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March 20, 2018      2:35 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick Announces New Chief of Staff Darrell Dávila as Logan Spence steps aside

March 20, 2018      11:43 AM

Hegar warns of downgrade in state credit rating if lawmakers do not expand investment of ESF funds

Hegar tells Senate Finance: “To be blunt, I strongly believe that without a path forward to address these issues, then Texas will see a downgrade in our credit rating in the near-term”

Editor’s note: The PowerPoint presentation Comptroller Hegar is giving to Senate Finance is at the end of this story – SB

Appearing before the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Tuesday began a fresh push to try to convince lawmakers that they should allow him to increase investment earnings using money that’s now essentially just sitting idle as cash within the Economic Stabilization Fund, or Rainy Day Fund.

Failing to do so, Hegar warned, could mean Texas would risk a downgrade to its sterling AAA credit rating within the next few years.

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By Scott Braddock

March 20, 2018      5:09 AM

The public weighs in at the Public School Finance Commission

The commission hasn’t discussed it much, but a serious effort will need to consider tax implications on both the debt and operations side of school district budgets

This week’s Commission on Public School Finance meeting – with 11 panels and 70 speakers – is hard to boil down, but the vast majority of testimony can be condensed into one statement: Money does matter.

Even that, though, is likely to come under fire as the commission’s various working groups begin to draft recommendations for a final report to the Legislature.

Here are some of the key takeaways from what is quite likely the only day of public testimony before this commission.

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By Kimberly Reeves

March 20, 2018      4:50 AM

Flashback: Firm that harvested private data of Facebook users for Trump first worked for Cruz

In 2015 “Cruz’s presidential campaign is using psychological data based on research spanning tens of millions of Facebook users…”

Texas Democrats and others are now pointing out that "long before Cambridge Analytica was known as Donald Trump’s data firm, they were Ted Cruz’s propaganda machine."

The Texas Democratic Party notes that back in 2015, Cruz was reported to have a "secret weapon" in his presidential campaign: Facebook data harvested to create "psychological profiles."

Over the weekend, the New York Times published a story detailing how President Trump's consultants "exploited the Facebook data of millions.”

Indeed, this is all very familiar.

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March 19, 2018      5:48 PM

RPT did not receive revised recount request from Mike Canon, Sen. Seliger victory in primary stands

Canon had until 4pm today to submit revised recount request and did not get that done

March 18, 2018      4:24 PM

Updated: Texas GOP rejects request for recount by Mike Canon, one of two who lost to Sen. Seliger

Seliger's camp responds "Canon lost this election by 15,000 votes – almost 20% behind Kel Seliger...requesting a recount under these circumstances is an abuse of the system that benefits no one."

Citing several technical problems, the Republican Party of Texas on Sunday rejected former Midland Mayor Mike Canon’s request for a recount in the primary he and restaurateur Victor Leal lost outright to Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo.

Per the election night returns posted by the Texas Secretary of State, Sen. Seliger won outright with 50.41% or just over 40,000 votes. Canon got 31.39% or about 25,000 votes. Leal came in third at 18.19% with nearly 15,000 votes.

“After reviewing your Petition Requesting a Recount of the results of the Republican Primary election for Texas State Senate District 31, we have found some defects in the request,” wrote RPT Chairman Jim Dickey.

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By Scott Braddock

March 16, 2018      4:56 PM

SB: For all his bluster, Abbott failed to make the difference against any of the House Republicans he opposed

The governor’s gotten some credit for Middleton’s win in Galveston, but the facts on the ground show the challenger won it on his own

GALVESTON – As a nasty storm moved across much of Texas in the days leading up to the GOP primary, supporters of Republican candidate Mayes Middleton packed into Katie’s Seafood near the Galveston Cruise Terminal, snacking on free shrimp boil and looking out over the bay.

Gov. Greg Abbott, grounded in San Antonio where he’d spent part of his day calling Rep. Lyle Larson a “liberal” more than a dozen times during a rally for GOP candidate Chris Fails, could not make it to the island. His campaign said the storm was too dangerous for their plane to take off.

So, Gov. Abbott called into the Middleton rally, repeatedly saying Rep. Wayne Faircloth is a “liberal,” though the crowd heard the lie fewer times because the phone call kept cutting out as it was projected through the PA system.

