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March 27, 2015      4:58 PM

Press Releases: UT Austin President finalist, state employee pay, honorary pages, and more

March 27, 2015      4:53 PM

TMF camp responds to Strother R&D piece about the Menendez vs Martinez Fischer race

“…there is only one real way to settle this dispute and that may take a little time.”

Editor’s note: Following Thursday’s publication of an R&D Department piece written by Colin Strother, a strategist from the Jose Menendez Campaign, the campaign of Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer wished to respond. Below is the response, in full, submitted by strategist Roger GarzaSB

"This is the exact sort of thing I would expect a consultant to write when they are trying to hide the fact that TLR and Republican operatives delivered the SD-26 election for Jose Menendez. The truth is, there's no response to fiction especially desperate and defensive fiction— Strother doesn’t rely on any scientific data and not even simple math.

Nor does he use any real numbers like the nearly $700,000 spent by TLR or 6,307 Hard Rs who voted for Jose.  I guess there is only one real way to settle this dispute and that may take a little time. 

But until then don't take my word for it, just look at the tweets of Republican political consultants like Jordan Berry. While Team TMF has no love for Jordan, we respect that he owns up to his work unlike Strother who once again takes credit for the hard work of others. He’s shameless.”

March 27, 2015      4:34 PM

Smith: There Are Consequences

From the Left: Quorum Report’s liberal columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that it's hard to take the promises of voucher backers seriously when they are willing to condemn these children to unnecessary sickness and death by refusing Medicaid expansion.

How is it that the GOP, the party of so-called personal responsibility, can so completely ignore the moral, economic and environmental consequences of its policies? Hidebound ideology is the answer, of course. When you believe in a righteous path, the belief sticks even as it leads you to the cliff’s edge. “That’s not a cliff. It’s the border of the Promised Land.” Right.

The GOP’s denial of consequences is so profound that South Florida is talking about seceding from Florida because Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration refuses to acknowledge global warming and rising seawaters that are already threatening Miami and environs. Scott’s administration even prohibited use of the terms “global warming” and “climate crisis” by anyone at any level in his administration.

Or take Medicaid expansion. As millions go uninsured, sicken and die unnecessarily, the GOP conveniently avoids talk of these consequences. Instead we hear a lot of ideological baloney about how everything will be peaches and cream once we eliminate government at all levels and leave the future to Tim Dunn, Michael Quinn Sullivan and the Koch Brothers, who of course only have our best interests at heart.

The complete column from Glenn W. Smith can be found in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

March 26, 2015      7:09 PM

Voucher debate gets underway in Senate Education

Bills were left pending; some fiery exchanges and head-scratching moments ensued

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday took up a trio of school voucher bills in a marathon committee hearing that lasted nearly 10 hours, included some fiery exchanges and produced some head-scratching moments as well. None of the bills up for debate were voted on in committee.

The bills, which appeared to be headed toward some single vehicle for $100 million in tuition tax credits for business contributions would be modeled after an existing program in Florida: The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, created in 2010, is approaching $450 million for the 2015-16 school year.

Perhaps the political genius of such a proposal is that it can claim to use no public tax dollars while giving low and moderate-income families a $6,000 per child tax credit to be potentially supplemented by scholarships. The state can claim a credit because that leaves $2,000 a child behind for the state or school district.

Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, was by far the Republican who offered the most criticism of any of the bills. Seliger asked Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, if she was okay with the fact that, under her bill, it would be legal for a parent to use the money to send their children to "madrasas" where they might learn to hate America. “I am willing to allow the dollars to follow the child,” Campbell said.

No one who spoke to the panel was more direct than retired US Senator Phil Gramm, whose wife Wendy has served as chair of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Gramm spoke nostalgically of his mother scraping together the dollars to send his brother to Catholic school and then on to a college education. He also said he’s no expert on these issues but cares deeply about them.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

March 26, 2015      5:54 PM

Ethics Commission dismisses Texas Right to Life complaint against Deuell

Right to Life is “just trying to harass me at this point," the former senator tells Quorum Report

The Texas Ethics Commission has swiftly dismissed a sworn complaint filed by Texas Right to Life against former Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville. This comes as the group pursues a lawsuit against Deuell in Houston stemming from last year’s bitter GOP primary runoff in which he narrowly lost to Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood.

Deuell told Quorum Report that the ethics complaint has no merit, neither does the lawsuit, and “they’re just trying to harass me at this point.”

“We did everything by the book,” Deuell said.

The complaint filed by Jim Graham, executive director of one of the state’s three major pro-life organizations, says Deuell "failed to properly report political contributions from a specific-purpose political action committee (Friends of Bob Deuell) that were made on his behalf for legal bills incurred in defending Deuell in civil action filed against him in his individual capacity."

The civil lawsuit to which Graham was referring was filed against Deuell by Texas Right to Life after Deuell’s attorneys successfully convinced radio stations in Dallas/Fort Worth to pull down “slanderous” attack ads that aired during the GOP primary runoff.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

March 26, 2015      5:53 PM

Springer proposes making Texas vodka and grapefruit juice the mixed drink of the session

The QR team suggests adding a slice of grapefruit from The Valley – we hope that amendment is acceptable to the author

Here is the resolution.

March 26, 2015      5:26 PM

Press Releases: Banning texting-while-driving, tax cut praise, school funding, and much more

March 26, 2015      4:36 PM

Strother: The San Antonio Civil War of 2015

Colin Strother, a strategist on the Jose Menendez for Senate campaign, pulls the curtain back on how they were able to pull off what many in the Capitol community saw as a huge upset over Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer.

Editor’s note: Quorum Report has previously reported on the analysis offered by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer about the tough race in which he was defeated by Sen. Jose Menendez. We now offer the other side of the argument for your consideration – SB

I've been on more than a few underdog campaigns.

In 2004 I engineered the defeat of then-Congressman Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic Primary and defended the seat two years later. To say we beat the establishment is an understatement. Trial lawyers, environmentalists, labor, and party officials (including the state party chair) marshaled all of their resources against us to no avail.

The special election and runoff to replace former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in 2015 looked the same on paper: A largely ineffective yet beloved partisan in Trey Martinez Fischer challenged by Jose Menendez, a commonsense problem solver with relationships across the aisle and an unparalleled work ethic.

The San Antonio Civil War of 2015, as I’ll call it, wasn't exactly brother against brother (although media consultant James Aldrete was with Trey while his brother Eddie Aldrete was with Jose), but it pitted neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Although I was Jose's first Chief of Staff I am also friends with Trey.

Since the 19-point win we laid on the favorite I haven't had many questions about why or how we did it. Instead, it’s mainly been met with astonishment. After all, Trey was supposed to be the roughest, toughest, rootinist, tootinist, guy West of the Brazos.

Wrong.

The complete column from Colin Strother can be found in the R&D Department.

By Colin Strother

March 26, 2015      12:13 PM

All amendments to HB 1 are due by this Saturday at noon, Otto says

Amendments to supplemental budget, HB 2, are due by Sunday at 10am

March 26, 2015      9:48 AM

In Texas Energy Report: Keffer predicts ‘good product soon’ for HB 40, urban drilling bill

Natural Resources Chair also lists ‘waterless fracking’ as goal

Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, said Thursday morning he sees a “very good opportunity” that agreement will be reached between the oil and gas industry, cities and mineral owners on how to regulate urban drilling.

“I think we have a very good opportunity. It’s a delicate balance between industry, mineral owners and cities. It is something that is in progress. It is something that I have seen in cooperation between all sides of this issue,” said Keffer, a co-author of HB 40 by House Energy Resources Committee Chairman Drew Darby, R-San Angelo.

“We’ll have a very good product here soon to show how we can continue to work together to address our economy. The Railroad Commission will have a good tool, a good arrow in their quiver,” Keffer added, while speaking on a panel of a Railroad Commission Texas Natural Gas Workshop hosted by Railroad Commissioner David Porter.  

The full story is in Texas Energy Report.

By Polly Ross Hughes

March 25, 2015      5:37 PM

House proposal could end school finance lawsuit with large revenue infusion

New plan shifts funds, adds $3 billion in new revenue, updates transportation

Leaders in the House intend to deconstruct the state’s school finance system in order to flow $6.4 billion or more in new revenue through per-pupil funding.

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, who chairs the House Education Committee, did most of the talking to unveil the plan today. Aycock announced the House had intended to wait out the school finance case but reversed course, finding another $800 million to add to $2.2 billion in new funding committed in the House budget.

Aycock spoke broadly about addressing the Cost-of-Education Index and the transportation allotment, both of which are seriously outdated. Beyond that, Aycock would only say he intended to smooth the end of funding intended to hold districts harmless in light of the 2006 tax compression, known as Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction, or ASATR, and ease the pain of increasing recapture of local funds under the current school finance system.

