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December 5, 2016      4:45 PM

Abbott set to appoint Racing Commission Chairman Pablos as new Secretary of State

Rolando Pablos will be “committed to the constitutional duties of the office and ensure the dispassionate application of election law"

The full announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office can be found here.

December 5, 2016      4:44 PM

A Texas GOP Elector will not vote for Trump

This comes after one Elector resigned; this one says "Fifteen years ago, I swore an oath to defend my country and Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. On Dec. 19, I will do it again."

In a New York Times op-ed, Dallas GOP Elector Christopher Suprun laid out his argument:

“George W. Bush is an imperfect man, but he led us through the tragic days following the attacks. His leadership showed that America was a great nation. That was also the last time I remember the nation united. I watch Mr. Trump fail to unite America and drive a wedge between us.

Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of Saturday Night Live for bias. He tweets day and night, but waited two days to offer sympathy to the Ohio State community after an attack there. He does not encourage civil discourse, but chooses to stoke fear and create outrage.

This is unacceptable. For me, America is that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan envisioned. It has problems. It has challenges. These can be met and overcome just as our nation overcame Sept. 11.”

The full op-ed is here.

December 5, 2016      4:27 PM

Press Releases: A banking legend honored, stopping illegal questions, and rooting out corruption

Click the Press Releases button above for more

December 2, 2016      6:14 PM

Advocates to reduce gun violence roll out early agenda

Meantime Rep. Stickland is digging in to pass “Constitutional Carry” while the Lite Guv is only going as far as reductions in handgun licensing fees

Texas Gun Sense has rolled out a legislative agenda early, hoping to find more middle ground for compromise with Second Amendment enthusiasts.

Two groups opposed open carry last session: the large, more vocal Moms Demand Action and the smaller grassroots Texas Gun Sense. Andrea Brauer, who leads Texas Gun Sense, said her group’s goal was an attempt to find middle ground on decreasing gun violence instead of simply being a group on the defensive, saying “no” to every legislative proposal.

“We want to have a proactive agenda that moves gun violence prevention bills forward,” Brauer said during a news conference. As to the group’s moderating agenda, “We know if we don’t get different people on board, we won’t get it passed.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

December 2, 2016      6:12 PM

Rep. Leach asks Gov. Abbott to make CPS reforms an emergency item

“I do not believe there to be a more pressing challenge than the comprehensive reform and restructuring of this troubled agency,” Leach wrote

In an impassioned plea, one of the more conservative members of the Texas House this week asked Gov. Greg Abbott to make an overhaul of Child Protective Services an emergency item when the Legislature convenes in January.

“I am profoundly heartbroken over the tragedies that have taken place under the watch of our state’s Child Protective Services (CPS),” wrote Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, in a letter dated Thursday.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

December 2, 2016      6:10 PM

SAO: TEA needs to do more monitoring of service center contracts

Audit criticizes TEA for failures it has claimed to have fixed in recent years, including a lack of sufficient documentation to verify whether expenditures were allowable

The Texas Education Agency – and its execution of contracts with its education service centers – is the latest to face scrutiny from the State Auditor’s Office.

Texas’ 20 regional educational service centers generally serve two primary functions: executing contract work outsourced from TEA and providing regional resources and training, which can be critical in rural areas. Each regional service center has its own board of directors, although the Commissioner of Education retains ultimate authority over the centers.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

December 2, 2016      5:28 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, spending cap, border security abstractions, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for more

December 2, 2016      1:39 PM

Smith: Trump Treasury Secretary Nominee Took the Home of One of His Voters

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith asks what should be done as Donald Trump (and stateside backers) prepare to take America to the cleaners

The Associated Press reported that Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Stephen Mnuchin, foreclosed on the home of a Trump voter. Needless to say, the voter, a Los Angeles-area voter named Teena Colebrook, feels betrayed.

Odds are the Associated Press story will disappear into the memory hole rather quickly. But, then again, maybe Mnuchin’s very name is a mnemonic, a device for remembering. We should hope so, because we should remember this story.

It’s a remarkable moment in our political history, and it should be seen as such by all, no matter their party affiliation, ideology and political knowledge level. It’s remarkable enough that someone like Trump can be elected. Sure, he took a significant beating in the popular vote, but the rules of the game hand him the White House through the Electoral College. So there’s that.

But even more remarkable is Trump’s immediate moves.

The full column from Glenn W. Smith is in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

December 1, 2016      6:32 PM

Budget numbers tighten as Texas heads into session

Spending limit is adopted as Comptroller’s office indicates revenue is lagging; retiring chairman Keffer says dealing with budget cuts should be “a surgical thing, not a slaughterhouse thing”

The Legislative Budget Board on Thursday set the constitutional spending limit just a shade under $100 billion for the upcoming session, an uptick based on an 8 percent growth in the Texas economy.

Lawmakers will not be allowed to spend more than $99.8 billion in general revenue in all the categories constrained by the Texas Constitution. And of course, the state’s available revenue won’t be clear until the Comptroller’s biennial revenue estimate in January.