The previous day, Abbott had trashed Chair Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, as a “liberal Democrat” in disguise during a rally in Bellaire for Republican challenger Susanna Dokupil. Abbott spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV against Davis and Larson to no avail.

Abbott’s preferred candidate won in the race where he couldn’t show up personally or on TV.

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By Scott Braddock

March 16, 2018      4:53 PM

Federal Judge in Midland dismisses complaint from Empower Texans against local prosecutors

Chairman Dunn's group wanted judge to block local DA's from possibly investigating anti-Geren mailers, the Federal judge said today he lacks jurisdiction

You can read the ruling from US District Court Judge David Counts by downloading it here.

March 16, 2018      4:38 PM

Press Releases: Property tax renditions, endorsements, open carry, flood mitigation, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

March 16, 2018      4:36 PM

In wake of Uresti conviction and Estes loss in primary, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveils some new committee appointments

Sen. Birdwell to take the gavel in Natural Resources and Economic Development, Sen. Campbell will now sit on Finance

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday made moves on committees to reflect recent changes in the Texas Senate.

He appointed Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, to be the new Chair of the Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee.

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By Scott Braddock

March 14, 2018      5:17 PM

Federal Judge to rule before the end of the week in Empower Texans case over anti-Geren mailers

Judge David Counts tells Empower Texans’ attorneys that what it seems they want the federal court to do is “tie the hands of elected district attorneys from doing what they’re elected to do”

MIDLAND – A federal judge in West Texas said Wednesday afternoon that he will decide by the end of the week whether to block local prosecutors in Austin, Fort Worth, and here in Midland from possibly prosecuting Empower Texans over deceptive mail pieces sent to voters using the DBA “Texas Ethics Disclosure Board.”

The civil rights claim was filed here in the Permian Basin even though no district attorney here or anywhere else has threatened to prosecute Chairman Tim Dunn’s group over the mail pieces, which may have violated state law banning impersonation of a government official or entity.

“I’m being sued because I exist,” said Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf shortly after the two-hour hearing at the George H. W. Bush Federal Courthouse. None of what has been alleged to have happened occurred within Nodolf’s jurisdiction, her attorney Eric Johnston noted in court.

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By Scott Braddock

March 13, 2018      5:53 PM

House report: Bathroom bill, underfunding of education and infrastructure threaten Texas economy

Chairman Cook suggests Gov. Abbott was duplicitous about bathroom bill: “His actions surprised many because the governor's top aides had made it clear, to me and others, during the regular legislative session that the governor did not want that bill on his desk."

The long-awaited Texas House Economic Competitiveness Committee’s report is out this afternoon, providing an in-depth look at potential pitfalls for the state’s economy including inadequate funding for public education and controversial social legislation like the failed “bathroom bill.”

Likening it to a report issued by a Fort Bend County engineer 25 years ago warning of potential flooding – which became a reality when Hurricane Harvey roared ashore – Chairman Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said “that was a good analogy. Here were clear threats that were laid out and were dismissed.”

As he released the wide-ranging report, Chairman Cook also dropped a bombshell, saying Gov. Greg Abbott’s top aides were privately saying last year that the state’s chief executive did not want the so-called “bathroom bill” to be passed by the Legislature at the same time the governor was publicly placing it on the special session agenda.

“His then-Chief of Staff (Daniel Hodge) told me in my office that he did not want this bill on his desk,” Rep. Cook said in an interview with Quorum Report. “At the same time this was moving forward and the governor was putting it on the call.”

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By Scott Braddock

March 13, 2018      5:50 PM

Press Releases: Tillerson reactions, tax cuts, foster care, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

March 13, 2018      5:46 PM

AP: Trump considers Rick Perry for VA Secretary

Trump is considering replacing embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry

From the Associated Press news blast:

President Donald Trump is considering replacing embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

A source familiar with the White House discussions tells The Associated Press that Trump has floated the notion of the Cabinet reshuffle as a way to right the ship at the VA, believing Shulkin has become a distraction to the department’s work. The source was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

Shulkin has faced several investigations over his travel and leadership of the department, but until now has received praise from the president for his work to turn around the department. The news comes after Trump’s firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

March 13, 2018      5:42 PM

5th Circuit upholds most of SB4, sanctuary cities ban

On the same day a Texas House panel strongly advised lawmakers to avoid distractions

Here is the ruling from the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.