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September 21, 2017      6:16 PM

Harvey re-emphasizes regional, statewide flood control efforts

Harvey dropped enough water to supply Texas for eight years, Larson said. It’s time, he said, to “stop flooding and start storing this water.”

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee already has one big idea ahead of next month’s interim hearing on what the state can do to address the damage done by Hurricane Harvey with an eye toward mitigating the destructive power of future storms.

San Antonio Republican Lyle Larson said he hoped the state would attempt a long-term strategy to find ways to store those floodwaters underground in aquifers ahead of future droughts.

Harvey dropped enough water to supply Texas for eight years, Larson said.

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By John Reynolds

September 21, 2017      6:03 PM

Texas could pick up more than $30 billion in new money under Graham-Cassidy

But that doesn’t necessarily translate to improved access: “If Texas chooses to use some of the block grant from Graham-Cassidy on coverage, it would have to set up a coverage program from scratch by 2020 and there is no federal fallback…”

Texas would see a $34 billion bump in additional federal funds for Medicaid under the so-called Graham-Cassidy replacement for the Affordable Care Act, according to new numbers out today from Kaiser Family Foundation.  

That’s just what Texas Republican lawmakers would like to hear.

Most, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have expressed support for the concept of block grant funding. Under the Kaiser numbers, 35 states plus the District of Columbia would face losing funds. Texas, on the other hand, would see 75 percent more funds. The only state seeing a greater percentage increase would be Mississippi. New York, California and Pennsylvania would lose tens of billions in funding due to the choice to expand Medicaid.

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By Kimberly Reeves

September 21, 2017      5:47 PM

Press Releases: Office closings, unclaimed property, and more

Click the Press Releases button for the latest

September 21, 2017      5:32 PM

Sitton asks AG to weigh in on blowup at the Railroad Commission

Sitton and Craddick at odds over the future of the executive director, Sitton says “If any one Railroad Commissioner can call any employee into their office at any time and give them a ‘choice’ of ‘resign or you’ll be fired,’ this deficiency must be addressed.”

After this week’s blowup at the Texas Railroad Commission about the agency’s executive director Kim Corley, Commissioner Ryan Sitton on Thursday asked Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office to weigh in with an official opinion.

Earlier in the week, Sitton and Chair Christi Craddick had a testy exchange about whether Craddick had demanded the resignation of Corley. During that exchange, Sitton suggested Craddick was acting dictatorially by acting unilaterally to dismiss the executive director.

“The purpose of this request is not to disparage anyone or cast blame. My purpose it to understand the appropriate process and procedure for handling employee related matters going forward,” Sitton said in a letter to the AG.

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By Scott Braddock

September 21, 2017      3:28 PM

Abbott names Kent Sullivan as Commissioner of Insurance

He's a partner at Jackson Walker; previously served as a justice on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals

September 20, 2017      5:09 PM

Greenfield: Doom and Boom, the Fiscal Impact of Harvey

Perhaps counterintuitive, but our resident number cruncher Dr. Stuart Greenfield argues the state’s revenue should increase thanks to the stimulus spending about to unfold after Harvey

Editor’s note: Usually, Dr. Greenfield’s columns would appear in the R&D Department, but we are printing this one in The Daily Buzz – SB

First, the damage that was done by Hurricane Harvey should exceed $100 billion and could exceed that of Hurricane Katrina.  The state’s political leadership has estimated that damages will be at least $120 billion and may exceed $200 billion. 

According to a recent estimate from economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Hurricane Harvey will likely be the second most costly hurricane, with damages between $70-$100 billion.  Accuweather estimated property losses as high as $190 billion. Governor Greg Abbott at a recent news conference mentioned losses of between $120-$180 billion.

So as with most questions concerning economics, there is no immediate definitive answer.

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By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

September 20, 2017      5:06 PM

After avoiding one last cycle, Rep. Capriglione draws a GOP primary challenger

Armin Mizani is a Keller City Councilman and was said to have been recruited by the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party after the group struck out in asking at least 5 others to run

September 20, 2017      4:59 PM

Abbott selects policy adviser DeAnn Walker as Chair of PUC

"Previously, she served as the director of Regulatory Affairs and as an associate general counsel for CenterPoint Energy, serving there for 15 years."

September 20, 2017      4:58 PM

Press Releases: Campaign announcements, Harvey relief, the Houston EPA lab, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for all the latest

September 20, 2017      11:08 AM

Texas House Appropriations first Hurricane Harvey hearing slated for Oct 2

As first reported by John Reynolds on QR, it will be held at U of H

September 19, 2017      4:32 PM

Prominent names get behind Democrat in race to take on Sen. Burton

President Trump carried SD 10 by the slimmest of margins and Dems argue their candidate has crossover appeal with Republican women and the business community

FORT WORTH ––Tarrant County Democratic leaders made clear that Beverly Powell, a Burleson Independent School District trustee, is their preferred candidate in Senate District 10 at her campaign kickoff this past weekend at Fort Worth’s Texas Wesleyan University.

