August 16, 2018      6:53 PM

TEC Says It Still Cannot Trust Paxton To Defend Agency, Makes Big Budget Request For Outside Lawyers

With Paxton’s office refusing to get involved in Empower Texans cases, lawmakers could essentially hobble the regulator in its ongoing beef with the nonprofit by cutting off funding for outside lawyers

The Texas Ethics Commission is asking budget writers for a new round of cash to pay for outside lawyers because Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has declined to defend the state agency in a seemingly endless series of lawsuits involving Empower Texans.

Paxton’s roster of lawyers in the attorney general’s office has withdrawn as counsel from every lawsuit in which it once represented the state’s campaign finance regulator against the state’s most prominent conservative nonprofit. Those cases all stem from two high-profile investigations into Empower Texans and its president, Michael Quinn Sullivan — and now include attempts by the group to gut the commission’s legal authority.

By David Saleh Rauf

August 15, 2018      5:05 PM

As Texas schools receive first official A-F grades, some potential themes take shape

Urban districts maybe end up looking closer to each other than expected, charters aren’t always as consistent as you might expect, and Parents fleeing their public schools due to dissatisfaction or economic trouble don’t always end up in better-rated schools

Texas’ new accountability system – one that diminishes the role of state standardized tests in high school ratings – has yielded a healthy number of “A”-rated school districts.

Yesterday, conservative-leaning education reform groups – the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Aspires and the Texas Business Leadership Council – hosted a briefing for legislative staffers with Deputy TEA Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

Schwinn, a former educator and the mother of a young child, said every accountability system must start with high expectations.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 15, 2018      5:00 PM

Press Releases: A-F reactions, VA Health Care, voter registration, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

August 15, 2018      1:26 PM

Patrick says TRS Board should hold the line on retired teacher health insurance premiums

The senate’s presiding officer promises more spending to shore up TRS Care: “let me be clear, I believe additional funding should be the responsibility of the Legislature and not fall on the shoulders of our retired teachers.”

Saying his office was “notified yesterday” that the Teacher Retirement System of Texas is considering an increase in health insurance premiums of $50 per month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday told the TRS Board “I urge you not to take that step.”

Patrick also said he hopes the next Speaker of the Texas House will agree this is a spending priority.

By Scott Braddock

August 15, 2018      9:20 AM

GOP House Chairman expresses deep concerns about what has been described as a power grab by Gov. Abbott

“Questions have been raised about which statute or court decision grants the Office of the Governor powers that are presumed to exist” in directive on rulemakings; Chair Cook says Abbott needs to ask the Legislature for the authority to consolidate that power in his office

Frustration among some legislators about what many see as a potential power grab by Gov. Greg Abbott when it comes to rulemaking may be about to boil over.

“If you’re going to start moving authority without legal or constitutional precedent that’s a big issue that needs to be well thought out,” said Texas House State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, on Tuesday morning. He was reacting to a directive from Abbott’s office to state agencies earlier this year about the way rulemaking is handled.

By Scott Braddock

August 15, 2018      9:18 AM

School ratings released

Only a handful of "F" rated districts

Search your district here. Full coverage on the way

August 14, 2018      7:37 PM

Sources tell the Lubbock Avalanche Journal TTU regents pushed for Duncan ouster

Per the paper’s sources, the regents who pushed the retirement were Rick Francis, Ronnie Hammonds, Christopher Huckabee, Mickey Long and John Steinmetz

Lubbock newsman Matt Dotray has the details:

The Texas Tech Board of Regents had an informal vote of no confidence in Chancellor Robert Duncan late last week in a closed meeting, sources close to the situation have told A-J Media.

The nine members of the Board of Regents supposedly took turns expressing their views on the chancellor’s future at Tech, and a 5-4 majority wanted new leadership. The closed meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9, lasted five hours.

...The five members of the board to push for Duncan’s leave, according to sources, were Regents Rick Francis, Ronnie Hammonds, Christopher Huckabee, Mickey Long and John Steinmetz.

August 14, 2018      4:05 PM

Coordinating Board approves Sam Houston med school on 5-4 vote

Vote clears the way for national regulatory board to give its blessing this month

August 14, 2018      11:01 AM

Babe Schwartz funeral to be at Texas State Cemetery, 10:30 on September 5 with possible reception afterwards

Family decided to wait to allow all of Babe's friends time to make proper arrangements

August 13, 2018      6:53 PM

Chancellor Robert Duncan announces retirement from Texas Tech

Radio host Jay Leeson reported it first; KAMC-TV confirms it as well

The website Everything Lubbock has the letter Chancellor Bob Duncan sent to TTU Regents today.

August 13, 2018      5:25 PM

Updated: Judge rejects TRO request from Texas GOP to block Gallego from ballot in SD19

Gallego and Flores on track for special election runoff; Abbott today set the date for Sept 18

Represented by longtime Empower Texans attorney Joe Nixon, the Republican Party of Texas on Monday failed to convince a state district court judge in Travis County to quickly prevent the Secretary of State’s office from certifying the names in the special election runoff for Senate District 19.

