August 16, 2017      10:24 AM

Speaker Straus attends meeting of the Texas House GOP Caucus focused on how he is elected

“If we had held the vote today, Speaker Straus would have been overwhelmingly re-elected,” said a Republican member in attendance

Roughly 80 members of the Texas House Republican Caucus met for about two hours Wednesday morning and talked about the procedures for choosing the Speaker. Speaker Joe Straus was in attendance and only described the talks as positive.

Despite social media posts this morning and over the last week describing the meeting as a referendum on the speaker’s performance, Republicans who were in attendance told Quorum Report that the meeting was, in many ways, a “love fest” for the speaker and “If we had held the vote today, Speaker Straus would have been overwhelmingly re-elected.”

More on this later…

By Scott Braddock

August 15, 2017      9:53 PM

The Texas Senate adjourns sine die

August 15, 2017      9:46 PM

Gov. Abbott suggests special session was a success

Abbott's spokesman John Wittman tells KXAN's Phil Prazan that "Our office believes this special session has produced a far better Texas than before."

August 15, 2017      8:58 PM

Senate still refuses to concur on House changes to SB 1, demands another special session

"We're going to fight another day," Bettencourt said. "I hope the governor calls us back at soon as possible."

August 15, 2017      7:32 PM

SB: House tells the Senate to take it or leave it

Final questions of the special center on whether Patrick wants to declare a substantive victory and whether Abbott has internalized the damage he’s done to his own ability to govern

Now that the Texas House has adjourned sine die, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is on the spot as to whether he will declare a substantive victory in his decades-long crusade against local governments and accept the fact that he’s won on his signature issue: He has now successfully forced an automatic rollback rate for cities and counties through both legislative chambers.

Yes, Patrick prefers 4 percent. But the law now includes no automatic rollback rate and only the ability to petition for an election at 8 percent. That’s the same as it was when Patrick first loaded people on buses in Houston and brought them to the Capitol to voice their outrage about property taxes way back when he was only a radio talk show host.

The chatter in the lobby just before Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen took to the mic this evening was that “Senate Bill 1 is dead.”

Bonnen, however, told his colleagues he was not asking for House conferees to be appointed because he wanted to save the bill. "I'm trying to keep the bill alive," Chair Bonnen said. "If we appointed conferees now it would kill the bill because we are out of time."

The question of timing might be up for debate.

There is no doubt, though, that the Senate could simply discharge its conferees – which include no Democrats and only anti-local government crusaders – and Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, could move to concur on House changes to the property tax bill.

By Scott Braddock

August 15, 2017      6:52 PM

The Texas House adjourns Sine Die

August 15, 2017      6:47 PM

Chair Bonnen is not asking for House conferees on SB 1

"I'm trying to keep the bill alive," Chair Bonnen said. "If we appointed conferees now it would kill the bill because we are out of time."

August 15, 2017      6:27 PM

Updated: After heated debate, Texas House concurs on changes to school finance package

Vote on HB 21 was 94 to 46; vote on HB 30 was 118 to 24

Although they were unsatisfied with the version of HB 21 that came back from the Senate, House members ultimately voted in favor of the temporary fix for the state’s school finance system with a 94-46 vote.

“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement,” said Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood, as he asked for concurrence on Senate changes to HB 21. Huberty asked members to vote for the bill because it was “the right thing to do,” even though several aspects of the bill differed from House’s original version.

The biggest of these changes is the primary source of funding: deferral of managed care payment, proposed by the Senate, as opposed to using the Economic Stabilization Fund, which the House had approved prior to sending the bill to the Senate.

August 15, 2017      6:02 PM

Redistricting may now compel a second special session

Paxton has three days to declare whether the state intends to offer a legislative fix

A three-judge federal panel has offered up an ultimatum on the Texas Congressional maps: Decide to fix CD 27 and 35 now or we’ll meet in September and fix it for you.

Today’s decision only addresses Congressional maps, and it is a clear message the court is serious about fixing before candidates file for primary races in December.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 15, 2017      5:16 PM

Federal court finds Congressional Districts 27 and 35 are unconstitutional

That's Doggett and Farenthold

Check out the ruling by clicking here.