The seat held by freshman Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, is likely the state’s only swing Senate district.

Local Democratic stalwarts like Congressman Marc Veasey, Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, D-Arlington, as well as Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks, the county’s only Democratic commissioner, praised Powell’s leadership, including a two-year stint as BISD board president and as a member of the Texas Wesleyan Board.

In her announcement speech, Powell said she is a product of Burleson schools in the area where she raised her family. Her son is the popular Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter.

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By James Russell

September 19, 2017      4:30 PM

Press Releases: Harvey health care, appointments, insurance, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for today's releases

September 19, 2017      4:08 PM

Abbott names Bruce Bugg as Texas Transportation Commission Chairman

September 19, 2017      4:04 PM

On the move: Jay Dyer joins UT Austin as head of government relations

“Jay brings tremendous knowledge and experience in state government as well as a deep commitment to The University of Texas,” said President Gregory L. Fenves.

The full announcement from UT Austin is here.

September 18, 2017      5:43 PM

Updated: Abbott announces staffing shakeup

Luis Saenz is new COS, Tommy Williams joins as fiscal adviser, John Colyandro is senior adviser, Walter Fisher is legislative director, and Peggy Venable will be appointments director

Gov. Greg Abbott has named Luis Saenz his chief of staff upon the announcement of the departure of his long-time COS Daniel Hodge, who’s leaving Abbott’s office for the private sector.  

Hodge has been the one constant since Abbott took the job of governor in 2015 after coming with him from the Office of the Attorney General. Abbott praised his departing team, expressing appreciation for their work, particularly during Hurricane Harvey.

“Their dedicated work provided swift and substantial support to the citizens of Texas who were hit by Hurricane Harvey,” Abbott said. “They also helped me fulfill many of the proposals that I offered in my bicentennial blueprint that I ran on when I ran for governor. And they also helped me to pass all of my emergency item proposals in my first two sessions.”

Gov. Abbott promised “big ideas” he intends to tackle in the upcoming session in 2019, but declined to say what any of those ideas are. He said his team is dedicated first to Harvey relief efforts.

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By Kimberly Reeves

September 18, 2017      4:40 PM

Press Releases: New NFRW president, campaign announcements, appointments, anniversaries and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

September 15, 2017      5:01 PM

As state tallies costs of Harvey, importance of federal dollars emerges

House chief budget writer says state has to reckon with question of whether state can ever fully prepare for a storm as unique as Harvey

The House Appropriations Committee is planning to hold its first meeting in early October to confront the funding challenges presented by Hurricane Harvey, Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, tells QR today.

While an exact date has not been nailed down, Zerwas said the hearing will be held at the University of Houston.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus issued five interim charges to three House committees on Thursday. House Appropriations, the chamber’s budget writing panel, was asked to look at two main topics in the aftermath of Harvey — the use of federal and state resources in Harvey response efforts as well as the best use of federal and state resources to make the state better prepared for a future disaster.

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By John Reynolds

September 15, 2017      4:52 PM

Press Releases: Appointments, Harvey losses, CodeNEXT, and more

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September 15, 2017      12:49 PM

HK: QR Welcomes Back John Reynolds

Reynolds brings depth and balance to every journalistic project in which he engages

We here at Buzz Central are pleased to announce that after a few years away long time QR correspondent John Reynolds will be rejoining us with occasional contributions. I reached out to him after Hurricane Harvey because no one has covered the controversies around TWIA, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, as intensively as Reynolds during his time at QR.

The events of the last month mean conversation about the state’s role in dealing with this storm and the likely future storms resulting from a warming environment are just beginning.

Although his contributions will be occasional, we could not be more pleased that his byline will grace our pages again. Besides being a long-time friend, he brings a depth and balance to every journalistic project in which he engages – HK

By Harvey Kronberg

September 15, 2017      12:46 PM

Smith: Is Politics Today A Content-free Shirts & Skins Sandlot Football Game?

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith wonders whether tribal loyalty has replaced individual responsibility and engagement in today’s politics

I’ve been critical of complaints about so-called “polarization” in American politics. It can look like an easy out that allows pundits to pretend “neutrality” using false equivalencies.

Against this, I’ve suggested we consider two people in a room. One of them goes crazy. The other doesn’t. We don’t say the room is polarized, do we? Where’s Donald Trump’s opposite pole? See what I mean?

But some recent studies and events in the political sphere have me second-guessing my skepticism.

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

By Glenn W. Smith

September 14, 2017      6:13 PM

Statesman: DA to hold off on felony charges in Rep. Dawnna Dukes case for now

Here’s the exclusive from The Austin American Statesman.

September 14, 2017      11:04 AM

Straus assigns post Harvey interim charges to three committees

Appropriations, Public Education and Natural Resources will have to wrestle with big issues

Speaker Joe Straus' new interim charges to three committees dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey can be found here.