The RPT contends that Democratic candidate Pete Gallego does not live in the district. But during a hearing this afternoon, the party’s attorney Nixon seemed to concede there was not sufficient evidence for the judge to make an emergency ruling about it today.

August 13, 2018      5:21 PM

Grusendorf: Education Reform?

Well ahead of the next legislative session, former Texas House Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf lays out some history of what previous governors have sought to do about the issue and whether they really accomplished anything

If you talk to moms around Texas, you’ll quickly learn that a major issue for them is education. Education reform has been a top priority for Texas parents, business leaders, and politicians for decades. So, what have our state leaders said and done in recent decades?

With the 85th Legislature due to start in a few months, a review what governors have said over the past 40 years regarding their education agendas in their State of the State addresses to the legislature might be enlightening. Each of the last six governors, who have led Texas over the past four decades, has proposed reforms designed to fix the problems of public education. 

The complete guest column by former Texas House Public Education Committee Chairman Kent Grusendorf is in the R&D Department.

By Kent Grusendorf

August 13, 2018      4:54 PM

Fox TV in Houston invites Patrick and Collier to debate

Collier says he is in; no word from Patrick's camp - they've said previously the Lt. Gov. has no interest in debating his Democratic challenger

Fox 26, KRIV TV in Houston has now invited the candidates for Lt. Gov. to debate live on their air – an invitation that was immediately accepted by the Democrat Mike Collier. But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s campaign has said nothing about it so far.

The offer was apparently made over the weekend.

By Scott Braddock

August 13, 2018      4:38 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, debate proposals, defending America, and more

August 13, 2018      2:52 PM

As Gallego residency hearing unfolds, Abbott sets special election runoff for Sept. 18 in SD19

More coverage from hearing to follow

August 10, 2018      4:40 PM

People on the Move

Total staffer moves, a veteran of the Senate joins the lobby, some new staff at the RPT, a TV pro jumps to PR in Houston, and more

Another week of summer in which Austin seems a little empty. Many of you are reading this on a beach somewhere or in the mountains where it’s a bit cooler. Ok, a lot cooler. But some have made the trek to hot and humid New Orleans for ALEC and, unlike past years, the organization has actually allowed journalists to sit in on some of the conversations. Guess they got tired of being called “secretive.” QR’s Kimberly Reeves is in the Big Easy and will be reporting back on some of the buzz.

Meantime there’s plenty of career news to pass along as some folks get promotions and others move into new offices or change professions. We can’t brag on you in the pages of Quorum Report if we don’t know what’s up.

You can always share career news about yourself or a colleague by emailing ksbraddock@gmail.com. Please use the subject line “People on the Move” or “POTM” or even “PTOM” – because yeah, sometimes folks mess it up and who am I to critique anyone’s typos? It helps a lot.

Here’s Texas’ weekly edition of People on the Move:

By Scott Braddock

August 10, 2018      4:35 PM

UPDATED: Former Senator Babe Schwartz passed away; a true Texas legend and fierce advocate

Represented Galveston area in House from 1955-1959,Senate 1966-1981. Funeral arrangements pending

A friend tells of Babe saying he never had so much fun as when he was fighting and messing in the Senate with Bill Moore, the "Bull of the Brazos", his ideological antithesis as well as a man Babe considered to be an anti-semite.

"The Senate was never the same after Moore left", Schwartz said.

It was not so long ago that Babe and the five star Republican consultant and wise man Reggie Bashur would hold court at the same table in the Capitol Grille downstairs. Bashur was suffering a brain tumor and wore a perennial baseball cap along with his suit and tie.

Everyone stopped at that table, powerbrokers, leading lobby, reporters. And just about everyone left laughing at a story told by one of the two of this odd couple.

There will be stories and much laughing over the next several days as people remember how this man, small in stature, loomed so large over 30 years fighting for his constituents and those the Legislature often ignores.

By Harvey Kronberg

August 10, 2018      4:34 PM

At ALEC: Supreme Court decision on union fees opens door for conservatives to pursue measures aimed at organized labor

Conservatives clearly see the decision as only a first step; union dues deduction is already on the radar of Lt. Gov. Patrick

Editor’s note: Just as she covered conversations in Los Angeles at NCSL, QR’s Kimberly Reeves is checking out discussions this week at ALEC in New Orleans – SB

NEW ORLEANS – Conservative lawmakers consider the Supreme Court’s Janus v AFSCME decision to be the first step in what they consider to be a battle for worker rights in both union and right-to-work states.

By Kimberly Reeves

August 10, 2018      4:24 PM

RPT files suit over Gallego residency

RPT Chair Dickey says "Gallego has established a longtime pattern of misleading the voters of Texas regarding his place of residency"; Gallego maintains he lives in SD 19

The Republican Party of Texas on Friday filed a lawsuit questioning whether former Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, really lives where he says he does. Gallego is up against Republican Pete Flores in the special election runoff to succeed Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, in the Texas Senate.

By Scott Braddock