Aycock was more forthcoming with school district leaders at the TASA/TASB legislative conference today. Aycock told school leaders, as he told reporters this morning, the proposed solution did create some winners and losers, with a whole lot to love and something for some districts to hate.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

March 25, 2015      5:10 PM

Press Releases: School finance reactions, tax cuts reactions, renewable energy and gay marriage temper tantrums

March 25, 2015      5:07 PM

House again passes texting-while-driving ban

102 Ayes and 40 Nays on second reading

March 25, 2015      4:57 PM

Greenfield: Where is All the Money Going?

Our number cruncher Dr. Stuart Greenfield lays out the facts on how state dollars are being spent now

Now that we’ve taken a look at the increase in Texas state tax collections, I thought it would be helpful to follow up with an in-depth look at just how those funds are being allocated.

To briefly recap the tax collection numbers: The fiscal year-to-date (YTD, September - February) growth in total net state revenue is 7.2 percent, a rate substantially greater than the 4.6 percent increase forecasted in the most recent revenue estimate, published in January.  Total state expenditures have increased at a somewhat greater rate (7.8 percent).   

As shown in Table 1, two items, Public Assistance Payments (39.9 percent), and Public Education Payments (25.6 percent) accounted for almost 2/3rds of state expenditures.  However, while the increase in Public Assistance Payments (PAP) was 13.6 percent, the increase in Public Education Payments was only 3.8 percent.

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

By Stuart Greenfield, Ph.D.

March 25, 2015      4:47 PM

Enriquez and Visco: The local control debate is part of a larger, 21st Century challenge

Glasshouse Policy Founders offer an update on their first attempt at crowdsourcing a public policy solution

While the 84th Texas Legislature engages in the necessary but sometimes dizzying challenge of distinguishing good local control from bad local control, Glasshouse Policy – Texas’ first crowdsourced think tank – is injecting into the discussion a report related to local control of fire codes.

And, the implications of Glasshouse Policy’s new report are broader than they first appear.

Using the power of 21st Century communication technology, 53 of the Texas House of Representatives’ 150 districts were represented during online discussions related to fire prevention. And, an equally diverse group of stakeholders participated in our in-person roundtable process, where the fire prevention ideas and policy solutions made by our online participants were translated in actionable public policy. 

The complete column from Francisco Enriquez and Thomas Visco is in the R&D Department.

By Francisco Enriquez and Thomas Visco

March 25, 2015      3:37 PM

Texas Senate gives final passage to $4.6 billion tax cut package

Sen. Huffines gets rolled in his attempt to phase out the franchise tax

Following a bit of drama in which a small group of senators who some are calling the “Liberty Caucus” made an unsuccessful attempt to phase out the franchise tax, the Texas Senate on Wednesday gave final passage to legislation to cut property and business taxes.

SB 1 and SJR 1 – the property tax cuts – and SB 7 and SB 8 – the franchise tax proposals – were all passed pretty painlessly except for the first big defeat of a freshman Republican senator who tried to make a play to phase out the franchise tax completely.  

When debating SB 7, which would reduce franchise taxes 15 percent across the board, Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, got rolled when he tried to offer an amendment to Finance Committee Chair Sen. Jane Nelson’s bill that would have phased out the tax. Nelson had already made it clear earlier in the day that she was going to resist all attempts to amend her tax-cutting proposals.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

March 25, 2015      12:51 PM

Senate passes SJR 1, including constitutional ban on taxing real estate sales, to engrossment

March 25, 2015      12:36 PM

Senate passes SB 1 on a vote of 26 - 5

The no votes were Ellis, Eltife, Whitmire, Zaffirini and Rodriguez.

March 25, 2015      12:22 PM

Finance Chair Nelson says she does not plan to accept any amendments on SB 1

As tax cut debate gets underway on the floor, Sen. Jane Nelson was asked if she would accept amendments to cap local property taxes; she said she will resist all amendments.

March 25, 2015      11:46 AM

Updated: Public Ed Chairman says House will likely tackle school finance during regular session

Chairman Aycock said House lawmakers won’t wait for the courts on school finance: "Do you try to do what's right for children in the state of Texas or do you try to outguess the lawyers?”

Saying that funding of public schools is "foundational" and a "core responsibility" of state government, Texas House Public Education Committee Chairman Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, on Wednesday said lawmakers in the lower chamber are making a significant course correction: They will probably work to fix the school finance system during this regular session.

Aycock and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, said they’re ready to add $800 million to the $2.2 billion that House budget writers have already added to public education funding, bringing the total to $3 billion.

"To change the system that is pretty badly flawed will require some great courage,” Aycock said during a press conference in which he was flanked by Republicans and Democrats alike. He noted the complexity of the school finance system and the great pressure to work out a solution that treats all school districts as fairly as possible. “It won't be possible to fix it all," Aycock said, but “we'll get as close as we can get."

The announcement of this goal is a development that might have been unheard of last week or even the day before it was made.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

March 25, 2015      10:17 AM

Aycock: The Texas House will likely attempt to fix school finance during the regular session

"To change the system that is pretty badly flawed will require some great courage." He says the House likely won't wait for the courts. Public Education Chairman is laying out big picture ideas at this hour ...more details coming soon.

March 24, 2015      11:15 PM

Former TEC Chairman says agency should stop enforcing the law while MQ Sullivan case is decided in court

“Ultimately, we cannot require compliance from tens of thousands of Texans when those with extraordinary resources can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to challenge a $10,000 fine.”

The Texas Ethics Commission should stop all efforts to enforce the laws under its purview until the courts have decided the case of Michael Quinn Sullivan, the alleged illegal lobbyist and spokesman for Midland oilman Tim Dunn.

That case is now headed to the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth.  

In a letter to TEC Chairman Paul Hobby, former chairman and current Commissioner Jim Clancy – an appointee of former Gov. Rick Perry – said there is a “crisis” because decisions of other state agencies "have legal meaning” but “the final decisions of the agency that regulates the political class have none."

The rest of the story, subscribers only

March 24, 2015      5:41 PM

On eve of tax cut debate in Senate, Republican senator calls big business opposition troubling

Schwertner says “If you’ll forgive me, it doesn’t seem as though you’re concerned with the state of Texas providing tax relief per se, just in providing tax relief that doesn’t directly benefit big business.”

On the evening before the Texas Senate is expected to debate $4.5 billion in business and property tax cuts, Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, issued a stern rebuke to big business interests opposed to this high priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“If you’ll forgive me, it doesn’t seem as though you’re concerned with the state of Texas providing tax relief per se, just in providing tax relief that doesn’t directly benefit big business,” Sen. Schwertner wrote in a letter to the Texas Association of Business and others.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

March 24, 2015      5:15 PM

Simmons rolls out transportation advisory committee

Legislative committee and oversight modeled on last session's water funding bill

Rep. Ron Simmons introduced his bill on Tuesday that would deploy a statewide advisory committee to fund and prioritize transportation projects in the same way the state has funded and deployed water projects.  

Simmons, R-Carrollton, chairs the Subcommittee on Long-Term Infrastructure Planning, which has fielded a dozen bills that address the operation of the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as the operation of toll road authorities, county transportation authorities and regional mobility authorities.

House Bill 20, carried by Simmons and Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, will be the cornerstone of the committee’s work. The bill creates a six-member State Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which would sit between the metropolitan planning organizations and the Texas Transportation Commission.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

March 24, 2015      4:39 PM

Press Releases: House budget reactions, state sovereignty, and lies, damned lies and S.T.O.R.M lies

March 24, 2015      4:36 PM

Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development passes urban drilling bill

TXOGA: "We appreciate Senator Fraser’s leadership in recognizing that clarity in state and local oil and gas regulation is a critical issue for the Texas economy.”

March 24, 2015      4:29 PM

Bearse: Broader Thinking

From the Right: Quorum Report’s conservative Republican columnist Eric Bearse argues that, among other things, doing away with in-state tuition for undocumented students would be extremely short-sighted.

More than half the Texas House has been elected in one of the last three election cycles. For Republicans, that means a good portion of their caucus was elected in mid-term, “wave” elections that could have swept a dead man into office as long as he had an R by his name. Those elected in 2012 benefited from a deeply unpopular president in Texas. For three straight election cycles, the national atmosphere has been ripe for Republican gains, and subsequent consolidation of those gains.

It is conventional wisdom that state offices are decided in the Republican Primary, and most house seats too. The practical effect is more than half of the Republican Majority in the Texas House has been trained to think of issues in the context of Republican primaries, with little incentive to worry about the general election.

This is problematic in two senses: 1) Republicans should not take a laissez-faire attitude about the threats posed in general elections simply because they haven’t been competitive of late; and 2) having the vast majority of elected officials decided in either primary diminishes the ability of representatives to take a statewide view on important issues.  

