January 16, 2018      5:56 PM

A quick look at first TEC reports

First reports of 2018 popping up online give us a glimpse into which races will be truly contested

Candidates in some of the hottest legislative races across the state didn’t let slick roads or even the threat the Texas Ethics Commission potentially being closed because of inclement weather get in the way of filing crucial campaign finance reports.

The reports give a first glimpse into what primary races are perhaps going to be truly contested It’s a campaign season in which public education and business groups are pushing back against school vouchers and bathroom policies and Democrats are outraged by Republican President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric.

Here’s what we’re seeing so far. Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know what you’re seeing as well. And of course do not forget that spending by third party groups – some of which haven’t decided exactly where to put their resources just yet – will factor heavily in these primary races.

By James Russell

January 16, 2018      5:53 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, tax plan reactions, campaign finances, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

January 16, 2018      5:25 PM

In comeback bid, Trey Martinez Fischer raised $113K, will show $86K on hand

January 16, 2018      5:22 PM

Ag Commissioner race: Miller and Blocker each to show around a half million on hand

January 16, 2018      12:38 PM

Gov. Abbott rolls out even tighter proposed property tax revenue caps

Going further than previously failed plans, Abbott proposes capping cities, counties, and ISDs at 2.5 percent

Not to be outdone by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday proposed severely restricting how much cities, counties, and school districts are allowed to raise property taxes annually.

As part of his reelection bid, Abbott said “enough is enough” during a news conference in Houston where he was flanked by Patrick, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen, Sen. Joan Huffman and others.

The Texas Senate’s tax guru, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, streamed video of the news conference live on Facebook for all to see.

By Scott Braddock

January 16, 2018      12:37 PM

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff endorses Scott Milder, GOP challenger to Lt. Gov. Patrick

January 16, 2018      11:14 AM

Supreme Court rejects Texas Democrats Party redistricting appeal

TDP argued the maps are illegally gerrymandered along partisan lines; the case of Texas stays centered on racial gerrymandering claims

Austin American Statesman reporter Chuck Lindell writes:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal from the Texas Democratic Party arguing that the state’s political maps were improperly gerrymandered along partisan lines.

The court did not comment on its decision to dismiss the appeal beyond noting that it lacked jurisdiction on the claim.

On Friday, the court announced that it will review maps the Legislature drew for the Texas House and congressional districts after a three-judge federal court panel ruled in August that 11 districts were drawn to intentionally discriminate against minority voters.

January 15, 2018      5:22 PM

GOP Harris County Judge Ed Emmett slams Abbott for attacking Chair Davis over Harvey response

“Is it similar to when he called for all of us to evacuate Harris County and caused all kinds of trouble?” Emmett asked; Rep. Jeff Leach, who voted with Rep. Krause to take money out of disaster funding, is now endorsed by Gov. Abbott while he attacks Chair Davis on the issue

Saying Gov. Greg Abbott “picked the wrong issue,” Republican Harris county Judge Ed Emmett on Monday told Quorum Report the governor “has lost all focus when it comes to Sarah Davis’ race.”

Abbott reportedly said during a fundraiser for Chair Davis’ GOP challenger, Susanna Dokupil, the incumbent tried to pass a bill last year that would have made it much harder for the state to respond to Hurricane Harvey.

"Just a month before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas, she engineered an effort to convince the Texas House of Representatives to cut [$70 million] of the Texas Disaster Relief Fund," He added: "Now, fortunately, the Senate was wise enough not to go along with her. But, imagine where we would have been had ... Sarah Davis’ wisdom had prevailed." Abbott’s campaign has not commented.

“It’s almost laughable,” Emmett said, reacting on Monday morning. “His statement is just factually wrong.”

By Scott Braddock

January 15, 2018      5:21 PM

Ds running for gov: Andrew White raised about $200k, Lupe Valdez raised $46k

January 15, 2018      5:18 PM

Press Releases: Remembering the legacy of MLK, endorsements, announcements, and more

Click the Press Releases above for the latest

January 15, 2018      5:17 PM

Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence canceled tomorrow because of inclement weather

Chair Moody not taking any chances with safety

January 15, 2018      3:57 PM

Grusendorf: Balance of Power

From the Right: A Deliberative or Autocratic Texas House? It's all about 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.

The complete column by former Chairman Kent Grusendorf is in the R&D Department.