August 15, 2017      5:05 PM

Texas House concurs on changes to tree bill, sends to Gov. Abbott

119-23 was the vote

August 15, 2017      5:03 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, DACA, property taxes, Planned Parenthood, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

August 15, 2017      9:05 AM

Texas House GOP Caucus meeting moved to Wednesday at 8:30am

It will be at the Reagan building in JHR 120, per email from Chair Tan Parker

August 15, 2017      12:48 AM

Senate gives final passage to school finance package HB 21 and HB 30

Final vote on HB 30 was 25 to 6; final vote on HB 30 was 26 to 5

August 15, 2017      12:35 AM

Texas Senate requests conference one SB 1

Conferees are Bettencourt, Buckingham, Creighton, Hancock and Taylor of Collin

August 15, 2017      12:31 AM

Senate tries to save tree bill, makes changes to fix problems cited by Speaker Straus

Straus had returned HB 7 to the Senate saying amendments related to regulations in ETJs and dealing with certain sized trees were not germane. Senators stripped out those provisions and sent it back to the House

August 14, 2017      10:56 PM

Senate pushes hard on school finance deal, advances $351 million for school districts, $212 million for TRS-Care

Vote was 25 to 6 on HB21 and 26 to 5 on HB 30 on second reading

The special session’s school finance bills made it to the floor of the Texas Senate on Monday night and the ragged edges of continuing negotiations were evident.

Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, admitted some aspects of negotiations were ongoing, but that the House had agreed to consider using a deferral of a managed care payment to finance what may end up being a short-term finance fix and funds to shore up TRS-Care.

Privately, House members said Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, was reticent to put the funding mechanism on the table, for fear it would put more stress on a state health care system already strained by funding cuts. No doubt the Senate’s refusal to restore cuts to critical therapy services during the regular session would be on the minds of the House leadership.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 14, 2017      5:54 PM

House moves today signal logjam is ending over school finance for now

The Senate has yet to act on HB 21 and HB 30

Earlier in the day, Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, shook off Tea Party objections that the House wasn’t being tough enough in Senate Bill 1, the property tax bill, sticking to the 6 percent rollback rate and adding appraisal district reform, House Bill 32, to the bill.

That property tax bill was a must-get for both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott. It was followed by Sen. Larry Taylor’s ask: an interim school finance commission. The commission’s chief opponent, Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood, made sure an exchange that linked SB 1 and HB 21 was reduced to writing and added to the journal. 

By Kimberly Reeves

August 14, 2017      4:56 PM

Texas House passes SB16 to third reading on a vote of 142 to 2

August 14, 2017      3:30 PM

Texas House gives final passage to SB 1

Over objections of Freedom Caucus, leadership muscles through the bill on third reading with 6% rollback rate intact

August 14, 2017      3:29 PM

Texas House condemns hate in Charlottesville, denounces white nationalist rally planned for A&M

“We call upon the Texas A&M system and university administrators, and all of our state leadership, students, alumni, to unequivocally denounce and fight against these violent groups and their venom…”

Texas House members gathered around Representative Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, on Monday afternoon to condemn the white supremacist group violently protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman protesting the white supremacist group, died when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing her and injuring at least 19 other people. Two Virginia state troopers who were monitoring the riots, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, also died when their helicopter crashed on Saturday evening.

Rep. Giddings also called on Texas A&M University to denounce an upcoming white supremacist rally scheduled to take place in College Station on September 11. Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, said he and other TAMU alums plan to send TAMU a letter urging them to ban the white supremacist rally.

By Lyanne A. Guarecuco

August 14, 2017      2:28 PM

Texas House adopts fiscally conservative calendar rule on amendments to SB 19, TRS-Care

Under the rule, the Senate's proposed teacher pay raises would be out of order; only amendments allowed will be those that reduce the cost of the plan. Vote on the calendar rule was 86 to 45

August 13, 2017      10:37 PM

Updated: House and Senate get down to negotiations over school finance

"We’ve got to start over” says Chair Nelson; she and Chair Huberty were behind closed doors tonight as both chambers waited

Senate Finance kicked out its preferred funding mechanism for school finance, House Bill 30, earlier this evening in anticipation of negotiations with the House that got underway shortly thereafter. Both chambers gaveled out until Monday as the talks wrapped up for the evening around 9pm. The House will be back at 1pm while the Senate is in recess until 4pm Monday afternoon.

House Bill 30 is the lighter, more digestible version of school finance: $150 million for hardship grants; $60 million for the Existing Debt Allotment; another $60 million for charter schools that appears to have no strings attached to it; and $40 million to remedy gaps in the small district allotment.

The runs for the $311 million bill went out from Sen. Larry Taylor’s, R-Friendswood, office this morning. Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, said he would vote for the bill but only to keep the discussion going with the House in conference committee.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 13, 2017      10:28 PM

Sen. Schwertner to attend rally countering white nationalists at Texas A&M

"The racist and bigoted hate speech promoted by these groups does not reflect the values of Texas A&M University or the people of Texas and it should be loudly and consistently condemned by all responsible voices of our society," said the Republican who represents College Station in the Texas Senate.

August 13, 2017      9:18 PM

Senate gavels out until 4pm Monday

August 13, 2017      9:17 PM

As of tonight, Sen. Zaffirini has cast 60,000 consecutive votes in the Texas Senate

"My constituents elected me to be their voice and to vote on their behalf in the Texas Senate, which is why I take voting so seriously...Accordingly, I cast every vote by balancing the needs and interests of Senate District 21 families with those of our great state."

August 13, 2017      8:02 PM

House votes to postpone final passage of SB 1

Vote was 109 to 15

August 13, 2017      6:51 PM

House State Affairs sends HB 14 to Calendars

When asked by QR, Chairman Cook's office said the bill banning local government contracts with abortion providers was filed with the committee coordinator Saturday night before 8:45pm. For some reason, TLO did not update until this evening.

August 13, 2017      6:28 PM

Senate Finance kicks out HB 30

August 13, 2017      6:22 PM

Senate concurs on House changes to SB6, annexation, on a vote of 21 to 10

Sen. Menendez, who filibustered it during the regular session, said the five mile buffer for military bases might have helped it pass earlier this year

August 12, 2017      8:19 PM

Updated: With 6 percent rollback rate intact, Texas House tentatively passes SB 1

34 Republicans stick with Chair Bonnen who said he needed to keep the rollback rate at 6%, honoring his commitments

The Texas House on Saturday soundly rejected an attempt to change the proposed rollback rate in Senate Bill 1 from 6 percent down to the 4 percent preferred by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in his decades-long crusade against local governments. It’s been one of the central themes of Patrick’s career since his days as a radio talk show host in Houston.

After preserving the proposed 6 percent rollback rate and rejecting more than 20 other amendments, the House tentatively approved the measure on a vote of 98 to 43.  

SB 1 would require cities, counties and special districts to get voter approval for tax hikes above a certain level. Senate leadership wants a 4 percent rollback rate while the House has insisted on setting that rollback rate at 6 percent. Of course, right now voters can petition local governments to force a rollback rate election for an increase above 8 percent.

In opening the debate with Democrats who peppered him with questions, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, told members from the front mic that they would be foolish to go back to their home districts and try to convince voters that this proposal would cut their property taxes. He said the “bill is not perfect” but “Senate Bill 1 is the product of us all working together” to tackle a tough issue.

By Scott Braddock

August 12, 2017      8:15 PM

Texas House passes SB 11, DNR, to third reading on a voice vote

August 12, 2017      7:24 PM

Senate fails to take up House school finance bill but will send $1.8B deferral to Finance Sunday

August 11, 2017      5:54 PM

Updated: With changes, Texas House passes SB 6 annexation measure to third reading 115 to 24

Chairman Huberty fends off most amendments but some changes go on that could determine the fate of the bill

It was the battle of Rep. Dan Huberty against amendments on Friday morning, when Rep. Huberty laid out SB 6, the municipal annexation bill he’s been trying to pass for more than half a decade.

Huberty made it clear to House members he did not intend to accept any amendments on the bill, fearing it would hinder the chances of the Senate concurring if the House sent over a version they might not approve of with very little time on the clock left in the special session.

“We’ve been working on this for six years,” Huberty said, pointing out that in all of that time, very few lawmakers had reached out with concerns or amendment proposals, even though a total of 26 amendments were heard today.