Some of us remember 2008. No one knew Republican Rep. Tony Goolsby was in any kind of trouble. He famously cried out in the final days, “I'm up to my ass in a damn campaign. This is the only job I've got and I'm trying to save it. Obama's got people coming from the rafters.”

By then it was too late.

The complete column from Eric Bearse can be found in the R&D Department.

By Eric Bearse

March 24, 2015      2:33 PM

House Public Education passes Gov. Abbott's Pre-K bill on 11-0 vote

Committee backs sub for Huberty's House Bill 4

March 24, 2015      1:31 PM

Straus says House budget will allow lawmakers to work on meaningful tax relief

“The House budget is a responsible, disciplined plan that sets the right priorities for a growing state."

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Tuesday afternoon praised the work of the Appropriations Committee in passing a $209 billion budget and said that there is much left to do, including the crafting of “meaningful” tax relief.

Some Democrats are angry that billions are being left unspent when the state has needs ranging from transportation to health care. Some conservative critics of House leadership say tax cuts should be in the chamber’s plan right now.  

"I want to thank Chairman (John) Otto, the subcommittee chairs and all of the members of the Appropriations Committee for their outstanding work on House Bill 1,” Straus said.

“The House budget is a responsible, disciplined plan that sets the right priorities for a growing state,” the Speaker said. “It addresses education and transportation, it increases transparency and it will allow the House to provide meaningful tax relief. I look forward to working with all the members of the House on this budget."

March 24, 2015      12:12 PM

In Texas Energy Report: Urban drilling, Day 2, Sen. Fraser wants to vote out bill

Cities opposed to bill hold out hope for compromise

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, said this morning that he would like to vote out his SB 1165 – which attempts to spell out powers of the state versus local governments when regulating urban drilling – after taking testimony this afternoon from another 25 witnesses.

Despite apparently putting the controversial bill on a legislative fast track, Fraser, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee, indicated he is willing to sit down with opponents of the bill to try to work out a compromise.  

His committee heard from oil and gas operators and royalty owners groups this morning who support the bill, saying it would add more business certainty and protect mineral property rights. The bill essentially says the state has the preemptive right to regulate oil and gas activity beneath the surface while cities could regulate such things as noise, light, traffic patterns and well sites – provided municipal ordinances meet the test of being “commercially reasonable” in the eyes of a prudent operator.

The full story from Polly Ross Hughes is in Texas Energy Report.  

By Polly Ross Hughes

March 24, 2015      11:01 AM

Another view: Business coalition praises Senate tax cut package

After opposition was voiced by TAB and others, the Realtors and others fire back: “Well-funded and vocal opposition to these measures show little regard for homeowners who are crippled under our current property tax system.”

Here is the letter.

Signatories include, the powerful Texas Association of REALTORS, NFIB/Texas, Texas Association of Builders, Texas Mortgage Bankers Association, Texas Land Title Association, Texas Self Storage Association, Texas Manufactured Housing Association, Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, and Stewart Title Guaranty Company.

March 24, 2015      8:59 AM

House Appropriations passes budget and supplemental budget

Otto says that taxes will be cut this session so it would be “imprudent” not to leave money on the table in HB 1 as it moves to the floor

Texas House budget writers on Tuesday morning sent to the full chamber their versions of the state budget and a supplemental budget that allays some of the fears of Democrats who had been concerned about the way the Medicaid shortfall was going to be paid for under the original proposal.

Though the votes on both were unanimous, Democrats said they are concerned that too much money is being left on the table as the budget moves to the House floor.

Taken together, the budget and the supplemental total more than $200 billion. The budget comes in $8.4 billion under Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s revenue estimate and $2 billion under the state's constitutional spending constraints. The House budget for the next two years adds $7.3 billion in all funds to the starting point budget – $5.7 billion of that is general revenue.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, said that even though the spending plan is advancing through the process, it remains very much a work in progress. “No one is or will be entirely happy,” Otto said, adding that there is much more work to do both on the House floor and in negotiations with the Senate.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

March 23, 2015      5:52 PM

Big charities around the state voice support for current car sales laws in Texas

Coalition of charities note that car dealers donate an average of more than 170,000 per city annually

With Tesla gaining some traction at the Capitol for a proposal to allow direct auto sales from manufacturers, some big charities around Texas on Monday told Gov. Greg Abbott that they support the current way that Texas law regulates auto sales. Car dealers are simply vital in their communities, those groups argued.

In a letter dated today, groups like 100 Club of Central Texas, Austin; Lubbock Area United Way; Easter Seals Houston; and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County make the point that “the average franchised dealer in Texas donates over $40,000 in charitable contributions annually.  With a local dealer in 284 cities in our great state that is an average annual impact of $174,414 per city. “

That’s just the average, the groups said.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

March 23, 2015      5:51 PM

Press Releases: Sen. Konni Burton endorses Ted Cruz!, appointments, traditional marriage defense, and more

March 23, 2015      3:19 PM

HK: Though somewhat lackluster, Cruz announcement largely succeeds in tactical goals

Despite polling at under 5%, Cruz temporarily has center stage

Although it accomplished some of what was intended, Texas Senator Ted Cruz’ formal presidential campaign announcement today broke little new ground other than flush Senator Rand Paul into driving some competing coverage by pronouncing his campaign announcement would be April 7.

For the most part, the event at Liberty College seemed a tad underwhelming.  Cruz delivered a slightly more elaborate version of his standard stump speech to the weekly mandatory convocation of students at the Christian institution.  Repeal Obamacare, get rid of the IRS, institute a flat tax and ending government intrusion of private email and telephone conversations are all generally standard fare with predictable applause lines.

But while the speech was entirely predictable, Cruz drove the news cycle for the entire weekend and will no doubt be a lead in tonight’s news broadcasts.  More importantly to a Republican primary contender, he will drive Fox News and talk radio for days as a contrast to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Besides a week of dominating the media, Cruz got the optics he sought… sort of. 

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg

March 23, 2015      3:18 PM

Daughters sue to maintain ownership of Alamo archives

Long-time caretakers of the Alamo refuse to go down without a fight

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas has filed the first of at least two legal motions against the General Land Office to reclaim its artifacts collection.

This battle may not be as simple as it appears. While the General Land Office, under Commissioner Jerry Patterson, claimed ownership of the Alamo property in San Antonio, it was the Daughters of the Republican of Texas who paid for the library.

Many of the 38,000 items were given directly to the Daughters.

The petition was filed at high noon in the 407th District Court. It describes a slow removal of the Daughters from their role as caretakers of the Alamo’s artifacts; first limiting special appointments and weekend hours, following by special patrols intended to prevent the Daughters from removing artifacts. A padlock on the front door of the library has been threatened, according to the petition.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

March 23, 2015      12:48 PM

Cities and the oil and gas industry gear up ahead of showdown over drilling bills today

TML and TXOGA jockey for position ahead of House hearing on urban drilling bills. Complete coverage this afternoon via Texas Energy Report

Cities around the state and the oil and gas industry are working to get the word out this Monday afternoon about their respective positions in one of the centerpiece fights of this legislative session.  

The bills that spell out what authority cities will or won’t have when it comes to urban drilling – HB 40 and HB 593 – are being heard back-to-back in the House Energy Resources Committee just after 2pm.

For its part, the Texas Oil & Gas Association released a new video showing aerial images of a neighborhood in Denton – ground zero for the debate after voters decided to ban fracking there – where the city permitted residential construction very close to existing wells. The group said those permits stand “in stark contrast to the city’s own requirement for unreasonably large distances between wells and homes.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

March 23, 2015      9:35 AM

Business leader says ending school test requirement a step in the wrong direction

Hammond says high school diplomas have become no more than a certificate of attendance

One of the most vocal critics of last session’s major education legislation says superintendents are using lawmakers to dodge accountability.

The state of the Texas accountability system is precarious: The state has gone from an exit-level test that put a modest assessment bar in place to graduate high school to a handful of end-of-course tests pegged to the first two years of high school. Now, for the first time in three decades of the Texas accountability system, a local committee can decide whether any or all of those requirements could be waived according to Senate Bill 149, which passed the Senate on a 28-2 vote last Tuesday.

“The school finance lawsuit is premised on the fact we’re asking too much of our students,” said Bill Hammond of the Texas Association of Business. “It appears, after this session, the state of Texas will be asking nothing of them.”

Texas, however, would not be alone in such a decision. Mississippi’s state board of education, for instance, voted today to allow students who failed one or more subject-area tests to graduate if they can “demonstrate adequate mastery of course content when taking in to account the grade in the class and the test scores.” 

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

March 23, 2015      7:37 AM

Cruz Launches presidential campaign with internet video