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Jumping the Shark on Women's Health
For the sake of anti-abortion politics, the governor and the Legislature turned their backs on women's health care – with disastrous consequences. Is there any way to fix this mess?
News Story  January 18, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...In that political context, women's health advocates aren't optimistic about the new Legislature. Will lawmakers comprehend how recent policies have led to the destruction of the health care safety net, or will they continue to push a social agenda wrapped in regulations and budget cuts, despite its disastrous effects on the state's most vulnerable women and families? "It is irrefutable, the public health damage that has been done," says Wheat..."

The House Democrats on Ending Robin Hood
News Story  February 14, 2003
"...How is it that -- at the very first committee hearing, of the very first Republican Legislature in over 100 years, in a Republican House that was built by George W. Bush -- the foundation of No Child Left Behind is to be abolished, and abolished while our national attentions were elsewhere, and with no alternatives?..."

Read My Chips
George Bush claims he supported Children's Health Insurance in the 1999 legislative session. He did, but only at the lowest level.
News Story  September 1, 2000, by Louis Dubose
"...Even by the odd standards of the Texas Legislature it was an odd moment: Governor George W. Bush, leaving the press pack last April and walking onto the House floor to embrace the only openly gay member of the Legislature..."

Power House
Will This Year Mark Dems' Last Stand at the Lege?
News Story  February 4, 2000, by Robert Bryce
"...This year's Texas House and Senate races are "by far the most important elections of the decade," says Jerry Polinard, a professor of political science at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg. "The legislature that's elected this time will do redistricting, and that will likely decide the elections for the rest of the decade."..."

A Golden Opportunity
SB1704's Repeal Gives Austin a Turn at the Helm
News Story  August 29, 1997, by John Spong
"...No doubt that somewhere the initial news of the demise of SB 1704 set off the kind of intense, end-zone style celebration one might have hoped to find at a big anniversary party. Passed at the height of the Green Scare, the 1995 Texas Legislature's anti-Austin craze, the grandfathering law brought by Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) prevented Austin from enforcing the S.O.S..."

Don't Change Workers' Comp
Postmarks  March 15, 2005
"...Dear Editor, Well, the Texas Legislature and their insurance company buddies are at it again. This time, with Senate Bill 5, they are looting the Texas workers' compensation system and hard-working Texans to protect record insurance-company profits..."

The Judges Rule: Map May Not Be Wise, But It's Legal
The federal judges rule in favor of the Texas congressional map -- even while admitting it may destroy the political hopes of minorities.
News Story  January 9, 2004, by Michael King
"...While acknowledging that many of the new district lines effectively move minority Texans into districts where their votes will be marginalized by overwhelming Republican majorities, the judges said that from the trial evidence they were "compelled to conclude this plan was a political product from start to finish." They rejected the plaintiffs' arguments that in order to gain partisan Republican advantage, drafters of the plan inevitably had to diminish or dilute minority voting rights. "Whether the Texas Legislature has acted in the best interest of Texas," wrote judges Patrick Higginbotham and Lee Rosenthal, "is a judgment that belongs to the people who elected the officials whose act is challenged in this case." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott welcomed the decision as confirming the "integrity and constitutionality" of the Legislature's redistricting process...."

Think Locally, Act Regionally
Regional Government's All the Rage - Are We Ready?
News Story  February 20, 1998, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Watson, of course, knows that - barring a direct act of God upon the Texas Legislature - this will not happen any day soon. What could happen, however, and has been talked about for years, is some meaningful consolidation of Austin and Travis County government..."

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..."

For Whom the Bells Toll
Lege enacts campus carry on the 50th anniversary of the UT Tower shooting
News Story  August 4, 2016, by Annamarya Scaccia
"...As people gathered on Monday, another event loomed: the implementation of the so-called campus carry law, the controversial bill that permits students to carry concealed handguns on campus and in classrooms. In what many have called a twisted sense of irony, the Texas Legislature chose to put the law into effect on the semicentennial of the worst day in the university's history...."

The Education Session
The Lege takes another run at patching school finance
News Story  April 30, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...Put money in one school, you have to take it from another. Yet the 84th Legislature has seen the most serious conversations yet about how – and how much – Texas should pay for its public schools..."

Save Our Schools!
Texans advance on Capitol in bid to preserve public schools
News Story  March 11, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...As the 82nd Texas Legislature reaches its midpoint, lawmakers are facing a gut check moment: Do they push through the $10 billion in planned cuts to public schools, or do they protect classrooms? The Save Texas Schools coalition wants them to do one thing: Come out of their offices on March 12, walk onto the Capitol grounds, and listen to the thousands of ordinary Texans who will be rallying for public education. The coalition's plan is to gather families, teachers, administrators, trustees, union activists, and business interests from across the state to tell legislators that cutting school funding is a terrible idea..."

