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September 20, 2019      3:19 PM

Former Rep. Dan Branch will not challenge Congressman Colin Allred in CD 32

After seriously considering a run, Branch tells Quorum Report he is convinced a thoughtful Republican could win back the seat for the GOP but the "timing is not right for me and my family."

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September 20, 2019      12:28 PM

People on the Move

Tons of staffer moves, lobby news, appointments, campaigns staffing up, and much more

Not sure what we will all do if this gets any more entertaining. Lt. Gov. Patrick is at war with MQ Sullivan, Pat Fallon may challenge Sen. John Cornyn, and there was a knockdown drag out debate at the State Republican Executive Committee to determine whether the Texas GOP should ask Speaker Dennis Bonnen to resign.

More to come.

Meantime, the career moves are coming fast and furious. You can always send what’s happening with your own career – or that of a friend or foe – to ksbraddock@gmail.com and use POTM in the subject line. Thanks very much.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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September 19, 2019      2:48 PM

Former legislative staffer accused of murder found incompetent to stand trial

The update from KXAN Television in Austin:

A former Texas legislative staff member accused of killing a man before going on a shooting spree last year has been found incompetent to stand trial, according to the Austin District Attorney’s office.

The court ordered Charles Curry to undergo a mental health evaluation in July. Curry is accused of shooting and killing his neighbor Christian Meroney near the Post South Lamar apartments in July 2018. Two days later, police say Curry went on a shooting spree in south Austin, where two people were hurt including a woman who was shot in the head.

As part of the incompetency declaration, Curry will be sent to the hospital for treatment and evaluation for 120 days. This means his criminal trial is halted but could resume if “competency is restored,” according to Assistant District Attorney Joe Frederick.

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September 19, 2019      2:42 PM

Trio of audits out from HHSC OIG

The Inspector General at the Health and Human Service Commission issued three reports this week that echo complaints about managed health care plans lodged by critics last session.

HHSC’s shift of health care services to a managed care model left a lot of issues on the table for discussion during last session: transparency in pharmacy benefits (Senate Bill 1096, passed); sufficiency of managed care services and benefits (Senate Bill 1105, failed); and protections for denial of service to low-income residents (House Bill 2453, failed.)

Plenty of people in hearings at the Texas Capitol last session – especially the parents of medically fragile children -- complained about the insufficiency of managed care networks, especially for specialized services. HHSC has insisted networks have been adequate.

Now a trio of OIG reports are out with somewhat related subject headings. The outcomes of these reports – Is there a good guy and a bad guy here? – are not always so obvious. Here’s a summary of the three reports:

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By Kimberly Reeves

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September 18, 2019      6:58 PM

Retirees back in court to challenge legislative fix for Dallas police and fire pension fund

Two main points of contention: First, retirees were guaranteed a rate of return, which were reduced in 2014 and then were tied to actuarial tables; second, retirees can no longer take lump-sum payments out of the account

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund faced the second of three possible legal challenges to the fund’s structure in front of the Texas Supreme Court; this one, a direct challenge to the legislature’s solution to keep the fund solvent.

The bill to stabilize the pension fund was carried by Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, back in 2017. Legal challenges to date have focused on the pension fund’s payments that are deferred to an interest-bearing account, known as a DROP account, when a firefighter or police officer continues to work after the age of retirement.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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September 18, 2019      12:19 PM

Braddock on radio: Consider what radio talk show host Patrick would say about Lt. Gov. Patrick

Editor Scott Braddock and conservative radio host Mark Davis on KSKY in DFW talk about the dustup between MQ Sullivan and Lt. Gov. Patrick

Check out the segment here. (Depending on your browser, you might have to right click then open in a new tab)

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September 18, 2019      12:09 PM

Texas House Admin approves $241,000 budget for select committee on mass violence

“We’re anticipating lengthy meetings. And, obviously, there will be a need for additional security,” Chair Geren said, adding “I think we’re probably being overcautious, but I think we need to be in this particular case.”

The Texas House Administration Committee, in a brief meeting this morning, approved a $241,000 budget for the select committee created after a spate of mass shootings.

The House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety, chaired by Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, met for the first time in Austin on Tuesday.

Additional hearings are planned for Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and Odessa. Each hearing will include both invited testimony and public testimony, House Administration Chair Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, told his committee.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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September 17, 2019      4:55 PM

Sources: Texas Rangers have begun questioning members on alleged hit list

Conversations seem to point to investigation wrapping up by mid-October

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September 17, 2019      4:51 PM

Cornyn scolds Beto, avoids questions on Patrick-MQS dust up

“I hate to disappoint you, but I try to stay out of the punditry business,” Cornyn said.

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s recent comments on gun control have set back the gun debate for years, if not decades, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told reporters this afternoon.