By Lyanne A. Guarecuco

August 11, 2017      5:09 PM

Senate Ed Chair Taylor promises puts $310 on the table for school finance negotiations

“The House raised the expectations that we had another $1.8 billion, but that has to be made up…You have to pay that back and then you have to come up with another $1.8 billion. It’s a $3.6 billion to the next budget.”

Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, unveiled a slimmed down $310 million school finance bill to substitute for House Bill 21 this morning and hinted the chamber may be willing to negotiate for additional expenditures, which some peg as another $200 million in spending.

The House was ready to defer a school finance payment to the next biennium. The Senate will only go so far as the deferral of a health care payment, which Taylor said was the fiscally prudent choice to make going into the next budget cycle.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 11, 2017      5:07 PM

TMA thanks Gov. Abbott for signing Sunset bills

"We also thank Texas lawmakers for answering that call and passing these laws overwhelmingly, to ensure Texans can continue to receive the best patient care possible from their physicians."

August 11, 2017      1:46 PM

Senate substitute tree bill passes on a vote of 18 to 13

City of San Antonio expresses dismay at failure of Uresti amendment, says city needs ability to regulate in ETJ; Sen. Campbell says it time to protect people, not the golden-cheeked warbler

August 11, 2017      12:51 PM

United States Air Force weighs in on Texas annexation debate, voices concerns

Top Air Force Commander in San Antonio: "I am concerned that it may affect compatible land use and encroachment prevention efforts already underway at AETC's installations in Texas, especially Joint Base San Antonio."

The letter from Lieutenant General Darryl L. Roberson to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick can be downloaded here.

August 11, 2017      12:47 PM

Smith: Democracy and Trees

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that for Texas’ GOP leaders, trees are like democratic rights. If they are in the way of their power, cut them down.

Maybe it’s time to remind Texas legislators of the fate of Easter Islanders. Some say their world collapsed because they blindly destroyed all the trees. A new theory has it that rats stowed away in immigrants’ canoes, multiplied rapidly in a land without predators, and ate all the trees.

Either way points to a rather significant leadership deficit.

These islanders were smart enough to engineer and leave behind giant carved heads, heads more swollen even than Texas’ current right-wing leadership.  But they couldn’t see the trees for the forest.

Or something.

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

By Glenn W. Smith

August 11, 2017      12:01 PM

Senate passes HB 13, abortion complications reporting bill, to third reading

The majority rejects an amendment from Sen. Menendez that would have dropped requirement to report the marital status of a woman seeking an abortion; Menendez noted this special session has been very focused on "women's privacy"

August 11, 2017      11:45 AM

Senate concurs on House changes to SB 5, sends to Gov. Abbott

August 11, 2017      10:37 AM

Texas House sends Sunset bills SB 20 and 60 to Gov. Abbott

August 10, 2017      5:02 PM

Lawmakers face a manageable, but growing, structural budget gap going into 2019

“The bottom line is we’ve made some adjustments to the time of certain things and the payment of other things, and when you add it all together, it’s $8 billion.”

The latest state budget has created an $8 billion structural gap that will be the first order of business when lawmakers return to Austin in 2019.

Good or bad, that’s probably worth considering before the Senate Public Education Committee picks up the House’s $1.8 billion school finance bill on Friday morning. The methods lawmakers used to balance the budget aren’t new, but the scope of the debt is broader and deeper.

The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association has posted its typical post-session review, and only a quarter of the incoming shortfall can be attributed to underfunding Medicaid. Dale Craymer of TTARA says the methods lawmakers used was the standard arsenal of tools to balance a budget that came in at over $200 billion.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 10, 2017      4:59 PM

Press Releases: Ten Commandments, opiod crisis, retired teachers, Trump-Culberson, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

August 10, 2017      4:31 PM

Texas House GOP Caucus to meet next Thursday to discuss the way the speaker is elected

In response to Freedom Caucus demand, GOP Chair Parker sets meeting for 9am on the 17th, says "An open dialogue and working together within the caucus is crucial to our collective success."

August 10, 2017      4:30 PM

Updated: Major stakeholders reach agreement on reform of Texas DNR law

As SB 11 moves to House floor, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Texas Right to Life, Texans for Life Coalition, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and Texas Alliance for Life are on board; the Texas Medical Association is neutral on the bill. The Texas Hospital Association remains against the bill but was excluded from talks.

The Texas House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Greg Bonnen, has pledged to keep the bill as is after stakeholders wrestled with details for weeks. Rep. Bonnen also said he would postpone until next session if any amendments get on Senate Bill 11.

Here is the bill initialed by stakeholders.

The major stakeholder that remains opposed, the Texas Hospital Association noted the group representing more than 450 hospitals was not invited to the discussions on the bill. The THA said they’re opposed to SB11 because it "will restrict the use of in-hospital do-not-resuscitate orders by prescribing in statute when they are valid, create criminal penalties and mandate a new standard for medical appropriateness." THA's full argument is here.  

You can download Sen. Charles Perry’s letter pledging to concur on House changes by clicking here.

By Scott Braddock

August 10, 2017      4:20 PM

1,500 superintendents and school board members tell Texas Senate to support HB 21

"This bill is much more than a Band-Aid. It provides immediate help to schools across Texas that have been coping with the state's diminishing role in funding education."

Download the letter here.

August 10, 2017      12:44 PM

HHSC delays implementation of controversial Medicaid vendor contract

Chair Price: “There’s a lot of confusion that you recognize when Superior has been telling suppliers one thing and then telling our office something separate”

The Health and Human Services Commission will delay the implementation of a controversial Medicaid vendor contract for a month, allowing more time for families to opt out of the use of a mail order model to provide durable medical supplies.

Lawmakers on the House Human Services Committee were more frustrated with Superior HealthPlan than they were HHSC, but it was Executive Commissioner Charles Smith who took the hit, along with new Medicaid Director Jami Snyder.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 10, 2017      11:34 AM

Chairman Hunter: SB1 will have no Calendar rule when it is on the floor Saturday

Instead of what had been planned, amendments will be allowed for the property tax measure

August 10, 2017      10:42 AM

House State Affairs sends SB 11, DNR, to the full House

August 10, 2017      10:32 AM

Texas House passes Sunset bills SB 20 and SB 60 to third reading

August 9, 2017      5:10 PM

Senate Bill 6, annexation, will be back on the House floor Friday

August 9, 2017      5:08 PM

Federal judge dismisses Paxton lawsuit against Austin over sanctuary cities ban

August 9, 2017      2:47 PM

SB 1 is set for Saturday debate on the House floor

Chairman Hunter proposes that no amendments be offered on second and third reading of the property tax measure

August 9, 2017      2:45 PM

Greenfield: The revenue picture in the dog days of summer

Our resident number cruncher says there should be around $600 million in the ending certification balance for August 31, more than sufficient to address both health insurance for retired teachers and support for disabled children

While Comptroller Glenn Hegar did announce the improvement in state revenue for July 2017, there was no public comment on how this related to the revenue that is available to the Texas Legislature. 

Lawmakers in the special session have considered some issues, e.g., health insurance for retired teachers, a pay raise for active teachers, and most importantly, support for disabled children, that requires funding. 

While Article III, Section 49a doesn’t say “It shall be the duty of Stuart Greenfield to provide under oath to provide the Legislature a report on the fiscal condition of the state,” nowhere in the Constitution does it prohibit me from offering my view of the state’s fiscal condition.

The full column by Dr. Stuart Greenfield is in the R&D Department.   

By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

August 9, 2017      2:29 PM

House State Affairs lays out SB13, construction permitting, but does not vote today

August 9, 2017      1:58 PM

Texas House tentatively passes Senate Bill 5

Ballot fraud measure will have to head back to the Senate after third reading

August 9, 2017      1:13 PM

First Responders urge Texas House to oppose rollback rates

“Any state imposed restrictions on city revenues would harm our ability to protect our citizens”

On Wednesday morning, dozens of first responders and city and county officials held a press conference urging Texas House members to vote against SB 1, saying the revenue cap it imposes would limit local government’s ability to provide essential services, including disaster relief, emergency medical services, law enforcement and protection against public health threats.

Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback, the legislative director for the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, voiced public safety concerns including lack of staffing for urban centers and the lack of mental health beds in rural areas of Texas, saying the “mental health problem” is the fastest growing problem sheriffs are currently facing.

“First and foremost, let’s protect our citizens, let’s find good government, and let’s work together for the good of all Texans,” Louderback said.

By Lyanne A. Guarecuco