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January 15, 2018      3:55 PM

Grusendorf: Balance of Power

A Deliberative or Autocratic Texas House? It depends on the rules

The holidays are behind us. The filing deadline for candidates has passed.  The playing field for Texas politics in 2018 has been defined.  The political decisions made this year will determine the nature of the 86th Texas Legislature.

For the next twelve months, many in Austin will be focused on one big question:  Who will be the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives? 

Historically that was an important question each biennium. In recent years it has become a serious question only once per decade. Consequently, Texas insiders have become unaccustomed to this uncertainty.

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By Kent Grusendorf

January 11, 2018      5:54 PM

Patt, Page: Support bipartisan fixes to the 340B Drug Discount Program

Some Texas doctors argue in favor of a first step toward fixing the drug discount program

Roughly twenty-five years ago, Congress created a program, the 340B Drug Discount Program, to help safety-net clinics and community health centers improve the health of needy communities throughout the country. Unfortunately, some bad actors are taking advantage of the program for their own benefit while communities, including here in Texas, are suffering. Indiana Representative and doctor Larry Bucshon (R-IN-08) and California Representative Scott Peters (D-CA-52) recently introduced legislation, the 340B Protecting Access to Underserved and Safety-Net Entities Act (Pause), which is a great first step to provide much needed fixes to the program.

For those who aren’t familiar with the 340B Drug Discount Program, it requires the drug manufacturers to sell their medicines to eligible organizations at steep discounts but allows heath care organizations to sell the prescriptions at full price. It started out as a well-intentioned program but some organizations are using it to drive profits instead of help patients.

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By Debra Patt and Ray Page

January 5, 2018      12:28 PM

Smith: Where’s the Money?

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that victims of Hurricane Harvey continue to suffer while state and federal officials hide the money in a game of “Button, button, who’s got the button.”

It’s like a game of “button, button, who’s got the button,” and I’m not talking about Donald Trump’s or Kim Jon Ung’s buttons, however much each wants to brag about the size of his own.

This game is about who is doing what with Hurricane Harvey relief funds while victims continue to suffer.

It seems Gov. Greg Abbott, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and other state officials are in a circle holding hands with some Republican federal officials, but who has the money? Unfortunately, the public, and victims of the hurricane, don’t seem to be in the game’s circle.

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By Glenn W. Smith

January 4, 2018      5:22 PM

Greenfield: A Great Fiscal Year or Just a Good One, you be the judge

Resident economist Dr. Stuart Greenfield says absent a recession or a serious dip in oil prices, it is possible the ending balance will be an order of magnitude greater than the current $93.8 million

As noted by Comptroller Glenn Hegar, state sales tax revenue in December increased at a double-digit rate (12.3 percent) compared to December 2016.

He also mentioned growth in other state revenue sources. The Comptroller’s announcement focused on December revenue collections, with little mention of the substantial improvement in the state’s year-to-date revenue situation.

This analysis will focus on All Funds revenue, as the number of individuals that understand the current state revenue system could fit in a phone booth. We’ll also get into General Revenue-Related (GRR) revenue as these receipts are discretionary.

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By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

December 19, 2017      2:57 PM

Grusendorf: Tis the Season

From the Right: Republican former Texas House Chairman Kent Grusendorf says “some of the finest people I have known in politics have been liberals” and goes on to argue demonization and criminalization of political adversaries should be avoided

Politics has become very polarized in America and to a lesser degree, in Texas. We all need to remember that our political rivals are not our enemies. The demonization and criminalization of politics is dangerous to our core democratic values and should be avoided.

Although in my opinion liberals are often misguided and naïve, they are not evil people.

In fact, some of the finest people I have known in politics have been liberals. 

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By Kent Grusendorf

December 15, 2017      3:39 PM

Smith: No Moore 2017, Please

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that Doug Jones win in Alabama holds important lessons for Texas Democrats

There is much for Democrats and progressives to celebrate in Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore in Alabama.

We can begin by looking at some of Chris Cillizza’s 8 Numbers Out of Alabama That Should Terrify Republicans:

Moore lost voters 18 to 44 years old by a 60-40 margin, and the electorate in Alabama, just like Texas, grows younger and younger all the time.

Jones won the vote of 66 percent of women with children.

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By Glenn W. Smith

December 8, 2017      12:27 PM

Smith: Gimme Shelter

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith finds that Trump’s first year eerily echoes the tragic 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont

Watching America these days is like watching the film, Gimme Shelter. One of the most bone-chilling things about the Maysles Brothers’ controversial Rolling Stones documentary is that all through the film we know what’s coming: mayhem ending in tragedy.

The film was about the Stones’ free concert at the Altamont Speedway in California almost half a century ago, on December 6, 1969. Four people died. One was stabbed to death by a Hells Angel hired to provide security. Two were run over by a car thief who got away. Another drowned.

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By Glenn W. Smith

December 4, 2017      3:51 PM

Grusendorf: The Big Question

From the Right: Former Republican House Chair Kent Grusendorf argues that unless the 2018 election results that are radically different from current expectations, the next speaker will be selected by the Republican Caucus

As we approach the filing deadline for the 2018 election cycle, many things seem to be known. 

The Texas Senate next session will look a lot like it looks now.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will likely prevail as the Senate’s presiding officer, and although several senate seats will be contested, the philosophical makeup of the senate will not change significantly. 

Gov. Greg Abbott almost certainly will win reelection and occupy the center office.

However, for the first time in almost a decade there is great unease regarding the nature of leadership in the Texas House of Representatives. 

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By Kent Grusendorf

November 29, 2017      4:39 PM

Wayne: Term limits for the Texas House speaker a bad idea

Longtime GOP strategist offers a counterpoint today: “I used to support term limits. Now I trust voters to elect men and women they want in their Legislature and statewide offices.”

In his recent write up to the QR, Kent Grusendorf presented an argument for a constitutional amendment to limit the Speaker’s office to one or two terms.

While I consider him a good friend, Kent's writeup creates an incomplete historic picture about the Speaker's office and those who have served in it.

The one term tradition in the Speaker's office did not end with the late Billy Wayne Clayton in 1975. The first person to serve multiple terms as Speaker of the Texas House was Marion DeKalb Taylor of Jefferson, first elected in 1859 and served second and third terms in 1863 and 1873, respectively.

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By Reb Wayne

November 28, 2017      5:01 PM

Grusendorf: Power is Transitory

From the Right: Former Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf brings his institutional knowledge to the question of the first real speaker’s race many observers have ever seen

As we approach the end of 2017 and look toward changes in the political landscape, an examination of political power is appropriate.  Texas will undergo a significant shift in political power –especially in the Texas House.  Such change (new leader, new rules) could impact the Texas political power structure for decades.

In 1989 then Speaker of the Texas House Gib Lewis invited key players to a retreat at Indian Hot Springs.  This was a ranch previously owned by H.L. Hunt as his get-away on the Rio Grande River.  In fact, you could walk across a downed tree, a make shift bridge, into very rural Mexico with no paved roads and a very small village.

Attending this retreat was a handful of lobbyists, half dozen Texas House members, and two US Congressmen.  The congressmen were Jim Wright and Martin Frost. Jim Wright had been Speaker of the US House of Representatives until just a few weeks before this retreat. 

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By Kent Grusendorf

November 26, 2017      10:58 AM

Hull: The Steve Mostyn I knew

Mike Hull, who represented Republicans and tort reform interests for years, says it’s time to dispel the myths about the man

Steve Mostyn, my friend, has died. He was 46.

Until recently, we were on the opposite sides of many issues, in the courthouse, at the Capitol, in election contests, and in the court of public and private opinion. He and Amber, his partner for life and his wife, were often the largest contributors to Democrat politics in Texas. I represented some of the largest contributors to Republican causes in Texas. I represented those who favored tort reform. He and his friends bitterly opposed it. He sued companies and insurance concerns. I often represented them. He supported Democratic candidates my clients often worked to defeat.

We remained cordial over the course of all those years of fighting. After I had decided my days at the Capitol had ended he and I became better friends.  Our firms partnered together to pursue mesh cases against companies selling dangerous products to the public. I think it fair to say that many of our respective friends thought we had lost our minds.

Our mesh cases came to a close not long ago. I told Steve that I wanted to write a piece about him, given my somewhat unique perspective. I wanted to correct the record about Steve.  I wanted to make a public amends by offering a more informed perspective about Steve in the same forums I had made statements about him in the past I later found out were wrong.

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By Mike Hull