June 2, 2023      2:29 PM

PUC Chairman Peter Lake resigns, Abbott says he will appoint a replacement soon

June 2, 2023      12:09 PM

People on the Move

Switching jobs, looking for work, taking a break, or retiring altogether. It's all in this edition

The House peaced out but the Senate is still here.

Word on the street is that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will have the upper chamber in town for the next few weeks passing legislation and sending the Senate messenger to leave those bills at the door of the House, which is empty other than tourists.

This is already such a productive summer.

Meantime, post-regular session stuff is starting to happen. People switching jobs, looking for work, taking a break, or retiring altogether. There’s a little of all of that in this week’s edition of People on the Move. For those who are unaware, this is where the Capitol community learns the career news of those who are moving up, moving on, or moving out. You can always share your news – or someone else’s – by sending it to ksbraddock@gmail.com. Please use “POTM” in the subject line for faster service. Thanks so much.

Here’s the latest edition.

By Scott Braddock

June 1, 2023      3:35 PM

Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin will present the House impeachment case in Attorney General Paxton's upcoming Senate trial.

DeGuerin previously defended former Congressman DeLay and former Senator Hutchison; Hardin was on investigating team leading up to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment

June 1, 2023      2:34 PM

Comptroller Hegar confirms Paxton will not receive salary while suspended

May 31, 2023      1:32 PM

Abbott taps former SOS John Scott to be interim Attorney General

May 30, 2023      6:25 PM

After passing the bills Abbott asked for, the Texas House adjourns Sine Die

May 30, 2023      6:18 PM

SB: Abbott pushes for a full time Texas Legislature, fumbles the special session call by trying to micromanage the process

After staying silent on specifics of property tax reform for months, Abbott now demands specific legislation; like Rick Perry a decade ago, Abbott faces a noncompliant Senate because he is likely overstepping his authority by using his proclamation to write legislation

“If the Texas House and Senate do not do a thing together, then that thing does not happen.”

Those are the words of former Speaker Joe Straus, who like Speaker Dade Phelan has had the joy of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blasting him on a daily basis. Meantime, Gov. Greg Abbott has now finally told us all what he’d like the Texas Legislature to do about property taxes.

Abbott, who for five months stayed publicly silent on the details of any property tax plan, issued his proclamation for a special session last night instructing the members to “cut property-tax rates solely by reducing the school district maximum compressed tax rate in order to provide lasting property-tax relief for Texas taxpayers.” The House tonight is passing such a legislative package.

But Lt. Gov. Patrick pushed back immediately, telling a crowd this morning at the Texas Public Policy Foundation that there was an unsuccessful candidate for governor who ran on a platform that included fixing property taxes solely through tax compression. Patrick didn’t name him, but that candidate was former Sen. Don Huffines.

Then Patrick went on to lead a revolt against the governor as the Senate passed a property tax bill including tax compression and an increase in the homestead exemption up to $100,000. The House didn’t even take up that plan as Speaker Phelan ruled it wasn’t germane to Abbott’s micromanagement.

So, this is already a mess. How did we get here?

By Scott Braddock

May 30, 2023      3:48 PM

Six employees in the Office of the Attorney General take a leave of absence to defend Paxton in his Senate trial

Conservative publication The Daily Wire got this scoop:

Six members of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office are taking a leave of absence to defend Paxton in his upcoming trial in the Texas Senate after he was impeached over the weekend.

The Daily Wire learned from two sources familiar with the matter that the six officials were offended by the entire process and they do not see a better use of their time right now than defending Paxton.

The six officials are Judd Stone, Solicitor General; Chris Hilton, Division Chief, General Litigation Division; Joseph N. Mazzara, Assistant Solicitor General; Kateland Jackson, Assistant Solicitor General; Allison Collins, Senior Attorney; and Jordan Eskew, Executive Assistant.

May 29, 2023      9:14 PM

Gov. Abbott calls the first of what he says will be multiple special sessions, with the first one starting now

Abbott said "Special session #1 will focus only on cutting property taxes and cracking down on illegal human smuggling."

May 29, 2023      6:40 PM

Texas Senate to convene June 20th to consider rules for Paxton trial and that trial is to start no later than August 28

Patrick appoints committee to consider rules for the trial: Birdwell, Hinojosa, Creighton, Flores, Huffman, King, West. The Senate stands adjourned Sine Die after Patrick said he wasn't sure whether they'll be called back in by the governor tonight or in a few days

May 29, 2023      6:16 PM

As he gavels out the Texas House Sine Die, Speaker Phelan says he expects a proclamation from Gov. Abbott within the next 12 hours

Phelan tells members not to pack their bags just yet

May 29, 2023      4:10 PM

General Investigating Chair Murr files resolution to appoint impeachment managers

Murr, chair, A. Johnson, vice chair, Geren, Moody, Canales, Leach, Longoria, Meyer, Cain, Vasut, Spiller, Gamez

The resolution is here.

May 29, 2023      1:30 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick says a deal on property taxes could be sealed if the House drops proposed changes to appraisal caps on commercial property

"Phelan’s last offer was an 8% appraisal cap for all commercial properties, which would cost taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars in just a few years," Patrick said, adding that Abbott was there when it was said. "If Phelan drops the 8% cap for business property, then we have a deal. There is still time."