For now, the message that Chief Revenue Estimator Tom Currah gave lawmakers is that revenue is lagging.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

December 1, 2016      6:30 PM

Press Releases: Mental health reforms, blocking raises for workers, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

December 1, 2016      6:28 PM

Emergency salary increases for CPS workers approved

Advocates for kids say “We are greatly encouraged that the state’s leadership understands that caseworker retention – including higher salaries – tops the list of needed fixes to Child Protective Services.”

Texas leadership announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached to give emergency pay raises to workers at the state’s troubled Child Protective Services agency.

This means Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman is getting part of what he has requested but lawmakers have vowed there will be more oversight of the agency.

$12,000 raises will be awarded to about 6,000 front-line workers and an additional 1,110 managers and special investigators will get pay hikes ranging up to 20 percent, according to the details of the agreement released Thursday.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

December 1, 2016      2:13 PM

LBB sets Constitutional spending limit at just over $99 billion

LBB estimates Texas' economic growth rate at 8%

The LBB memo on the spending limit, including the numbers adopted today, can be seen right here.

November 30, 2016      6:28 PM

Texas must be aggressive but smart on health care in the Trump era, advocates say

“There’s a big formula fight in our future, and part of the challenge...is to get Texas to fight for the bigger ball of wax"

A Trump Administration may mean a seismic shift in the Affordable Care Act, but Texas health care advocates say it will be critical to continue to fight for the state’s share of Medicaid dollars.

Texas is one of 19 states that refused to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility, but it does benefit from a Medicaid 1115 waiver. The Health and Human Services Commission recently negotiated an extension of the five-year $29 billion waiver through the end of 2017.

Once intended to be a supplement to pioneer new and innovative regional partnerships, those Medicaid payments have become a lifeline to many hospitals. Those payments, in fact, are almost a third of the revenue for hospitals, equal to direct pay for hospital care.

Anne Dunkelberg of the Center for Public Policy Priorities estimates the losses to Texas if the waiver is not extended would be $1.3 billion in federal funds. Actually, the total would be $2.3 billion because local governments are expected to put up matching funds.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

November 30, 2016      6:27 PM

Press Releases: GOP on watch, public-private partnerships on the border, blocking raises, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

November 30, 2016      4:16 PM

Pauken: Preparing for a turbulent four years

From the Right: Former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Pauken argues that Trump’s detractors are the reason the next four years will be rough

During the campaign for the presidency, the major media was relentless in its attacks on Donald Trump. Reading the Washington Post daily, I couldn’t believe the news coverage. It was one anti-Trump story after story. The reporters didn’t even bother to disguise what clearly were opinion pieces passing for news. “Racist”, “sexist”, “anti-Semite” were just some of the charges leveled against Trump during the campaign.

Yet, in spite of massive media opposition to him and “nevertrump” Republicans who did all they could to defeat him, Trump overcame the odds and pulled a stunning upset to win the presidency.

In an effort to bring the country together, Trump gave a conciliatory victory speech. He even said the Clintons had suffered enough and he wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.

That obviously wasn’t good enough for the elites who had invested so much in Clinton’s election.

The full column from former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Pauken is in the R&D Department.

By Tom Pauken

November 30, 2016      3:19 PM

Updated: Lawmakers lock in floor of Rainy Day Fund for next session

Sen. Nelson is confident; Rep. Walle, the lone “no” vote, says the costs are unclear for a school finance fix as well as addressing the crisis in foster care

A joint committee of lawmakers on Wednesday set $7.5 billion as the sufficient balance for the state’s “Rainy Day Fund,” clearing the way for both transportation funding and ongoing investments.

In past years, growth in revenue from the oil and gas industry – and former Gov. Rick Perry’s first run for presidenthas helped drive large-scale partisan fights over the use of the Economic Stabilization Fund (the savings account’s proper name). But with a slumping energy industry and a recent commitment to divert funds to transportation, today’s debate ended up being a rather low-key affair for the joint panel of House and Senate lawmakers.

"Adopting this floor will allow a major transfer for transportation, paving the way for continued progress on our mobility needs,” said chief budget writer Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, after the vote. “It also keeps significant resources in reserves, protecting Texas' credit rating and maximizing our ability to invest funds." 

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

November 30, 2016      3:16 PM

San Antonio is chosen for RPT convention in 2018

“San Antonio has a history of making visitors feel right at home, and we are grateful for their desire to host the largest gathering of Republicans in the world,” RPT Chairman Tom Mechler said

November 30, 2016      11:48 AM

Rainy Day Fund floor set at $7.5 billion

Finance Chair Nelson expresses confidence; Rep. Larson absent, Rep. Walle was the lone "no" vote on the Select Joint Committee on Economic Stabilization Fund Balance

November 29, 2016      6:54 PM

Texas Senate rolls out details of new push for property tax caps

“People are crying out for relief,” said Sen. Bettencourt, who pegged relief under his proposal at $30 to $200 per year for average homeowners; cities fire back that lawmakers should be looking at school finance first

The Texas Senate is taking its strongest run yet at revenue caps next session, putting it at the top of the legislative agenda with a bill co-sponsored by key Senate Republican.  

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick couldn’t signal any more strongly he intends to make property tax relief a key goal of next session. The only bill with a higher number in the Senate will be the budget, which will start in the upper chamber when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Former appraisal district leader Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, unveiled a 50-page SB 2 this afternoon, complete with its own interim committee report When property values go up in Texas, tax rates ought to go down, Bettencourt told reporters.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

November 29, 2016      6:51 PM

Rep. Rodney Anderson victorious after recount

Recount confirmed that Anderson's Democratic challenger Terry Meza opponent trailed him by 64 votes out of more than 47,000

November 29, 2016      6:21 PM

Straus: Cuts to Medicaid services for disabled kids was a mistake, will be reversed

Speaker Straus said the cuts were “not an initiative of the Texas House,” will be fixed in the supplemental budget

When The Legislature convenes in January, one of the first orders of business will be to reverse deep cuts made to Medicaid services for disabled children across the state, Speaker Joe Straus said Tuesday morning.

In an interview before a live audience at the University of Texas, Straus noted that the controversial cuts in medically necessary therapies were “not an initiative of the Texas House” and will be reversed in the supplemental budget.

"It means that maybe we made a mistake," he said. "It was not an initiative of the Texas House and I think you'll see us address it."  

The severe cuts targeted at these programs, first reported by Quorum Report contributing writer Emily DePrang, sparked outrage among Democrats and many Republicans and led to a prolonged court fight.

Speaker Straus made his brief comments the day after the state announced the cuts would be implemented following the conclusion of the legal fight.

After the morning interview, Straus spokesman Jason Embry said:

"Speaker Straus believes that the reductions have not been implemented well. The Speaker hopes that the Legislature will address the issue in the supplemental budget bill so that children have access to the services they need. Speaker Straus also welcomes the opportunity to take a thoughtful look at these rates, with access to care being the priority."

November 29, 2016      6:20 PM

Press Releases: Case running, Ohio State reactions, property tax proposal and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

November 28, 2016      5:46 PM

Patrick touts poll showing broad support for bathroom bill in spite of broad business opposition

Poll paid for by Lite Guv’s campaign says “men and women, Democrats and Republicans, urban/suburban and rural dwellers and every racial and ethnic group, agree that use of public restrooms should be restricted by gender.”

Editor’s note: The executive summary of this poll can be found at the end of this story – SB

As he continues to lay the groundwork for what is either a priority issue for the Texas Senate – or potentially leverage for something else – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Monday rolled out a poll paid for by his campaign showing that a majority of Texans, regardless of demographics, support gender-based restrictions for public restrooms.

“In a recent survey commissioned by Texans for Dan Patrick that drilled down on those attitudes, the data revealed that a majority of Texas voters, including men and women, Democrats and Republicans, urban/suburban and rural dwellers and every racial and ethnic group, agree that use of public restrooms should be restricted by gender,” the Patrick campaign said in a news release.

The poll was conducted by Baselice & Associates earlier this month, during the week of Nov 1.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

November 28, 2016      5:44 PM

Press Releases: E-Verify for contractors, HMO reports, bathroom brawls, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

November 28, 2016      5:01 PM

House to reopen Tuesday as 26-foot Christmas Tree arrives

“I hope Texans will visit the Capitol during the holidays and see how their home communities are represented on the House Christmas tree,” Julie Straus said

After months of work on its interior, the Texas House chamber will re-open on Tuesday afternoon as the gigantic Christmas Tree adorned with Texas-centric ornaments goes on display through the Christmas Season. The lights and all the ornaments will be added over the next several days.

“The distinct character and diversity of Texas are reflected in these ornaments,” said Julie Straus, the wife of House Speaker Joe Straus. Julie Straus started the District Ornament Project in 2009.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

November 28, 2016      4:42 PM

Texas Star Alliance forms strategic relationship with Prime Strategies

"...Prime Strategies continues a robust growth strategy by establishing a strategic relationship with Texas Star Alliance, a top-tier public affairs firm based in Austin and Houston"

From the announcement:

Texas Star Alliance is a top-tier firm stacked with talented professionals with an encyclopedic knowledge of Texas and the unique considerations for anyone trying to do business there,” said Patrick Maloy, Managing Partner of Prime Strategies.

“We at Texas Star Alliance are pleased and honored to establish a strategic relationship and close partnership with Prime Strategies,” said John R. Pitts, Founder and Managing Principal of Texas Star Alliance. “We offer an unparalleled suite of services and level of expertise to our clients, and partnering with Prime Strategies, which exhibits these same skills and is demonstrating significant strategic growth, was an easy decision that will deliver meaningful results for our expanding client base.”

The full announcement can be downloaded here.