O’Rourke, who is trailing in the Democratic polls, has doubled-down on comments that AR-15 and AK-47s need to be subject to a mandatory buy-back program.

"I refuse to even acknowledge the politics or the polling or the fear or the NRA," O'Rourke said on Meet the Press. "That has purchased the complicity and silence of members of Congress."

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By Kimberly Reeves

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September 17, 2019      4:11 PM

Texas House select committee on Mass Violence begins its work

DPS Director Steve McCraw and Deputy Director Skylor Hearn discuss agency protocols

Texans deserve better, Select House Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety Committee Chairman Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, said in his opening remarks at its first meeting today.

“My commitment to you is that we will listen, we will work, and we will engage in a serious conversation,” he said.

The 13-member committee was formed in the aftermath of mass shootings in El Paso and Midland/Odessa between July and August. 28 people were killed.

Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Deputy Director Skylor Hearn served as resource witnesses. They pointed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s eight executive orders and a set of legislative proposals aimed at inter-agency cooperation and additional resources to guide the committee’s work.

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By James Russell

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September 17, 2019      11:19 AM

Patrick to MQ Sullivan: You are destroying our party

Lite Guv who’s received at least $800K in contributions from Empower Texans and given them Senate floor access says Sullivan should release Bonnen recording because this whole thing is ripping the GOP apart

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday told Empower Texans spokesman Michael Quinn Sullivan that he is “destroying our party” by not releasing the audio recording of Sullivan’s June 12 meeting with Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

Sullivan was tweeting criticism of Patrick’s new push for expanded background checks for gun purchases when the Lt. Gov. weighed in from his own Twitter account.

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By Scott Braddock

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September 16, 2019      4:55 PM

State health committee delves into challenges of vaping epidemic

“It is utterly astonishing to me and very, very worrying that young people know cigarettes are bad for you, but they don’t know vaping’s bad for you, too,” Commissioner Hellerstedt said. “And I don’t think that’s an accident that they have been given that impression.”

The scariest part of the current rash of vaping illnesses is what doctors doing know about the outbreak, DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt told the Texas School Health Advisory Council.

TSHAC, which serves as an advisory council to local school district SHACs, has become a one-size-fits-all stop for everything from sex education to mental health to childhood obesity. So it wasn’t a surprise to hear Hellerstedt offered some comments on e-cigarettes and vaping, especially given its increased usage among teens.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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September 16, 2019      4:18 PM

Veteran lobbyist Daniel Gonzalez to launch independent firm, retain Realtors as primary client

Big announcement today:

“Texas REALTORS® announced today that Daniel Gonzalez, the association’s Director of Legislative Affairs and Chief Lobbyist, is establishing an independent lobby firm and the association will be his primary client. Travis Kessler, Texas REALTORS® President and CEO, said the transition is mutually beneficial for Gonzalez and the statewide association. ‘Daniel’s forward-thinking approach has positioned Texas REALTORS® as a powerhouse among advocacy organizations. He has our full support as he enters this new role, and our association gains increased flexibility to respond to the fluid dynamics of the Texas Capitol,’ Kessler said.”

Here’s the full announcement.

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September 16, 2019      9:08 AM

Rep. Blanco running for open state Senate seat

The El Paso Democrat has the backing of El Paso delegation in race to succeed retiring Sen. Jose Rodriguez

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September 14, 2019      10:42 PM

Amid concerns it was not really a secret ballot, Texas House GOP Caucus Chair Klick defends voting process for Vice Chair

Chair Klick pushes back against the idea that House leadership may have been watching how members voted and then pressured them to change their votes: “we cannot see how each member voted”

After complaints from some Republican Texas House members and staffers that the election of the GOP Caucus Vice Chair was not fair and may not have even featured anonymous voting – as required by the group’s bylaws – Chair Stephanie Klick on Saturday defended the process as secure and anonymous.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s preferred candidate, Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, was announced as the winner Friday evening. He defeated Rep. Andy Murr, R-Kerrville, who had announced earlier in the week he had secured sufficient support to win.

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By Scott Braddock

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September 14, 2019      3:25 PM

SREC narrowly votes to reject calling on the Texas House GOP Caucus to endorse a new Republican speaker candidate

The key vote was 31 to 29

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September 13, 2019      6:37 PM

People on the Move

Appointments, staffer moves, and award winners

Hello from the road. Great to see you all at the Texas REALTORS® event in Fort Worth this afternoon. Tomorrow, it's the State Republican Executive Committee meeting back in Austin.

No rest for the weary around here.

Meantime, keep those career moves coming to ksbraddock@gmail.com and use POTM in the subject line. No gig is too big or too small to mention and it’s okay to brag when you win an award or are recognized in some other way. We’re all proud of you.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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September 13, 2019      9:39 AM

Sen. Jose Rodriguez will not seek reelection

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