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October 6, 2015      5:03 PM

Retiring House Public Ed Chairman predicts an even longer road for school finance case

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock expects the pending school finance case to be remanded back to the district court rather than settled by the Texas Supreme Court

Texas House Public Education Committee Chair Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, in a rare appearance since he announced his retirement, said he expects the pending school finance cases to be remanded back to the district court rather than settled by the Texas Supreme Court.

Aycock, the well-regarded retiring chairman, spoke to TASB’s School Board Advisory Network. Aycock said he had discussed the case briefly with the governor over the weekend.

“His best guess, which is my best guess, is that the case will be remanded back to the District Court,” Aycock said. “For about a year, I thought there was a high probability of that. So, it goes on and on.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 6, 2015      4:32 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, people on the move, appointments, and more

October 6, 2015      4:22 PM

SAEN: TEC files lawsuit over dark money subpoenas

Agency could not otherwise move forward with investigation of Dunn's Empower Texans

David Saleh Rauf with the story in the San Antonio Express-News.

October 6, 2015      1:56 PM

Reports: TxDOT Executive Director Joe Weber to step down at end of the year

Originally reported by the El Paso Times: “Change within the top ranks of the Texas Department of Transportation is expected to continue…”

Here’s the scoop from El Paso Times Austin Bureau Chief Marty Schladen:

“Change within the top ranks of the Texas Department of Transportation is expected to continue Tuesday with the announcement that Executive Director Joe Weber will retire at the end of the year, Texas Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso confirmed.

A TxDOT spokeswoman could not immediately confirm that Weber would retire.

Weber’s retirement comes after the August retirement of deputy executive director John Barton.”

October 6, 2015      1:49 PM

Education Agency staff rolls out details on high-quality pre-k grants

A big job ahead for TEA staff: Turn about $118 million in grants into significant improvements in pre-kindergarten performance across Texas without putting a significant strain on school district budgets

Gov. Greg Abbott’s education agenda does hold some real cachet in education circles, as evidenced at the TASA/TASB annual conference in Austin, where sessions on issues such as high quality pre-kindergarten grants have been prefaced as “a priority of the governor’s office.”

Abbott’s support of early education drew some ire from the far right during the legislative session, but early childhood advocates appeared to welcome the grant program during a session led by Texas Education Agency staff.

Coordinator Howard Morrison and his staff have a yeoman’s task ahead: Turn about $118 million in grants into significant improvements in pre-kindergarten performance across Texas without putting a significant strain on school district budgets. That means leveraging as many current resources as possible.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 6, 2015      9:56 AM

Three anti-abortion groups call Chairman Cook a champion for life

Texans for Life, Texas Alliance for Life, and The Heidi Group all point specifically to Rep. Byron Cook's role in passing HB 2

Three major anti-abortion groups issued a joint statement about House State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook, arguing that the pro-life movement owes him a debt of gratitude. Few lawmakers “are more deserving than House State Affairs Committee Chair Byron Cook,” the groups wrote.

The statement was signed by Kyleen Wright of Texans for Life, Carol Everett of The Heidi Group, and Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life. The groups said Cook was instrumental in the passage of House Bill 2, the package of controversial and sweeping abortion regulations that have been called the most restrictive in the United States.

“More than 3400 opponents registered to testify against it, hoping to overwhelm the process through gross numbers,” they said. “Chairman Cook, the State Affairs Committee, and his small staff skillfully processed the unprecedented numbers of witnesses, without error.  Each witness and the attending data provided multiple opportunities for error, any of which would have been fatal points of error.”

“To anyone familiar with the committee process, Chairman Cook’s dedication to passing the pro-life bill was more than evident,” the groups said. “His humility sets him apart as most of his tireless pro-life efforts are behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight.”

The entire statement is here.

October 6, 2015      9:53 AM

Former Patrick staffer Elliott Griffin joins Sen. Burton as COS

Griffin was External Affairs Director for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

October 5, 2015      5:00 PM

SB: Cruz ally Sen. Konni Burton trying to influence Speakers races in DC and potentially Texas as well

Sen. Burton is doubling down on being as isolated in the Texas Senate as Cruz is in the US Senate, which is what the Tea Party seems to prefer

As Sen. Ted Cruz continues to rail against the “Washington Cartel” – most pointedly criticizing the top members of his own party on Capitol Hill – it appears to some that one of his top allies back home is once again working to destabilize the Texas House.

Over the weekend some Republicans pointed out to us at Buzz Central that the second challenger to announce against Speaker Joe Straus in his Bexar County district is the mother of a staffer of Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville. Burton's District Director Cathy Bean Scott wrote on social media, "my mom (Sheila Bean) announced yesterday that she is running for State Representative in San Antonio!"

Sen. Burton’s spokesman and consultant Luke Macias told Quorum Report that his client did not have anything to do with recruiting Bean to run for the seat. At this point, Macias is unaware of any plans Burton may have to get involved in the race. But if Burton were to endorse Bean, it would be far from the first time she’s actively worked against Speaker Straus.

Burton is of course a big beneficiary of the support of Tim Dunn’s Empower Texans and, back in January, she spoke at a rally for retiring Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, as he was in the midst of a failed bid for Speaker.

Representing the Fort Worth area, Burton has arguably spent more time inserting herself into matters involving districts other than her own and legislative chambers other than the Texas Senate. Sen. Burton certainly has a right to pursue these endeavors and she seems to be resonating with the Tea Party base of the GOP. So, it is of particular interest to watch her strategy unfold.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

October 5, 2015      4:59 PM

In Texas Energy Report: Texas to get $800 million under BP settlement

When combined with other settlements, Texas coast restoration to total $1 billion

October 5, 2015      4:55 PM

Press Releases Property tax relief, HB 2 SCOTUS briefs, criminal justice grants, and more

October 5, 2015      4:27 PM

Transportation Commission rolls out multi-modal freight plan

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett lays out a plan for the state’s long term freight needs: $44.8 billion across 1,225 projects. "You have to define Texas as a freight network.”

The concept of a “multimodal transportation system” is back on the table at the Texas Transportation Commission, but without the baggage of the long-vilified and much-maligned Trans-Texas Corridor.  

The Texas Department of Transportation convened a freight mobility plan committee back in 2013, helmed by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. Last week, Emmett and staff presented the numbers needed to address the state’s long-term freight needs, and the numbers are big: $44.8 billion across 1,225 projects.

“The reality is moving freight is critical to the economy,” said Emmett, who admitted the pending report was one of the hardest tasks of his career. “The quickest way to have stagnation of the economy is to fail to move freight.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 5, 2015      3:59 PM

Test scores still show huge gaps in performance, improvement

Trends with the STAAR have been different from its predecessors and figuring out why is not always apparent

Texas students failed 1.8 million standardized tests last year, and results from the summer retests were so dismal as to alarm long-time observers.

The state has now gone through five generations of standardized tests: TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, TAKS and now STAAR. General trends are almost always the same: Scores start low; then typically rise. Elementary schools typically score better than secondary schools. And, eventually, students top out of the test and a new series is created.

STAAR has been somewhat different, and the answer as to why is not always apparent. In a session at the TASA/TASB Conference in Austin, Maria Whitsett of Moak Casey & Associates outlined differences around STAAR, not the least of which was an estimate that 1.8 million tests were failed last year.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 5, 2015      8:40 AM

A third Republican officially joins race to succeed Sen. Eltife

Army Major General Red Brown is also a small businessman and former school board president. “Our government has to do better," he said.

After exploring a run for weeks, Army Major General Red Brown on Monday morning made it official and announced for the Texas Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler. Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, and Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, have both already been campaigning for months.

In addition to being a commanding officer in US Military, Brown is an Aggie and small businessman in Tyler. General Brown also served three terms on the Lindale ISD School Board, including 6 years as its president.

"Our government has to do better," Brown said in his announcement. "We have to do better for our school kids, better for parents, better for hardworking taxpayers and better for East Texas. I know we can get better results and I want to serve as a strong East Texas voice in the Texas Senate."

The full announcement is available right here.

October 3, 2015      6:32 PM

Education Commissioner faces harsh criticism from school leaders for tougher accountability standards

Frustrated trustees and superintendents give Michael Williams an earful about STAAR tests, questioned agency intervention measures and dismissed the upcoming A-F rating system as a gimmick

Education Commissioner Michael Williams may not be the one who created the school accountability system, but he’s definitely the one taking heat for it right now.

During a question-and-answer session at the TASA/TASB conference in Austin, Williams had to face frustrated trustees and superintendents who doubted the validity of the STAAR tests, questioned agency intervention measures and dismissed the upcoming A-F rating system as a gimmick rather than solution.

“I don’t think it’s a flawed system,” Williams said when confronted point blank by a trustee. “I think it can be improved.”

Williams, who has been on the job for more than three years, has been forced to make more tough decisions than any of his predecessors. It was on his watch that the Texas Education Agency appointed a board of managers for El Paso and Beaumont ISDs and consolidated North Forest ISD into Houston ISD.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 2, 2015      6:00 PM

Dee Kelly Sr, Fort Worth icon dies

Few details; Kelly collapsed at Shady Oaks Country Club

October 2, 2015      5:36 PM

SB: Gov. Abbott AWOL on Medicaid fix despite both a moral obligation and legal authority

Abbott’s office insists he is helpless to alter the budget even after he rewrote portions of it in his disputed line-item vetoes

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this week joined Texas House Speaker Joe Straus in defending the position of his chamber’s chief appropriator on severe cuts in Medicaid services for thousands of disabled children across the state. Speaker Straus nearly a month ago voiced his concerns that the Health and Human Services Commission was not fully honoring legislative intent as it moved aggressively to implement $100 million in cuts to Medicaid.

It took Gov. Patrick weeks to make his case and, unlike Straus, the Senate’s presiding officer delivered a stern message to HHSC Commissioner Chris Traylor. Despite his tone, many were relieved because Patrick’s statement seemed to table the cuts for now, though we still have our antennae up about it at Buzz Central.

Speaker Straus and Patrick have both led in this instance – even if Patrick’s leadership came after the courts halted the cuts for many of the same reasons Straus cited weeks before.

But Gov. Greg Abbott is publicly missing in action. Only after he appealed a straightforward Public Information Act request for emails between his office and HHSC – and after a public dustup with Quorum Report –Abbott’s communications team finally issue a terse statement: “HHSC is simply complying with the budget directive enacted by the legislature,” said John Wittman, Abbott’s Deputy Press Secretary.

If the new governor’s brief history in the Central Office were in line with that statement, it would be easy to agree that the The Legislature is primarily if not solely in charge of the state’s two-year spending plan.

Abbott’s record, however, is not that simple.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

October 2, 2015      5:00 PM

Press Releases: Teacher of the year, fighting the EPA, prayers for fallen airmen, and more

October 2, 2015      4:58 PM

Guns, prayer top concerns of school district leaders meeting in Austin

Audience participation at the TASA/TASB conference indicates open carry and school prayer are at the top of the list for many Texas superintendents and school boards.

The annual TASA/TASB conference is the best place to get updates each fall on legislation and lawsuits that could impact school districts across the state. In a session hosted by the Texas Association of School Administrators, superintendents appeared most concerned about the impact of open carry legislation, a topic currently under review by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.

School districts want to know how “premises” is defined in the new law. One interpretation would allow firearms in school parking lots and on sidewalks. In a separate session on legal issues, attorney Joy Baskin of the Texas Association of School Boards said the “open” in “open carry” made the change significant. She urged school board presidents to keep parents informed and up to date.

Sen. John Whitmire requested a clarification of the law last week. That means most school districts will go through a full football season and numerous off campus events that could be up for interpretation. One flummoxed superintendent in the TASA session told staff he’d rather know sooner than later, since his parking lot was typically filled with pickup trucks with guns racks at football games.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 2, 2015      2:52 PM

Smith: Texas Children: Born in Sin And It Doesn't Get Any Easier For Them After That, Either

From the Left: QR’s liberal columnist Glenn W. Smith says many conservatives concerned about the innocent unborn when it comes to reproductive health issues feel that innocence is lost once they are born. Consequently, they are undeserving of health care, excellent education etc. It's time that changed.

Many religious conservatives dwell endlessly on the innocence of the unborn as they express their opposition to some forms of contraception, abortion, etc. But, once the unborn emerge into the world these innocents become welfare cheats, their innocence apparently lost somewhere along the birth canal like lost luggage at an airport.  

Wondering why so many Texas newborns face such bleak circumstances, I recalled being a panelist a few years back at a George Washington University conference called “A Dialogue for a New Moral Agenda.” Another participant was Wade Horn, George W. Bush’s assistant secretary of children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. My jaw dropped when I heard Horn say children were born in sin and had to have that sin disciplined out of them by strict, authoritarian parenting.  

I don’t doubt the sincerity of those holding these beliefs. They flow straight from some faith traditions. For instance, St. Augustine wrote, “Even the infants are, according to the true belief, born in sin.” An author at Christianity Today explained further, “According to Augustine, the ‘carnal excitement’ that accompanies procreation causes the child to be tainted with the sin of its parents, who were tainted by the sin of their parents, and so on back to Adam.”  

You can read the full column by Glenn W. Smith in our R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

October 2, 2015      9:12 AM

Speaker Straus draws a second challenger for his House seat

"I am represented by Joe Straus - someone who doesn’t share my values nor the principles I know will make Texas stronger," said Sheila Bean.

The announcement from candidate Sheila Bean is here.

October 2, 2015      9:11 AM

GOP Consultant Corbin Casteel is Donald Trump's state director in Texas

"We are in this to win it," Trump said. "These staff additions are the continuation of our plan to have a strategic and significant presence across the country."

Austin Republican Consultant Corbin Casteel has been tapped to be the Texas state director for the Donald Trump campaign, it was announced Friday. Casteel confirmed the news to Quorum Report but declined to comment.

Casteel’s clients include folks like Texas Supreme Court Justices Don Willett and Eva Guzman. He's also done work for the RNC and RPT.

“These staff additions are the continuation of our plan to have a strategic and significant presence across the country,” Trump said in a news release. “By adding to our team in these critical states we will be able to build on the tremendous support we have received and share our message with even more voters in these states.,. . I look forward to being in these states even more as I continue to share my ideas about how to put America back on top!"

October 1, 2015      5:17 PM

HHSC Commissioner tells Patrick and Nelson the agency will go slow on cuts to services for disabled kids

"Given your direction, and the court's injunction, HHSC will continue its efforts to achieve the maximum therapy rate reductions possible while maintaining adequate access to care."

The letter from Commissioner Chris Traylor can be found here.

October 1, 2015      5:16 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, Sen. Burton takes the US House to school, railing against HERO, and more

October 1, 2015      5:13 PM

TEA releases locally created ratings on community and student engagement

These ratings were the legislature’s attempt in 2013 to broaden the definition of school and district ratings to incorporate qualities apart from standardized tests.

New locally assigned ratings announced by the Texas Education Agency today are here to remind you that Texas school districts are just like Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon: all the women are strong; all the men are good-looking; and all the children definitely are above average.

Every single school district and charter holder in Texas, bar one, gave itself a rating of acceptable or better on Community and Student Engagement. The majority gave campuses ratings of Recognized or Exemplary in areas such as fine arts, wellness/physical education, gifted-and-talented programs, 21st century workforce programs, dropout prevention, second language acquisition and digital learning.

These ratings were the legislature’s attempt in 2013 to broaden the definition of school and district ratings to incorporate qualities apart from standardized tests. The ratings are incorporated into TEA’s consolidated accountability report without comment or even a footnote to explain or define the locally created ratings.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

October 1, 2015      9:37 AM

Lyceum Poll: Trump 21%, Cruz 16%, Carson 12%, Bush 10% in Texas

Fiorina 6%, Rubio 3%, Huckabee 2%

The executive summary of day two of the Texas Lyceum Poll is here. Here are the full results.

September 30, 2015      5:52 PM

HK: Cruz legislative endorsements a double edged sword with a dash of speaker politics for good measure

Even after Rick Perry withdrew from the race, two-thirds of GOP lawmakers are not now endorsing the only Republican presidential contender who lives in Texas

The surprising thing about Sen. Ted Cruz’s announcement of endorsements by Texas legislators was not that he scored those endorsements. No, the significant thing is that he only scored 41 out of 97 Republicans in the Texas House and 20 in the Senate. That means two-thirds of GOP legislators have not endorsed the only Republican running for president who lives in Texas. Yes, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul have Texas ties but Cruz is now the Texas candidate in this contest.

Some polling suggests Cruz is the second most popular Republican among primary voters following only Greg Abbott. So, the fact that only about a third would lend their names to his campaign should actually be troubling to the Cruz camp. In theory, there should be little downside to an endorsement given Cruz’s presumptive coattails.

But does he have coattails in a presidential year with a possible record-setting Texas GOP primary?

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg

September 30, 2015      5:51 PM

Sen. Cornyn says Cruz tactics would set the pro-life movement backward

“The conclusion of many, including myself and many folks in the pro-life community, was that associating the Planned Parenthood issue with the whole pro-life debate on a tactic that was destined to fail was just not a good one.”

Sen. Ted Cruz’s attempt to shut down the federal government over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood was “a tactic destined to fail,” U.S. Senator John Cornyn told reporters on a conference call this afternoon.

An 11th hour vote in the U.S. House, late Wednesday, will keep the federal government open until December. Cornyn, as a member of the Senate leadership team, was a part of that decision, which Cruz roundly criticized in an hour-long floor speech on Monday, castigating Republican leaders for a lack of conviction. Still, Cruz’s colleagues blocked him from putting the Planned Parenthood issue on the table.

After the vote, even former ally Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, was saying Cruz had gone too far in his bid to be the Republican presidential nominee. Paul, who is also running for the nomination, suggested Cruz was “done” in terms of finding allies in the chamber for legislation. Cornyn, asked to comment, did not call out Cruz by name but noted the contested Republican primary had led to candidates going to any lengths to disassociate themselves from Congress.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

September 30, 2015      5:35 PM

Press Releases: Campaign announcements, ice cream, toll roads, football, marijuana, and more

September 30, 2015      5:31 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick defends lawmakers' actions leading to controversial cuts to services for disabled kids

And he tells HHSC Commissioner Traylor that this is about finding savings and insists kids' services not be cut

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday struck back at critics who have said The Legislature acted callously in passing a budget that calls for deep cuts in services that help disabled children who receive medically necessary therapies all across Texas. A judge in Travis County last week put the cuts on hold and scolded the Health and Human Services Commission for acting outside its own rules and trying to evade oversight.

"Anyone claiming the legislature arbitrarily instructed HHSC to save taxpayers $100 million by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse without consideration of the potential impact on Texas' most vulnerable citizens - is just flat wrong,” Patrick said in a statement sent to reporters.

This assertion is factually true but also potentially misleading.

The legislature did arbitrarily instruct HHSC to save taxpayers $100 million on pediatric therapy for poor kids with severe disabilities. But in the same budget rider, lawmakers ordered HHSC to “consider” potential impact while doing so. As this instruction to “consider” impact is written into the budget, its existence hasn’t been debated.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Emily DePrang

September 30, 2015      5:10 PM

Lyceum poll results indicate diversity of opinion on red meat policy topics

“One thing that’s pretty obvious is that the stereotype of Texans being reflexively conservative is way too gross a characterization”

Four out of five Texans polled on marijuana use would favor either legalizing or decriminalizing the drug, according to the latest Texas Lyceum poll results.

The movement of marijuana bills was one of the more surprising aspects of last session, given Texas’ conservative leadership. The Texas Lyceum’s non-partisan poll results, released today and based on phone surveys of 1,000 Texans this month, indicated 46 percent favored legalizing the drug. Of the 50 percent that opposed legalization, better than half supported a decriminalization option.

“One thing that’s pretty obvious is that the stereotype of Texans being reflexively conservative is way too gross a characterization,” pollster Daron Shaw said at a news conference this morning. “The state has a very diverse, large population.”

That appears to be true of marijuana: Only 19.5 percent that opposed legalization and decriminalization. Former prosecutor Rep. Joe Moody, R-El Paso, carried the marijuana decriminalization bill, which had 40 co-sponsors and cleared committee. The key component of the bill, which failed to pass, would be to lower the fine for possession of nominal amounts of marijuana to a $250 fine and a citation.

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By Kimberly Reeves

September 30, 2015      5:00 PM

Downward trends continue in workers compensation claims, cost

“What remains to be addressed is going forward, how we’re going to continue to ensure that fraud is being prosecuted when it’s there, and how we can step up those issues in Travis County if funding for the Texas Mutual prosecutor goes away.”

The Insurance Council of Texas’ annual workers compensation forum tackled a variety of issues, including the reporting around Texas Mutual’s perceived conflict of interest as both prosecutor and insurer for workers compensation claims. The Travis County DA’s office announced on Wednesday it would not automatically renew its contract with Texas Mutual and would explore other alternatives.

Commissioner Ryan Brannan, who oversees the Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers Compensation, took a neutral stance on the debate. Brannan said the agency continues to discuss how to move forward.

“While these circumstances may appear be unusual in Texas, which is a discussion for another day altogether, the system is fortunate to have some resources dedicated to pursing fraud investigations in Travis County,” Brannan said. “What remains to be addressed is going forward, how we’re going to continue to ensure that fraud is being prosecuted when it’s there, and how we can step up those issues in Travis County if funding for the Texas Mutual prosecutor goes away.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

September 30, 2015      4:47 PM

Following Statesman-Tribune expose, Travis County DA postpones auto-renewal of contract with Texas Mutual

DA Rosemary Lehmberg said "news reports regarding the funding agreement between Texas Mutual Insurance Company (TMI) and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office (TCDA) have raised questions regarding the propriety of the agreement."

The full statement from DA Rosemary Lehmberg can be found here.

September 30, 2015      10:02 AM

Chairman Coleman to seek reelection

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is one of the House's longest serving members. "There is much left to be done in the areas of education, criminal justice, economic development, healthcare, and job creation," he said.

September 29, 2015      5:25 PM

SB: Democrats allowed Ted Cruz to grandstand, it takes Republicans to shut him down

When Democrats were in control, their leadership knew it was to their advantage to let Sen. Cruz engage in his brand of political theater – especially since it has little, if any, effect on the policy outcome

United States Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took another stab at using the Senate floor as a prop for his presidential campaign on Monday evening. But unlike his marathon speech in 2013 when he argued strenuously in favor of defunding the president’s signature health care reform, Cruz was denied significant time in the spotlight. And after last night’s speech was cut off, it was his campaign staff doing the spinning.  

The Ivy League educated first-term senator spoke eloquently for roughly an hour about the horrors of Planned Parenthood as depicted in highly-edited videos as well has his disdain for GOP leaders in Washington.

“The people who show up at the polls, who elected you and me, and who elected this Republican majority, far too many of the Republican donors look down on those voters as a bunch of ignorant hicks and rubes,” Cruz said. When his time had expired and Cruz asked for unanimous consent to keep speaking, he could not get what’s called a “sufficient second” to be able to continue. In fact, members of his own party shouted “no” as he asked for a voice vote. Rankled, Cruz said, “When you are breaking the commitment you’ve made to the men and women who elected you, the most painful thing in the world is accountability.”

Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has a different view.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

September 29, 2015      5:03 PM

Press Releases: Free enterprise, in God we Trust, campaign announcements, women in business, and much more

September 29, 2015      3:26 PM

On No Child Left Behind, Texas shows short-term gains but is in long-term limbo

Other states in a similar position might schedule a special session – the feds “know our legislature meets every other year, and yet they give us this deadline… It’s like they want to assure these things will not happen.”

The US Department of Education’s conditional “high-risk” waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act for the state puts Texas in an almost unwinnable position.

The sticking point for the waiver, as it has been in most states, is teacher and principal evaluations. The feds want student test scores tied to teacher evaluations. They want a statewide approach to measuring student growth. And they want to know how evaluations will inform personnel decisions, all by January.

Texas already has rejected the idea of tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, most recently with last session’s Senate Bill 893. Education Commissioner Michael Williams, who will be addressing the largest gathering of school leaders in the state on Saturday, said the state would not be creating uniform standards.

“Throughout the waiver application process, I have made it clear to federal officials that I do not have nor will I ever seek the authority to compel local school districts to use one uniform teacher and principal evaluation system statewide,” Williams said. “Our state believes strongly in local control of our schools. As a result, we will continue discussing this specific point with the U.S. Department of Education, but they should not expect any shift in Texas’ position.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves

September 29, 2015      2:54 PM

Minister and former appointee of Gov. Perry officially announces his challenge to Stickland

Scott Fisher “is a man Texas governors and local Tarrant County leaders have relied upon to guide troubled agencies through difficult times.”

"Fisher is a three-time Governor Perry appointee and is Chairman of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. He founded and led a successful international Christian ministry, Macedonian Ministries, before serving as Communications Director for the Texas Christian Coalition, the faith-based, conservative organization that helped lift hundreds of Republicans into office, including Governor George W. Bush."

September 29, 2015      1:06 PM

Texas secures conditional No Child Left Behind waiver for 2015-2016

But federal officials warned the state must meet specific conditions to continue flexibility beyond 2015-2016, placing Texas on "high-risk status." Full story coming soon.

September 29, 2015      11:43 AM

Bell County GOP warns SD 24 candidates not to participate in Sen. Konni Burton forum

"...the expectation of Bell County voters is to have elected officials who are beholden only to the people of our district,” not the allies of Empower Texans and affiliated organizations

The Republican Party of Bell County is asking GOP candidates vying to succeed Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, in the Texas Senate to steer clear of a forum proposed by Sen. Konni Burton, R-A Different District.

Sen. Burton, a north Texas Republican who enjoys the support of some self-proclaimed conservative groups like Empower Texans, offered to host candidates in a forum of her own – something many longtime Texas political observers have called “odd, at best.”

In a resolution passed last night, the Bell County GOP’s Executive Committee noted that Burton did not try to work with local party officials before asking candidates to participate in her forum in Bell County.

Candidates who do appear at the forum, the committee warned, will draw the ire of the party.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock