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April 25, 2018      5:21 PM

Abbott pounds fist, says Farenthold pay for special election caused by his resignation

Abbott creates unfunded mandate for counties by suspending state law to call special election; demands Farenthold pay for it

Demanding a response by the beginning of May, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday told former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, that he should have to pay for the special election now on track for September to elect a replacement.

It's an election that could easily cost at least $200,000.

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April 25, 2018      5:18 PM

Press Releases: Human trafficking, rural development, highway funding, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

April 25, 2018      4:52 PM

Sen. West sets two-week deadline for agency leaders to produce a plan to address achievement gap

Latest figures show African-Americans trailed whites by almost 20 percent in obtaining a degree or certificate; Higher Ed Chairman Seliger raises no objections to West’s request

Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, has given the leaders at three agencies two weeks to produce a plan to significantly raise the achievement of the state’s minority males.

The lagging achievement of African-American and Hispanic students is a typical component of the updates Commissioners Raymund Paredes and Mike Morath present to lawmakers.

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By Kimberly Reeves

April 24, 2018      5:05 PM

Supreme Court weighs jurisdictional issues in Texas redistricting case

Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared more preoccupied this morning with the mechanics of the Texas redistricting appeal than the merits of a three-judge panel opinion that labeled 11 Texas House and Congressional districts “intentionally racially discriminatory.”

A three-judge panel last August declared districts in Central Texas, North Texas and Nueces county to be illegal. A letter from the panel gave Gov. Greg Abbott 72 hours to decide whether to call lawmakers back into session or defer to the court. Instead, Abbott appealed to the Supreme Court, completely bypassing the three-judge panel before it issued a final judgment.

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By Kimberly Reeves

April 24, 2018      3:50 PM

Poll shows Democrat Nathan Johnson and Sen. Don Huffines in a dead heat

The numbers show a competitive race shaping up in the battleground of Dallas County

A poll obtained by Quorum Report shows Sen. Don Huffines and his Democratic Challenger Nathan Johnson in a dead heat in Senate District 16 in Dallas County.

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By Scott Braddock

April 24, 2018      3:46 PM

Abbott calls special election for Farenthold seat on June 30

April 23, 2018      4:58 PM

Paxton: A court would likely side with Abbott in suspending state law for special election to fill Farenthold seat

Citing special disaster authority after Hurricane Harvey, Paxton wrote “you possess express authority to "suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute”

Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday told Gov. Greg Abbott that the courts would likely side with him if he suspends state laws to call a special election quickly to fill the seat in Congress being vacated by scandal-plagued Blake Farenthold.

Former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Brunn and former Victoria County GOP chairman Michael Cloud have been campaigning for the seat.

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April 23, 2018      4:55 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, redistricting, education, disaster recovery, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

April 23, 2018      1:49 PM

State district court judge in Dallas County dismisses GOP lawsuit that sought to remove about 80 Democrats from ballot

Republicans had argued Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Donovan failed to sign candidate applications of 127 Democrats before they were forwarded to the Texas Secretary of State's office.

A state district court judge in Dallas County on Monday dismissed a Republican-filed lawsuit aimed at removing more than 80 Democratic candidates from the fall ballot.

Judge Eric Moyé ruled that Dallas County Republican Party Chair Missy Shorey did not have standing to bring her suit against Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan. Shorey's attorneys had argued Donovan failed to sign the filing applications of candidates prior to forwarding those to the Secretary of State.

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April 21, 2018      1:18 PM

People on the Move

Staffers making moves, new leadership in big organizations, a cool new app, and even a move from lobbying to poetry

Thanks for all the calls and emails this week about what you and your friends – or sometimes your adversaries – are up to. The Buzz Central team loves hearing all the gossip, as you know. Reach out anytime at ksbraddock@gmail.com

Here’s the Texas Capitol’s weekly roundup of movers and shakers: It’s People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

April 21, 2018      1:14 PM

TRS board deadlocks over decision to reduce rate of return on investments

Good returns are likely to come to an end in the future; as one board member put it: TRS has spent too long paying rent with a credit card…but to lower the rate to 7.5 percent or 7.25 percent would blow a big hole in the contribution side of the equation

The Teacher Retirement System board was deadlocked on Friday over a vote to decrease the rate of return on pension fund investments, pushing a decision off to a July board meeting.

A growing number of new teachers and better-than-average returns on the pension fund has made it easy for TRS to maintain an 8 percent rate of return.

A recent actuarial study indicates 7.25 percent, or even 7 percent might be better options for long-term solvency.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

April 20, 2018      1:03 PM

Smith: Can We Be Saved Again by High School Civics?

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith writes that if our faith in democracy is shaken, maybe we should return together to the lessons of high school civics

Remember Texas high school civics classes? I do. They weren’t easy, at least mine at Bellaire High School in Houston weren’t easy.

Despite their thoroughness and demands on critical thinking, my civics classes offered welcome, patriotic signs of hope in a troubled time of political division and racist-driven strife, an unpopular war, and, in the very year of my senior class, 1972, troubling portents of a coming constitutional crisis.

I was reminded of those classes not too long ago when I was lucky enough to sit at dinner with former national Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele. I’d talked to conservative radio host Charlie Sykes, a critic of President Trump, at the same affair. Anti-Trump Republican Rick Wilson was there, too.

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

By Glenn W. Smith

April 19, 2018      5:38 PM

Updated: Alleged Securities Fraud by Texas GOP Chairman Jim Dickey emerges as issue in his bid for reelection

Challenger Cindy Crocker Asche says this “disqualifies him to represent RPT to donors and investors”; Dickey’s attorney says Asche is “grossly misrepresenting”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Dickey and his attorney. The legal documentation is available to subscribers at the bottom of this story – SB

The GOP woman running against Republican Party of Texas Chairman Jim Dickey on Thursday morning said the incumbent cannot be trusted with the party’s finances because of his history of alleged securities fraud in a case brought against him back in 2004 by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Cindy Crocker Asche of Frisco is challenging Dickey for his chairmanship at the upcoming RPT convention. Dickey was installed by the State Republican Executive Committee last year after a brief race against a Brenham businessman following the resignation of former Chair Tom Mechler. 

In a speech in Lubbock, Asche told a group of Republican activists that her campaign uncovered the fact that Dickey settled with the SEC in 2006 amid allegations he repeatedly and knowingly misrepresented the value of hedge fund investments – resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars – and then falsely blamed the losses on the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

“This disqualifies him to represent RPT to donors and investors,” Asche said in her speech as tweeted by Lubbock radio host Jay Leeson. In her speech, Asche said Dickey's investors including the Art Institute of Chicago were defrauded to the tune of roughly $63 million.

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By Scott Braddock

April 19, 2018      5:34 PM

New accountability system makes substantial changes for many students

Commissioner Morath tries to assure members that schools with low-income students will have a chance to get to the top of the accountability system…but it’s a tall order to say the least

The Texas Education Agency appears to have nested a new scaled system within the state’s new and controversial A-F accountability for public school campuses in order to continue meeting federal requirements.

Lawmakers finalized the three-domain A-F accountability system last session with the passage of House Bill 22. It’s something that every member has gotten an earful about from their superintendents and school board members.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

April 19, 2018      3:35 PM

In race to succeed him in Texas House seat, Speaker Straus endorses Steve Allison

"I am grateful for the voters who have supported me through the years, and now we need you to vote for Steve Allison," Straus said

April 19, 2018      9:04 AM

Alvarado camp releases poll showing she leads Hernandez in Senate race 38% to 22%

41% of voters are undecided, per the poll by Public Policy Polling

April 18, 2018      5:30 PM

Quinnipiac Poll: Texas US Senate race too close to call

Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke with 47 to 44, respectively

Of course, one should never read too much into one set of numbers, but a new poll from Quinnipiac shows Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O'Rourke in essentially a dead heat.

Cruz is at 47 and his Democratic challenger is at 44, per the Quinnipiac poll.

"There are wide party, gender, age and racial gaps, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds," per the pollsters.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

April 18, 2018      3:29 PM

Updated: Powerful Texas Association of Realtors and the NRA both back Rep. Gooden for Congress

This comes a day after Ken Paxton announced he's with Bunni Pounds. “Lance Gooden has a thorough understanding of complex policy issues as a result of his work representing East Texas in the statehouse and we have full confidence he will continue to stand up for Realtors, homeowners and private-property rights while serving in Congress," said TREPAC Chairman David Alan Cox.

The full endorsement of Rep. Lance Gooden for Congress by the National Rifle Association is here. The Texas Association of Realtors announcement is here.

April 18, 2018      11:42 AM

HHSC Chief Operating Officer Heather Griffith Peterson resigned today

April 18, 2018      10:20 AM

TxDOT scraps vendor contract to overhaul project management system

Rep. Simmons asks the agency “If you’re going to be doing it internally, how will we know whether or not you’re going to have a system that does some evaluation…How can we be assured that you’re going to implement something that is rigorous and puts a critical eye to the process?”

The Texas Department of Transportation has ditched a contract with a key vendor tasked with merging the agency’s disparate legacy project management systems.

The goal of Modernize Portfolio and Project Management, or MPPM, is to take the data of 12,000 road and bridge projects and make it accessible to both internal and external stakeholders.

That’s harder than it might seem because TxDOT has 40 different legacy systems, many of them launched on mainframes back in the 1980s.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves