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August 1, 2020      2:41 PM

Former Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Otto died this morning

A good and decent servant of Texas, condolences for the family are pouring in. He passed away this morning around 11am

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August 1, 2020      10:41 AM

Derek Howard, husband of Rep. Donna Howard, passed away

The Office of the Speaker says arrangements are forthcoming. Sincerest condolences to Rep. Howard and her family

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August 1, 2020      10:30 AM

A realistic view of what a legislative session could look like during a pandemic

After lengthy conversations with insiders, Texas Capitol veteran Jon Fisher takes an in-depth look at what a session might really be like come January: Professional advocates whose stock-in-trade is hard work and research may have the upper hand while those who rely on entertainment may be at a distinct disadvantage

One thing on which everyone agrees is that anyone planning to work the 87th Legislature needs to be preparing for an entirely different environment.

What will it actually look like?

Of course, it is too soon to know for sure, but we recently asked some experienced veterans to help us understand how this could really unfold. What happens in the future, naturally, is based on ever-changing conditions. Remember, the Texas Capitol is not even open right now.

Speculation began in earnest when Texas House parliamentarians released a memo on July 16 outlining how interim studies could proceed under House rules without formal public hearings. That will not be the issue in January, when both chambers will have the chance to rewrite their rules.

Texas House leadership is currently surveying members to determine what the existing membership believes would be the best way to handle business next session. Those results are not in yet.

House sources are telling us that they are preparing for a hugely different environment and that those who have incorporated flexibility and innovation into their lobbying plans will have the advantage.

There are a few common themes in those preparations.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jon Fisher

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August 1, 2020      10:26 AM

Face coverings, other safety measures included in draft proposed rules for Texas House committee hearings during the interim

Quorum Report has obtained a draft of proposed rules for Texas House committee hearings during the interim. It’s available to subscribers:

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July 31, 2020      4:55 PM

People on the Move

Major appointments, new lobby gigs, and more

It was a little weird at first, but now talking politics and campaigns for trade associations via Zoom – instead of in person – is really no problem at all. Connecting with all of you, even if it can only be online, is healthy and helpful. This week, the Texas Public Power Association virtually hosted Dallas Morning News reporter Gromer Jeffers and myself for a conversation on the political environment and the coming elections. Our publisher Harvey Kronberg and your editor are available for similar online events for your group. Just send us a note.

It’s all part of our reality now. If you haven’t read Jon Fisher’s report on what a legislative session during a pandemic may actually be like, give it a look.

Thanks to listeners of the Texas Take podcast for sticking with us during the pandemic. This week, we completed our 200th episode. The show, hosted by reporter Jeremy Wallace and yours truly, is a joint venture of Quorum Report and the Houston Chronicle. And yes, I am the only remaining original cast member. Check out the show here or subscribe to the Texas Take on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. Here’s to 200 more.

Now, to the important stuff: What’s going on with you? The career news has been significant this week, from major appointments to some new lobby gigs. You can always let everyone know what’s happening by emailing ksbraddock@gmail.com. Please use POTM in the subject line.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move.

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By Scott Braddock

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July 31, 2020      2:56 PM

Rep. Tony Tinderholdt was hospitalized for coronavirus

Tinderholdt told ace reporter Cassi Pollock that he is recovering from a serious case of COVID-19, which he thought last week might kill him. His entire family tested positive

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July 31, 2020      12:55 PM

Sergio Muñoz Sr., former state rep ill with COVID-19, dies at 68

“I know he fought a hard long battle to the end, and that was just who he was,” Muñoz Jr. said of his father. “He never gave up.”

The news from The Monitor down in The Valley:

Former state Rep. Sergio Muñoz Sr. has died after recently becoming ill with COVID-19, the Hidalgo County Democratic Party announced via social media Thursday morning.

The father of current state Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr. and the party’s vice chair, Muñoz Sr. served as representative for Texas’ 36th district between 1993 and 1997.

The Palmview native was 68 at the time of his death. He died at DHR Health (Doctors Hospital at Renaissance) in Edinburg.

“I know he fought a hard long battle to the end, and that was just who he was,” Muñoz Jr. said of his father. “He never gave up.”

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July 29, 2020      3:00 PM

Republican Wesley Hunt, the GOP challenger to Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, tests positive for Covid-19

Was on his way to see President Trump: "This morning on the way to Midland, I tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately rented a car and am driving back to Houston," Hunt said. "I remain asymptomatic and feel in perfect health."

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July 29, 2020      1:28 PM

Quorum Radio Report: A Texas GOP Chairman at odds with the Republican governor

Editor Scott Braddock and KFYO radio host Chad Hasty dig into the tensions building with the Texas GOP and and governor's office

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July 29, 2020      9:19 AM

Rep. Gohmert tests positive for covid-19

He has not been wearing a mask and has publicly defended not wearing a mask

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July 28, 2020      6:44 PM

Updated: In reversal, state now says Texas schools closed by local health orders will not get full funding

AG Paxton weighed in and Education Commissioner Morath confirmed that previous guidance saying schools would continue to be fully funded if they were closed by a local or county health order is no longer applicable

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Education Commissioner Morath – SB

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took the lead on school openings this afternoon, nixing the idea local health authorities can dictate school closures.

This would be a reversal of state guidance. Back on July 15, the Texas Education Agency was ready to fund remote instruction based on local closure orders, an idea that seemed to be aligned with the fact more infection should mean more time away from classrooms.

Given that latitude, public health authorities in urban regions of the state indicated local school districts were not even close to reopening. Were state leaders interested in more time away from schools? Not so much.

Despite the change, Education Commissioner Mike Morath said “Protecting the health of students, teachers, and staff remains our first priority.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

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July 28, 2020      2:14 PM

Video: Lincoln Project up on TV in Houston

In the ad, the group argues "The Trump Virus has robbed us of the moments that make life worth living. It didn't have to be this way."

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July 27, 2020      5:05 PM

As Travis County GOP Chair urges unity among Republicans trying to win back a Texas House seat, Fleck plans to file election contest

GOP candidate Jennifer Fleck, who trailed Justin Berry by 9 points in the runoff, tells Republicans to "REFUSE TO VOTE UNTIL YOU KNOW YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!"

Despite finishing 9 points in the runoff behind Justin Berry, Republican nominee for Texas House District 47 Justin Berry, GOP candidate Jennifer Fleck this week plans to file an election contest in Travis County court. She confirmed that to Quorum Report this morning.

This was the runoff to face off this fall against Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, in the district that takes in much of western Travis County. The county’s Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak this morning said the party had seen no evidence of any problems with the voting and “It is time for all Republicans to unite behind Justin Berry, who won the runoff by a decisive margin.”

But Fleck said she agreed with Bexar County GOP Chair Cynthia Brehm, who also lost her runoff and recently made headlines by questioning whether the death of George Floyd was a hoax intended to hurt President Donald Trump, that there were irregularities in the voting process that essentially amount to a rigged election.

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By Scott Braddock

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July 27, 2020      5:01 PM

Huberty: Harris County plan for schools is misguided

In this op-ed, Texas House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty takes issue with pushing back in-person instruction for all schools in the state’s most populous county until September

On Friday, Harris County and City of Houston Health Officials issued an order to effectively shut down in-person instruction for all schools in Harris County until at least September 7, 2020. The order halts all extracurricular activities, student athletic training and strength conditioning even though many districts had already issued safe and responsible guidance and protocols.

I believe the plan is ill conceived, and misguided. Judge Lina Hidalgo and I spoke for the first time on Thursday where she led me to believe I was being asked to provide input. But it became clear during that conversation that she had already made her decision.

I was notified on Friday by Judge Hidalgo that she was moving forward with the order. This order goes against everything Harris County and the City of Houston have fiercely complained about during this entire pandemic, local control.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Dan Huberty

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July 27, 2020      4:57 PM

Abbott decides 5th and 8th graders will not have to pass STARR test to advance to next grade level

TSTA President says the decision does not go far enough: “The governor needs to also suspend the A-F school accountability system and the T-TESS teacher appraisal system for the coming school year...And while he is at it, he should just suspend STAAR testing for 2020-21, period."

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July 27, 2020      2:36 PM

Early voting is extended by one week for the general election

Gov. Abbott today decided that early voting for the Nov. 3rd election will run from Oct. 13 to the 30th.

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July 27, 2020      10:05 AM

SD 14 special election: Rep. Eddie Rodriguez will not pursue runoff against Eckhardt

“I congratulate Sarah Eckhardt on her performance in the election, and I wish her well," Rep. Rodriguez said. "As Dean of the Travis County delegation, I look forward to working with her to carve a progressive path forward for our shared community.”

Full statement from Rep. Eddie Rodriguez.

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July 26, 2020      1:05 PM

Texas GOP Chairman West disagrees with mask mandate, says Abbott should be checked by Legislature in pandemic response

"We are supposed to be governed by our elected officials and not ruled by our elected officials,” Chairman West said

In a pretty sharp rebuke of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate and other restrictions put in place by executive order during the coronavirus pandemic, newly-elected Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West said in a TV interview aired Sunday morning that "We are supposed to be governed by our elected officials and not ruled by our elected officials.”

In the interview on NBC5 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Chair West was asked by Dallas Morning News reporter Gromer Jeffers about the pandemic response of Gov. Abbott. Chair West replied "I'm not too much of a fan of executive orders.”

West was quick to clarify that he understands and agrees that the executive branch needs to be able to act quickly in response to a crisis. However, West added that Gov. Abbott should “have to come back to the Legislature if you want to continue to send out orders, or what have you. It has to be done by legislative process."

You can check out the interview here.

By Scott Braddock

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