By Kent Grusendorf

January 15, 2018      1:18 PM

Several business lobby groups support Blocker for Ag Commissioner

Manufacturers, Restaurants, Food and Fuel Association, TFFA all support Blocker over Sid Miller

Travis County GOP Chairman Matt Mackowiak this morning notified the media that his client Trey Blocker has won the endorsements of several Austin business lobby groups, including one that has never endorsed in a statewide race previously.

Manufacturers, Restaurants, the TFFA and the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association PAC have all now endorsed blocker over Commissioner Sid Miller.

There was no immediate comment from Miller’s campaign, which has questioned the ethics of Mackowiak working as Travis County Republican Party chairman while being paid by a statewide candidate in a GOP primary. Mackowiak has said it's not an issue because he's not paid to be party chairman.

By Scott Braddock

January 12, 2018      5:41 PM

New chairman at TAB hopes to expand membership and influence after politically tricky year

Business community fought off bathroom bill, now NAFTA may be coming to an end

After a politically tricky year for the Texas Association of Business, the group’s new board Chairman A.J. Rodriguez says he’s very happy that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will be a featured speaker at their upcoming conference in February.

“We’re enthusiastic about him coming to our event,” Rodriguez said during an interview with Quorum Report in TAB’s offices in Austin on Friday.

By Scott Braddock

January 12, 2018      5:39 PM

SB: Poll of rural GOP voters shows nuance on abortion, property taxes, and school vouchers

Scrapping the property tax system for sales taxes doesn’t sound so hot and school vouchers lose majority support when the details of how to pay for them are presented

As Austin American-Statesman columnist Ken Herman has said, the ballot questions offered up for voters in the primaries are pretty sure bets to be approved. After all, the parties mainly place those questions on the ballot to boost enthusiasm and get more of their base voters to the polls.

So, it’s no surprise that in a poll of Lubbock County GOP voters shown to Quorum Report this week, opposition to new toll roads is very strong and support for a bathroom bill is high.

What’s perhaps more interesting is that things get complicated as nuance is introduced when asking rural Republicans about school vouchers, abortion restrictions, and whether to get rid of the property tax system altogether. one should never read too much into the results of a single poll, but these numbers are nonetheless worth passing along to you.

By Scott Braddock

January 12, 2018      5:37 PM

Updated: Supremes will hear case on Texas redistricting

The SCOTUS has a blockbuster term for redistricting on its hands; The Texas claims could put the state back under preclearance at the DOJ

The U.S. Supreme Court has picked up the Texas redistricting case as the third of possibly four gerrymandering cases argued before the court this session.

That makes this, in the words of Professor Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog, a “blockbuster term” for redistricting cases before the court.

The combined Texas cases, noted here, could declare Texas House districts in Dallas, Bell and Nueces counties unlawful, as well as Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold’s district anchored in Nueces County along with Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s district in Central Texas.

By Kimberly Reeves

January 12, 2018      5:34 PM

People on the Move

A new lobby firm and some folks moving into new roles

Another week, another round of folks moving into new roles and beginning new ventures. It’s this week’s People on the Move:

By Scott Braddock

January 12, 2018      5:33 PM

Press Releases: Positivity in politics, as if that is possible, lege honor role, fundraising, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

January 12, 2018      5:22 PM

Video: First Ad for GOP challenger to Sen. Campbell, Shannon McClendon

"While Donna Campbell wants the government to intrude into our bedrooms, our bathrooms, and our boardrooms, I want to focus on our classrooms. No more so-called conservatives. Elect the real deal."

January 12, 2018      5:17 PM

Supreme Court to hear online sales tax case

Justices to decide whether states can require out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes

Via The Hill:

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case about whether states can require out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes.

In agreeing to hear the case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, the court will revisit a 1992 decision in which it ruled that states could only require remote sellers to collect their sales taxes if the business had a physical presence in the state.

State and local governments have been pushing for a greater ability to collect sales taxes from internet purchases in recent years, as the growth of e-commerce has made it harder for governments to reach their revenue targets.

January 12, 2018      2:59 PM

Phillip Huffines to report raising $1.1 million in Senate bid in Collin County against Angela Paxton

January 12, 2018      2:19 PM

SCOTUS will hear case on whether Texas congressional and Texas House maps are discriminatory

January 12, 2018      1:49 PM

Democratic Lt. Gov. Candidate Mike Collier to report a half million raised

Collier's camp says his cash on hand is $143,000; "Collier’s Fundraising Surpasses Past Democrat Lt. Gov. Candidate"

January 11, 2018      6:14 PM

Updated: Gov. Abbott blames ISDs for special ed problems, educators fire back

Abbott blames schools for “dereliction of duty” while administrators argue the governor’s comments are “offensive and inaccurate.”

Despite the fact that all the reporting on the issue reflects school districts were following guidance from the Texas Education Agency when denying services to thousands of special needs students, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday blamed ISDs for problems that the feds now say were illegal. Late in the day, educators of special needs students said Abbott’s comments were “offensive and inaccurate.”

Last year, then-Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal uncovered the TEA’s decision to set a “target” for the maximum percentage of students who should receive special education services. It was set at 8.5 percent.

“The past dereliction of duty on the part of many school districts to serve our students, and the failure of TEA to hold district accountable, are worth of criticism," Abbott said. "TEA must take steps now to significantly increase the oversight provided to ensure our special education students are receiving the services they deserve.”

By Scott Braddock

January 11, 2018      5:56 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.

The complete guest column by Dr. Debra Patt and dr. Ray Page is in the R&D Department.

By Debra Patt and Ray Page

January 11, 2018      5:48 PM

Judge in Houston plans next week to settle issue of residency of challenger to Chair Huberty

Chair Huberty’s camp says his team is “One Step Closer to Court Ruling Grant Ineligible”

A judge in Houston said on Thursday he will hold a hearing next week to determine residency questions about the GOP challenger to Texas House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood.

In a short hearing, Judge Bill Burke listened to arguments from Huberty’s attorneys who say Reginald Grant does not meet the residence requirements of the Texas Election Code to be on the ballots that will start going out after next week.

By Scott Braddock

January 11, 2018      5:28 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, PUC moves, prison reform, transparency, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

January 11, 2018      12:28 PM

Texas Association of Realtors backs Chair Burkett in bid to unseat Sen. Bob Hall

TREPAC Chair David Alan Cox says "with so much at stake for homeowners right now, we believe Rep. Burkett’s commitment to finding fiscally responsible, sustainable solutions will make her a valuable member of the Texas Senate.”

January 11, 2018      11:24 AM

NYT: Texas Illegally Excluded Thousands From Special Education, Federal Officials Say

The Dept of Education says Texas’ “target” for the maximum percentage of students who should receive special ed services violates federal law requiring schools to serve all students with disabilities

Reporter Brian Rosenthal, who originally broke the story in the Houston Chronicle, has the update from his new post at the New York Times:

For years, Texas education officials illegally led schools across the state to deny therapy, tutoring and counseling to tens of thousands of children with disabilities, the federal government said Thursday.

In a letter to the Texas Education Agency, which oversees education in the state, regulators from the federal Department of Education said the state agency’s decision to set a “target” for the maximum percentage of students who should receive special education services had violated federal laws requiring schools to serve all students with disabilities.

January 11, 2018      9:55 AM

DMN: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has raised historic $43 million for re-election campaign

Abbott raised over $9 million during the fundraising period from July 1-Dec. 31 last year.

Via the great Gromer Jeffers Jr.:

Gov. Greg Abbott has a staggering $43.3 million to spend on his re-election campaign, a major hurdle for any of the nine Democrats trying to replace him.

According to figures obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Abbott raised over $9 million during the fundraising period from July 1-Dec. 31 last year. Allowing for some spending, his campaign fund rose from $41 million in the summer to $43.3 million at the beginning of 2018.

Abbott is expected to add to his fundraising total and, perhaps, exceed the $48 million he spent in his 2014 race against Democrat Wendy Davis.

Full story here.

January 11, 2018      9:37 AM

Democratic AG candidate Justin Nelson to report raising $900,000

This amount includes $500,000 from the candidate

January 10, 2018      3:52 PM

Pair of very different Democrats duke it out for the chance to take on Sen. Burton

Campolo brings the energy of Bernie Sanders-style folks; seasoned observers argue Powell has the kind of potential crossover appeal needed to make the case for a change this fall

FORT WORTH – Many Democrats and Republicans alike here in Cowtown say that if Tarrant County were to ever go purple or even *gasp* blue, then so will go Texas.

If any seat serves as the bellwether for Texas’ political future, Senate District 10 in Tarrant could be it. Democrats are eager to take on Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, who is running for reelection. In 2016, Republican President Donald Trump won the district by less than a point, 47.9 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 47.3 percent.

Like in the 2016 Democratic primary, two very different candidates filed for SD 10.

By James Russell

January 10, 2018      3:49 PM

Video: In Senate bid, Angela Paxton up on TV

A "Constitutional conservative" who's taught in both public and Christian schools

January 10, 2018      3:44 PM

Stock market jitters compounded by report that Trump will withdraw from NAFTA

"...stocks, struggling to maintain record-setting altitude in 2018, took a firmer slide Wednesday afternoon amid a report that Canadian officials expect that President Donald Trump will announce an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement."

Quick analysis from MarketWatch:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.07% was off about 50 points, or 0.2%, at 25,3337, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.11% was off 0.3% at 2,744, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.14% retreated by 0.3% at 7,139. The main benchmarks had been treading water, trying to recover from an earlier, steeper, slide, before reports about Nafta surfaced. According to Reuters, which cited two Canadian government officials, Canada is increasingly convinced that President Donald Trump will announce that the U.S. will exit Nafta.

January 10, 2018      2:25 PM

TLR PAC endorses Lt. Gov. Patrick for reelection

"Gov. Patrick recognizes the key role that tort reform has in a vibrant Texas economy and job growth for our citizens," said Dick Weekley, chairman and CEO of Texans for Lawsuit Reform

January 10, 2018      1:29 PM

Shelley Dahlberg, associate deputy attorney for civil litigation, passed away

AG Paxton: "Shelley was a brilliant lawyer, an outstanding public servant who worked tirelessly for the people of Texas. Most importantly, she was an incredibly devoted mom."

Shelley Dahlberg, who served as Associate Deputy Attorney for Civil Litigation in the Office of the Attorney General and was key in cases like redistricting and school finance, passed away.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of Shelley’s death. Her faith, strength and determination to continue working and fight ALS to the end was an inspiration to all of us,” said AG Ken Paxton. “Shelley was a brilliant lawyer, an outstanding public servant who worked tirelessly for the people of Texas. Most importantly, she was an incredibly devoted mom. Our thoughts and prayers are with Shelley’s family. Shelley leaves a rich and lasting legacy that will continue to inspire all of us in the attorney general’s office.”

Per the AG’s office, Dahlberg’s accomplishments included being lead counsel on the longest running trial in Travis County history, leading the state to a landmark victory on challenges to the school finance system. She was awarded the Litigation and Appellate Attorney Award by the Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association in May 2017.

Over the course of her career, Dahlberg handled many significant cases, argued before several appellate courts and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

January 9, 2018      5:38 PM

New K12 academic accountability, with higher standards, sent to DC for fed approval

The bar for student achievement is higher; the feds and special ed advocates wanted to see schools held accountable for students with disabilities

The bar for student achievement in Texas is significantly higher in a redlined draft that the Texas Education Agency has now sent to the Department of Education.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath wrote the original draft, submitted last September, prospectively.

The intention was to allow the stakeholder process to identify specifics. But the Department of Education returned the state’s draft in late December asking for revisions. The document sent to the Department of Education this week complied with those requests.

By Kimberly Reeves

January 9, 2018      4:48 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, bonuses, credit card skimming, lege honor roll, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

January 9, 2018      2:30 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick's campaign dismisses debate challenge from GOP candidate Milder

Milder says Patrick “owes his constituents an explanation” while Patrick’s camp says this is the “unmistakable gasp of an attention-starved candidate”

Former Rockwall City Councilman Scott Milder, the Republican challenger to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, on Tuesday said the incumbent and he should share a stage to debate the issues important to Texans.

But Patrick’s campaign was quick to dismiss the notion.

“I strongly believe that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick owes his constituents an explanation for ignoring our priorities throughout his time in office,” Milder said. “The people of Texas deserve a Lieutenant Governor who represents us, not his millionaire donors.”

By Scott Braddock

January 9, 2018      11:32 AM

Gov. Abbott endorses Mayes Middleton, challenger to Rep. Faircloth

Abbott happy to give the nod to the TPPF alum challenging a sitting House Republican