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May 25, 2019      10:09 PM

The Texas House and Senate give final approval to both HB3 and SB 2

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May 24, 2019      8:45 PM

It is that time: The Loco and Dissent Calendar is set for Sunday

Here is the motion for permission for the Loco and Dissent Committee to meet while the House is in session to set a Loco and Dissent Calendar for Sunday, May 26, 2019.

Without objection, though you can be certain portions will be objectionable.

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May 24, 2019      3:27 PM

New school finance fix prioritizes tax breaks over public education funding

The combination of this new school finance solution and the creation of a revenue cap has eliminated the predictable relief valves in the school finance system; the original priorities of the House have been flipped, per the numbers

Texas leadership is now putting $11.5 billion into a school finance bill with a heavy emphasis on property tax relief, and still, the question lingers: “Will this be enough?”

Some of this has to do with the lack of a significant new revenue stream for public education. The Texas Senate was game to cobble together multiple funding sources to cover the cost of House Bill 3, but that funding source is nothing compared to what would be produced through a sales tax-property tax swap, which failed.

Now that the language of the new plan is being circulated, we can break it down.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 24, 2019      12:08 PM

Texas House County Affairs Committee confronts DPS and OAG in Sandra Bland hearing

Chair Coleman demands to know why more information including cell phone video wasn’t released faster; DPS Director McCraw snaps back “You got it!”

Previously unreleased footage from Sandra Bland’s cell phone was the topic of a sometimes-confrontational Texas House County Affairs meeting this morning.

Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was arrested by a Department of Public Safety trooper and taken to the Waller County Jail for failing to signal when changing lanes back in 2015. She died there three days later, which officials ruled a suicide. Dash cameras video released by the agency showed an intense exchange between Bland and officer Brian Encinia. On the video you can hear Encinia tell Bland: “I will light you up. Get out now. Get out of the car.”

The trooper was fired, and the family sued for wrongful death and perjury. They settled for $1.9 million and the perjury charge against Encinia was dropped.

But County Affairs Chairman Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, was concerned the 39-second cell phone footage released by WFAA Television earlier this month could have impacted the outcome of her case.

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By James Russell

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May 23, 2019      7:35 PM

Details emerging in school finance plan: All day pre-K and teacher raises push price tag beyond $11 billion

That’s much more than either chamber had originally laid out, questions about sustainability abound but for now the state’s share of public education costs will increase from 38 percent to 45

The session’s compromise on school finance can be viewed in at least three ways: the way the leaders pitch it; the way it’s actually written on the page; and, in this case, the way the leadership pitches it to the masses, finger in the air, waiting on the next election.

The Big 3 announced a school finance deal today. Good or bad, no one would argue Gov. Greg Abbott’s point that he, the lieutenant governor and the speaker are anything but consistent. The three are one, the one is together, the message is unity this session.

“We’ve stayed together, working collaboratively every single week, every single day, sometimes every single hour of every day,” Abbott told reporters at the governor’s mansion this afternoon. “And it’s led to a very productive, very fruitful session, a session that has addressed and solved challenges that have plagued our state for decades.”

That sounds familiar. We heard it two weeks ago.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 23, 2019      6:58 PM

Updated: Deal is done on HB3, school finance

Chair Huberty indicates the price tag on the plan is well north of $11 billion

Following the Big 3’s news conference about how there will be no special session, thanks to bills on the big issues of the session, there were lot of happy faces in the Texas House about the announced agreements on HB2 and HB3.

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By Andrew Turner

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May 23, 2019      11:50 AM

Speaker Bonnen stresses that House members are responsible for non-germane Senate amendments on House bills, not his office

In a shift from Straus era, House members – instead of the speaker – are now primarily responsible for fighting off certain proposals added by the Senate; veterans of the process see the move as deferential to Senate language in the closing days of the session

In a brief announcement from the dais, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen this week put the members on notice that the chamber is no longer going to automatically kick back bills to the Texas Senate when senators have added non-germane amendments to House bills.

Under the House rules adopted at the beginning of the session, this is how it will work in the closing days of the session, Bonnen said: House members need to go through their altered bills for things that may have been added by senators that could, in many cases, be quite significant.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 23, 2019      11:38 AM

Federal judge dismisses Empower Texans lawsuit against Chairman Geren over media credentials

Geren's attorneys had argued there was no free speech violation and the House is in charge who is allowed on the floor during deliberations

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May 22, 2019      9:26 PM

With an amendment, Texas Senate passes Sunset safety net bill

An amendment was added deleting agencies which have had their bills signed already by the governor

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May 22, 2019      9:13 PM

Adding beer to go and loosening liquor store ownership rules, Texas Senate passes TABC Sunset bill

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May 22, 2019      6:18 PM

In unanimous vote, Texas Senate moves forward an expansion of medical cannabis law

Keeping veterans out of House Bill 3703 appeared to be the concession Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, needed to pull unanimous support for this session’s medical cannabis oil legislation.

Veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder have been some of the most compelling testimony during the hearings on the use of medical cannabis. But Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, made it clear to the Senate this afternoon that veterans would not be pawns.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 22, 2019      2:55 PM

SB: Watch the Sunset

After the House acted quickly to save an Abbott priority, this should be on your radar; it seemed to catch folks by surprise as Patrick’s legislative weapon of choice two years ago

As the Texas Senate goes through hundreds of bills this afternoon and presumably into the late evening, one of the questions being asked by staffers, lobbyists, and others revolves around whether the upper chamber today will put a bow on the Sunset process regardless of whether any agencies see their individual legislation fail.

The Sunset “safety net” language, Quorum Report readers will recall, was what Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick used to force the special session in 2017.

Voters may not remember that much about it, especially after the arrival of Hurricane Harvey took precedent over the petty.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 21, 2019      11:20 PM

Special session avoidance policy: Texas House tacks SB10 as an amendment onto SB11

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May 21, 2019      9:29 PM

Death of Abbott priority bill sparks more substantive talk of special session

When Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, called a point of order on SB 10 early today it was not considered out of the ordinary.

What did set members talking, however, was that the point of order sustained by Speaker Dennis Bonnen was on a priority bill of Gov. Greg Abbott, his emergency item on mental health.

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By Andrew Turner

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May 21, 2019      9:18 PM

Lawmakers to consider historic change to liquor store ownership rules in Texas

The changes would raise the current cap from 5 to 250, end the family ownership rules

In a change to rules that haven’t been touched in decades, Texas lawmakers before this session is over appear likely to boost the number of liquor stores a person or company can own and do away with rules about family ownership.

The last time ownership rules for liquor stores in Texas were changed was in the 1940s.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 21, 2019      3:54 PM

Failure of anti-lobby bill exposes rifts, prompts celebrations

Lt. Gov. Patrick’s anger boils over, Gov. Abbott’s top staff avoid the House floor during debate, professional advocates stung from “being used as political props”

Freshman Rep. Mayes Middleton’s effort to ban local officials from hiring lobbyists on tax issues – and provide a red-meat win for Republicans – went down to defeat despite efforts to massage, narrow and compromise on the bill.

After it failed on the floor, over in the other chamber Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick threatened to kick lobbyists out of the gallery. He said some of them had celebrated in the gallery which he would not allow.

Senate Bill 29 appeared to morph considerably – and possibly fatally – by the time it got to the House floor.

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May 20, 2019      8:50 PM

Former Rep. Rodney Anderson elected Dallas County GOP Chairman

DCRP Executive Committee vote was Anderson 77, Lozano 54, Metzger 34

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May 20, 2019      5:49 PM

With 85 no votes, the Texas House rejects SB29

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May 20, 2019      9:27 AM

SB: Final deals come into focus

Plenty of moving parts, with HB1, SB2, and HB3 still in negotiations, but if SB 29 passes as now proposed the governor’s team and TPPF will have swept local governments out of the mix at the Capitol if a sales tax increase takes center stage in the 2021 session

Celebrations broke out Sunday evening as various bills offensive to various groups seemed to die their end-of-session deaths after the Texas House Calendars Committee set the final floor debates ahead of Tuesday’s critical deadline for passing Senate bills.

Earlier in the session when SB2, the rollback rates bill, was about to be debated in the House it was clear leadership had baited Democrats by placing many of their priorities behind it on the calendar in order to speed them through that legislation so that their bills could make it through the process.

Those were carrots. They had to know the sticks would be broken out at some point.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 19, 2019      7:44 PM

Updated: SB29 to be narrowed in the Texas House to bar only cities and counties from hiring lobbyists

Just after 7pm, an amendment was pre-filed by Rep. Middleton to bar those governments from hiring lobbyists, the amendment also includes increased reporting requirements

Here is the amendment pre-filed by Rep. Mayes Middleton, R-“Chambers County”, who’s sponsoring the bill.

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May 19, 2019      7:34 PM

SB 9, voter restrictions, not set for House debate this week

Controversial bill assailed by critics as "voter suppression" not set for debate even after Abbott said it "should be supported"

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May 19, 2019      5:53 PM

Gossip on Senate floor: GOP leadership will try to confirm embattled Secretary of State Whitley this evening

So far, all Dems have been present and holding the line against Abbott priority while the governor leans on Patrick to get it done

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