November 17, 2017      5:45 PM

HHSC asks CMS for temporary reprieve to maintain CHIP program

Technically, the request HHSC has sent to CMS is to retain $90 million of a $190 million balance on the state’s account. That would carry the state through the end of February

The Health and Human Services Commission has under a month to clear an application to pick up $90 million the state needs to cover the lapsing Children’s Health Insurance Program.

CHIP provides health care coverage for about 400,000 low-income children in Texas.

The requested redistribution of about $90 million in federal funds, through the Center of Medicaid and Medicare Services, would push the end of CHIP to the end of February; thus, giving Congress a chance to pass legislation that would renew the insurance program.

November 17, 2017      5:41 PM

Chairman Brady optimistic House and Senate can find common ground on tax cuts

“We have had the worst tax code, one that costly, complex and unfair, with special interest provisions and lobbyist loopholes that favor some over the rest…Those special breaks are gone”

The US House’s $1.5 trillion “Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” which passed the chamber on a party-line vote on Thursday, provides substantial incentives for export-heavy Texas, Congressman Kevin Brady said on a conference call with local reporters this morning.

Eighteen corporations that once called Texas home have moved overseas due to the favorable tax rates for foreign dollars. Those jobs need to be back in Texas, Brady said. To that end, the House version of the tax cut bill zeroes out corporate taxes on money moved back into the country and lowers the business tax rate from 35 to 20 percent.

By Kimberly Reeves

November 17, 2017      5:05 PM

Audio: Hotze Supports Roy Moore, slams Communist Democrats And The Alt-Left Press

Plus, Abbott’s meddling in GOP primaries and more

Each week, Quorum Report Editor Scott Braddock and Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau Chief Mike Ward break down the week’s political news in the Texas Take Podcast. It’s a project of Quorum Report and the Chronicle in collaboration with Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.

You can listen to the latest show via Texas Public Radio by clicking here.

For information on how your group or company can sponsor the show, contact Scott at ksbraddock@gmail.com

November 17, 2017      4:50 PM

Press Releases: Disaster relief, announcements, filings, border health, celebrating the Astros, and more

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November 17, 2017      4:48 PM

Smith: Abuse and Harassment in the Political World

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith says it’s time to fight sexual abuse and harassment, minute by minute in our daily lives. Politics alone won’t solve it.

Donald Trump bragged on tape about his sexual abuse of women, and still some sixty-two million Americans ignored his confession and voted for him anyway. His election devastated many in ways that go far beyond politics.

Among the alarmed, the saddened and the disgusted were American women tragically familiar with abuse. Far more have suffered harassment and abuse than we collectively admit. For them, this wasn’t just a political loss, though it was that. It was another form of abuse. Millions of Americans had ignored reports of sexual harassment and abuse, and in so doing aided and abetted that abuse.

It’s a struggle to come up with an analogy to help men understand.

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

By Glenn W. Smith

November 17, 2017      4:36 PM

Cook Political Report now rates CD7, Culberson, as a tossup Republican seat

It had been rated “Leans Republican”

Worth noting Charlie Cook’s latest House ratings. Like other Harris County Republicans, it’s important to remember Rep. John Culberson outperformed Trump in the county won by Clinton. Culberson, for whatever reason, has always underestimated by the chattering class.

November 17, 2017      4:16 PM

Five-time Rick Perry appointee Shannon McClendon will challenge Sen. Campbell in primary

Served on Texas Board of Professional Engineers, Texas Appraisers Licensing Board, and the Texas Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Board

Her website is here.

November 17, 2017      8:21 AM

Straus asks HHSC to explain how CHIP can continue uninterrupted given congressional inaction

“Ensuring the program's continuity is a priority of the Texas House,” Straus said

As nearly a half million kids across the state are set to lose health insurance after Congress missed a deadline to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is asking the Health and Human Service Commission to explain how the agency ensure uninterrupted coverage.

“As you know, without federal reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) next month, the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is expected to exhaust all available federal funding to operate its state program beyond the end of January 2028,” Straus wrote in a letter to HHSC Executive Commissioner Charles Smith.

November 17, 2017      8:12 AM

Texas Transportation Commission Promises To Nix Toll Roads in 10-year Plan

Change comes as dynamic managed lanes are critical to projects like 635 E in Dallas

The Texas Transportation Commission has backpedaled on the idea of incorporating toll roads into its long-range Unified Transportation Plan, possibly putting some of the state’s biggest road projects at risk, including the final phase of the Interstate 635 expansion.

Discussion of the UTP has been in the works for months, but it was only last night that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott announced strong opposition to the incorporation of toll roads.

Patrick said Proposition 7 was passed by Texas voters specifically to nix future tolls.

By Kimberly Reeves

November 16, 2017      5:00 PM

Hotze leads defense of embattled Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore amid accusations

The most vocal supporter of the failed bathroom bill, touted by supporters as a way to stop sexual assaults, travels to Alabama to support alleged sex predator

Houston’s Dr. Steve Hotze on Thursday led a press conference in Birmingham, Alabama to support embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The news conference held by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s former business partner and political supporter quickly turned into an indictment of the media for reporting about allegations brought by multiple women that the former state supreme court justice is a pedophile.

As first reported by The Washington Post, multiple women have accused Moore of pursuing them as teenagers when he was in his 30s. One woman said he groped her. Moore defeated incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary earlier this year. He faces Democrat Doug Jones in December in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The hastily organized gathering of a dozen staunch social conservative activists and pastors, most from outside of Alabama, rallied to Moore’s defense. Among the other Texans were one-time congressional candidate Rev. Stephen Broden of Dallas.

By James Russell

November 16, 2017      4:57 PM

Democratic megadonor Steve Mostyn passed away

"Our family is heartbroken to confirm that after a sudden onset and battle with a mental health issue, Steve passed away Wednesday"

Here is a statement from Amber Mostyn:

"Our family is heartbroken to confirm that after a sudden onset and battle with a mental health issue, Steve passed away Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Steve was a beloved husband and devoted father who adored his children and never missed any of their sporting activities. He was a true friend, and a faithful fighter for those who did not have a voice.

"Steve touched countless lives. Many friends and colleagues in Texas and throughout the country have reached out during this painful time. Our family is requesting privacy, and we will not be responding to media inquires. The details of a celebration of Steve's life will be announced at a later date.

"In honor of Steve's life and legacy, please consider supporting the important work of the Mostyn Moreno Foundation or the Special Olympics of Texas. If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, or experiencing a health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right now at 1-800-273-8255."

November 16, 2017      4:56 PM

Updated: As Pickett makes a trio of requests to AG on toll roads, Lt. Gov. Patrick comes out swinging against them

“We don’t need all these different entities and RMAs and toll authorities. And the problem in Central Texas, obviously, is that they don’t talk to each other.”

Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, has filed a series of requests for AG opinions on tolls and toll roads, hoping to tee up the conversation on the issue for next session. As AG Ken Paxton mulls the requests, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday said no “additional toll lanes” should be added to state’s plans.

Lawmakers appeared to have little appetite for the topic this year, but Pickett has dogged in his efforts to raise the discussion of the use of state dollars on the creation of toll lanes. His most recent request, three paragraphs filed on Nov. 9, asks whether Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 bond funds can be comingled with other funding to construct toll projects.

By Kimberly Reeves

November 16, 2017      11:32 AM

Bo French once again will challenge Chairman Geren

Ran last time: "We ran a campaign focused on our vision for conservative leadership and Charlie Geren's liberal record in Austin. We gave the voters a conservative alternative, and the Austin establishment did everything they could to stop us."

November 16, 2017      10:58 AM

Texas Democrats mourn the loss of Steve Mostyn

“Millions of Texans live better lives because of the advocacy, philanthropy, and sheer willpower of Steve Mostyn."

Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said:

“Millions of Texans live better lives because of the advocacy, philanthropy, and sheer willpower of Steve Mostyn. Our state and our world are better because he fought so hard for us all.

“Steve was a giant. He was the epitome of a Texas Democrat - big, bold, fearless, and caring. He dedicated his professional and personal life to fighting for the little guy.

“I am so deeply saddened to have lost our dear friend. Our prayers are with Amber, his children, and their entire family.”

November 15, 2017      5:01 PM

Select Texas House economic panel gets down to work with big names, expedited schedule

Despite objections from Freedom Caucus members who argue committee is solely about bathrooms and a social agenda, the vast majority of testimony is focused on education, innovation, workforce challenges, and more

With Gov. Greg Abbott’s stated support and amid objection from members of the Freedom Caucus, the Texas House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness got down to work Wednesday by hearing from heavy hitters in the business community including Tom Luce, Mark Cuban and Ross Perot, Jr.

Also on hand for the day’s testimony: Representatives from Microsoft, the Dallas Stars professional hockey team, Legacy Community Health, and the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.

“Although Texas has succeeded and flourished with a thriving economy for many years, this state is slipping in a direction that should be cause for concern,” said Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, after gaveling the committee to order for its first meeting. “In July of this year, the America’s Top States for Business study found that Texas had dropped to number four in the nation,” Cook said, adding it’s the “first time in 11 years that the Lone Star State finished outside of the top two spots in the country for business ranking.”

“That should be alarming to all Texans,” Cook said and vowed his committee would “explore why this happened.”

