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November 21, 2018      9:20 AM

CCA rules against Ken Paxton prosecutors, saying their pay violated the law

The prosecutors have said they'd step down if they're not going to be paid, forcing the state to find new lawyers. Hat tip to reporter Lauren McGaughy of the DMN who broke to the news.

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November 20, 2018      5:50 PM

Recount approved by SOS in Dallas County Texas House race pitting Rep. Meyer against Democrat Joanna Cattanach

220 vote spread now in Meyer's favor; Dallas County has 7 days to recount

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November 20, 2018      5:09 PM

Advocates say addressing childhood welfare in Texas is more about political will than resources

“I think in our mind it’s oh, we don’t have enough money. I’m not sold on that any more. There’s just a lack of political will. There’s just a reticence to dive in and do something bold and drastic.”

Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, is not surprised by numbers that put Texas this year in the bottom 10 states when it comes to child welfare. No, he says what surprises him is “lack of political will” among members of the Texas legislature to address it.

The annual State of Texas Children breakfast, hosted by Methodist Healthcare Ministries and the Center for Public Policy Priorities in San Antonio this past week outlined some key facts: About one in five children in Texas live in poverty. Federal cash assistance for needy families in Texas is at an all-time low. And of the 21,600 students who dropped out of the Class of 2016, two-thirds were economically disadvantaged.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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November 20, 2018      5:06 PM

Coppedge: Thoughts from Behind the Pine Curtain

In this guest column, Dr. John Coppedge argues “we are entering a new but familiar phase in Texas electoral politics...the same kind of phase occurred in the late 1980's and early 1990's when the dominance of the Texas Democrats faded and the Republican era of the last three decades began."

The 2018 General Election will go down as a pivotal election for Texas, especially for the Texas judiciary. Just as 1988 began the quantum shift to the Republican column, now some 30 years later the pendulum is swinging back the other way.

Long predicted because of demographic trends, Democrat dominance in the major Court of Appeals this cycle is the forerunner of what will come next. While Republicans continued to win all the statewide races, the margins are getting thinner.

And buoyed by the 2018 results, Democrats will come out breathing fire in 2020.

The complete column by Dr. John Coppedge is in the R&D Department.

By Dr. John Coppedge

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November 19, 2018      5:34 PM

Texas Mall construction begins in earnest in December

With new leader at the helm of the Facilities Commission, the general contractor lays out progress of the first phase of the Capitol Complex Master Plan

The Texas Facilities Commission took less than an hour to finalize an offer to one of its own to lead the agency almost a year after former Rep. Harvey Hilderbran was ousted as executive director amid reports of difficulties and dysfunction.

Mike Novak, a former Bexar County Commissioner and long-time San Antonio contractor, thanked the commission for the honor, saying he was humbled. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you for seven years now,” Novak told his colleagues. “I look forward to this challenge.”

Novak is a construction executive who will be at the helm of the $581 million Capitol Complex Project after the stormy tenures of Terry Keel and Hilderbran – both former lawmakers. Hilderbran had no prior experience overseeing construction projects but Keel did oversee the expansion of the jail in Del Valle when he was Travis County Sheriff.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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November 19, 2018      12:10 PM

Ortiz Jones concedes to Rep. Hurd

"While we came up short this time, we ran a race of which we can be proud." - Gina Ortiz Jones

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November 19, 2018      12:08 PM

Moseley: Texas Association of Business legislative priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature

In this guest column, TAB President and CEO Jeff Moseley lays out what the largest group representing employers in the state wants to see accomplished next spring

January marks the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislature and a fresh start for Texas. Each session, thousands of bills are filed, and a significant portion of this legislation will have an impact on business within the state.

By supporting initiatives that encourage economic growth and provide good paying jobs for more Texans, the Texas Association of Business has always been at the forefront of making sure Texas is the best place to work, run a business, and raise a family.

The complete guest column by TAB CEO Jeff Moseley is in the R&D Department.

By Jeff Moseley

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November 16, 2018      5:05 PM

Updated: Amid uncertainty and a coming transition of power, LBB postpones setting constitutional spending limit

Speaker Straus tells QR there are too many variables right now including school finance, the price of oil, and Hurricane Harvey relief. "Why make a decision now that we could regret later?"

The Legislative Budget Board took a pass on setting a Constitutional spending limit this afternoon, a move Speaker Joe Straus said was, at least in part, to give the next Speaker of the House a chance to weigh in on the final budget limits.

It was Straus who moved to take a pass on the decision, as his heir apparent Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, sat to his right. Barring any serious changes in fortune, it will be Bonnen who will assume the speaker’s dais on the first day of the 86th session.

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November 16, 2018      3:24 PM

Bresnen issues preliminary report to the Legislature on American Phoenix Foundation finances

Report raises new questions including “what happened to more than $670,000 in tax-deductible donations made to APF and attempt to alert those who may have been cheated”

Editor’s note: The full report is available to subscribers at the end of this story – SB

Years after a group of political operatives secretly surveilled members of the Texas Legislature in the Capitol building and around Austin, veteran lobbyist Steve Bresnen is hand delivering to lawmakers his preliminary report on the group’s finances.

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By Scott Braddock

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November 16, 2018      9:32 AM

Bonnen Names Gardner Pate Director of Policy and General Counsel

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November 16, 2018      9:28 AM

People on the Move

A huge promotion, new companies forming ahead of session, a notable retirement, and some damn good barbecue

Yes, I was that reporter in the Bonnen press conference. You can stop asking. This really is the best audience in the world, with many of you saying the journalist got Trumped while the question went unanswered.

We’ll come back to that.

Thanks to the Texas Association of Business for the chance to speak in Dallas at City Club this week. It was a very informative event where Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said with some glee that Empower Texan’s Chairman Tim Dunn lost a senator in the Fort Worth area in last week’s elections. It’s really just too bad.

Great to see so many of you last night at the Sine Die Smokers BBQ Party. POTM is coming out a little early this morning so that I can remind you the cookers are out there again today and you should go get some for lunch. The meat is good, y'all and they're “cookin' for a cause” – raising money for the Central Texas Food Bank. Stop by from 11:30am to 2:30 this afternoon at 1111 Guadalupe. It's in the alley across from the Westgate. You know where it is. They’ll also be there for happy hour from 4 to 7 and I think you can get sausage wraps all day. That’s what I heard. Go ask Gavin.

A lot of big news, meantime, in the lobby world. Plenty of new hires and several new companies forming ahead of the session. Good luck in your new ventures. By the way, I’m taking the week off from this column for Thanksgiving. But if you’ve got career news to share please send it along and we’ll be sure to get to it the following week. ksbraddock@gmail.com is the email address and please use POTM in the subject line.

That would make this the Thanksgiving edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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November 15, 2018      5:18 PM

KR: The real question the Abbott school finance plan must answer

As laid out, it appears to upend equity as required by the Texas Constitution; if tax rates are reduced district by district, rather than compressed equally across the state, tax rates could vary wildly and widely

This week’s meeting of Sen. Paul Bettencourt’s work group on school finance should shed light on whether Republicans intend to put new money into the system next session, but that’s not the biggest question the Commission on Public School Finance needs to answer.  

Instead, the central question – the one that keeps surfacing among a small group of people who closely follow school finance – is whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s school finance plan flouts the equity set out in three decades of Supreme Court rulings.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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November 15, 2018      5:15 PM

Crosby: The Beto Blues

In this guest column, Democratic strategist Jeff Crosby says new voters who helped push Beto to the brink of victory have more to be proud of than they may realize

Democrats in Texas have suffered through a political drought for decades. Every election, we’ve searched the horizon for a gathering storm that would end our misery. Finally, a pretty damn big storm arrived November 7, 2018, and it swept away Republicans thunderstruck by change.

To be clear, we didn’t turn Texas blue, but it would be hard to argue it’s not purple now. Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties were solidly blue. Tarrant is the only holdout among the big urban counties, but Republicans dramatically underperformed there in comparison to recent elections.

But just consider this: Democrats didn’t lose a single congressional or legislative incumbent in the general election. Not one. I am too lazy to look it up, but I’d imagine the last time that happened was a long, long time ago.

The full column by Jeff Crosby is in the R&D Department.

By Jeff Crosby

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November 14, 2018      7:43 PM

Update: Rep. Bohac wins by 47 votes

Final tally was 24,222 to 24,175, per Harris County

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November 14, 2018      4:26 PM

Patrick and Bonnen release joint statement on unity between the Texas House and Senate

"Not only is unity my utmost goal in the Texas House but also my guiding force in working with the Texas Senate,” Chairman Bonnen said, echoing Patrick

Following what his office called their first "official phone call," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's office on Wednesday released a joint statement from him and Rep. Dennis Bonnen, the presumptive speaker at this point, pledging unity between the Texas House and Senate.

The two “affirmed their commitment to working together in the upcoming legislative session to continue to move Texas forward,” per Patrick’s office.

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By Scott Braddock

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November 14, 2018      12:30 PM

Chair Bonnen taps Gavin Massingill to serve as chief of staff for the next Speaker of the House

“Gavin brings a wealth of experience and a valued perspective to my office,” said Rep. Bonnen. “In addition to his years of experience as a legislative staffer, Gavin has a deep passion for the institution of the House and the ability to work across party lines to achieve the best results for Texas.”

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