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July 3, 2015      4:41 PM

Lite Guv Patrick uses holiday weekend to quietly dissolve so called grass roots advisory board

Same "advisory" group that called Abbott's Pre-k initiative "socialist" intended to "brainwash" children and embarrassed lite Guv on eve of vote

The statement from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announcing the dissolution of the so-called Grassroots Advisory Board can be found below.

"As Lt. Governor my office established advisory boards comprised of citizens from all walks of life and business backgrounds to help advise me on public policy issues," said Lt. Governor Patrick. "We will continue working with these boards moving forward, but we are making one change in our boards structure now.

"Several members of the grassroots advisory board have expressed a desire for greater independence," continued Patrick.

"As such, Chair JoAnn Fleming and I have mutually agreed to dissolve the grassroots advisory board and work together as we have for the last several years on a less formal basis."

"The Texas grassroots conservative network is recognized as the nation's strongest," said Fleming. "Maintaining our independence is necessary for the credibility of the growing Texas grassroots movement, and as we move into the next election cycle, we do not want our endorsements and positions to be viewed as anything other than our own independent decisions, based on conservative, limited government principles. We wish our Lt. Governor well and look forward to working with him for the good of Texas as we have in the past. We don't need a formal committee to do that."

Patrick concluded, "I look forward to the 85th Legislature and beyond and continuing to receive input and feedback from my friends in the grassroots. We still have much work to do."

July 3, 2015      4:25 PM

Plaintiff ISDs try to knock off case intervenors, add Wallace Jefferson to legal team

Plaintiffs say of intervenors: “The Intervenors asked the trial court to ‘constitutionalize’ their preferred education policies – policies that have never attracted majority support in the Legislature.”

The Texas Supreme Court has put the school finance challenge on a fast track, scheduling oral arguments before the court on Sept. 1.

Most discussion of the timeline for a school finance case typically end with a joke about when a special session will occur. The court has no deadline for decisions, but in this case, if the school districts win, it could be next summer. That could put any new funding for public education in play before the 2016-17 school year.

“In 60 days, the future of millions of Texas children will be strictly in the hands of our Supreme Court justices,” said Wayne Pierce of the Equity Center, which is part of the Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition. “We pray that will be foremost in their minds when they reach their decision.”

This timeline is ambitious on a number of grounds: First, this is the school finance case with the largest number of exhibits and plaintiffs in Texas history. Second, the plaintiff school districts filed their response yesterday, with the state’s final reply brief scheduled for August 11. And, third, the Fort Bend, et al, plaintiffs just added former Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and his law partner at Alexander Dubose Jefferson Townsend to the mix.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

July 3, 2015      4:16 PM

AAS: Paxtons problems deepen as high priced political hires come under scrutiny

AG ignores state law on posting jobs, "in spite of state law, which requires that jobs be advertised when they’re filled from outside the agency."

High priced hires at the Office of the Attorney General did not even submit applications until after the fact, if at all says Statesman story.

July 3, 2015      9:52 AM

Supreme Court sets September 1 to hear school finance challenge

Wheels now in motion on latest challenge to school finance system

July 2, 2015      6:24 PM

Special Prosecutors respond forcefully to Ken Paxton spokesman

“Our investigation will continue to be informed by what our oaths as special prosecutors commands: to do justice. And sound bites and personal attacks won’t change that.”

Following this statement from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s spokesman Anthony Holm, special prosecutors Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer had this to say Thursday evening:

“The statement made by Mr. Paxton's spokesman recycles the usual sound bites, culled from the play book of any public official whose conduct places them in the cross-hairs of a grand jury investigation.

Neither the TSSB, nor the Dallas and Travis County District Attorney's Offices, have looked at the matters which we have been tasked with investigating through the same prism as we have, or with the benefit of the evidence being assembled by the Texas Rangers, that none of these agencies had before them.

Indeed, both the Dallas and Travis County District Attorney’s Offices declined to “pursue a criminal action” precisely because they concluded that neither office had jurisdiction over the conduct giving rise to this investigation.

While Mr. Paxton implies that being from Houston is a reason why our investigation is politically-motivated, his silence as to why our hometown comes within a time zone of relevance speaks volumes.

We were brought in from Houston to ensure that an investigation that could have easily been driven by partisan politics and political agendas would not. While Mr. Paxton would seem to prefer that this investigation be conducted by experienced prosecutors from North Texas, no one who is the subject of a grand jury investigation, least of all one of the top public officials in Texas, gets to make that call. Tellingly, Mr. Paxton feels that a Dallas address or a career spent as a prosecutor somehow trumps our over seven decades of trial and appellate experience as two of Texas’s most respected criminal lawyers.

The facts, which Mr. Paxton would rather ignore than acknowledge, are, as Churchill said, stubborn things. And that’s exactly what we will provide the grand jury with: the facts. Our investigation will continue to be informed by what our oaths as special prosecutors commands: to do justice. And sound bites and personal attacks won’t change that.”

Hat tip to the Houston Chronicle’s Lauren McGaughy, who tweeted out the statement from Wice and Schaffer this evening.

July 2, 2015      4:53 PM

Paxton spokesman says possibility of first-degree felony indictment in Collin County appears to be political

Paxton’s spokesman also suggests the special prosecutors don’t know what they’re doing. One of them, Brian Wice, was Tom DeLay's attorney when his conviction was overturned.

In response to the news that Attorney General Ken Paxton now faces the possibility of a first-degree felony indictment in solidly Republican Collin County, his spokesman Anthony Holm – who has recently been generally non-responsive to questions about his boss – issued this statement:

"This appears to be a politically motivated effort to ruin the career of a longtime public servant. The Texas State Securities Board, and the Travis and Dallas District Attorneys offices all reviewed this matter, yet not one of them pursued a criminal action. Neither of the special prosecutors have significant prosecutorial experience. It appears that they have prosecuted only one case between them.

Not only do they appear inexperienced as prosecutors, they are from Houston. Meanwhile thousands of experienced prosecutors and former prosecutors are in the Dallas area.

From the outset their intention appears to have been to try this case in the media, not the courtroom. Texans deserve better, we deserve cases tried in courthouses, not the press.

These attacks on Ken Paxton appear to have become a political hit-job in the media, perhaps having the effect of inappropriately influencing the grand jury."

By Scott Braddock

July 2, 2015      4:52 PM

If Cornyn were still AG, he would tell Clerks to abide by SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

“…he’d advise county clerks to operate within the law and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, something current Attorney General Ken Paxton has not yet done.”

Here is the full story from Lubbock Online, which includes this about Sen. John Cornyn’s Thursday appearance in West Texas:

“Speaking about the ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in all states, he said he also disagreed with that ruling. After the meeting when he was talking to media, Cornyn said if he were attorney general, he’d advise county clerks to operate within the law and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, something current Attorney General Ken Paxton has not yet done.”

July 2, 2015      4:47 PM

Press Releases: Reactions to Paxton, BP settlement, defense of Hood County Clerk, and more

July 2, 2015      4:23 PM

DMN reports Rep. Cecil Bell may challenge Straus for Speakership

"...Bell would not deny on Thursday that he will run for Speaker of the Texas House, an election that would be held in January 2017 among the House members."

Here’s the story via Dallas Morning News reporter Bobby Blanchard.

July 2, 2015      4:03 PM

Video: HK tackles Paxton gay marriage opinion and the demise of the Texas Two-Step

On Time Warner Cable in Austin and San Antonio, our publisher Harvey Kronberg weighed in on those topics and more

July 2, 2015      4:01 PM

SCOTUS Confederate flag license plate ruling could cause myriad problems, expert says

For instance, lawmakers might decide a pro-life license plate is acceptable one session and the next session the body could strike it down in favor of a pro-choice plate.

The U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision when it issued its opinion that Texas could block a Confederate flag license plate, but the legal argument in the opinion could have been much stronger, says a UC Irvine law professor.  Such an argument could produce myriad problems, not the least of which is that a partisan legislature could provide conflicting approvals based on ideology. For instance, lawmakers might decide a pro-life license plate is acceptable one session and the next session the body could strike it down in favor of a pro-choice plate.

Vikram Amar’s opinion, published in a legal blog, could become relevant in Texas circles now that the Sons of the Confederate Veterans have suggested submitting a new design for a specialty license plate. It also has indirect implications in the case of Confederate flags, war heroes and even the Ten Commandments monument that now sits on the Capitol lawn.

Amar said Justice Stephen Breyer’s opinion in Walker v Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., is written broadly in the context of government speech. Roughly, Breyer’s opinion states the specialty license plate may be construed as government speech and limited as such. Thus, government can say “no” to the license plate just as it can say yes or no to the writing on lottery tickets, Amar said.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

July 2, 2015      12:06 PM

In TER: Abbott: BP settlement would send $750 million to Texas

Gulf Coast environmental and economic health to benefit

Check out our sister publication, Texas Energy Report for more details on the settlement.

July 1, 2015      8:46 PM

WFAA: Special prosecutors plan to present a first-degree felony case against Paxton to grand jury

Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 that the Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during the investigation that led to the securities fraud allegations against the sitting attorney general.

From WFAA television in Dallas/Fort Worth:

“The criminal investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken a more serious turn, with special prosecutors now planning to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against him to a Collin County grand jury, News 8 has learned.

Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during the investigation that led to the securities fraud allegations against the sitting attorney general.

'The Rangers went out to investigate one thing, and they came back with information on something else," Schaffer told News 8. "It's turned into something different than when they started.'

Schaffer, a Houston criminal defense attorney, said the securities fraud allegations involve amounts well in excess of $100,000. He declined to comment specifics of the fraud allegations."

July 1, 2015      5:06 PM

HK: Paxton contortions on gay marriage opinion raises questions about legal reasoning inside AG office

Opinion reads more like a press release than legal opinion

Not since then-Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion declaring that Speaker Tom Craddick was a statewide officeholder and could only be removed by impeachment (essentially requiring a trial and permission of the Senate) have we seen an AG opinion such as the recent one by Ken Paxton so embarrassingly torqued to get to a pre-ordained conclusion.

The law is largely ignored in the Paxton opinion but the politics are clear.  Roughly 40% of the national Republican vote self-identifies as evangelical and probably more than that do so in the Texas primaries.  The culture wars ignite voter intensity and while it is almost a foregone conclusion that Texas will vote Republican in the 2016 presidential election, the path to that election leads through multiple Republican caucuses and primaries including Texas.

As hyperbolic as ever, presidential wannnabe Ted Cruz called the gay marriage ruling the darkest day in American history. Some Americans might be surprised that it surpassed Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination and September 11 but then again Cruz has scored more, if not the most, False and “Pants on Fire Rankings” from Politifact than any other contender.

The actors using language about a reckless and “lawless” Supreme Court are the coordinated messaging of the Cruz team. And like the former Texas Solicitor General and current junior Senator in absentia, the actors know better.  But Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Attorney General Paxton are engineering a Madison Avenue style marketing campaign selling soap, building a brand and a vocabulary of manufactured outrage targeted almost exclusively to motivate culture warriors in the next GOP caucuses and primaries.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg

July 1, 2015      5:04 PM

Texas small business opposes proposed changes to overtime rule

Small business says “Nobody has a pot of gold sitting there to absorb these costs.”

Don’t expect Texas small businesses to be among the crowd applauding Pres. Barack Obama’s announcement of new proposed overtime rules on Thursday.

The Department of Labor, under its administrative rulemaking authority, has proposed lifting the cap on those entitled to overtime pay. Salaried employers making up to $50,440 would be entitled to overtime pay beyond the 40-hour week. Right now, the cap to defer overtime pay for salaried employees is $23,660.

That doubles the threshold for overtime pay for what is typically referred to as the “white-collar exemption.” The rule also provides for automatic annual increases pegged to the consumer price index. Ronnie Volkening of the Texas Retailers Association is not a fan.

“It’s just ham-handed, citing profitable companies as the justification for doing this,” Volkening said. “Small Main Street retailers have to be told, ‘Now you’re going to have to pay these additional people overtime.’ Nobody has a pot of gold sitting there to absorb these costs.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

July 1, 2015      4:44 PM

Press Releases: Toll roads, veterans, endangered species, announcements, and more

July 1, 2015      4:38 PM

AG Paxton is asked to give clear guidance to state employees on same-sex marriage

Rep. Joe Moody, a former prosecutor, says Paxton’s opinion invites “Texans to engage in illegal, unconstitutional discrimination for which they have no excuse and to put taxpayer money at risk through avoidable, meritless, but very costly litigation.”

Saying the opinion offered by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton creates more confusion than clarity about the United State Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, this week asked Paxton to give better guidance to government employees. “State employees deserve better, which is a position I hope you and I share,” Moody wrote in a letter to Paxton dated Tuesday.

Moody pointed out that the opinion from Paxton "vaguely suggests that there may be a conflict between an employee's sworn duty and religious liberty."

"However, no specific scenarios are explored, even hypothetically, and the opinion falls back on any claim hinging on the 'specific facts' at hand," Moody wrote. "I ask you to provide concrete examples of actions you believe would be legally legitimate so that government employees have real guidance about what they can and cannot do."

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

June 30, 2015      6:06 PM

Senator stresses that county clerks who deny same-sex marriage licenses could lose their jobs

It’s not just a matter of civil suits against county clerks; there is a mechanism for removing them from office if they don’t comply with SCOTUS ruling

There has been much media coverage about county clerks facing the potential of civil litigation if they deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, on Tuesday sought to make it clear that they are risking the loss of their jobs if they don’t comply with the United State Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.

“You have a duty to fulfill your oath of office in issuing a marriage license to people who meet the eligibility requirements,” Rodriguez said in an interview with the Quorum Report. “You don’t have an opinion. You do that or you resign.”

Sen. Rodriguez was the El Paso County Attorney for 17 years. He notes that state law lets citizens request the removal of elected county officials – including county clerks – who are found guilty of incompetence or misconduct. Under Texas law, the definition of misconduct includes “intentional or corrupt failure, refusal, or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.”

Because issuing marriage licenses is a mandatory part of a county clerk’s duties, refusing to do so could result in removal from office. Sen. Rodriguez says that fact was overlooked in the non-binding opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sunday. Paxton told county clerks they may be protected by the First Amendment if they deny a gay couple a marriage license on religious grounds, providing another clerk can fill in. But state law makes no distinction between reasons for refusal to perform mandatory duties.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Emily DePrang

June 30, 2015      5:11 PM

Two Harris County Texas House candidates announce healthy fundraising

Early on, both Oliverson and Roberts appear to be prohibitive via their fundraising prowess

Two Republicans running for the Texas House seats being vacated by Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, and Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, said on Tuesday that they’ve raised some serious cash.

Dr. Tom Oliverson, who’s running for Fletcher’s seat, said he’s brought in $120,000 ahead of the campaign finance report filing deadline with $215,000 cash on hand.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

June 30, 2015      4:59 PM

Press Releases: Appointments, fundraising, and an agency gone rogue (by complying with a court order)

June 30, 2015      4:52 PM

Patrick makes his choices for panel to oversee deteriorating government facilities

"I am appointing each one of these hard working Senators to keep a watchful eye on our efforts to reverse this trend…”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday appointed the Texas Senate's members to the Joint Oversight Committee on Government Facilities – two Republicans and a Democrat.

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, will be the Senate chair on the issue that he made one of his top priorities during his last regular session of The Legislature.

Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, will also serve on the committee.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

June 30, 2015      4:42 PM

Senators are chosen for Select Committee on Transportation Planning

Nichols, Hall, Hinojosa, Huffman, and Perry

June 30, 2015      2:15 PM

Supremes EPA decision: For a deeper dive into the decision, check Texas Energy Report

Polly Ross Hughes looks at impact of decision in context of proposed EPA Clean Power Plan

June 29, 2015      4:52 PM

Supremes send EPA back to the drawing board on clean coal regulations

Challenge to Waters of the US rule appears to be bobbing on the horizon

Gov. Greg Abbott must feel a certain satisfaction in the U.S. Supreme Court dressing down the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to perform a cost-benefit analysis on its proposed regulation of coal-powered plant emissions.

Of all the Obama Administration agencies Abbott targeted in his time as attorney general, the EPA was his favorite. He has sued the agency multiple times in his 12 years as attorney general over what he called regulation overreach. He emerged as a skeptic of climate change during his campaign, although he admitted the state should protect the environment. And, for good measure, Abbott as governor met went to Capitol Hill in May to express his unhappiness over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

Abbott’s response today on the opinion, however, was measured, saying that the Supreme Court had rightly upheld the argument that the EPA had violated the law when it imposed a multi-billion-dollar regulation on power plants without considering cost.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

June 29, 2015      4:51 PM

Press Releases: More SCOTUS reactions, more on marriage licenses, and Nelson Mandela's birthday

June 29, 2015      4:19 PM

Comptroller Glenn Hegar endorses Rep. Bryan Hughes for Texas Senate

Hughes leads in endorsements of statewide officeholders in the race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler.

June 29, 2015      3:16 PM

Department of Justice is asked to monitor Texas implementation of gay marriage ruling

Meantime, a lesbian couple in East Texas is already suing the Smith County Clerk for denial of a marriage license

Calling for intervention “if necessary,” Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, on Monday asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the Department of Justice to monitor Texas’s implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

Sen. Ellis’ request comes one day after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion telling county clerks that they can refuse to issue marriage licenses to couples if that issuance conflicts with their religious beliefs and another clerk is available to do it for them.

In his letter to Lynch, Sen. Ellis writes that he has “serious concerns about the far-reaching implications of this blanket protection” for state officials who defy the law. He asks if judges could use Paxton’s argument to refuse to grant or recognize divorce “if it offends their religious sensibilities,” or refuse to issue a death penalty “under his or her belief that ‘thou shalt not kill’ means just that. Where does it end?”

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By Emily DePrang

June 29, 2015      3:01 PM

Supreme Court temporarily blocks regulations that would have shuttered Texas abortion clinics

This suggests the high court will for sure take up abortion next term

The latest from NBC News.   

June 29, 2015      2:16 PM

New Rick Perry Animation: Economic Freedom

Perry campaign pushes his record on jobs in animated short

June 29, 2015      1:23 PM

Rep. Anchia renews push for gender neutral birth certificates in adoptions

Legislation on this failed in the session, but gay marriage ruling provides a new context

Citing the fact that the State Registrar of Vital Statistics moved without hesitation last week to make applications for marriage licenses in Texas gender neutral, Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, on Monday asked that office to similarly change the supplemental birth certificates for children adopted by same-gender parents.

It’s been a long-running cause for Anchia, who has filed legislation to change those supplemental birth certificates for the past four sessions. His arguments have mainly fallen on deaf ears in the Texas House.

“It is important to these children, as well as their parents, that their birth certificates accurately reflect their families,” Anchia said. “This change is both pro-adoption and pro-family."

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

June 28, 2015      5:33 PM

Paxton tells county clerks and judges they can flout Supreme Court decision on gay marriage

The AG warns, however, that those who deny marriage licenses to same sex couples will likely face litigation.

Here is the opinion by Attorney General Ken Paxton.

June 26, 2015      5:25 PM

Stakeholders await a move beyond the anti-Obamacare rhetoric in Texas

Lawmakers have met more than once to discuss the expansion of health insurance coverage. So, why isn’t the state, in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare, closer to its own solution?

As Republicans on Capitol Hill and elsewhere pledge to continue to fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act, doctors here in Texas are asking when state leaders intend to tackle the idea of the Texas solution to affordable health care.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation unveiled a Texas solution to the state’s Medicaid program, known as TexHealth, as early as 2011. Lawmakers have met more than once to discuss the expansion of health insurance coverage in what was known as the Texas solution.

So why isn’t the state, in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare, closer to its own solution?  

That’s the question the Texas Medical Association is still asking. Cardiologist Tomas Garcia, the president of TMA, said doctors stand ready to support a solution – any solution – to address medical care in Texas.

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By Kimberly Reeves

June 26, 2015      5:10 PM

Gay marriage in Texas not mainstream, but closer than ever

Polls say 57 percent of Americans support gay marriage; 48 percent of Texans do

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state gay marriage bans like the one we had in Texas, it created a smorgasbord of interesting legal questions for Attorney General Ken Paxton. What current Texas laws are also threatened or invalidated? Will state benefits extend to gay spouses? How will adoption, custody issues, and the issuance of birth certificates change? Can a religious hospital deny visitation to a legal spouse for being gay? Will state employees who refuse to recognize gay spouses in the course of their duties be punished?

But instead of focusing on legal and logistical state issues, Paxton used the long and passionate statement issued by his office this morning to assure everyday Texans that he would protect them from the coming pro-gay—or anti-anti-gay—siege.

Paxton said progressives and the media have used gay rights issues to “publicly mock, deride, and intimidate devout individuals for daring to believe differently than they do.” But whatever the law, “Nothing will change our collective resolve that all Americans should be able to exercise their faith in their daily lives without infringement and harassment,” Paxton said.

Governor Greg Abbott also stressed in his statement this morning that a Texan could not be compelled by the Supreme Court ruling “to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage,” which sounded more than a little bit like some Texans are afraid they’ll be forced into gay marriages.  

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Emily DePrang

June 26, 2015      5:06 PM

Press Releases: SCOTUS reactions, annoucements, celebrating CPAs and more

June 26, 2015      4:27 PM

Keffer on retirement: It was just time and not because of any electoral threat

"I think hot seats in hell are reserved for people who knowingly mislead people for their own gain," Keffer said of groups like Empower Texans

Retiring Texas House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, pulled no punches this week during a live radio interview when he was asked about the just-released Empower Texans rankings of legislators funded by Midland oilman Tim Dunn. Keffer also said his planned exit from politics is not because of any fear that he might not be able to win reelection if that’s the path he had chosen to pursue.

“It’s all a sham,” Keffer said of the Empower Texans rankings while he was on West Texas Drive radio show in Lubbock.

“There’s no way to get around it,” Keffer said, adding that the group directed by Dunn’s spokesman Michael Quinn Sullivan favors those who opposed Speaker Joe Straus, plain and simple. "Everybody else is obviously going to be down in failing grades and poor grades," he said.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

June 26, 2015      4:05 PM

Rep. Doug Miller announces for reelection

"This was truly a banner session for conservatives," said Miller.

Here is the announcement from Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels.

June 26, 2015      3:48 PM

Smith: Here is Days of "Miracle and Wonder"?

From the Left: Quorum Report’s liberal columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that recent progressive victories on health care reform, marriage equality and the Confederate flag should not fool us into thinking that Injustice doesn't remain at large in America

The Rev. William Barber, president of North Carolina’s NAACP and organizer of the Moral Mondays movement, had this to say about the tragedy in South Carolina and the removal of Confederate flags from Southern government buildings: “The perpetrator has been arrested but the killer is still at large.”  

Barber was referring to the deeply ingrained institutional racism, private bigotry and government-enforced economic inequality that remain across the land. While we applaud the recognition that racist symbols such as the Confederate flag have no place in America, much remains to be done to erase the root injustices.  

A day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the Court held bans on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. Like Paul Simon sang in different circumstances, “these are the days of miracles and wonder.” 

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

By Glenn W. Smith

June 26, 2015      3:31 PM

On gay marriage, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick "would rather be on the wrong side of history"

"I would rather be on the wrong side of history than on the wrong side of my faith and my beliefs. I believe I am not alone in that view in this country."

Here is the full statement from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office on today's gay marriage ruling.

June 26, 2015      12:40 PM

Texas Republican leaders react angrily to same-sex marriage ruling while counties take varied approaches to implementation

Abbott attacks the court itself: “The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature.”

On the 12th anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas decision striking down state laws against sodomy, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday morning that marriage is a right and that extending it only to heterosexual couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling was immediately met with predictable partisan division while many county officials across Texas started to figure out how they will proceed.

The decision came down 5-4 with the four dissenting justices – Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia – each writing their own dissents.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said same-sex marriage is a fundamental right based on “four principles and traditions,” those being able to choose one’s spouse is an inherent part of individual liberty; a two-person union is unlike any other; marriage protects children and families; and that it’s the cornerstone of the social order. It is worth noting that three of those four tenets were components of the state’s defense of its ban on gay marriage.

One popular argument, however, got no traction: biology. Because no state has made procreation or the ability to procreate a requirement to get married, Kennedy wrote, the court rejected the biological argument for restricting marriage to heterosexual couples.

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By Emily DePrang

June 26, 2015      12:20 PM

After gay marriage ruling, Gov. Abbott instructs state agencies to prioritize religious liberty

"This order applies to any agency decision, including but not limited to granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations."

Soon after the United States Supreme Court ruled Friday morning that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a memo to the heads of all state agencies saying that they need to prioritize Texans' religious liberty and First Amendment rights.

"Texans of all faiths must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious freedom is beyond the reach of government,” he said, adding that “Renewing and reinforcing that promise is all the more important in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.”

"The government must never pressure a person to abandon or violate his or her sincerely held religious beliefs regarding a topic such as marriage,” Abbott said. "That sort of religious coercion will never be a 'compelling governmental interest,' and it will never be 'the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.'"

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By Scott Braddock

June 26, 2015      10:56 AM

Full text of Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage

"They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Here is the conclusion of the majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.  As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.  It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.  Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.”

The full document can be found here.

June 26, 2015      9:51 AM

KUT reports that Travis County will start issuing same sex marriage licenses within the hour

June 26, 2015      9:04 AM

Supremes affirm same sex marriage under equal protection doctrine

More to follow