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October 24, 2016      5:55 PM

Updated: Texas Federation of Republican Women backs disclosure of contributors to politically active nonprofits

In unanimous vote, board of one of the largest grassroots conservative groups supports robust disclosure: “Knowing who is giving money to try to influence elections is the only way to ensure transparency and allow voters to make fully informed choices.”

Editor’s note: Texas House State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook issued a statement late in the day about this. The story has been updated to include it – SB

One of the largest conservative grassroots groups in the state, the Texas Federation of Republican Women, has now come out in favor of the disclosure of contributors to politically active nonprofits. And the move by the group won immediate praise from a Texas House leader who has made it a mission to drag the finances of certain groups into the light.

In a resolution passed unanimously by the TFRW board, the group with about 10,000 members said that they support “legislation to clarify that organizations engaged in political advocacy must publicly disclose their donors just as candidates and political action committees do.”

The passage of such legislation by the Texas Legislature would promote freedom of speech and transparency in elections, the TFRW board said.

“This legislation should not apply to religious congregations or groups primarily engaged in providing charitable services, but specifically to those organizations which primarily engage in formal political advocacy for candidates, causes or legislation,” the resolution clarified.

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By Scott Braddock

October 24, 2016      5:54 PM

Press Releases: TEA financial ratings, endorsements, rural health, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

October 24, 2016      2:43 PM

Hegar takes issue with the idea that Texas is a drag on US economy

At economic roundtable, Comptroller notes Houston is dampening the state’s economy now because of the oil and gas downturn but numbers from other regions and sectors look stable

Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Monday took issue with a recent Wall Street Journal report that said Texas is a drag on the United States’ economy.

During a roundtable discussion with top economists assembled in his office, Hegar said there is no doubt Houston’s economy – as the oil and gas capitol of the world – is suffering right now but the overall economic picture in the rest of the state is generally stable.

That WSJ report was flawed, Hegar said, because it mainly focused on Houston then created a negative narrative for the entire state based on that.

This state’s economy is growing “modestly” but was never “in collapse” the way some reports portrayed it to be, Hegar said. He added that improvements in sectors like health care and real estate will help blunt the damage incurred in oil and gas as well as manufacturing.

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By Scott Braddock

October 21, 2016      9:45 PM

Price tag to fix CPS problems continues to grow

DFPS Commissioner Whitman: “it is important to make clear that my expectations are not being met."

The new head of the Department of Family and Protective Services will move forward on strategic hiring goals immediately to address agency shortfalls in urban areas that state leaders have called “completely unacceptable.”

A letter that went out yesterday – and was praised by Speaker of the House Joe Straus today – outlined a commitment to hire 200 investigative caseworkers immediately to address initial contact issues in Dallas/Fort Worth, Harris County and Travis County. That lack of contact was highlighted in an Austin American Statesman investigation published earlier this month.

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By Kimberly Reeves

October 21, 2016      4:55 PM

East Texas judge quits the GOP, becomes a Democrat

“I’d rather stand on my Christian faith and values than take the low ground and go along just to get along”

Saying that Republican Nominee Donald J. Trump has dragged the GOP in a direction that offends her Christian values, State District Judge Lauren Parish from Upshur County on Friday announced she is leaving the majority party in this state and becoming a Democrat.

Upshur County is just north of Tyler-Longview in East Texas, which of course is hostile territory for just about any politician with a “D” behind their name.

Judge Parish, first elected back in 1995, said during an Austin news conference she knows there are plenty of people who will attack her for this decision but “from a moral perspective, I have no option.”

“My Christian values have been disenfranchised by my party’s nominee for president,” Judge Parish said. When asked if there was a certain breaking point – whether it was the Howard Stern interviews, the hot microphone Access Hollywood conversation or something else – Parish said it was a combination of all those things and more.

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By Scott Braddock

October 21, 2016      4:54 PM

Smith: “I Love America” – Steinbeck, Trump and American Cheaters

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that Trump and his endorsers come right out of the darkest corners of the American imagination.

In John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent, the son of the tortured protagonist Ethan Allen Hawley wins a national essay contest for his piece, “I Love America.” Sadly, it turns out the son, Allen, plagiarized the entire paper. The award is withdrawn.

When confronted by his father, Allen has this to say: “The stinking sneak,” he says of the man who brought the bad news. “Who cares? Everybody does it. It’s the way the cooky crumbles…Don’t you read the papers? Everybody right up to the top—just read the papers. You get to feeling holy, just read the papers. I bet you took some in your time, because they all do.”

The son is right about his father. Years before while working as a clerk in a grocery store, father Ethan turned in the owner to federal immigration authorities so he could take over the store. Steinbeck’s novel is a sad, ugly tale set in the era of the television quiz show scandals and the McCarthy witch-hunts.

It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Add a dripping dollop of misogyny to “stinking sneak” and it comes out “what a nasty woman.”

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

By Glenn W. Smith

October 21, 2016      4:36 PM

Press Releases: CPS hiring plan, endorsements, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

October 20, 2016      7:29 PM

Patrick touts education priorities at Dallas Regional Chamber meeting

The Lite Guv promises to push school choice in “session after session”

DALLAS – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlined the Texas Senate’s educational priorities Thursday during a gathering of the Dallas Regional Chamber, but not without first taking time to brag a little about his own accomplishments as well.

While the talk largely provided updates on various legislative interim charges, Patrick also gave a passionate speech advocating for controversial school choice legislation. He promised to push it “session after session.” As part of his interim charges, Patrick asked the Education Committee to study school choice programs in other states and the status of legislation allowing for the expansion, revocation and approval of public school charters.

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By James Russell

October 20, 2016      7:28 PM

DMN: Collin County lawmakers debated pressuring county to cut funding for Paxton prosecution

Text messages show Rep. Jeff Leach supported idea of County Judge Keith Self violating court order: “If Keith got sent to jail for this — I’d be the first to bail him out.” Prosecutors said they were “speechless.”

Here’s the scoop from Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy.

October 20, 2016      7:27 PM

Press Releases: Respecting women, Safe Schools Week, the Children's Champion, and more

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October 20, 2016      4:59 PM

TREPAC announces general election endorsements

“The Texas Association of Realtors supports these candidates because they are committed to protecting the rights of Texas property owners at the state and federal level."

Here is the full list of candidates with the endorsement of the Texas Association of Realtors.

October 20, 2016      4:55 PM

Children at Risk calls for greater accountability for child care subsidy dollars

Meantime, TEA and TWC have carved out another $7.5 million to explore the addition of private-public partnerships in early childhood education

Children at Risk rolled out the first of two reports on pre-kindergarten to begin to lay the groundwork for greater accountability of state child care subsidies.

Funding for early childhood is spread across three agencies in Texas state government: Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission and Department of Family and Protective Services. Much of the focus of lawmakers last session was quality pre-k in Texas public schools, but the state spends almost three times as much money on child care subsidies.

The theme of this week’s discussion at a Texas Association of Business workshop during the Children at Risk news conference was a push for greater agency coordination around both education data and quality initiatives within agency programs.

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By Kimberly Reeves

October 19, 2016      5:09 PM

Many Texas Tea Party leaders not on board with Patrick about school choice

Some staunch conservatives call school choice legislation a threat to freedom and “the mother of all public/private partnerships that will be the demise of education in America”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick may be carrying the most serious firepower yet in his crusade to advance “school choice,” but he may not be joined by some of his staunchest conservative allies.

This week’s Texas House Public Education Committee hearing underscored the fact that school choice advocates are committed to the long game this coming session, putting resources and staff in play well ahead of January. The biggest addition may be Randan Steinhauser of Texans for Education Opportunity.

Steinhauser, who specializes in “non-profit and corporate marketing, branding, and strategic communications,” told lawmakers that she spoke for thousands of mothers who could not make it to the Capitol to advocate for their children. Texas has 120,000 on a waiting list for charter schools, and up to 100,000 seats available in Texas private schools, the PR expert said.

“The demand is there. The supply is there,” Steinhauser told the Public Education panel. “The only thing standing in the way of parents having access to these options is government. I would argue when we empower parents with school choice, they are the ones best able to make decisions for their child.”

Meantime, Patrick faces opposition from some of the same conservatives who were among his biggest allies during previous education fights.

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By Kimberly Reeves

October 19, 2016      5:06 PM

Texas voter registration now surpasses 15.1 million

Final total for the general election is 15,100,824

Hat tip to David Rauf at the San Antonio Express-News, who tweeting out the link to the totals.

October 19, 2016      4:56 PM

Manufacturers PAC of Texas Announces General Election Endorsements

“Manufacturing is a driving engine of the Texas economy and we proudly support candidates who consistently work to keep manufacturing strong and Texas competitive.”

The full list of endorsees is right here.

October 19, 2016      4:51 PM

CPPP unveils 2017 legislative priorities

Health and wellness, expanding economic opportunity, and making sure revenue systems are capable of fully funding necessary public service

Check it out here.

October 19, 2016      4:18 PM

Press Releases: Focusing on mental health, endorsements, and Cruz visits with even more Texans

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

October 18, 2016      5:12 PM

SB: Paxton takes a walk on getting to the truth of potential campaign abuse by his supporters

The Attorney General’s dereliction of duty in Ethics Commission case puts Republican lawmakers more at risk than ever from challengers powered by secret campaign cash

The Texas Ethics Commission is under fire in a way that goes well beyond the now-customary sniping from forces under the control of and allied with Midland oilman Tim Dunn. Statewide officeholders who have Dunn’s largesse partially to thank for their GOP primary victories are now working to further change the landscape of how those elections are fought by undermining the ability of the state’s campaign finance regulator to carry out one of its principal purposes: “To disclose fully information related to expenditures and contributions for elections and for petitioning government.”

From Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s failed attempt to force out a Republican ethics commissioner to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s sabotage of the agency’s campaign finance investigation into Dunn’s group Empower Texans, it appears the floodgates for secret cash to be poured into the 2018 GOP primaries could be as open as ever.

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By Scott Braddock

October 18, 2016      5:10 PM

Press Releases: Tax bill sticker shock, town halls, Cruz on Planned Parenthood, and more

Click the Press Release button above for the latest

October 18, 2016      5:08 PM

Joint committee drills down on how to avoid spread of flu in nursing homes

Texas’ 500 nursing homes want to discourage residents and staff from opting out of vaccines but the state has a high percentage of people who do

A nursing facility’s ability to fight diseases like pneumonia and influenza should be incorporated into the state’s rating system of nursing homes, Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, told his colleagues on the Joint Committee on Aging.

An outbreak of the flu or pneumonia can be deadly to medically fragile nursing home residents. That’s why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rolled out new regulations this month to report, track and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. It’s also why Texas’ 500 nursing homes want to discourage residents and staff from opting out of vaccines.

Texas has a perhaps surprisingly high percentage of residents and their families who decline to be vaccinated.

Numbers presented by the Texas Healthcare Association last week indicate 16 percent of families decline the influenza vaccine, and 23 percent decline the pneumococcal vaccines, said Paul Gerharter of Touchstone Communities.

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By Kimberly Reeves

October 18, 2016      2:25 PM

U of H Poll shows Trump and Clinton within the margin of error in Texas

16 percent were undecided or refused to answer

Coverage of the poll by the Houston Chronicle’s Bobby Cervantes is right here.

October 17, 2016      6:07 PM

House hearing shows tough road ahead for school choice supporters

Chairman Aycock puts TPPF on the spot about whether private schools should have to be under the same accountability system as public schools

School choice promises to be a brawl next session, with advocates pledging plenty of firepower to blast an education savings account proposal through the Texas House.

Rep. Jimmy Don Aycock, R-Killeen, gaveled in his last House Public Education Committee hearing this morning, and the hearing was still going strong when this story was posted. Many of today’s arguments will be familiar to anyone who has watched prior battles over vouchers: School choice saves children from failing schools. School choice gives impoverished children the same options as their peers. School choice is about enriching charter and private school operators. Or, on the other hand, Texas should be spending its money on fixing the broken school finance system, not funneling money away from public schools.

Members of the committee appeared universally opposed to the choice options, with the exception of Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston. Bohac insisted school choice had “broad, broad bipartisan support,” which others disputed. Outgoing Rep. Marsha Farney, R-Round Rock, was exceptionally vocal, launching into a long list of questions to a panel of advocates.

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By Kimberly Reeves

October 17, 2016      6:06 PM

Press Release: Same sex beneifts case, Safe Schools week, foster care initiative

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

October 17, 2016      3:24 PM

TEA dismisses complaint against Harmony Public Schools, charter operator says

“The flagrant lies spread by these foreign agents are unconscionable,” said Robert Schulman, counsel for Harmony Public Schools.

The announcement from Harmony Public Schools is here.

October 17, 2016      2:18 PM

Rep. Sheets up on TV with an ad called Proud

"These things may not get me in the news. But, they make a real difference in people's lives."

October 17, 2016      10:56 AM

Video: Clinton making TV ad buy in Texas

Ad featuring DMN endorsement to run for one week in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio