December 18, 2018      7:09 PM

Updated: UT releases summary of report on Sen. Schwertner, says he did not fully cooperate

Sen. Schwertner says "The University of Texas has closed their investigation because I did not send the offensive text messages in question”

Public information requests resulted in the University of Texas at Austin releasing a three-page executive summary of an outside investigation that concluded the university did not have the findings to pursue sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Charles Schwertner. 

A University of Texas graduate student accused Schwertner of sending inappropriate texts – and explicit pictures – to pursue a sexual relationship with her. Schwertner vehemently denied such actions, and his attorneys said he passed a lie detector test on the subject. Schwertner’s lawyers labeled the investigation, first revealed by the Austin American Statesman, to be “a leak of university officials to the press to damage Sen. Schwertner in the middle of a political campaign.”

"The University of Texas has closed their investigation because I did not send the offensive text messages in question," Schwertner said in a statement released by his attorneys. "I appreciate the steadfast support of my family, friends, and the voters who believed in and reelected me just weeks ago," he said. The full statement is here.

By Kimberly Reeves

December 18, 2018      4:15 PM

Chair Bonnen selects former Rep. Robby Cook as special advisor to the House

December 18, 2018      2:25 PM

Gov. Abbott endorses effort to eliminate already remote possibility of income tax in Texas ever

Amid huge budget needs including school finance and Harvey relief, Abbott pushes taking revenue stream off the table even though it’s nowhere near the table

After spending the weekend trashing local governments and perhaps jokingly proposing a wall between New Mexico and Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday endorsed a proposal to eliminate the possibility of this state ever adopting an income tax.

Of course, the Texas Constitution has since 1993 mandated that enactment of an income tax would require a vote of the people at the ballot box. “We’ll have casinos in Baptist churches before we have an income tax in Texas,” the old joke goes.

By Scott Braddock

December 17, 2018      5:05 PM

Judicial Review Reform Scratched From TEC Legislative Wish List For Upcoming Session

TEC also abandons push to ask lawmakers for authority to issue fines for non-compliance with discovery or subpoenas during an investigation

For the first time in years, the Texas Ethics Commission will not ask lawmakers to make changes during the upcoming session to the judicial review standard for appealing a final order.

By David Saleh Rauf

December 17, 2018      5:02 PM

Abbott appoints deputy chief of staff David Whitely as Secretary of State

December 17, 2018      4:53 PM

MALC leadership unanimously reelected

Unlike last year's bitterly fought contest to lead the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House, the board on Monday was unanimously reelected.

“I am grateful to my colleagues and look forward to continuing service as Chair of MALC, the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States," said Chairman Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas. "We will again forcefully advocate for the best interests of our constituents and our great State, including preserving the powerful workforce development tool known as the Texas Dream Act," Anchia said. “I congratulate my fellow MALC Board colleagues who were re-elected to serve as officers. Our Board represents each corner of this state, bringing together a diverse talent and skill set that will inform the important decisions of the House next session," Anchia said.

December 17, 2018      1:09 PM

Abbott says Texas will prioritize ACA replacement

As lawsuit winds its way through the courts, Abbott says the state will "get appropriate waivers from federal law allowing insurers to provide coverage at lower rates while ensuring that Texans with pre-existing conditions continue to have access"

Via reporter Lauren McGaughy at the Dallas Morning News:

Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas will work to pass its own health care law to replace the Affordable Care Act if it's ultimately struck down in the courts.

In the wake of a Friday ruling that struck down the federal health care law, Abbott said he will consult with the Trump administration on immediate next steps while state lawmakers and regulators fashion their own plan to succeed the ACA.

Full story here.

December 15, 2018      11:00 AM

People on the Move

Lots, and we mean LOTS of staffer moves, exciting appointments, and a notable retirement

First, some business. The Quorum Report is owned and operated by ruthless capitalists, after all. For those new and returning members who have asked about logging in to QR to keep up to date during session, which is coming fast now, here’s what you need to know. House members should contact the House Business Office to initiate or renew subscriptions. New and returning members of the Texas Senate should reach out to Senate Purchasing if not paying from campaign accounts. If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me and we’ll get you fixed up.

Now, a follow up: We asked a couple weeks ago what y’all thought about the newly-reconfigured Four Seasons bar. Results are in: This audience is displeased. Our unscientific Twitter poll showed that 72% of you said "They've ruined it.” “When this topic comes up, and it does often, I have not had even one person say they like the new bar,” wrote one reader via email. “They took away the unique Texas look and left us with a generic hotel bar.” Your thoughts will be passed along to their management and I guess we’ll see you at the Cloak Room instead.

But back to the lecture at hand. Yes, getting a mention in People on the Move can feel like a shameless plug but that’s why I’m here to do it for you. So, send career news to ksbraddock@gmail.com and put POTM in the subject line so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Thanks so much.

Here’s this week’s edition:

By Scott Braddock

December 15, 2018      10:53 AM

Rep. Joe Pickett resigning to deal with health issues

First elected in 1994, Rep. Pickett says "I need to completely heal this time. I am told I am physically strong enough to hopefully make my recovery quicker than most. My body and mind need a break."

Here is the full statement from Rep. Joe Pickett:

"With a heavy heart, I am stepping down as a member of the Texas House of Representatives effective January 4th, 2019.  Just before last session, I learned I had cancer. I moved quickly and sought treatment which was somewhat successful, but not 100%. I went ahead and struggled through the 85th Legislative Session after contemplating retirement back during the early days of that session. With some down time after last session and the healing power of purpose, I pressed on and ran for re-election. In the last few weeks, I have learned of additional issues I must address.  Some issues relate to the first surgery and some are unfortunately new ones.  I could probably continue at a reduced work level while undergoing treatment, but I have been there and done that. I need to completely heal this time. I am told I am physically strong enough to hopefully make my recovery quicker than most. My body and mind need a break.”

December 14, 2018      4:47 PM

Texas lawmakers to get pay raise in the new year

Over the last decade, the commission has consistently proposed to increase the per diem, but the Legislature has mostly opposed the hikes

The Texas Ethics Commission on Friday approved an increase to the legislative per diem from $190 to $221, a 16 percent boost that will cost taxpayers an additional $650,000 through the regular session. 

It marks the second hike to the daily stipend for lawmakers' living expenses since 2015, though this one came without the consent blessing of House and Senate leadership.

By David Saleh Rauf

December 13, 2018      4:39 PM

Ahead of session, Rebuilding Commission makes post-Harvey recommendations to the Legislature

A new report out from Texas A&M University recommends ongoing training and a permanent infrastructure for post-recovery efforts for events like Hurricane Harvey.

By Kimberly Reeves

December 12, 2018      4:28 PM

Chair Bonnen rolls out full policy team

Capitol pros like Jenn Saenz from Sen. Hinojosa’s office and Will McAdams, who most recently served under Sen. Hancock at B&C

As he continues to put together his administration-in-waiting, Chairman Dennis Bonnen on Wednesday announced a full slate of policy experts for the Office of the Speaker.

By Scott Braddock

December 12, 2018      10:34 AM

Video: Julian Castro moves toward a run for the White House

December 11, 2018      9:51 PM

SD6 special, with 100% in: Rep. Alvarado leads by 59 votes at 50.4%, Hernandez 24%, Fierro 23%, Mundy 2%

December 11, 2018      2:45 PM

Texas House members refuse to sign off on school finance commission report without new money for public education

House members on the commission at odds with TPPF over how to fix school finance, Chair Huberty says he won’t sign on unless new money is added in and Rep. Ken King says the commission may have wasted 11 months of everyone’s time without some changes to the draft

The Commission on Texas Public School Finance danced around the idea of telling lawmakers to put more money into the school finance system at this morning’s meeting; ultimately deciding that the amounts noted in a draft report are advisory at best.

By Kimberly Reeves

December 11, 2018      7:52 AM

Corps hosts hearings on proposed Ike Dike on the coast this week

GALVESTON – The devastation of Hurricane Harvey has put momentum behind the idea of a $31 billion coastal barrier, but a coalition of environmental group on Galveston Bay is urging more study before the implementation the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed plan.

By Kimberly Reeves