By Scott Braddock

November 15, 2017      4:57 PM

Press Releases: Appointments, filings, people on the move, and more

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November 14, 2017      7:16 PM

Speaker Straus says House Administration will create an updated sexual harassment policy

“We will have an updated policy and the women of the Texas House will be at the table to craft it," Chairman Geren told Quorum Report tonight

Straus spokesman Jason Embry tonight released this statement:

“Speaker Straus is directing the House Administration Committee and House Business Office to review the House sexual harassment policy and make or recommend revisions and updates where necessary.

The Speaker is also asking that the House Administration Committee and House Business Office develop, as soon as possible and not later than January 31, 2018, a sexual harassment training program for all House staff, including interns, and a training program for members of the House.

In addition to requiring the Speaker's staff and all central House staff to take part in the training, Speaker Straus will strongly encourage all members to do so and to ensure that their employees take part as well.”

November 14, 2017      7:14 PM

SB: As hardliners push Texas House GOP to flex muscle in selecting speaker, Abbott works to reduce their numbers

Responsible Republicans argue a censure of Chair Davis would have stymied a straight ticket voting campaign next November because the censure would prohibit party resources from being used on Davis’ behalf

HOUSTON – Confession: Few things in this world are as fascinating and fun as the literal and figurative swamp of Harris County politics. The creatures lurking here in the murky bayou waters are powerful and petty, colorful and crazy. And they’ll get you if you’re not careful.

That’s why it was especially striking that as Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday threw the equivalent of a political Molotov cocktail at the Harris County Republican Party’s leadership, its executive committee meeting was relatively subdued.

Such meetings can erupt into shouting matches over much less than a governor inserting himself into what’s sure to be a nasty primary race, siding against a popular Republican incumbent who carried her district last year when her party’s White House nominee lost within the same political borders by 15 points to the Democrat.

Prior to Abbott’s endorsement of TPPF Fellow and Empower Texans favorite Susanna Dokupil, GOP activists in Houston had for the last week internally debated the wisdom of a proposed censure of Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place. The censure motion never made its way to the floor of the meeting.  

There was grumbling among some precinct chairs, wondering if Abbott timed his endorsement of Davis’ challenger to add fuel to the censure frenzy among activists potentially forcing a debate of the measure.

By Scott Braddock

November 14, 2017      5:21 PM

TAB sets sights on rebuilding pro-business Legislature, one primary race at a time

“There has been an attitude as long as the Republican Party had a majority, that we could all show up in the general election. We didn’t have to be so involved in the primaries…But our board realizes those days are gone”

A lawmaker report card is only one of a number of steps the Texas Association of Business is ready to take to make sure the 86th legislature is not another anti-business session.

Business leaders say they too often saw lawmakers working at cross purposes with them on key business issues: a pitched battle over the so-called bathroom bill; another round of sanctuary cities legislation; and an attempt to reverse course on incentive programs under Chapter 313.

TAB, like many non-profit associations, keeps something of a firewall between its PAC and its membership, but the board’s new mandate is clear: Get active in the Republican primaries. So CEO Jeff Moseley is doubling down on the fundamentals.

By Kimberly Reeves

November 14, 2017      5:13 PM

Video: In reelection announcement, Hegar features his adorable kids

November 14, 2017      5:12 PM

Press Releases: Scholarships, people on the move, accountability ratings, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

November 14, 2017      1:05 PM

Jeff Judson decides against running for Congressional seat being vacated by Lamar Smith

“Although I am confident that we could win the CD 21 race, and did receive strong encouragement from key grassroots leaders in the district, my wife and I decided this was not my time to run."

November 14, 2017      10:42 AM

RPT Chairman Dickey insists speaker commitment form is not legislative bribery

“While the Party is confident that the Texas Ethics Commission will use common sense to reaffirm our right to distribute the Form, we also stand ready to challenge any unconstitutional power grab that deprives voters of important information about candidates’ positions”

Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey on Tuesday pushed back against the assertion that the speaker commitment forms the party has been distributing may be illegal legislative bribery.

"The idea that it is somehow bribery to ask Republican legislators to commit to do what Republican voters want them to do is laughable,” Dickey said in a written statement.

