December 15, 2017      7:07 PM

GOP Primary challenge to Sen. Huffman could set tone for Houston-area legislative races

Huffman vs Tassin primary looks like a Patrick-Straus proxy war; seasoned observers say “The 1970s Texas Democrats might remind them that constant in-fighting, pursuing personal vendettas, and engaging in scorched earth primaries is the pathway to defeat and generational irrelevance”

Texas Senate State Affairs Committee Chair Joan Huffman, R-Houston, who represents Senate District 17, already had a high pressure session overseeing hearings on the “bathroom bill,” a “sanctuary cities” ban and other hot button issues. She now faces a busy election season as well in the district including parts of Brazoria, Fort Bend and Harris Counties.

Huffman, who is running for a third term, faces both a primary and general election campaign.

The district is considered safely Republican, but the national environment has energized Democrats perhaps as much as the legislative session fired up Republicans who strongly support public education.

Those are the two camps Chair Huffman faces this cycle – perhaps more so than in any previous election.

By James Russell

December 15, 2017      7:05 PM

Gov. Abbott appoints Kristin Tassin, GOP primary challenger to Sen. Huffman, to Special Education panel

The committee provides policy guidance on special education and related services for children with disabilities in Texas.

Kristin Tassin, Fort Bend ISD School Board President, is tapped along with 6 others for the Continuing Advisory Committee For Special Education.

December 15, 2017      7:04 PM

Feds outline preferred route for proposed Texas bullet train

After so many arguments about which Texans might be in the train’s path, we now know DC’s favored route

For the first time, the federal government late Friday outlined a preferred route for the proposed bullet train between Houston and Dallas and identified where the stops for the train should be.

Much of the route had previously been talked about but the Draft Environmental Impact Statement makes clear the tracks would go through Navarro, Leon, Freestone, Limestone, and Madison counties.

The statement also pointed to potential passenger terminal sites in Dallas, Houston and the only midway stop, in Grimes County, serving Bryan/College Station in the Brazos Valley.

By Scott Braddock

December 15, 2017      6:14 PM

Texas House candidate Bo French slammed by police groups for "impersonating" Tarrant County Sheriff Waybourn

“The absurd accusation that a satirical facebook page in opposition to Mr. Waybourn is an ‘impersonation of a peace officer’ is ridiculous,” French fired back

Three of the largest law enforcement groups in North Texas on Friday slammed Bo French, the GOP challenger to House Administration Committee Chairman Charlie Geren, for “impersonating former Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief and current Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn.”

It’s an accusation that French was quick to call “a ploy” in the midst of what is already a heated race for a Texas House seat.

French impersonated Sheriff Waybourn by setting up a Facebook page, the groups said. French said the page was satire.

By Scott Braddock

December 15, 2017      4:57 PM

Video: Trey Blocker says Sid Miller is waging war on Texas BBQ

Brent Harman of Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse: "This is really about government overreach and how scary it can be for a businessman to be face to face with a bureaucrat with a vendetta."

December 15, 2017      4:25 PM

Updated: HHSC receives assurance of federal funding to keep CHIP running through February

Speaker Straus, who had sounded the alarm, says “the need for Congress to act quickly has not diminished”; Sen. Cornyn promises a vote next week

The federal government has come through with stop-gap funding that will carry CHIP in Texas, and other states, through the end of February.

That’s not a full solution, but it’s a start for those who have been agitating for some resolution of the $90 million gap that existed in funding the children’s health insurance program. The Health and Human Services Commission provided an update this afternoon by email.

By Kimberly Reeves

December 15, 2017      3:45 PM

McRaven tells UT Regents he will resign in May

From the Statesman:

McRaven has agreed to stay through the academic year, university system officials said.

McRaven told members of the board that the decision to step away from the UT system was one of the hardest decisions of his life. Health issues he’s been facing played a part in the decision, he said.

“They are not serious (health issues), but they have caused me to rethink my future,” he said, adding that he wants to teach, write, travel and spend more time with his family.

The full announcement from the UT System is here.

December 15, 2017      3:43 PM

Smith: No Moore 2017, Please

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that Doug Jones win in Alabama holds important lessons for Texas Democrats

There is much for Democrats and progressives to celebrate in Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore in Alabama.

We can begin by looking at some of Chris Cillizza’s 8 Numbers Out of Alabama That Should Terrify Republicans:

Moore lost voters 18 to 44 years old by a 60-40 margin, and the electorate in Alabama, just like Texas, grows younger and younger all the time.

By Glenn W. Smith

December 14, 2017      5:21 PM

Central Texas leaders disappointed by loss of ambitious Interstate 35 road project

Hays County Judge Conley and Travis County Commissioner Daugherty, both Republicans, want to sit down with Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick to explain the funding situation

Members of the Central Texas delegation consider the Texas Transportation Commission’s vote this morning to nix proposed managed lanes on Interstate 35 to be a politically-driven answer to a chronic actual problem.

The Texas Department of Transportation announced last week they were stripping more than a dozen toll road projects from TxDOT’s Unified Transportation Plan 2018, over the objections of multiple regions of the state.

Chair Bruce Bugg promised a projected revenue study, but the real problem for Central Texas is not projecting revenue. It’s financing roads.

By Kimberly Reeves

December 14, 2017      5:20 PM

Education Commissioner Morath waives grade 5 and 8 student retesting, retention requirements for Harvey victims

Gov. Abbott said “in times of crisis, it is important to re-examine some regulations related to accountability placed on those living in devastated areas."

December 14, 2017      5:00 PM

Texas Senate moves to amend its own training, policies on sexual harassment

Chair Kolkhorst stresses the need to balance the rights of accusers with the right of due process for the accused

The full Senate is likely to call a caucus of the whole during the interim to review recommended changes and update to the body’s sexual harassment policy, changes Secretary Patsy Spaw said would produce “a clearer and fuller document.”

Senate Administration and House Administration are acting on the issue, but the Senate does have a policy on file and has provided in-person training for central staff and the staff of the lieutenant governor.

 That likely will be extended and mandatory for all staff as well as senators.

By Kimberly Reeves

December 14, 2017      4:59 PM

Paxton staffer resigns following social media comments on sexual harassment

Andrew Leonie had posted on social media: "Aren't you also tired of all the pathetic 'me too' victim claims?"

The resignation of Andrew Leonie, a top lawyer in the Office of the Attorney General, comes after Lauren McGaughy reported in the Dallas Morning News:

At 2:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Associate Deputy Attorney General Andrew D. Leonie posted the following on Facebook: "Aren't you also tired of all the pathetic 'me too' victim claims? If every woman is a 'victim', so is every man. If everyone is a victim, no one is. Victim means nothing anymore."

"Me Too" refers to the growing movement of women, and sometimes also men, who've come forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault.

Paxton’s spokesman this afternoon, Marc Rylander, said “The views he expressed on social media do not reflect our values. The OAG is committed to promoting and maintaining a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment.”

December 14, 2017      4:46 PM

Rep. Herrero calls on Rep. Farenthold to immediately resign amid sexual harassment allegations

“He has used $84,000 of taxpayer funds to silence the accusations of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. Moreover, he is now embroiled in an official ongoing sexual harassment investigation," Herrero said

December 14, 2017      4:33 PM

Press Releases: Awards, confirmations, net neutrality, polling, and more

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December 14, 2017      11:27 AM

Poll promoted by Democratic challenger shows Paxton starts under 50 percent in reelection bid

Paxton starts with a 46 to 40 percent lead, but when undecides are asked which way they lean Paxton is back up to 50 percent, per this poll

Justin Nelson, the little-known Democratic candidate running against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday released a poll showing the incumbent under 50 percent.

“A poll of likely voters shows that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton starts his re-election bid in a weak position and his indictment presents a significant vulnerability that Democrats can capitalize on,” said the pollsters at GBA Strategies.

“In a simulated campaign where voters hear about both Paxton and Justin Nelson, the final result is a very close race with a narrow Nelson lead,” the pollsters said.

December 14, 2017      9:31 AM

Farenthold won’t seek reelection after sexual harassment allegations

Politico reports he "will not seek reelection, according to a source familiar with the situation."

December 13, 2017      5:49 PM

Updated: Miller calls on Mackowiak to resign as Travis County GOP Chair for working on Blocker campaign

“Matt Mackowiak must resign, or face claims of a rigged election,” Miller said; Mackowiak says there is no conflict of interest because party chair is an unpaid position

Calling it a “clear and present conflict of interest,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Wednesday asked Matt Mackowiak to resign as Travis County GOP Chairman because he is working on the campaign of Miller’s challenger Trey Blocker.

It’s an accusation that Mackowiak says doesn’t add up because party chairman is an unpaid position.

Miller asked, “How in the world can the Travis County Republican party guarantee an impartial election process…when the person in charge of the election is working for one of the candidates?”

By Scott Braddock

December 13, 2017      5:45 PM

GOP rolls past Democratic concerns over lack of input into tax cut bill

Democrats won’t see the actual compromise until after a committee report is printed and the vote is tallied, leading some to suggest it would be difficult if not impossible to offer up substantive questions to committee staff

Democrats could do little to derail the compromise negotiated between US House and Senate Republicans as the proposed tax bill heads to a vote in the days to come.

In the negotiations Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, took center stage early, submitting a motion to delay a vote on the conference committee, which was firmly rejected by fellow Texan and conference committee chair Congressman Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands.

Chair Brady rejected repeated efforts by Doggett on various motions, turning to others on the committee.

“Let us all remind each other, when this report is presented you’ll have the opportunity to disagree with it and not (support) the conference report,” said Brady, cutting off protests. “We are going to continue.”

By Kimberly Reeves

December 13, 2017      5:32 PM

Press Releases: Congrats to Willett, property tax relief, endorsements, harassment training, and more

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December 13, 2017      4:22 PM

Don Willett confirmed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

AG Paxton says “Justice Willett has a deep respect for the Constitution and love for this country...I am confident that he will follow the rule of law, honor the Constitution and refrain from legislating from the bench (though hopefully not from Twitter).”

December 12, 2017      4:58 PM

SB: With Valdez candidacy, Democrats have potential path to increased legislative power in 2019

The Dallas County Sheriff only needs to perform at home as she has in past election cycles to change the dynamics in the Texas House in 2019; meantime Ds are contesting all US House seats and 133 Texas House districts

As Quorum Report readers should be painfully aware by now, your editor refrains from engaging in any analysis about whether the Texas Democratic Party can be competitive in a statewide race.

That remains true today.

There are, however, outlines of serious competition shaping up in pockets across the state and a statewide candidate could realistically end up partially responsible for Democratic gains in the Texas House.

By Scott Braddock

December 12, 2017      4:52 PM

Press Releases: Tax reform, NDAA, renaming buildings, CodeNEXT audit, and more

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December 12, 2017      4:22 PM

Speaker Straus tells Economic Competitiveness Committee to take its time with report

"We always knew that the timeline for this committee's work was ambitious, and the quality of the report is most important."

Though the Texas House Economic Competitive Committee was set to report its findings today, Speaker Joe Straus sent this letter to Chairman Byron Cook today telling him “the quality of the report is most important." When we asked for the committee's report today, this letter was provided to QR.

December 12, 2017      3:26 PM

State District Judge in Palestine Bascom Bentley passed away

Here is the news via the Palestine Herald.

His official obituary is here.

December 12, 2017      3:10 PM

Sen. Grassley tells Trump to rethink appointment of Jeff Mateer to federal bench

Mateer's been a top staffer in AG Paxton’s office, once called transgender kids “part of Satan’s plan.”

December 11, 2017      7:09 PM

Patterson: The Bush name is now a liability in GOP primary

The Alamo, Harvey recovery, Bush’s reported absenteeism are all opening issues in the campaign against Commissioner Bush, whose spokesman says he is “arguably the most conservative land commissioner in Texas history”

Saying the Bush name is now an impediment in a GOP primary, not an asset, former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on Monday officially kicked off his challenge to Commissioner George P. Bush, the incumbent who’s come under fire recently for his handling of Alamo restoration as well as his office’s response to Hurricane Harvey.

“The Bush name is not an asset. It’s a liability,” Patterson said, adding that he respects and knows the family very well. But “Frankly I don’t think it’s difficult for me to get to the right of George Bush,” he said.  

By Scott Braddock

December 11, 2017      7:07 PM

Rep. Mike Lang draws a primary challenger in Superintendent Dr. Jim Largent

“I am very concerned that too many politicians today are taking marching orders from powerful special interests and no longer represent the people who elected them," Largent said.

December 11, 2017      5:13 PM

Press Releases: People on the move, announcements, filings, and more

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