May 29, 2023      11:01 AM

Sen. Schwertner elected Texas Senate president pro tem for the interim

May 29, 2023      10:27 AM

SB: Senators huddle privately as some hold out hope for a last-ditch effort on property taxes

Some House Republicans are again privately grumbling about Sen. Bettencourt’s tax advisor business as a “conflict of interest” and a roadblock in working out a deal; Bettencourt’s previously said they should “get a life.” Meantime there’s still a chance for rules suspensions to get a deal today but it’s highly unlikely

While amateurs and haters think that reporting on public statements of officeholders is the only reliable way to figure out the true status of legislative negotiations on priority issues, political professionals know it is always much more complicated. Policy disagreements get mixed with egos and end-of-session frustrations, causing otherwise reasonable people to act irrationally. That’s putting it mildly.

After last night’s property tax talks broke down, some members were shocked on the Texas House floor when they found out they would not be voting on a negotiated deal and instead the chamber was gaveled out until later this morning with the clock ticking down before both chambers are constitutionally required to adjourn Sine Die.

Amid all the frustration, here’s where things seem to stand.

The deal, as offered last night by House negotiators to the Texas Senate, was:

By Scott Braddock

May 28, 2023      10:40 PM

Updated: With no deal on property taxes, the Texas House and Senate adjourn until Monday morning

By the end of the evening other priorities including tax incentives and electricity seemed to be on track, but negotiations broke down on a grand bargain for property taxes

May 28, 2023      9:24 PM

Session end game? Movement on some big issues but sources say talks on property taxes are ongoing

Time is ticking down and fast action is happening across priority bills including property taxes, tax incentives under HB5, one of the electricity priorities, and more

May 28, 2023      8:01 PM

General Investigating issues more subpoenas in connection with Paxton

Here are the entities receiving GI subpoenas, as announced by Rep. Charlie Geren:

May 28, 2023      2:00 PM

HK: Statute says Senate should set future Paxton trial date by sine die; hard to see a path for Paxton

Why Speaker Phelan was able to hold his Republicans despite direct threats from Trump; Paxton Impeding an FBI investigation adds another level of angst to the Senate while the House provides roadmap to felonies

Per our understanding of the statute, if the Texas House delivers the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate today or tomorrow, the Senate must set a trial for removal of the Attorney General before it adjourns sine die. So, if the House Acts and if the Senate follows the law, the likelihood of an immediate special session is irrelevant to the timing of the future trial since a special session is legislative and the Senate trial is quasi-judicial and does not need the Governor’s involvement.

Key question: If you cut off from his 800 lawyers at the Office of the Attorney General, will Ken Paxton’s billionaire benefactors consider him damaged goods and cut him loose or will they pay the freight to get to a Senate trial where the actual facts supporting the allegations will be front and center? Or does Paxton have the cachet to mount a substantial legal defense fund?

When and if a trial begins, procedural arguments as presented on the House floor yesterday are mooted. The facts will be presented and all of the witnesses will testify under oath.

Paxton has major challenges when it comes to fighting off the facts.

By Harvey Kronberg

May 28, 2023      1:40 PM

The Loco and Dissent Calendar for the 2023 Regular Session of the Texas Legislature

This year might represent the biggest mother lode of mockable material y’all have ever given to the writers of Loco and Dissent

It’s that time. The Loco and Dissent Calendar writers apparently had some of the same sources that Quorum Report did in timing this calendar for release on the day after the vote to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.

For the uninitiated, the tradition of the L&D Calendar goes back to the days when there was no internet at the Texas Capitol. Copies of the anonymously written satirical calendar would be printed out and members would find them on their desks on the last day of the session.

Then after Mr. Kronberg took QR online in 1998, the writers began to reach out anonymously offering this deal: QR could have distribution rights as long as we did not edit it at all and made it free for our readers. It’s a fun tradition – somehow the baton was passed to me at some point – and each year the writers ask if we’re still interested. Well, of course. Who couldn’t use a laugh after all this?

A decade ago, I had never heard of it when Mr. Kronberg, our then-colleague John Reynolds, and I were at a dinner when suddenly Harvey jumped up from the table and said “I’ve got to go!” He had just received the Loco and Dissent Calendar in his inbox and had to rush to his computer to post it to QR. Ten years later, of course it can be posted from anywhere.

One other thing about it and I know it doesn’t matter how many times I say this, but it is true: We have nothing to do with the production of the calendar. It is often racy and profane. We usually do not even bother to read it before publishing. We also take no ownership over whether it’s funny or not. Again, we didn’t write it. The contents belong to anonymous writers, who session after session seem to capture what the entire community was mocking privately all along. We could all use a self-awareness check from time to time.

Here is the Loco and Dissent Calendar for the 2023 regular session of your Texas Legislature.

By Scott Braddock

May 28, 2023      12:59 AM

Special session looks nearly certain after midnight passed without final deals on property taxes, tax incentives, and electricity grid