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Point Austin: About Those Voting Rights
Colorblind ain't the same as blind
News Column  May 15, 2009, by Michael King
"...Is it a coincidence that the Texas Legislature should be once again considering a "voter ID" law just as the Canyon Creek Voting Rights Act lawsuit reaches the U.S. Supreme Court? Not really – both proceedings are fundamentally about racial discrimination, and race has been the primary undercurrent of Texas and Southern politics for 150 years..."

From Penitentiaries to Picture Shows
Spiderwood Studios founder Tommy Warren follows the dream
Screens Story  January 30, 2009, by Joe O'Connell
"...If you know anything about the state of the Texas film industry, then you know that "if" is an increased film-incentives program to which the Texas Legislature will soon give a yea or nay. The current 5% hasn't slowed the tide of Hollywood projects going to states, such as New Mexico, Louisiana, and Michigan, that offer 25% and more..."

Film News
Wrapping up the Austin Film Festival
Screens Column  October 24, 2008, by Joe O'Connell
"...Will Robert Rodriguez be forced to shoot his next film (reliable reports say he will shoot a live-action The Jetsons before a green screen next year) outside of Texas because of studio pressure? Is his producing partner Elizabeth Avellán prepping a separate film for a Puerto Rico shoot? Yes and yes, according to Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission, who spoke about runaway production during a panel on film incentives at the Austin Film Festival. Add that to a recent Texas scout for Michael Winterbottom's next film set in a Fifties-era oil town that will likely result in the director shooting in either Louisiana or New Mexico, and the stage is set for the trickle of Hollywood films shooting in the Lone Star State to dry up completely unless the 2009 Texas Legislature acts to stanch the bleeding...."

Naked City
News Story  August 24, 2007
"...The district has reduced its portion of local property taxes to $1.178 per $100 of assessed value, which is 32 cents less than last year. Yet, thanks to formulas devised at the Legislature, the district has been able to keep the extra money created by rising property values..."

Rodeo 80
The 2007 Legislature in a quick-step roundup
News Column  June 8, 2007
"...Throughout the negotiation process over House Bill 1, the budget bill, the Senate Finance and the House Appropriations committees agreed on one thing: that almost every state agency has been damaged by years of underfunding. The plan was to move cash from one-off special items into the core budget, where it would be much harder for future legislatures to slash..."

Point Austin: Think of the Children!
Health care no match for hot air
News Column  March 16, 2007, by Michael King
"...The 80th Texas Legislature is turning out to be the Session of the Child...."

Naked City
News Story  February 2, 2007
"...• In other AISD news, the board of trustees is considering an interim bond proposal that, according to AISD facilities director Paul Turner, would be "small and strategic" and targeted to meet several needs that were unanticipated in the 2004 bond. For instance, the state Legislature has since required that all high school graduates take four years of science – and that's going to take new science labs..."

Naked City
Headlines and Happenings from Austin and Beyond
News Story  April 28, 2006
"...• The House of the 79th Texas Legislature, third special session division, succeeded this week in passing a public school finance "reform" package that would radically cut property taxes and replace some of the revenue with a new business tax and money from the "surplus" – although it would not provide any new revenues for public schools. The bills now move to the Senate; Gov..."

2006 State Races
A sampling of some of the livelier contests taking shape in the March 7 primary and the general election in November
News Story  January 20, 2006, by Wells Dunbar and Amy Smith
"...The other statewide primary races look highly unremarkable at this point and unlikely to result in a changing of the major party guards – at least until November.Texas Legislature (Travis Co. Delegation)HD 47: The GOP-engineered district in southwest Travis Co..."

Postmarks
Our readers talk back.
Columns  August 5, 2005
"...I am outraged and scandalized as I read of the apparent change in priorities of the Texas Legislature during its special session: While our state officials continue to debate and disagree on how to fund public education in Texas, they seem to unanimously agree on the increase to the retirement benefits and salaries of Texas judges. The main argument, among others, in favor of this new bill is that state judges have not received a salary increase for the past seven years...."

Picking Up the TAB
The Travis Co. DA and the courts consider Texas Association of Business money spent during the fall campaign.
News Story  March 28, 2003, by Amy Smith
"...Kay Bailey Hutchison, on four felony counts of misusing state employees and equipment for personal and political purposes during her previous tenure as state treasurer.Partisans of Integrity Fastforward to 2003, and Republicans are now full-blown Texas Alphas, holding every statewide office and majorities in both legislative chambers. Not coincidentally, they're waging a similarly artful counterattack against Earle, who has initiated a criminal investigation of the Texas Association of Business, one of the most powerful lobbying groups at the Legislature..."

An S-O-S for SOS
What will the Stratus deal mean for the Springs?
News Story  August 9, 2002, by Amy Smith
"...From the city's standpoint, SOS never had a fair chance in the face of a threatening Legislature, which effectively gave Stratus and other developers the right to build under water-quality regulations in place when they initiated development plans. "There are certain people who believe that SOS is not adequate to protect water quality," said Pat Murphy, the city's environmental services manager..."

Naked City
Bringing Instant Runoff Voting to Austin may not be so instant, and HEB tries to Clean itself of petitioners.
News Story  August 10, 2001, by Lee Nichols
"..."It is our opinion," wrote Cuellar, "that the meaning of the word 'majority,' as the Texas Legislature used it in the [Election] Code and as it has been interpreted by the courts, is majority in the 'classic' or 'traditional' sense, i.e. a majority vote consists of more than half of the original votes, as cast and not re-assigned by the voter's secondary or tertiary intent, and if no candidate receives more than half the votes, a runoff election is required." Of course, IRV is a runoff election, but Cuellar added that the law provides for runoffs in the traditional sense, and further noted that Austin Rep..."

Feeling the Heat
A profile of the new Texas ACLU and Executive Director Will Harrell
News Story  April 27, 2001, by Michael Erard
"...For an organization that limped through the Nineties with virtually no presence at the Legislature, the Texas state office of the American Civil Liberties Union is enjoying something of a progressive lobbying renaissance this session. ACLU-supported legislation is thus far doing well..."

He's Coming Back
Who gets punished when George W. Bush comes home to Austin after losing the election.
News Story  October 13, 2000, by Louis Dubose
"...Elliott Naishtat, for one. The only Jewish New Yorker ever elected to the Texas Legislature, Naishtat was probably already "sleeping with the fishes" at the end of the last legislative session, when Bush legislative aide Terral Smith reportedly was lobbying Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka to include Naishtat on the Monthly's "Ten Worst" list..."

Naked City
Jacob's Well, one of the most prolific and celebrated springs in Central Texas, has stopped flowing.
News Story  September 22, 2000, by Robert Bryce
"...On Sept. 5, the Hays County Commissioners Court unanimously passed a resolution stating it will seek zoning authority from the Texas Legislature..."

Natural State
San Antonio-based Presidian wants to enter into public private partnerships with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
News Story  August 4, 2000, by Dan Oko
"...The problems facing Texas parks have been well-documented: Maintenance backlogs and staffing shortages are just the beginning of a litany of hardships that park advocates and administrators have long been trying to sort out. And yet, despite a projected state budget surplus, the Legislature continues to insist that TPWD be self-sufficient..."

No Man's Land
Substandard Conditions Are a Way of Life for Northridge Acres
News Story  June 9, 2000, by Cheryl Smith
"...The subdivision's 300-plus residents cope in different ways. Kenneth Snyder, a bicycle repairman who vends soft drinks out of a Coke machine next to his front door, opts for making daily phone calls to the offices of elected officials in Austin, Round Rock, Travis County, Williamson County, the Texas Legislature and several state agencies...."

Worth the Dough?
News Column  June 17, 1999
"...Thanks largely to Mayor Kirk Watson's constant presence at the Capitol, and partly due to the efforts of Austin's pricey lobbying team, the city managed to ward off the worst of the numerous Austin-bashing proposals floated at the Legislature this session. But the city paid dearly for its good fortune, spending $1.6 million on its lobbying campaign -- an amount that critics have called exorbitant, but that city officials and lobbyists call a bargain considering how much Austin had to lose...."

A Boy Named Sue
Jim Bob Keeps Up the Fight
News Story  February 20, 1998, by Robert Bryce
"...Last month, the city sued to overturn SB 1017, a law written by Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) that passed the Texas Legislature in 1995..."

Paying Doctor
Federal Insurance Program Could Aid Texas' Youth
News Story  December 26, 1997, by Kevin Fullerton
"...Medically uninsured populations cost everybody money, through higher health care premiums, and through local tax dollars, as hospitals write off hundreds of millions annually providing charity care through their emergency rooms. But the Legislature has never had the willpower to appropriate matching funds that would bring in the necessary Medicaid dollars..."

Longhorn Lobby?
UT's Ethical Entanglements at the Capitol
News Story  May 2, 1997, by Robert Bryce
"...And yet, in its efforts to get money out of the Texas Legislature, the University of Texas System has often acted very much like a corporation or other for-profit entities. UT's vice chancellor for governmental relations, Mike Millsap, is paid like a lobbyist: He earns $165,480 and is given an additional $8,400 per year for a car allowance..."

Salamander Tales
To Protect Toads or Build Back Nine? Golf, of Course
News Story  August 18, 1995, by Robert Bryce
"...The agency recently reprimanded Andy Price, its lead aquatic biologist and an expert on the salamanders of Central Texas, for putting together a report which lists threats to the regions' salamander population. One staffer says that pressure from the Legislature led TPWD managers to tell heritage program biologists to "lay low during the legislative session" and to stay away from anything that might be controversial..."

On the Trustee Trail
AISD, ACC candidates talk money, equity
News Story  October 11, 2018, by Austin Sanders
"...Each AISD candidate agrees the district's $30 million budget deficit is a top concern, and that the Texas Legislature cannot be counted on to increase its funding for public schools. They also focus on closing the district's persistent achievement gaps – 80% of white students read at grade level, for instance, while only 31% of African-American students and 40% of Hispanic students can do the same, according to the latest Texas Academic Performance Report...."

Point Austin: The Way Things Are
Another victory for judicial fairness leads to … more discrimination at the polls
News Column  April 13, 2017, by Michael King
"...On Monday, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that Senate Bill 14, enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2011, "was passed, at least in part, with a discriminatory intent in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965." Ramos was reiterating her October 2014 opinion (based on the original trial record) that found the Texas voter ID law established "an unconstitutional poll tax … creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose."..."

Budget: Heavy on Tax Cuts, Light on Services
Fallout from the 84th Texas legislative session
News Story  June 4, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...That lesson was learned while lawmakers passed House Bill 1, the state budget for the 2016-17 biennium. After the great gouging of 2011, when Republicans slashed spending, the talking point was that this hamstrung spending was "the new normal." Even with a partial economic revival in 2013, the 84th Legislature lived up to that mantra, and handed out $3.8 billion in tax cuts, rather than re-invest a smoke-and-mirrors surplus...."

Dewhurst Down, and Out Come the Jackals
UPDATE: Lite guv hopefuls turn on incumbent after SB 5 meltdown
DAILY News  June 27, 2013, by Richard Whittaker
"...He has become a national figure of ridicule but, like any good cannibalistic species, it may be elected officials of his own party who tore out chunks fastest and deepest. First up on deck was the king of the opportunists, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. A former state senator, still regularly seen around the Legislature, he has already thrown his hat in the ring to replace Dewhurst..."

Point Austin: Underfunded and Overtested
Save Texas Schools builds a groundswell for public education
News Column  February 22, 2013, by Michael King
"...Former U.S. Assistant Sec­re­tary of Education and public school advocate Diane Ravitch is the keynote speaker, and several legislators are expected to speak as well – especially since the overall goal is to build momentum at the Legislature in support of public schools..."

Point Austin: Governor Oops! Again
Perry's vision of Texas rests on willful blindness
News Column  February 1, 2013, by Michael King
"..."My fellow Texans," declaimed Gov. Rick Perry to the Legislature, "it is my pleasure to report that the state of our state is stronger than ever." It would be naive to expect the Governor for Life, in his seventh SOTS address, to strike a note substantially different from the first six..."

The Battle for Barton Springs: A Brief Timeline
Twenty years of progress
News Story  August 3, 2012, by Michael King
"...1987: The Texas Legislature enacts House Bill 4, barring a city from altering water quality rules once a development project has begun...."

Total Utility
The pain and politics of raising electric rates as a means of controlling our destiny
News Story  June 15, 2012, by Mike Kanin
"...No member of the Texas Legislature attended the press conference either. With his appearance at a handful of Austin Energy rate hearings, state Rep..."

Welcome to the 81st
Will a new speaker and more Democrats spell 'change' at the Capitol?
News Story  January 9, 2009, by Michael King
"...As the 81st Texas Legislature gathers for the opening gavel Jan. 13, Texans might be forgiven for presuming that the only pressing business at hand is the selection of a new speaker of the House..."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  August 11, 2006
"...• Speaking of DeLay, a three-judge panel released new redistricting maps for the southwest quadrant of Texas on Friday to remedy violations of the Voting Rights Act committed by the DeLay-pushed redistricting that passed the Texas Legislature in 2003. The good news is that Austin Rep..."

On the Lege
Lawmakers accomplish what they failed to do so many times – approve a new education funding package that doesn't look half bad on paper
News Column  May 19, 2006, by Amy Smith
"...On Monday, the Legislature wrapped up a special session on school finance a day early, and Gov. Rick Perry declared, "Mission accomplished!" Then Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn called a press conference and said, "No, it isn't!"..."

The Election, the Baby, and the Bathwater
Heflin challenge could reverberate statewide
News Column  January 28, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...Perhaps it's a long shot, but the Year of the Rooster could bring about a dramatic shift in the voting patterns of Asian Americans, who typically vote conservatively but not necessarily as a one-party bloc. Now, thanks to the Republican Party's obstreperous efforts to oust the first Vietnamese-American ever elected to the Texas Legislature, the Asian vote could become the Democrats' secret weapon...."

Postmarks
Our readers talk back.
Columns  September 17, 2004
"...What is your source for this information? Why is the Austin district being so ignominiously singled out? Was the action of diverting Austin's money approved by the Texas Transportation Commission? Was the transfer approved by the Legislative Budget Board? Did the Texas Legislature approve the transfer of Austin's highway construction money? Did Gov. Perry approve this transfer of money?..."

Capitol Chronicle
The governor sells social service cuts as "enhancements."
News Column  October 31, 2003, by Michael King
"...Two-thirds of CHIP money is federal, and the feds require "appropriate coverage" for the program's low-income participants (working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but who still can't afford private health insurance). Federal administrators had looked askance at the Legislature's elimination of mental health coverage for the half-million children in the program, and in decorously bureaucratic language asked the state what the hell was going on..."

Capitol Chronicle
Republican Bill Ratliff throws a monkeywrench into his own party's redistricting plans
News Column  July 18, 2003, by Michael King
"...Perhaps not quite yet, but it was addressed to him, and its substance, as delivered by Ratliff, was brief and to the point. "This is to advise you that the undersigned members of the Texas Senate are unalterably opposed to the Senate's consideration of a congressional redistricting bill during the 78th Legislature..."

Naked City
Green Grades
News Story  March 1, 2002, by Lee Nichols
"...Last year, the group scrutinized 14 key U.S. House votes and eight Senate votes, as well as nine Texas Legislature votes...."

Aleshire the Agitator
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Limelight
News Story  August 28, 1998, by Robert Bryce
"...A vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, Aleshire applied for, and got, conscientious objector status, an issue that he says caused more than a little conflict with his father. Part of the work he did as community service in lieu of military service was to work in the Texas Legislature..."

TateAustin Energy
Something Costly This Way Comes: PR for City Utility
News Column  June 5, 1998, by Jenny Staff
"...By approving the TateAustin contract, the city is casting its lot with the many in the private sector who are gearing up for the transition to competition, just as the momentum among those lawmakers who have the authority to approve it is slowing down. As it turns out, the irresistible force of competition that the council is betting on could find an immovable object personified in the members of the Texas Legislature...."

Bush Tackles Taxes
News Column  January 31, 1997
"...George W. Bush delivered his long-awaited State of the State speech to a joint session of the Texas Legislature..."

Lege Lines: Guns, Islamophobia, & Budget Cuts
The Lege takes on guns, Islamophobia, and sets the draft budget
News Story  February 5, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...Schizophrenic messages are coming out of the Legislature about open carry. Lt..."

The Making of a Movement
Moments from the battle on women's rights ... in progress
News Story  July 19, 2013, by Michael King and Amy Smith
"...The last minutes wound down on Gov. Rick Perry's first special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature, and it seemed certain that the Senate Republican majority couldn't be stopped in its determination to impose draconian regulations on abortion and women's health care..."

Show Them the Need
The great GOP wave breaks on the realities of the actual cost of government
News Story  June 10, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...The Texas Legislature did not return (or rather, did not stay around) for the current special session because (as Gov. Perry would have it) Sen..."

Senate Budget Lesser of Two Evils
Reps from both chambers commence to thrash out final numbers
News Story  May 13, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...The 82nd session of the Texas Legislature will end as it began: with outside observers waiting to see what budget emerges from Republican infighting...."

Point Austin: What Do They Conserve?
The 82nd Legislature sets a new standard for official recklessness
News Column  May 13, 2011, by Michael King
"...In short, this budget will be the ultimate disgrace of the 82nd Legislature. You could almost stomach it, if they'd only stop pretending that this reckless disregard for the actual state of the commonweal is, by any stretch of the imagination, "conservative."  ..."

Of Sonograms and Airport Scanners
How an intrusive probe is not like a body image (apparently)
DAILY News  March 22, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...But is this really the number one civil rights or public safety issue wending its way through the Texas legislature right now?..."

On the Lege: House GOP Goes to War – With Itself
Even in victory, Republicans are divided
News Story  November 19, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...On election night, the 51 remaining House Democrats in the Texas Legislature feared that the new majority of 99 Republicans would be able to steamroll through any policy they wanted. But instead of fleshing out its legislative agenda, the GOP is embroiled in a war over the fate of Speaker Joe Straus, and party leaders are still debating what their dominating victory on Nov..."

Outraged and Scandalized
Postmarks  August 2, 2005
"...To the editor, I am outraged and scandalized as I read of the apparent change in priorities of the Texas Legislature during its special session: While our state officials continue to debate and disagree on how to fund public education in Texas, they seem to unanimously agree on the increase to the retirement benefits and salaries of Texas judges. The main argument, among others, in favor of this new bill is that state judges have not received a salary increase for the past seven years. To begin with, no state official should receive any increase in salary, retirement funds, or any other benefits at this time for a job they are unable or unwilling to accomplish..."

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