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May 11, 2021      7:21 PM

Bail reform constitutional amendment, a priority of Gov. Abbott, passed the Texas House 104 to 36

HJR 4 allows judges to deny bail to certain defendants

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May 10, 2021      8:59 PM

Texas House votes 92 to 45 to rein in the governor and local governments during a future pandemic

In addition to the Pandemic Disaster Legislative Oversight Committee, the amended version of HB3 requires the entire Legislature to meet after 120 days of a declared pandemic to weigh in on the governor's actions

At the conclusion of a debate that lasted into the evening hours, the Texas House on Monday voted 92 to 45 to approve a plan to give the Legislature more of a say in the state’s response during a future pandemic. Many amendments were offered and added to House Bill 3, authored by Calendars Committee Chairman Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, who accepted quite a few of them with little debate.

But there were some sharp points of contention including some high drama over who – the governor or the legislature – should be able to order a mask mandate.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 10, 2021      3:04 PM

Chairman Murphy abandons his Chapter 313 revamp, postpones it to June

A conservative/liberal coalition was forming against the legislation, including an attempt to allow local voters to weigh in on the incentive deals in their communities

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May 10, 2021      1:12 PM

Former President Trump endorses Lt. Gov. Patrick for reelection

"He is outstanding and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"

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May 10, 2021      9:13 AM

Former Sen. Don Huffines announces for governor

Says he will challenge Gov. Abbott because "I’m tired of being lied to. We all are. Texas deserves real leadership. No excuses."

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May 8, 2021      4:16 PM

SB: Retribution

It’s not a shock that petty vindictiveness is part of the legislative process, but Dean Craddick’s behavior on Saturday can serve as a reminder that it eventually catches up to you

Around 1am Friday, while Texas House members sped through bills and the fate of the omnibus election legislation hung in the balance, one word was being muttered on and off the floor as rumors started to swirl that Public Education Committee Chairman Harold Dutton would revive a measure targeting transgender youth in sports: “Retribution.”

As you read first in Quorum Report, Dutton was planning to again hold a vote in committee on SB29, which critics have decried as unnecessary targeting of a misunderstood minority. The bill had failed earlier in the committee. What became clear later Friday was that Dutton was doing it because Rep. Alma Allen, one of his fellow Houston Democrats and a member of Public Ed, had successfully taken down Dutton’s HISD takeover bill on the floor with a point of order.

By the time Saturday’s Local and Consent Calendar rolled around, Chair Dutton was sort of joking in an exchange with Rep. Erin Zwiener "I have a sheet here with all the Democrat bills on it and I was gonna knock em off." Apparently some Democrats had been planning to knock off some of his bills, too.

Under the radar, similar retribution was playing out on the House floor.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 8, 2021      4:12 PM

Veteran political consultant and PR executive Julian Read passed away

Statesman columnist Ken Herman tweeted out the sad news: "Among other things, Read was an aide to John Connally and a witness to the Kennedy assassination. And much more, perhaps none more important than gentleman."

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May 7, 2021      5:20 PM

Following Winter Storm Uri, PUC considers changes to scarcity pricing

“We need to provide certainty to the markets when we can and approach these signals in a systematic way,” Commissioner McAdams said. “The rule, as proposed by staff, I believe, provides that certainty for the market in the near term.”

The reconstituted Public Utility Commission has proposed sharply reducing the maximum totals for scarcity pricing of energy, following the lead of disgruntled lawmakers who criticized the massive costs of Winter Storm Uri.

The biggest winners of scarcity pricing were those companies positioned to deliver natural gas when plants were down and lines were frozen. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported Energy Transfer LP – the pipeline company owned by Kelcy Warren – reaped a $2.4 billion profit from its delivery of natural gas during Uri.

Two additional companies – Kinder Morgan and BP – are expected to post $1 billion in profits, followed by other smaller energy companies.

Under the policy amendment, the new low system-wide offer cap – or LCAP – will be tied to actual marginal costs in scarcity pricing situation. The source of the high costs during Uri – tying LCAP to the natural gas price index – is eliminated.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 7, 2021      12:15 PM

Todd Smith, political consultant to Ag Commissioner Miller, is arrested on charges of selling access to hemp licenses

Here is the arrest warrant, first reported by Terri Langford at KUT public radio in Austin.

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May 7, 2021      3:14 AM

After a middle of the night rewrite, the Texas House votes 81 to 64 to give initial approval to SB7, the omnibus elections bill

Around 2:30am, the GOP and Democrats came together to soften the bill’s language considerably with an eye toward avoiding criminalizing much of what happens associated with voting

After what we will politely call some fits and starts, the Texas House in the early morning hours of Friday gave initial passage to Senate Bill 7, the omnibus elections bill carried by Chairman Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park.

But not before Democrats and Republicans came together on the floor in the middle of the night to adopt a slew of amendments aimed at ensuring the Texas Legislature isn’t criminalizing many things that often happen associated with voting.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 7, 2021      12:57 AM

It appears Texas House Public Education Committee will hold a vote on SB 29, the transgender sports bill, at 9am Friday

The bill previously failed to receive adequate support in the committee, but sources indicated Chairman Dutton plans to hold another vote in the morning

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May 6, 2021      3:53 PM

Rep. Raney tests positive for Covid

He is vaccinated and has no symptoms per his office. H/T to Lauren McGaughy who broke the news.

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May 5, 2021      6:40 PM

Republicans creating causes of action: Texas House advances 6-week abortion ban on a vote of 81 to 63

The bill would clear the way for individuals to sue over abortions they object to; Rep. Slawson struggles to explain medical facts underlying the bill and the standard of standing for lawsuits

The so-called Texas Heartbeat Bill – which could roll available abortions back to six weeks gestation – cleared a major hurdle in the Texas House this afternoon on a vote of 81-63.

In the pantheon of abortion bills that have made it through the House in recent sessions, Senate Bill 8 would qualify as the quickest to a vote and one that carried the fewest amendments, three of them, when it reached its vote tally on initial passage.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 5, 2021      6:37 PM

Updated: After adding 8 amendments, Texas Senate votes along party lines to give final approval to permitless carry of handguns

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May 5, 2021      5:54 PM

Sen. Creighton collapsed on the Texas Senate floor

Debate on the permitless carry bill was momentarily paused while Creighton received some help; Sen. Gutierrez noted that Creighton had an accident and may have suffered a concussion: "I hope our friend is okay."

Erin Daly Wilson, Spokesperson for Sen. Brandon Creighton, provided this comment:

“On Thursday evening Senator Creighton was involved in a vehicle collision and sustained minor injuries. He spent the last few days resting, and returned to the Capitol for the critical work of the legislature and to ensure a majority to approve H.B. 1927.

He wants to thank DPS and the physicians who treated him, and will be back working for Senate District 4 as soon as possible.”

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May 5, 2021      4:44 PM

On a point of order, Speaker Craddick takes down Chairman Landgraf's proposed ban on high level nuclear waste HB 2692

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May 5, 2021      2:35 PM

DMN: AG Paxton roped into securities fraud debacle between financial advisor, ex-partners

From the scoop by Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy

Two former business partners have successfully pulled Ken Paxton into yet another securities fraud dispute, adding to the attorney general’s mounting legal problems. The case dates to 2016, when the man who oversees Paxton’s financial assets accused a company called Unity Resources and two of its investors of defrauding him. The two men denied the allegations and pointed the finger back at Paxton, arguing he was responsible because he too was an investor and served as the company’s lawyer.

Last week, the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas agreed with the two men that Paxton could be named a “responsible third party” in the suit. The 11-1 opinion by the Democrat-dominated court reversed its previous decision that initially found Paxton could not be added to the case.

Full story here.

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May 4, 2021      5:18 PM

Showdown over nuclear waste delayed on Texas House floor

Late in the day, House members were being pulled off the floor by those lobbying hard on the bill trying to flip votes while the bill itself had been postponed to the end of the day’s agenda. The bill was again postponed before the House gaveled out

The Texas House later today is set to debate what some consider nuclear waste policy with national implications.

House Bill 2692 by Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, would essentially put a stop to a controversial plan to use a site in Andrews County to store the most dangerous level of radioactive waste. That type of waste is made up of spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. That waste is said to stay dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 4, 2021      5:15 PM

Sweeping elections bill fight set for Thursday in the Texas House

HB6 is on Major State for Thursday

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May 4, 2021      5:00 PM

Texas Senate urges Public Utility Commission to act on scarcity pricing at upcoming meeting

“We must urge the PUC to significantly reduce the high system-wide offer cap,” said Sen. Schwertner; but it’s unclear how meaningful his resolution might be to the PUC’s agenda

The Texas Senate yesterday passed a last-minute resolution to instruct the Public Utilities Commission to act on scarcity pricing at its meeting on Thursday, but it’s unclear how meaningful that resolution might be to the PUC’s agenda.

SR 342 – which wasn’t posted online at the time it was discussed by the Senate – was described by sponsor Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, as “an important demonstration of our commitment to Texans.”

“Ahead of the Commission’s hearing this Thursday, we must urge the PUC to significantly reduce the high system-wide offer cap,” said Schwertner, noting that Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1278 also addressed the issue. “This resolution is another step in correcting ERCOT’s pricing algorithm so that we can fine-tune a viable competitive energy market that ensure reliability through dispatchable generation.”

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 4, 2021      1:03 PM

Texas House Public Education votes down SB29, the transgender sports bill

The bill failed to pass after a vote at the end of today's Public Ed meeting

Democrats failed to soften the blow of the transgender UIL bill in the House Public Education Committee this morning, but then managed a swift kill of the bill altogether when it came to the final vote.

Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, needed a 7-vote majority to pass his bill out of committee That didn’t happen when Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood, declined to vote on any of the bills that were up for a vote and Chairman Harold Dutton, D-Houston, voted present.

That gave the committee a final vote of six Democrats against five Republicans. Without a majority, the bill was declared dead. There was, however, chatter around midday that the bill could still be revived.

It’s that time of session, after all.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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