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Postmarks
Emory & Young Not Conservative
Columns  May 16, 1997
"...Commuter trains are coming soon to Capitol Metro if Texas Senate Bill 657 is approved by the legislature! Currently Bill 657 is before the House Committee for Urban Affairs. This bill, if enacted, will empower the state to set up "Intermunicipal Commuter Districts." This means that the counties in the rail corridor between Austin and San Antonio will be included in an dual track upgrade to provide a "system" where "System means all of the commuter rail and intermodial facilities leased or owned or operated on behalf of a district created by this article." Also, "The following political subdivisions may become a part of a district, a county located adjacent to a county in which a creating municipality is located," those counties would have to qualify under the terms of Bill 657..."

Midland Tangles With a Rare Bird Republicans Fowl Property Rights
News Story  June 23, 1995, by Robert Bryce
"...Marshall Kuykendall, the leader of the property rights group Take Back Texas who helped push a property rights bill through the Texas Legislature, refuses to comment on the Erskine case. "Midland is probably trying to tell these people that they have a nuisance," he says..."

Missed a Major Aspect
Postmarks  December 23, 2017
"...Dear Editor, I want to thank The Austin Chronicle for your recent attention to the culture of chronic sexual abuse in the Texas Legislature ["A Work in Progress," News, Dec. 22]; like many Texans, I've been horrified (though not surprised) by recent reports in the Daily Beast, the Texas Tribune, and here in the Chronicle. Specifically, I commend the Chronicle for pointing out that the Texas House's new “sexual harassment” policy is a pathetic joke; the notion that unenforceable “training requirements” will change anything is laughable. Nevertheless, I think the Chronicle missed a major aspect of the story: Charlie Geren, the committee chairman tasked with enforcing the new policy, married a lobbyist six months ago..."

Lege Lines: Sine Done
The dregs from last month's special session
News Story  August 24, 2017, by Richard Whittaker and Mary Tuma
"...Moreover, SCOTUS recently upheld a similar lower court decision in North Carolina, one broadly seen as showing that even the conservative-leaning Supremes are taking a tough line on voter suppression. However, since the first session ended in mixed results for Abbott (including a failure to pass right-wing legislation like the bathroom bill and local government budget restrictions), it seems he is more prepared to incur the wrath of the legal system than to reconvene a highly divided Legislature. – Richard Whittaker Keeping Racism Alive..."

Congressional Districts to Get Re-Mapped
Judge rules Doggett and Farenthold’s districts unconstitutional
News Story  August 17, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...15 by District Judge Xavier Rodriguez on behalf of a three-judge panel, is the latest blow to the GOP's attempts to control Texas politics. The maps in question were originally drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 with a simple underlying plan: first, to rebalance Doggett's CD 35 seat from Austin-based to a bizarre split between Austin and San Antonio (and the thin slice of I-35 between them), making the veteran Dem more susceptible to a Bexar County primary challenger; then, second, to turn CD 27 into a safe seat for Farenthold by bolting together every GOP-friendly precinct between Del Valle and Corpus Christi..."

Senate Speeds Through Anti-Choice Bills
Senate prioritizes anti-abortion bills during special session
DAILY News  July 25, 2017, by Mary Tuma
"...John Whitmire, D-Houston, underscoring the unpredictability of the procedure. “This is by far the most emotional issue we’ve had to deal with at the Legislature.”..."

Lege Lines: A New Path for State House Dems
The promise of new Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner
News Story  February 9, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"..."Texas is exceptional." Turner also conceded that there were a few points of policy agreement between the governor and state Dems – but as for the rest of Abbott's agenda, his description was short and brusque: "Needlessly divisive, pointless, and frankly ... a waste of time for this Legislature."..."

You're a Mean One, Mister Governor
Bah, humbug! Abbott kicks Founding Fathers out of Capitol.
DAILY News  December 24, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...The image in question was placed there by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which had been approved to place a depiction of the four figures surrounding the Bill of Rights, in what can only be seen as a charming homage to the Nativity Scene. This was a major honor, especially considering that the Legislature places a Christmas tree in both chambers, but keeps the Menorah outside the Capitol gates...."

Public Notice: Be a Good Citizen
County commissioners brief businesses on environmental upgrade program for buildings
News Column  June 25, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...In 2013, the Texas legislature enacted SB 385, authorizing cities and counties to work with private-sector lenders and property owners to finance energy- or water-saving improvements on commercial properties. Because the term of a PACE loan may extend up to 20 years, utility cost savings can exceed the loan payments, meaning the improvements can generate positive cash flow, with no up-front cost to the property owner..."

Public Notice: The Dog That Didn't Bark
Will property taxes in Texas ever make sense?
News Column  June 4, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...The Texas Legislature did pass one meaningful property tax change this session: A $10,000 increase in the homestead exemption on school taxes that, if approved by voters, will save the average homeowner about $120 a year. (Of course, that comes right off the top of your school district's budget, so property tax rates will probably be raised proportionally, so you'll be paying some of that $120 after all, though non-homesteaders – renters, commercial property owners – will be paying part of it for you.) And, significantly, it's a flat dollar amount – meaning it applies equally to everyone, regardless of their home's value..."

Lege Lines: Session Winners and Losers
As sine die nears, bills drop left and right
News Story  May 28, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...Even though the budget is still in flux, there was no discussion of infrastructure investment or emergency funding for the thousands of residents. Instead, the Legislature moved on with its same agenda of guns and abortion restrictions...."

The Courage of Dawnna Dukes
State representative discredits claims that abortion leads to mental health problems
News Story  September 25, 2014, by Mary Tuma
"...Dukes firmly rejected Deuell's comments, writing: "your implied statement on my mental stability is an insult which implies a problem with your own. Were you offended that this woman would not back down or bow down to you? Those days are way gone." She continued, "I sure will not miss you in the legislature."..."

Point Austin: Making Sense of Newtown
A year later, small steps toward changing the gun violence paradigm
News Column  December 20, 2013, by Michael King
"...Nevertheless, not all the news is bad. You'll be surprised to learn that in the 2013 session, the Texas Legislature enacted a gun control measure..."

Lege Lines
This week the Lege takes on wrongful convictions, medical marijuana, and dark money
News Column  May 17, 2013
"...SEE YOU IN THE FALL? OR MAYBE SUM­MER? With the 83rd Legislature scheduled to end May 27, lawmakers are already wondering how soon they'll be back in Austin for a special session. Pick a reason: No compromise has been reached on essential issues like transportation funding, while Gov..."

Civics 101
News Column  April 12, 2013
"...MIDSESSION REVIEW OF TEXAS LEGISLATURE Ever wonder what Texas elected officials are up to? Join Texas Observer editor Dave Mann as he keeps the current Texas Legislature honest. 7pm..."

Bonus Bill of the Week: Corporations Can't Vote, But Can Make It Rain
Dems seek constitutional overturn for Citizens United
DAILY News  January 13, 2013, by Richard Whittaker
"...Senfronia Thompson – have filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 and House Concurrent Resolution 21. This pair of measures propose that the Texas Legislature call on the US Congress to propose a Constitutional amendment overturning the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling...."

Court Issues Congressional Map
Updated: Democrats respond to new boundaries
DAILY News  November 23, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...Travis County Democratic Party Chair Andy Brown issued this statement: Basically the Republican legislature’s extreme slicing and dicing of Travis County has been rejected. Travis County is now divided into three, not five, districts, and Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s CD 25, which was targeted by Governor Perry, has been mostly reinstated...."

Voting Rights Act Goes to Court
September hearing set in San Antonio
News Story  July 15, 2011, by Lee Nichols
"...Opponents of the Texas Legislature's (read: Texas Republicans') redistricting plans swore they'd take the maps to court, and so they did: On Sept. 6, a three-judge panel will hold a hearing combining multiple lawsuits in San Antonio..."

Point Austin: Making Women Suffer
The self-appointed defenders of life and family values are neither
News Column  April 22, 2011, by Michael King
"...I rarely use this space to call attention to another Chronicle News story – I presume readers who've gotten this far know how to turn the page – but I'm making an exception this week for "The War on Women's Health," Jordan Smith's excoriating report on the Texas Legislature's determination to use the current fiscal crisis as an excuse to attack public services for health care, most visibly symbolized by Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit organization that for decades has delivered below-cost health services for millions of women in Texas and nationwide. From our cover image and headline – "Toxic Shock" – you can tell the Chronicle editors consider this an important story..."

You Can Win If You Don't Play?
At the Lege, the most meaningful votes may not be votes at all
News Story  April 8, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...The core problem remains that, in its constitutional limitation of sitting for only 140 days every two years, the Texas Legislature itself is the entity that's really absent. When it is in session, there will always be Sophie's Choice moments, because the pressure-cooker environment lends itself to toxic trick votes and missed opportunities..."

Environment: Finding Common Ground
Making arguments green in more ways than one
News Story  March 4, 2011, by Lee Nichols
"...The environment has never been a front-burner issue for the Texas Legislature, and when the mantra this session is "cut, cut, cut," there's no reason to expect progressive initiatives. Environmentalists' best hopes are on pushing initiatives that can be packaged as pro-business..."

Separation of Reality and State
Postmarks  October 22, 2010
"...The federal Constitution covers this. It not only bans the federal Congress from making religious laws, it effectively bans all of the state legislatures from doing the same..."

Poverty Knocks
Texas' financial black hole widens
DAILY News  May 29, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...A supplementary letter for the Legislative Budget Board clarifies the situation, and it's even worse than it first seems. The board says that the starting point for any calculations isn't the current 2010-11 budget the the legislature passed last session, but the recently and retroactively revised version with 5% slashed out of it...."

The Common Law
New Traffic Laws
Columns  October 2, 2009, by Luke Ellis
"...The Texas Legislature amended the requirements for child safety seats. The new law requires that children be restrained in an approved child passenger safety seat unless the child is at least 8 years old or taller than 4 feet, 9 inches..."

Watson for State Senate
Travis County Senator strikes himself off gubernatorial candidate list
DAILY News  August 14, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...First of all, I really like serving in the Senate and representing the citizens of Travis County. I’ve found a lot of success in the legislature, and I believe my service there is tangibly helping Texas and its people..."

Now Dunnam Is Really Pissed at TxDOT
Stimulus committee chair says agency sending inaccurate information to Congress
DAILY News  March 3, 2009, by Lee Nichols
"...TXDOT informs me that the Texas State Legislature has mounted firm opposition to the process by which TXDOT selected the Statewide Priority Projects and the Rehab/Maintenance Projects from HR 1, the ARRA or “Stimulus” package. Essentially, the Subcommittee that House Speaker Strauss [sic] created to oversee the stimulus is Chaired by Waco Representative Dunham [sic], and this Subcommittee is the source of all the opposition to TXDOT and charges that the only consideration for projects to be used from the Stimulus should be economically distressed areas...."

81st Lege
The upcoming legislative session looks to be a doozy
News Story  September 26, 2008, by Wells Dunbar
"...Repairing the wreckage from twin storms – Hurricane Ike and the financial maelstrom on Wall Street – will likely dominate the 81st session of the Texas Legislature, according to a panel discussion at the William P. Hob­by Policy Conference, sponsored by progressive advocacy organization the Center for Public Policy Priorities..."

Capitol View Corridor Debate Moves to Lege
Round Rock Rep. Mike Krusee steps into Capitol view corridors fray
News Story  March 16, 2007, by Kimberly Reeves
"..."I'm not defining what that process should be or who the players should be. Right now we have to go through the Legislature, which is a very messy and sometimes unpredictable process, so the thought was to make this a more predictable process."..."

Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom Delay
Steve Bickerstaff's exhaustive history is at times too much of a bad thing, but in parts catches scholarly fire
Books Review  March 1, 2007, by Michael King
"...But Tom DeLay's boys at Texans for a Republican Majority (and their collaborators at the Texas Association of Business) had their eyes fixed on a new speaker – Tom Craddick – and with him a GOP majority impregnable enough to force through an unprecedented middecade redistricting. Even if it meant political devastation to the Legislature itself...."

Lotto Madness?
Former Texas Lottery Commission employee sues commission, alleging he lost his job because he alerted the Texas Legislature to security and ethics breaches, as well as to a cover-up in which employees 'are bullied into silence'
News Story  September 15, 2006, by Patricia J. Ruland
"...Charles is suing the commission, alleging he lost his job as a systems analyst on Nov. 4, 2005, because he alerted the Texas Legislature via an e-mail on Nov..."

Heflin Seeks Lotto Helm
Former House Appropriations Committee chair added to short list of Lottery Commissioner finalists.
News Story  November 25, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...Talmadge Heflin, once a powerful force in the Texas Legislature, is seeking the top job at the scandal-plagued Texas Lottery Commission. The former chair of the House Appropriations Committee was added to a short list of finalists at a commission meeting on Friday..."

Naked City
Watchdog group Campaigns for People releases newest findings
News Story  June 10, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...As if we needed any more evidence of how corporate money dictates the actions (or inactions) of the Texas Legislature, along comes more proof. The newest findings, released last week by the watchdog group Campaigns for People, illustrate the veritable free-for-all that exists when corporate and union dollars enter the political arena..."

The Hightower Report
Texas Legislature, theatre of the absurd; and, why all the surprise over steroid scandals?
News Column  February 25, 2005, by Jim Hightower
"...The Bushites are expert at this hypocrisy, but you can find plenty of cases right here in Austin – the Texas Legislature is a hothouse for sprouting hypocritical conservatives who want to use the full power of government to enforce their own peculiar agendas...."

Naked City
How much partisan gerrymandering is too much?
News Story  January 28, 2005, by Kimberly Reeves
"...A three-judge panel ruled last year that the Texas Legislature had the right to redraw the state's congressional district lines, no matter how messy or partisan that process might get. Redistricting is political by nature..."

Back to School
From Dallas to the Border, Texas shortchanges its children and its future
News Column  August 20, 2004, by Michael King
"...The two main obstacles to a solution, Grusendorf said, are "a lack of consensus on the part of the leadership and on the part of the school community." Grusendorf complained that the school advocates would not consider any solution that doesn't bring "more money" to the table, and so wouldn't "compromise" with Lege plans that offered little or none. Indeed, QR reported, according to Grusendorf the schools have plenty of money – if they didn't, they would have agreed to a solution imposed by the Legislature instead of waiting for an answer from the courts...."

Capitol Chronicle
The Texas 11 Minus One return, and the gallery goes wild.
News Column  September 19, 2003, by Michael King
"...That was the rousing scene in the Senate Monday afternoon, following an extremely abbreviated opening meeting in the third-called special session of the Texas Legislature -- quick-gaveled by Dewhurst in a backfired attempt to foil the Democrats' plan to deliver personal privilege speeches. The Senate met only long enough to refer to committee a handful of proposed bills, including congressional redistricting, and then -- on a motion of John Whitmire, D-Houston -- adjourned for the day..."

Naked City
Headlines
News Story  July 4, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Speaking of offenses against public morals, the Texas Legislature is back in town, and re-redistricting is Topic A. On Tuesday night, the House Redistricting Committee presented its latest map, which leaves Travis Co..."

Playing Defense
Progressives prepare to circle the wagons at the Lege
News Column  November 29, 2002, by Michael King
"...One weathered axiom of legislative politics, particularly in Texas, is that it's a lot easier to stop bad bills than to pass good ones. That principle should get quite a workout during the 78th Legislature, when progressive legislators will find themselves on their heels even more than usual..."

Read the Fine Print
With arbitration clauses, homebuilders are erecting a legal wall to keep themselves out of court.
News Story  August 30, 2002, by Emily Pyle
"...Clauses in home construction contracts have come under the closest scrutiny by consumer advocates and legislators, as growing public concern over health risks associated with mold sparks hundreds of new lawsuits against builders. The state Legislature's House Subcommittee on Binding Arbitration held a public hearing in May, and in December will issue recommendations in a report containing testimony and information from consumers, businesses, and experts from both sides...."

Capitol Chronicle
The New Governor opens his campaign for re-election.
News Column  February 2, 2001, by Michael King
"...There was lip service to other social needs, but that was Perry's core list. The speech's core message was something else again: "Now is not the time to commit ourselves to numerous programs that we may not be able to one day sustain." Translation: When the economy was booming and the budget expanding, my predecessor and the Legislature thought it best to dedicate every windfall to tax cuts; now that the economy is teetering on the brink, for some reason the state's cupboard is looking bare..."

Naked City
Austin looks to ways it can build its utility infrastructure to accomodate new growth while keeping the environment clean, avoiding the precedent set by cities such as Dallas that have built infrastructure without regard for where future growth will be.
News Story  August 4, 2000, by Dan Oko
"...When it comes to utility restructuring, Austin has managed to hold onto its bragging rights over Dallas-Fort Worth. At last year's deregulation hearings in the Texas Legislature, consumer advocates and environmentalists voiced concern over Dallas' power delivery infrastructure, which is provided by privately owned TX Utilities (TXU)..."

A Decade at the Lege
News Story  January 7, 2000, by Erica C. Barnett
"...Some wit once said that when Texas' founding fathers decided that the state legislature should meet for 140 days every two years, they made a mistake; what they meant to say was that the Lege should meet for two days every 140 years. Nonetheless, our elected representatives continue to provide fodder for political pundits and headline writers every other year, which makes it hard to pare down our list of top battles of the decade to only 10..."

Postmarks
Our readers talk back.
Columns  December 31, 1999
"...Now, the current version of the profit motive paradigm (Austin American-Statesman's cruel hits on Tim Jones) is systematically trying to destroy the Austin City Council appointed Citizen Board Commissions. The Austin bashing by the Texas Legislature is not enough for them, they have to pick on those pesky citizen review boards too..."

Politics
Best of Austin Story  September 24, 1999
"...Here's a woman who knows how to persevere against the odds. Every other year, Hardy-Garcia, the tireless executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, goes to bat for us in the rough and tumble world of the Texas Legislature..."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  August 12, 1999
"...The Sierra Club, which issued its biennial Environmental Impact Statement on the 76th Texas Legislature last week, found little to cheer for in the wreckage of a session characterized more by stasis than success for the environmental community. Of the hundreds of bills the Sierra Club lobbied for or against this session, the best thing that could be said about the three bills with the greatest impact on the environment was they could have been much, much worse, given the anti-environmental makeup of this year's Legislature...."

After the Deluge: Awash in Legal Fees
News Story  August 14, 1998
"...Since 1992, the city of Austin has spent more than $2.4 million on litigation related to the Save Our Springs Ordinance and water quality-related bills passed by the Texas Legislature. Nearly all of that money was paid to 10 different law firms, which charged hourly billing rates ranging from $120 per hour to $350 per hour, according to documents provided to the Chronicle under the Texas Open Records Act..."

Glass of `93
Five Years of Austin Brewpubs
Food Story  April 24, 1998, by Pableaux Johnson
"..."Summer of '93... I guess it has." Five years since the Texas Legislature finally passed House Bill 1425 and gave the green light to brewpubs in Texas...."

Postmarks
Columns  December 12, 1997
"...Over the past five decades I have worked tirelessly for equality in all sectors of our community. These efforts include the fight to secure single-member districts for the election of members of the Texas Legislature, ending segregation in our schools and in our public facilities...."

Unsettling Settlement
News Story  June 20, 1997, by Robert Bryce
"...Deerfield's lawyer, Steve Drenner, quickly filed a lawsuit known as Deerfield v. City of Austin, arguing that Deerfield's project was protected by SB 1704, a bill passed in 1995 by the Texas Legislature which mandates that a development project will be governed by the development rules in effect when a developer receives approval for his first permit application..."

Naked City
Off the Desk:
News Story  June 6, 1997
"...In fact, he is prohibited from lobbying by state law. But Cunningham has been working the legislature all session long, particularly on issues that pertain to UT's athletic department...."

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