes at AISD
Union urges wait-and-see stance on funding at board meeting
News Story  December 20, 2018, by Austin Sanders
"...• "No major decisions" on the budget until after the 86th Texas Legislature concludes in May (or later if a special session is called);..."

Schwertner Sexting Probe: Inconclusive
State senator's refusal to cooperate hampers UT inquiry
DAILY News  December 19, 2018, by Mary Tuma
"...The student, interested in working at the Legislature, met Schwertner at a university-affiliated event and began online communication, through LinkedIn and text message. Schwertner allegedly wrote to her, “Sorry..."

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Upcoming Legislative Session
Lawmakers set to tackle immigration, education, legalization, transportation, and more
News Story  December 13, 2018, by the News Staff
"...Going into the 86th Legislature, the Texas budget forecast once again reflects the state's new normal – yes, there's more money, but we've kind of already spent it, so don't go crazy. That's been the guidance from Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who increased his revenue estimate by nearly $3 billion in July while highlighting economic uncertainty going forward, and the Legislative Budget Board, which told state agencies not to ask for more money even though we know some will surely need it..."

Could AISD Shutter 12 Schools?
District discloses ideas for $55 million in budget cuts
News Story  December 13, 2018, by Austin Sanders
"...On Wednesday afternoon, in a quickly arranged press conference, Cruz told reporters that AISD administrators are still assessing which campuses are most prone to closure or consolidation. The district would like to have more time to understand just how much its budget deficit has grown, as well as whether the upcoming 86th Texas Legislature will offer any progress on school funding solutions that could ameliorate AISD's fiscal woes..."

Dems Call for Health Care for All Texans
State Rep. Gina Hinojosa pledges to carry comprehensive health care bill to the 86th Texas Lege
News Story  December 6, 2018, by Michael King
"...Austin state Rep. Gina Hinojosa said she would carry the bill in the upcoming 86th Texas Legislature...."

Court: Immigrant Detention Is Child Care
3rd Court of Appeals dismisses suit that challenged "family residential centers" that meet only minimal child welfare standards
News Story  December 6, 2018, by Mary Tuma
"..."The only ones who may benefit from this ruling are the private prison companies which make millions off their massive baby jails," said Libal. "We are committed to continuing this fight in the courts, in the legislature, and by fighting alongside families in these notorious detention centers until they are released."..."

News Story  December 6, 2018
"...Fund Public Schools! Travis County officials outlined at Commissioners Court on Tue., Dec. 4 their priorities for the upcoming 86th Legislature..."

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