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June 23, 2017      6:15 PM

As Trump DOJ officially backs Texas in SB4 fight, both sides gird for court battle coming Monday

MALDEF fires back that DOJ has “no greater authority to interpret the law than anybody else… they’re just taking the opposite position than we are.”

Only a few days before the federal court in San Antonio will take up the SB 4 lawsuit filed by multiple cities against the state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a “Statement of Interest” announcing they would be siding with Texas.

“The Department primarily argues that SB 4 is not preempted by the Supremacy Clause, is not inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment, and it does not violate the Fourth Amendment,” the statement reads.

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By Lyanne A. Guarecuco

June 23, 2017      6:11 PM

Press Releases: Charter applications, Californians flocking to Texas, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

June 23, 2017      5:54 PM

Smith: Branding, Political Tribes, Health Care and Holidays from Thinking

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that GOP health care plans make it plain that it’s time to break out of tribal political thinking and begin thinking for ourselves.

In marketing, the purpose of branding is to short-circuit consumer thinking or at least grant thinking a holiday. Forget the substantive benefits or dangers of what you’re buying. Let “brand loyalty” do your thinking for you.

It’s like the old advice that if you always park your car in the same place in the garage you won’t have to bother your brain to remember where your car is. Branding is like that.

“Tribes” is a good word for a group of people loyal to one brand over another. There’s a Coca-Cola Tribe and a Pepsi Tribe, for instance. While each tribe might try to destabilize or raid the other, tribal loyalty is sticky. There’s apparent security in a tribe. And, as noted, tribal membership comes with reduced taxes on the brain.

The full column by Glenn W. Smith is in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

June 23, 2017      5:45 PM

TEA pulls back the curtain on standardized testing next week

Then School districts will send student report cards out to individual families next week, outlining what questions each student missed, and why, as well as correct answers and tested standards

New student report cards will go out next week that Commissioner Mike Morath promises will go a long way toward demystifying content on the state’s standardized tests.

Groups such as Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA, have long advocated for minimizing, or even eliminating, state standardized tests. The agency and lawmakers have offered feeble justification for the tests in the face of rising opposition.

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By Kimberly Reeves

June 22, 2017      6:06 PM

Cruz holds out on health plan as Cornyn defends process; advocates in Texas unimpressed

Medicaid advocates back home pan the plan while TPPF is also unhappy with it

The Senate version of a health care plan, unveiled today, appears to have squeezed the cost out of Obamacare and put more control of Medicaid and health insurance in the hands of states.

Such a choice may win accolades from some Texas lawmakers, who have long lobbied they could do more, and better, with block grants, but it is not well received by those guarding Medicaid. People like Anne Dunkelberg of the Center for Public Policy Priorities call Medicaid a lifeline to affordable health care coverage rather than a welfare program that needs to be constrained by work requirements, drug testing and time limits, as noted in this recent survey.

So, it won’t be surprising that Dunkelberg and her allies are opposed to the Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare: ending Medicaid expansion; minimizing insurance benefit plans; and capping the amount of money Medicaid spends on each Medicaid enrollee. Dunkelberg sees a plan that cuts deeper and hits harder than the US House’s proposed plan.

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By Kimberly Reeves

June 22, 2017      5:13 PM

Press Releases: Legacies, MORE re-election announcements, health care reactions, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for all the latest

June 22, 2017      1:22 PM

Video: Hotze calls for Straus to be removed as Speaker during special session

Jared Woodfill, who works with Hotze at the Conservative Republicans of Texas, did not say who their preferred candidate for Speaker would be

Here’s the video of Dr. Steve Hotze via Facebook.

June 21, 2017      5:06 PM

Updated: Houston City Council votes 10 to 6 to join lawsuit against SB 4

Mayor Turner says they didn’t choose this fight: “We’re having to respond to action that was taken on the state level that impacts Houstonians.”

With a 10-6 city council vote, Houston, which has the third-largest undocumented immigrant population in the country, became the latest city to join the lawsuit against SB 4 today.

Houston joins Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso and El Cenizo in challenging the “show me your papers” law passed by the Texas Legislature at the behest of Gov. Greg Abbott, who demanded the bill on his desk but did not get involved in crafting the legislation.

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By Lyanne A. Guarecuco

June 21, 2017      5:05 PM

Texas House gears up for another round of DoD base closures

Base closures were inextricably linked to municipal annexation late in the session, which brought out many angry voters this week

SAN ANTONIO - Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, held an interim hearing on base encroachment this week in San Antonio and it’s only the first of multiple stops around the state, a prelude to a push to get lawmakers on board with a statewide strategy on base realignment and closure.

Five rounds of base realignment and closure, or BRAC, has closed military installations in Texas from Beeville to Lubbock and every place in between. The Trump administration’s announcement of a sixth round of BRAC for 2021 has San Antonio officials concerned.

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By Kimberly Reeves

June 21, 2017      5:04 PM

Press Releases: Backing our military, statements, re-election announcements, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

June 21, 2017      5:01 PM

SB: Lyanne A. Guarecuco joins QR for the very special special session and more

Lyanne brings a passion and expertise in immigration issues to QR, which could not be better-timed for this moment in Texas politics

Whenever you’ll be seeing a new face in the halls of the Texas Capitol representing Quorum Report, we’ve made it our custom at Buzz Central to give readers a heads up about who exactly will be interacting with you about the issues facing lawmakers, staffers, the lobby and the rest of the political class in Austin.

Lyanne A. Guarecuco starts writing for us today and will be with us through the most special of special sessions coming up in July – that’s if Gov. Greg Abbott gets the proclamation done in time.

Lyanne is a graduate from St. Edward’s University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a focus in Media and Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Journalism. Prior to joining QR, she covered the 85th Texas Legislative Session for the Texas Observer, reporting primarily on immigration and women’s health. She was also an editorial intern there in the summer of 2015.

During her time at St. Edward’s, she was the online Editor in Chief of the campus newspaper, Hilltop Views. Before becoming engulfed in Texas politics, Lyanne worked in social media marketing at a local startup and as a freelance English-Spanish translator.

Lyanne was born and raised in Laredo, where she grew up minutes from the Mexican-American border.

By Scott Braddock

June 21, 2017      10:52 AM

Houston City Council votes 10 to 6 to join lawsuit against SB4

June 20, 2017      5:58 PM

Calling his arguments frivolous, Travis County judge rejects MQ Sullivan request to dismiss lobby case

Sullivan plans to appeal to the Third Court of Appeals in Austin using an argument media organizations have called “gaming the system”

Calling the arguments from his attorneys “frivolous” and “solely intended to delay” the pursuit of justice, a Travis County judge has rejected Michael Quinn Sullivan’s request that the case of his alleged illegal lobbying be dismissed.

After the judge rejected his request, Sullivan’s attorneys notified the court that they plan to ask the Third Court of Appeals in Austin to hear their motion to dismiss the case based on the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which provides for expedited review of many legal issues based on the right of free speech.

For those who are unfamiliar, a "strategic lawsuit against public participation," or SLAPP, is a lawsuit intended to intimidate and silence critics by burying them under the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

It’s a perhaps funny thing for Sullivan to claim is happening to him, given that he and his backers were able to pay out $700,000 in attorneys’ fees in a single year.

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By Scott Braddock

June 20, 2017      5:55 PM

Press Releases: Re-election announcements, best and worst reactions, jobs programs, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

June 20, 2017      4:10 PM

Cook and Schaefer among the best while Cain and Hancock among the worst in Texas Monthly list

It wouldn’t be an odd numbered year in Austin if the Monthly wasn’t sparking this debate

You can check out this year’s list by R.G. Ratcliffe right here.

June 19, 2017      9:40 PM

Houston Democratic Texas House delegation asks Houston City Council to join lawsuit against SB4

The delegation’s letter to Houston City Council can be downloaded here.

June 19, 2017      9:33 PM

KR: Policy implications of Abbott vetoes

Abbott continues to surprise stakeholders after never engaging with them, his direction lies in administrative powers instead of new lawmaking, and if he didn’t sign it last time, don’t bother running it up the flagpole again

Gov. Greg Abbott’s slew of vetoes last week, 51 in all, left some staffers and lawmakers alike feeling burned at the end of what already was a contentious session – with more fun to come in July. We’re using “fun” loosely, of course.

The actual number of vetoes by Abbott is probably closer to 44, if you exclude the line-item budget vetoes and the bills pulled at the request of the lawmaker or duplicates what other bills in the current or past sessions have accomplished. Those veto statements look something like this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

What frustrated lawmakers two years ago – and what continues to frustrate them this session – is Abbott’s absence from legislative negotiations. That was true in his marquee legislation like Senate Bill 4 and grants for pre-k all the way down to more minor issues.

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By Kimberly Reeves

June 19, 2017      4:57 PM

Press Releases: Campaign announcements, more veto reactions, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for all the latest

June 19, 2017      9:16 AM

WaPo: Supreme Court to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering

"...when the justices see how pervasive and damaging this practice has become, the Supreme Court will adopt a clear legal standard that will ensure our democracy functions as it should.”

Here’s the story from the Washington Post.

June 17, 2017      4:40 PM

In Round Rock, Democrat Mike Collier kicks off campaign for Texas Lieutenant Governor

Houston businessman begins the fight in Dan Patrick’s power base: The suburbs

ROUND ROCK – With perhaps all the fiery rhetoric a certified public accountant can possibly muster in nearly 100-degree heat, businessman Mike Collier on Saturday afternoon officially launched his Democratic bid to be the next presiding officer of the Texas Senate.

The campaign kickoff seemed to eschew arguments about “turning Texas blue,” focusing on the idea that the race should be about common-sense solutions instead of partisanship and ideology. Collier, a businessman who lives in Houston, argued he is ready to address critical public policy questions facing a state that is for the first time in years beginning to lag economically.

“Texans want someone who will drop the partisan nonsense,” Collier said. That was evidently one of the reasons the Democrat started his steep uphill climb in the Republican stronghold of Williamson County. “I love to come into Republican territory,” he said. Collier’s roots are in the suburbs outside Austin, having gone to high school in nearby Georgetown.

Calling Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick “the worst lieutenant governor in the history of the state,” Collier said his own track record in the private sector should be the measuring stick used by voters next year.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

June 16, 2017      5:33 PM

Health care advocates lament potential cuts to Medicaid

Medicaid is $62 billion of the $217 billion budget and 900,000 people have accessed the ACA exchanges for insurance coverage, of which 86 percent receive some amount of federal subsidy

As Obamacare continues to limp along, a coalition of 20 organizations have signed onto a letter asking US Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn to oppose the permanent cuts to Medicaid outlined in the so-called American Health Care Act.

The healthcare exchange in Texas is beginning to fail, which many Democrats would argue has become a self-fulfilling prophesy once Republicans announced the intention to repeal and replace Obamacare. On a conference call with reporters this week, Cornyn said more than a third of Texas counties are down to one insurance carrier under the exchange.

“The insurance companies are pulling out because they’re hemorrhaging cash, they’re losing money,” Cornyn said. “They simply can’t afford to stay in the exchanges.”

What the US Senate will do to replace Obamacare is still a black box, one that leaves Texas health care advocates with a sense of unease.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

June 16, 2017      5:31 PM

Britt Harris departs TRS after 10 years as chief investment officer

Harris will now serve as the chief investment officer for The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO)

June 16, 2017      5:07 PM

Smith: Last Days of the First Amendment

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that vicious attacks on the free press and an upside-down view of the separation of church and state put the First Amendment at risk.

Gov. Greg Abbott turned the First Amendment on its head when he signed a bill that legalizes religious discrimination by child welfare providers. The law’s expansive language applies in an almost unlimited number of circumstances. Under the law, if you have a “sincerely held religious belief” against people wearing sandals, you can toss them from your restaurant and send them to the bootmaker.

The law clearly panders to certain extremist sects that believe “religious freedom” means they are free to discriminate against those who do not follow their doctrines. It’s as though they believe Jesus said, “Hey, if you got a stone in hand, throw it! Aim for the head.”

The full column by Glenn W. Smith is in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith