Quorum Report News Clips

October 20, 2017: All Newsclips | Mid Morning Clips

Early Morning - October 20, 2017

Lead Stories

Washington Post - October 19, 2017

Senate approves budget in crucial step forward for Republican tax cuts

The Senate approved the Republican-backed budget Thursday night, a major step forward for the GOP effort to enact tax cuts. The budget’s passage will allow the GOP to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax legislation through the Senate with 50 or more votes, removing the need for support from Democratic senators. “Tonight, we completed the first step toward replacing our broken tax code … We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to replace a failing tax code that holds Americans back with one that actually works for them,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said following the 51-49 vote.

Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2017

Trump agrees to new Harvey relief funds for Texas

President Donald Trump agreed Thursday to a new storm relief package with money earmarked specifically for people hit by Hurricane Harvey, according to Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. An unspecified sum, which is expected to come before Congress in November, would be in addition to $36.5 billion in general disaster aid that the Senate was poised to approve late Thursday night or early Friday for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas hit by natural disasters. Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas lawmakers in Washington signed a letter earlier this month seeking $18.7 billion in funding specifically for relief and recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.

Austin American-Statesman - October 19, 2017

Early voting starts on 7 changes to Texas Constitution

Early voting begins Monday for the chance to tack seven new amendments onto the Texas Constitution, which has already been amended 491 times since its birth in 1876, making it one of the longest such documents in the nation. The proposed amendment that has gained the most notice is Proposition 6, which would allow tax breaks for the spouses of police, firefighters and emergency workers killed in the line of duty. Inspired largely by the four Dallas police officers transit police officer who were killed by a gunman at a downtown protest in July 2016, the amendment would give surviving spouses a property tax exemption that lasts until they remarry.

Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2017

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson walks back assertion that sexual assault is 'the responsibility ... of the female'

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson walked back comments she made earlier Thursday suggesting that blame for sexual assault falls partly on victims because of how they dress or because they don't report the abuse. "I grew up in a time when it was as much the woman's responsibility as the man's — how you were dressed, what your behavior was,” the Dallas Democrat said in an interview with KXAS-TV (NBC5) on the recent sexual assault allegations brought against film producer Harvey Weinstein. "Many times, men get away with this because they are allowed to get away with it by the women," she added.

State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - October 19, 2017

Texas to receive $7.35 million in multi-state GM settlement

Texas will receive $7.35 million of a $120 million multi-state settlement with General Motors over allegations that the company hid safety issues stemming from defective ignition switches in some of its vehicles, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday. The settlement with attorneys general in 49 states and the District of Columbia is the latest fallout for GM from the faulty switches, which resulted in the recall of millions of cars in 2014. The company previously paid out an estimated $2.5 billion in settlements and fines stemming from the issue.

Austin American-Statesman - October 19, 2017

Herman: Caution, free speech might offend you

It seems that some of our elected officials du jour (see Trump, Donald J., and Abbott, Gregory W.) sometimes have a problem with the whole free speech thing. So it’s comforting that one of our local appointed officials doesn’t. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, himself sometimes accused of courtroom free speechifying in ways that challenge some people’s sensibilities, did himself proud recently in ruling that Abbott improperly traversed an important line when he ordered a Capitol display removed because it offended him. Back in December 2015, I told you how an incensed Abbott demanded that the State Preservation Board (chaired by the governor) remove a previously approved Capitol display placed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Austin American-Statesman - October 19, 2017

A&M, UT competing against each other to run Los Alamos weapons lab

Texas A&M University System regents voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the system to compete for a contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of the nation’s nuclear arsenal and part of the portfolio overseen by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a graduate of A&M. The action by the A&M System Board of Regents came exactly a month after University of Texas System regents authorized their system to spend up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to operate Los Alamos. In a twist with a political dimension, A&M Regent Tony Buzbee, a lawyer from Houston, will serve as the Board of Regents’ point person on Los Alamos. Buzbee was Perry’s lead counsel in successfully fighting the former governor’s indictment on abuse of power charges stemming from his 2013 threat to withhold money for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County district attorney’s office.

Texas Tribune - October 19, 2017

Dallas Fed CEO: Technology, not trade or immigration, is main reason for job loss

If policymakers and elected officials keep buying into the misnomer that trade and immigration are the keys to job loss, the state’s and country’s leaders are going to craft policies that hinder growth and prosperity, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas told business leaders in San Antonio. “A lot of these job dislocations are being publicly blamed on trade and immigration. Our analysis at the Dallas Fed is 15 years ago, maybe. Today, no,” Robert Kaplan told members of the Texas Business Leadership Council. “More likely, if your job is being disrupted it’s because of technology.”

Texas Tribune - October 19, 2017

Cornyn says Trump assured me more Harvey aid for Texas coming in November

The U.S. Senate will not add more funds earmarked for Texas' recovery to a new disaster spending bill slated for a vote this week, the state's senior senator said on Thursday. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon that he spoke with President Donald Trump and his budget director Mick Mulvaney and was assured that a separate spending aid bill would come soon. "It’s coming in November, and it will be for Texans recovering from Harvey," Cornyn said.

San Antonio Express-News - October 19, 2017

FEMA extends Texas aid deadline, requests workers

The deadline for Texans from counties hit by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath to register for federal disaster relief has been extended a month. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new deadline for registering for the funds is Nov. 24. The extension also gives more time to take out low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration for losses not compensated by insurance.

San Antonio Express-News - October 19, 2017

Texas Ag Commissioner Miller faces heat over biblical interpretation of ‘BBQ bill’

The County Line Bar-B-Q’s motto is “Eat here, diet at home,” and owner Skeeter Miller says consumers who felt portions failed the full-belly test would promptly skewer the chain on Yelp or Facebook. So when Texas Department of Agriculture inspectors started showing up to inspect the accuracy and customer visibility of the Austin-based chain’s weight scales, Miller wondered what was up. “You know, I’ve been in business for 42 years and I’ve never known about having to register my scale,” he said. It turns out a law that had been on the books since long before Miller started smoking meat at the chain’s first location required certified scales and that meat sold by the pound be weighed within view of customers.

San Antonio Express-News - October 19, 2017

Dallas Fed CEO Kaplan says Texas to see bounce in jobs from Hurricane Harvey

After a brief economic setback from Hurricane Harvey, Texas employment growth will rise to a higher-than-projected rate by the end of the year because of damage recovery, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas CEO Robert Kaplan said Thursday in San Antonio. The Dallas Fed has nudged its full-year 2017 Texas employment growth to 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent due to a snapback in jobs cleaning up and repairing the damage from the hurricane, Kaplan told almost 50 people attending the fall meeting of the Texas Business Leadership Council at the St. Anthony Hotel.

Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2017

Ruth Simmons named 'sole finalist' for job as Prairie View A&M's next president

The Texas A&M University System named renowned higher education leader Ruth Simmons the sole finalist for Prairie View A&M's presidency on Thursday. She will become the full president at the board's next meeting. Simmons, who is in her 70s, has been interim president since July and previously had said she was "too old" to consider taking the full-time position. She later set out an ambitious agenda for her time as at the institution's helm last week, pledging to raise money, lift morale, boost residential life and improve coordination between different areas of campus in July.

Business Insider - October 18, 2017

Austin, Texas is most likely to get Amazon's $5 billion headquarters, according to the data

To find a list of possible winners for HQ2, the financial-services division of Moody's Analytics examined Amazon's stipulations against 65 cities with at least one million residents. Amazon is looking for at least one million people in its chosen city, along with 8 million square feet of space, access to an airport, a "stable and business-friendly regulations and tax structure," incentives to offset HQ2's construction and ongoing expenses, a labor force, mass transit, a "cultural fit," and a "high quality of life." Moody's looked at five of these factors: business environment (economic growth, the city's history of corporate tax incentives, and the region's credit ratings), a skilled workforce, costs (pertaining to real estate, taxes, energy prices, and labor), quality of life, and transportation. The analysts excluded Seattle, the home of Amazon's first headquarters. Using data from local governments and community surveys, the report points to Austin-Round Rock, Texas as the top contender.

Charlotte Observer (NC) - October 17, 2017

Texas’ O’Rourke wants Texas money in his bid to topple Cruz

Progressive donors fired up about President Donald Trump’s election have been raising big sums of money for red state Democratic congressional candidates this year – but Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke doesn’t want their help. O’Rourke, an El Paso area congressman, faces long odds in his Senate bid against well-funded incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Yet analysts find the race offers Democrats their third best opportunity to pick up a Republican-held seat next year, and a net gain of three seats would flip control to Democrats. But O’Rourke wants to run his race without out-of-state help, which he says could heighten the national party’s influence in a state where national Democrats aren’t popular. He also wants to attack Cruz for spending time out of state when he sought the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Daily Caller - October 13, 2017

Griffing: George P. Bush Is ‘Re-Imagining’ Reality With A ‘Kinder, Gentler’ Alamo

Texas and its most sacred and iconic historical sites — like the Alamo — are under constant attack by patronizing pseudo-intellectuals who only seem to care about history when it involves blind and uncritical acceptance of “alternative facts” about our state’s past. Historians now “know” that the Lone Star State (along with the entire American Southwest) is built on land “stolen” from Mexico, that Jim Bowie was a staggering drunk and that Davy Crockett “may” have surrendered to the Mexican Army instead of being killed in action swinging “Old Betsy.” For some, these “alternative facts” make the Alamo a symbol of racism and imperialism that should be “re-imagined,” at least according to the Texas Land Office. That’s what the “Reimagining the Alamo” project directed and supervised by political neophyte and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is all about.

City Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 18, 2017

Sloan: Dallas must do more to guard against natural disaster

People who choose to live in a big city like Dallas give up a lot of control over their lives. For example, while they get to choose a befitting neighborhood, they don't get to choose their neighbors. City dwellers also relinquish control over their general environment, the streets, highways and buildings they need for everyday life. These are the responsibility of others. Moreover, a city dweller lives without the open space that's available to a rural villager or farmer to store a year's worth of grain, keep a full cistern of drinking water, tend a cow and have chickens running around. On any given day, a family living in the country can literally see whether they have enough food.

Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2017

Dickinson demands Hurricane Harvey victims agree to not boycott Israel

The ACLU is calling the city of Dickinson's hurricane repair grant application unconstitutional because it asks applicants to not boycott Israel, according to a news release from the civil rights non-profit. The city posted on its website that grant applications are being accepted for money donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief fund. The application allows residents to apply for funds to help in rebuilding a home or business impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Applicants must agree that they "will not boycott Israel during the term of this agreement," according to the form.

Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2017

Craft: EPA administrator should see Houston's post-Harvey pollution firsthand.

Perhaps when EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is in Houston this week to speak at an oil and gas industry forum, he also will address the trail of disasters left behind by the inaction of his agency during and after Hurricane Harvey. Perhaps he will take a few deep breaths near the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, where 20 emergency responders became ill breathing smoke-filled air after floodwaters cut power and wiped out the backup generators at the facility. Perhaps he will sit down for dinner with a family in Manchester and tell the children why EPA took so long to test the noxious odors that wafted from the Valero refinery after Harvey damaged the roof atop one of its storage tanks - a toxic plume that my organization independently found to contain benzene.

Austin American-Statesman - October 19, 2017

Austin Police Contract: Some Travis Democrats question its necessity

Austin police and city officials Thursday were still negotiating a possible multi-year labor contract on what is supposed to the final day of talks. Meanwhile, the Travis County Democratic Party is set to consider a resolution at their meeting Thursday night in which they would call on the city to reject any proposal until the department increases its transparency and accountability. The proposed resolution says that the department has not done enough in those areas.

Dallas Morning News - October 18, 2017

Landowners to McKinney: Forcible annexation plan is a 'pile of crap'

McKINNEY -- A fight to forcibly annex thousands of acres outside the city limits continues to rage as the council tries to beat a new state law that goes into effect Dec. 1. On Monday and Tuesday, landowners lined up and for hours gave council members an earful. They said the plan reeked of corruption, calling it a "bad deal" and a "pile of crap." "Each City Council member who votes to support this annexation is acting in bad faith," said Jason Blake during a special meeting Monday night. He and his wife relocated from a Frisco neighborhood a year ago to live the country life on a wooded lot with two creeks and a pond just north of the Collin County Courthouse.

National Stories

Texas Tribune - October 18, 2017

Buckler: Cell phone records and the warrant requirement

Next month, the United States Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in perhaps the most important Fourth Amendment case of the past twenty years. This is the court’s opportunity to protect the privacy of citizens’ cell phone records while still making the allowances needed to keep the public safe. In Carpenter v. United States, the Court will decide whether the law of search and seizure is violated when the government issues a subpoena for cell phone location records under the Stored Communications Act. This law allows phone records to be subpoenaed on the basis of reasonable grounds, a standard of proof considerably lower than that generally needed for a warrant.

Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2017

Cruz, Radcliffe: Health care system for our veterans still isn't good enough

Three years ago, our country awoke to the grim reality that our Veterans Administration health care system had become so deeply flawed that many of our nation's heroes had died while waiting to receive care. With their names buried on secret waiting lists, it became evident that the VA system was more concerned about protecting the bureaucracy than caring for our veterans. In the wake of these horrifying revelations, Congress began the arduous task of enacting reforms aimed at shifting the culture within the VA to no longer tolerate the mismanagement and corruption that imperiled so many veterans' lives. While some progress has been made, ongoing reports of the VA's shortcomings reinforce that much more needs to be done.

Associated Press - October 19, 2017

Bipartisan plan to curb health premiums gets strong support

A bipartisan proposal to calm churning health insurance markets gained momentum Thursday when enough lawmakers rallied behind it to give it potentially unstoppable Senate support. But its fate remained unclear as some Republicans sought changes that could threaten Democratic backing. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said their plan had 24 sponsors, divided evenly between both parties, for resuming federal subsidies to insurers. Trump has blocked the money and without it, insurers are already raising premiums for many buying individual coverage and could flee unprofitable markets.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Washington Post - October 19, 2017

DNC reshuffle has some worrying about a ‘purge’

The Democratic National Committee kicked off its annual meeting with a now-familiar drama — a public spat between the party’s leadership and its frustrated left-wing activists. The latest argument began after DNC Chairman Tom Perez nominated a new slate of members for little-known but influential party committees. That slate, slightly younger and more diverse than the last one, did not include some of the highest-profile supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential bid and Rep. Keith Ellison’s failed bid to run the DNC, which had been backed by Sanders (I-Vt.). “It’s a lot of really good people who deserved better,” said James Zogby, a longtime DNC member who is being replaced on the executive committee. “I’d say they’re making way for new blood, but it’s not that at all. We were Keith Ellison supporters. The optics of it are bad.”

Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2017

Bush: Americans must 'recall and recover our own identity'

We are gathered in the cause of liberty; this is a unique moment. The great democracies face new and serious threats, yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. Economic, political and national security challenges proliferate, and they are made worse by the tendency to turn inward. The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand. Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies. At one level, this has been a raw calculation of interest. The 20th century featured some of the worst horrors of history because dictators committed them. Free nations are less likely to threaten and fight each other.

Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2017

Murdock: Russian uranium scheme gets scant media attention

The charges are explosive — let's hope not literally. "The FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin's atomic energy business inside the United States," The Hill's John Solomon and Alison Spann reported. They added that an eyewitness, with corroborating documents, indicates that "Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow." This October 2010 ruling — from the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, on which Hillary sat — let Rosatom, the Russian government's atomic energy company, capture 20 percent of America's uranium supply, by purchasing a mining company called Uranium One. Before, during and after CFIUS' approval of the Kremlin's transaction, nine Uranium One investors gave the Clinton Foundation some $145 million.

Washington Post - October 19, 2017

Health insurers’ most pressing concern right now? Consumer confusion.

Health insurers heading into the 2018 Affordable Care Act enrollment season say they’re staying laser focused on maximizing sign-ups, even as Republicans remain in disarray and even denial over the seven-year-old health-care law. A big funding infusion that could help lower Obamacare premiums is in flux just 12 days before enrollment starts. President Trump sent mixed signals this week about whether he’d support legislation funding subsidies for lower-income Americans to get coverage. A compromise measure crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was embraced by two dozen Senate Democrats and Republicans on Thursday afternoon.

The Hill - October 19, 2017

Key Senate Republican warns GOP to change course on ObamaCare

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Thursday told GOP colleagues bluntly that their efforts to repeal ObamaCare have failed and urged them to change course. Alexander said Republicans need to come up with a new path on health care after holding dozens of votes over the years to repeal ObamaCare and always ending in failure. “We’ve had about 50 votes, maybe more, and we lost them all. And we made thousands of speeches and we lost them all,” Alexander said on the Senate floor.

Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2017

'Robin Hood' and other key takeaways from the Ted Cruz-Bernie Sanders tax debate

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders agree that America's tax code needs an overhaul. And that's about it. The political polar opposites, participating Wednesday in a CNN debate, highlighted the yawning policy divide that confronts conservative and liberal lawmakers of all stripes as they prepare to take on a monumental task that's stymied Congress for decades. With these two loquacious senators, however, the split was crystal clear. Cruz, the Texas Republican, pitches the GOP revamp as a way to streamline the code and "lower taxes for each and every person." Sanders, the Vermont Independent, sees instead a "massive tax break for the wealthy" that comes at the expense of low- and middle-income earners.

Washington Times - October 18, 2017

Push is on to disbar James Comey after Clinton scandal

A crusading lawyer filed a bar grievance this week accusing former FBI Director James Comey of lying to Congress and destroying potential evidence in the Clinton email scandal, in a process that could end up costing him his law license. Ty Clevenger filed the grievance in New York, where Mr. Comey was a former U.S. attorney and is licensed to practice law. Mr. Clevenger said Mr. Comey’s testimony to Congress that he did not predetermine the outcome of the FBI’s probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is belied by revelations this week that he in fact started drafting an exoneration months before even speaking with Mrs. Clinton.

Associated Press - October 19, 2017

Obama tells Democrats to reject politics of division, fear

Former President Barack Obama called on fellow Democrats to reject politics of "division" and "fear" while rallying on Thursday with party's candidates for governors in Virginia and New Jersey. "Why are we deliberately trying to misunderstand each other, and be cruel to each other and put each other down? That's not who we are," Obama said at the Virginia rally in front of several thousand supporters. Stepping back into the political spotlight for the first time since leaving the White House in January, Obama did not mention President Donald Trump in his speeches at Richmond's convention center or at a Newark hotel. But he did tell crowds at both events that they could send a message to the rest of the country in the upcoming elections.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News