By Scott Braddock

November 14, 2017      10:05 AM

Denton County Judge Mary Horn to retire

She was the first woman to serve in the role, and became the longest-serving Denton County Judge

November 14, 2017      9:10 AM

Chair Huberty announces reelection bid

Meantime, word out of the district is former Pub Ed Chair Kent Grusendorf is trying to recruit a GOP challenger to the anti-voucher Public Ed Chairman

November 14, 2017      9:06 AM

Harris County: Gail Stanart forms campaign committee for potential run for Texas House

SREC member and wife of Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart taking steps toward running for seat being vacated by Rep. Kevin Roberts. Sam Harless, husband of former Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Springs, is already in the race. Hat tip to Jeff Blaylock who reported it first

November 14, 2017      8:58 AM

Sen. Sylvia Garcia announces for seat in congress being vacated by Rep. Gene Green

"We need a champion for the people in Washington to stand up against Trump and fight for what matters," she said

November 13, 2017      8:46 PM

Harris County GOP adjourns without taking up censure motion against Chair Sarah Davis

November 13, 2017      5:21 PM

Ethics Commission is asked whether RPT speaker commitment forms are legislative bribery

Campaign finance laws “seek to prohibit bribery in the process, including attempts by outside GPACs to meddle in the constitutional requirement that members of the House of Representatives select a speaker.”

The state’s campaign finance regulator is being asked by a state lawmaker to weigh in on whether it amounts to illegal bribery for the Republican Party of Texas to ask GOP lawmakers to pledge to vote a certain way for the lower chamber’s presiding officer in exchange for monetary support, Quorum Report has learned.

Prior to the beginning of the filing period for candidates, the party posted this “speaker commitment” form on its website asking candidates to turn them in when filing for office. “Texas House Republicans should stand unified and united in their selection of the next speaker, whoever that may be,” the party said.

Now, in a letter to the Texas Ethics Commission, a member of the Legislature argues that even though the Republican Party “does expressly disclaim that their ‘commitment form’ ‘is not intended to aid or defeat a ‘speaker candidate,’” that statement doesn’t matter because “the law regarding legislative bribery by a GPAC applies much more broadly, stating that ‘a person commits an offense if, with the intent to influence a member of or candidate for the house of representatives in casting a vote for speaker of the house of representatives, the person’ attempts to have votes given or withheld for speaker.”

By Scott Braddock

November 13, 2017      5:20 PM

Updated: Censure motion against Chair Davis simmers ahead of Tonight's Harris County GOP meeting

Also responds to Abbott's endorsement of her challenger: "Republican voters in HD 134 will not be told for whom to vote, and will not nominate a candidate who will be so easily defeated in the fall because they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the extremist fringe group, Empower Texans."

Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, plans to be on hand tonight at the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee as some activists push a censure resolution that her supporters have called a “fake smear job” and an example of some in the GOP attempting to “cut off our nose to spite our face.”

For now, HCRP Chairman Paul Simpson says the resolution has been pulled down by its authors.

But the issue of deeply dividing the party heading into what could be a nasty primary is still simmering.

By Scott Braddock

November 13, 2017      5:16 PM

Press Releases: Campaign announcements, filings, Harvey response, and more

Click the Press Releases for the latest

November 13, 2017      4:30 PM

Houston Rep. Gene Green to retire

November 13, 2017      3:46 PM

Sen. Cornyn withdraws endorsement of Roy Moore

"The most appropriate course of action, in my view, is to leave the final judgment in the hands of Alabama voters - where it has always belonged - and withdraw my endorsement," Cornyn said

November 13, 2017      10:00 AM

Video: Gov. Abbott endorses Susanna Dokupil, GOP challenger to Chair Sarah Davis

November 12, 2017      11:31 AM

With Straus planning his exit, the sales tax solution for Public Ed returns

But skeptics fire back “To replace school property taxes with the sales tax would require that the state roughly double the current sales tax rate” leaving Texas with “a very unbalanced tax system”

Some in the conservative wing of the Texas House continue are once again pushing a sales tax increase as the solution to the woes of rising property tax rates in this state. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was one of the earliest leaders to float the idea of substitute pennies on the Texas sales tax rate to pay for education back in 2013. By 2015, lawmakers had siphoned off “excess” sales tax for transportation.

And in 2017, Speaker Joe Straus and House leaders called on lawmakers to put more state funding into education to decrease tax bills.

Now Straus is on the way out, and conservatives have returned to the idea that the consumption tax is efficient because the taxpayer can regulate how much they pay without putting an asset like their home at risk. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, where Empower Texans Chairman Tim Dunn is Vice Chairman, convened a full day of panels this week touting a mixture of school choice and consumption taxes as the method to bring school finance under control.

By Kimberly Reeves

November 12, 2017      11:18 AM

Audio: Tragic Church Shooting Creates Shifts in Gun Control Debate

Plus: Piers Morgan goes after Ken Paxton, Ted Nugent and more

Each week, Quorum Report Editor Scott Braddock and Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau Chief Mike Ward break down the week’s political news in the Texas Take Podcast. It’s a project of Quorum Report and the Chronicle in collaboration with Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.

You can listen to the latest show via Texas Public Radio by clicking here.

Our most recent sponsor is the Texas Association of Realtors. For information on how your group or company can sponsor the show, contact Scott at ksbraddock@gmail.com