This Way to the Big Top!
From budget disaster to hysterical bloodletting, the legislative circus is back in town
News Story  January 14, 2011, by Richard Whittaker, Wells Dunbar, Lee Nichols and Jordan Smith
"...In 2009, the 81st Legislature of the state of Texas was nicknamed the "hurry up and wait" session – in honor of legislators' inability to get much of anything done. This time around, Capitol insiders are speculating that the 82nd Lege will be the "over my dead body" session, as Democrats ponder a seemingly unstoppable wave of conservative legislation, and Republicans face a budget that will not cover line items born of political dogma...."

Hill Country Militia
Grassroots homesteaders tighten ranks to fight urban encroachment
News Story  June 27, 2008, by Greg Harman
"...A member of the Edwards Aquifer Authority publicly confessed that the agency hadn't been willing to act on many issues out of fear. "It's fear of what the Legislature will do..."

Adiós! Don't Let the Door ...
A Quick Roundup of the Best and the Worst of the 78th Lege
News Story  June 6, 2003
"...The final weekend was even more chaotic than usual, and several major bills passed (or failed to pass) in the final hours. All bills enacted by the Legislature remain subject to Gov..."

The Race Is to the Swift
In Texas, livestock are better vaccinated than children.
News Story  May 9, 2003, by Lucius Lomax
"...When the TAHC refused the Reeds' offer to pay for the supervision of their quarantine, it was because, according to an agency spokeswoman, the Legislature has barred the agency from charging for its services. Out of a $12 million yearly budget (including $3 million in federal funds under cooperative programs), the only service the agency is permitted to charge for is inspecting riding stables -- "a very small part" of TAHC's budget, said the spokeswoman..."

The Spirit of 76th
The Presidential Card
News Column  June 17, 1999, by Erica C. Barnett
"...John Whitmire, D-Houston, told his colleagues during the daylong debate. "Whether he intended it or not, the presidential campaign is shaping the actions and the issues of this body and this Legislature." Right to Life, Right to Guns..."

All-Star Team
News Column  December 4, 1998, by Jenny Staff
"...When the Texas Legislature convenes its 76th regular session this Jan. 12, a passel of legislative gunslingers will ride up to defend the capital city ready for war, raring to ward off the aggression of the representatives who come to town every other year...."

Postmarks
SXSW Diary
Columns  March 20, 1998
"...In 1997, the Texas Legislature gave small business the right to continue in business for at least the next two years. Now a small (and influential) group decides Texas small businesses need no warning that the law which was upheld by the Texas Legislature is being ignored....."

In Through the Out Door
And Vice Versa: Politicians Hit the Revolving Door
News Story  August 9, 1996, by Robert Bryce
"...Dan Shelley's legislative acumen was tapped extensively by Governor George W. Bush during the last session of the Texas Legislature...."

Lege Races Take Shape
Empty seats up at the Capitol
News Story  June 18, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...With a seemingly never-ending succession of special elections going on, the 84th Legis­lature almost felt like a regular election season. But now it's over, and the races for the 85th Legislature have already begun, with several legislative veterans announcing they will not run again...."

Big Money, Big Money
Film incentives see massive boost
Screens Story  May 31, 2013, by Richard Whittaker
"...Good news from the Legislature for Texas-based filmmakers and game developers: The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program is getting a massive financial boost, tripling the amount of money available over the next two years to $95 million. The program's fairy godmother, Rep..."

Point Austin: No Choice
When bosses say their hands are tied, handcuffs follow
News Column  July 1, 2011, by Michael King
"...A few years ago, the late Milton Friedman visited the Texas Legislature, ostensibly on a humanitarian mission in support of his Foundation for Educational Choice, a voucher-promoting operation that helped lay the ideological groundwork for moving public money into private schools. Speaking to a rapt gathering of mostly Republican lawmakers, Friedman solemnly explained that most of the problems with public education could be traced to the baleful power of the teachers' unions, which were dictating educational policy to legislators and school administrators alike, strangling innovation, and making it impossible to run schools efficiently and within reasonable state budgets...."

Snake Eyes
As Perry's session goes down to defeat, the rest of Texas celebrates a victory
News Column  May 21, 2004, by Michael King
"...To nobody's surprise, the special session of the 78th Legislature collapsed of its own weightlessness last week, although the official close of business didn't arrive until Monday. On Friday, Lt..."

Who Can Vouch for the Charters?
The state's freewheeling experiment with charter schools gets a poor grade.
News Story  April 4, 2003, by Michael May
"...As proposals for public school voucher programs and related school issues are once again under discussion at the Legislature, it's a good time to take a closer look at "charter schools." The charter school program was created by the Legislature in 1995, partly as an alternative to direct state grants ("vouchers") to families to spend on private schooling. Charter schools are public schools "chartered" by the state to be managed by independent organizations (e.g., a university) or private companies..."

Postmarks
The Real Obscenity
Columns  April 29, 1999
"...It seems the Texas Legislature has finally (and unashamedly) decided to show us who really controls the business of running this state. With recent bills like HB 1704 which will punish cities trying to grapple with their local growth problems (in favor of a wealthy individual's right to rape and pillage their property for profit!), and SB 766 which coddles and cajoles the state's largest air polluters to continue polluting at will (Texas already has some of the worst air in the nation!) -- our state representatives have handed the legislative reigns over to their buddies, the big oil companies and large real estate developers...."

Comrades in Court
Boll Weevil Case Could be City's Ace Card in Water Suit
News Story  April 17, 1998, by Robert Bryce
"...The water quality issues are of great importance for Barton Creek and Barton Springs. But the larger issues being argued go directly to the heart of democracy: Specifically, how and when can the Texas Legislature decide that a private entity will be given control over a block of territory? I'll come back to that...."

Postmarks
Slusher Kicks Ass!
Columns  March 13, 1998
"...In 1997, the Texas Legislature gave small business the right to continue in business for at least the next two years. Now a small (and influential) group decides Texas small businesses need no warning that the law which was upheld by the Texas Legislature is being ignored....."

Roe's End?
After nearly three years of fighting, Texas reproductive rights advocates will get their day at the U.S. Supreme Court
News Story  January 28, 2016, by Mary Tuma
"...And it all started with four divisive bills that failed to muster enough support from a conservative Legislature during its regular session, only to be resurrected later by an anti-choice governor hellbent on making "abortion a thing of the past." Damage in HB 2's Wake..."

Grim History
Author traces Texas prison system from its roots in plantation slavery
News Story  August 20, 2010, by Michael King
"...But it never happened; they never got the funding for it. The Legislature cut them off at the knees...."

How Long Is 140 Days?
As the 81st Legislature departs, does it leave a footprint?
News Story  June 12, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...Early in the 81st Legislature, many lawmakers half-joked that if they got the budget passed, they'd call it a win. Considering how little major legislation passed and how the budget was bailed out by federal stimulus dollars, they may have aimed too high...."

Council Watch
Details of the Bradley Settlement are finally made public and opened up to debate; Bill Spelman announces that he will not run for re-election to Place 5.
News Column  February 18, 2000, by Jenny Staff Johnson
"...17) should provide the first public airing of Bradley-related laundry, with SOS and HCWPP expected to put in an appearance at the 6pm public hearing. Word is that SOS's top priority is the introduction of third-party accountability to the deal, someone like the Nature Conservancy or the Trust for Public Land, who could jointly hold the conservation easement with the city as further insurance that the state Legislature -- or future councils with less environmentally friendly policies -- would not undo the agreement...."

The De-Railers
RR Commission Challengers Say the Office Is Off-Track
News Story  November 1, 1996, by Karl Pallmeyer
"...According to George N. Green's chapter on "The Oil and Gas Industry in Texas" in The Texas Heritage history textbook, the Texas Legislature attempted to empower the Railroad Commission with a series of laws designed to favor Texas oil companies over the large, out-of-state national firms, but those laws were struck down by federal courts at the request of the majors..."

District 47
News Story  February 23, 1996
"...We couldn't have dreamed up a better story: three of the four candidates running in the Republican primary in District 47 of the Texas Legislature are among Travis County's most controversial figures. Each has achieved singular notoriety, but all together in one race, they make for bang-up politics..."

Block the Vote
If you can't beat 'em, disenfranchise 'em
News Story  April 21, 2016, by Amy Kamp
"...In 1971, Crow was at the founding meeting of the Texas Women's Political Caucus, along with Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan. Twenty years later, she ran the campaign to elect Glen Maxey, who became the first openly gay member of the Texas Legislature..."

Death Penalty Off the Hook
Preemptive strike against wrongful conviction fails in murder trial prehearing
News Story  January 21, 2011, by Jordan Smith
"...Cochran concluded that Capitol chambers are a more suitable place for a discussion about the merits of Texas' death system. "Certainly the Texas Legislature is an appropriate forum in which to debate these public policy issues," Cochran wrote for a six-judge majority ruling..."

Point Austin: Back to the Color Line
Texas turns back the clock on racial justice
News Column  December 31, 2010, by Michael King
"...Speaking of bland benevolence, we will soon see the reigning white majority at the Legislature straining to repeat the prestidigitation it accomplished in the last round of state re-redistricting: ensuring state and congressional control by (white) Republican majorities at the expense of (majority nonwhite) Texas residents. The process will of course be commonly reported as simply the reflection of the victory of Republican voters over Democrats..."

Clouds Over Campus
With less funding, more competition, and a wavering vision, UT-Austin faces an uncertain future
News Story  May 21, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...The recent shifts all started with the Texas Legislature, which last session made higher education a priority. The Senate finally established a Higher Education Committee (previously it had been a subcommittee under Educa­tion)..."

Take Three
Texas film incentives don't always carry sufficient funding
News Story  October 30, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...The bill was intended to provide grants for film, TV, and commercial shoots. "Intended" is the right word: Though the legislature passed the bill, it never actually funded the program, so there was no money for grants...."

Dewhurst for Lieutenant Governor (Again)
Lite guv wants another run as senate president
DAILY News  September 9, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...There is a concession about that issue buried deep in the text, where he writes that he, Gov. Rick Perry and Speaker Joe Straus convinced the legislature to "not use any money from the Rainy Day Fund, meaning Texas once again will be able to balance our budget in 2011 without raising taxes." In that statement, he neatly sidesteps the question of whether they'll have any cash to cover the planned school property tax cuts scheduled for 2011, which could cause some conservative grumbling...."

Justice and Worker Safety
Labor leaders and legislators draw attention to court decision they say threatens work­ers' ability to sue when injured by negligent employers
News Story  December 21, 2007, by Lee Nichols
"...Until the Texas Supreme Court waltzed into this issue, the Texas Legislature, even at the height of the tort-reform craze, had declined to go this far in closing the courthouse doors to injured workers, despite repeated efforts by the anti-lawsuit lobby. Sen..."

Naked City
News Story  April 14, 2006
"...The third special-called session of the 79th Legislature commences Monday with returning legislators meeting to consider the public school finance reform proposal proposed by Gov. Perry and developed by the tax reform commission chaired by former comptroller John Sharp..."

The Least That Money Can Buy
Prison health care is caught between growing demand and shrinking resources
News Story  July 16, 2004, by Lucius Lomax
"...So say the stats compiled at Medical Branch. Nonetheless, the Legislature is reluctant to release anybody, even though on the outside these older inmates would be eligible for Medicare...."

Postmarks
Our readers talk back.
Columns  July 11, 2003
"...It is unconscionable that we are considering wasting taxpayer's money on an issue driven solely by partisan politics. I am not buying the rhetoric from the Republican Party that redistricting must be voted on by the Texas Legislature..."

Page Two
Columns  May 23, 2003, by Louis Black
"...Such assertions are unbelievably and arrogantly demeaning. What would the political allegiances of gambler, slave trader, duelist, hustler, and then recently bereaved Jim Bowie be? If he were in the current Texas Legislature, what would William Travis' positions be? Having left his wife and child when he came to Texas, Travis became politically involved because of his indignation at the faraway Mexico City government's dictates to the local indigenous population..."

Page Two
The war in Iraq has diverted our attention from other important matters, including a truly destructive proposed federal budget, mirrored by Texas' very own fiscal abyss.
Columns  April 4, 2003, by Louis Black
"...Among the many unfortunate consequences of the Iraqi invasion has been to obscure all other important news. As Congress prepares a truly destructive budget and our own Legislature faces a fiscal abyss, people are focused on the war..."

We're No. 1!
Texas prepares to mark its 300th contemporary execution.
News Column  February 21, 2003, by Michael King
"...Ryan declared a moratorium, and over a three-year period he and an independent commission reviewed "each and every case." They discovered arbitrary or biased prosecutions; inadequate or incompetent defense; mentally ill or retarded defendants; reckless use of jailhouse or accomplice informants; coerced confessions; and four more confirmed innocents. Only when the Illinois Legislature three times refused to enact reforms to reduce the errors and unfairness of the system did Ryan act "to rid [Illinois] of the shame of threatening the innocent with execution and the guilty with unfairness." (Gov..."

Postmarks
Our readers talk back.
Columns  October 25, 2002
"...The country's largest health insurance companies ban together and lobby the Texas Legislature to pass laws making it illegal to consume foods high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium. Then the police patrol all neighborhoods and restaurants and write tickets for every person who violates the "deadly digestion laws." The income from ticket fines could then be used to buy the police new cell phones, laptops, radar-guns, mountain bikes, and other such gadgets that they desire...."

Naked City
A Paucity of Parkland
News Story  September 10, 1999, by Robert Bryce
"...The paucity of parkland hasn't been a high-profile issue among Texas politicians. But a new initiative called the Texas Our Texas Heritage Program hopes to make parks and open space acquisition a major issue during the next session of the Texas Legislature..."

Burying the Past
Judge rules that George W. Bush doesn't have to testify in whistleblower lawsuit.
News Story  September 3, 1999, by Robert Bryce
"..."I'm very disappointed," he said. "We thought we had the support of the Legislature..."

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