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May 22, 2017      5:33 PM

Bresnen tells federal judge American Phoenix head Basel is trying to avoid jail time

In new filing, Bresnen’s attorney argues Basel is trying to get his case taken up by a federal court "115 days after he was served with the order to produce records" and is simply trying to avoid jail time for contempt of court

Attorneys for the veteran lobbyist suing the American Phoenix Foundation told a federal judge in Austin today that its founder Joe Basel is trying to get the case moved to federal court simply to delay the case and avoid jail time.

Basel – who founded the group that clandestinely filmed lawmakers, lobbyists, and others at the Capitol and around Austin last session – is in contempt of court after a judge ordered him to release the group’s financials as required by Texas law.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock


May 22, 2017      4:54 PM

After North Carolina ruling, Federal court suggests a special session on redistricting

“…the Court directs Defendants’ counsel to confer with their client(s) about whether the State wishes to voluntarily undertake redistricting in a special session in light of the Cooper (North Carolina) opinion.”

Here’s the order from the court in San Antonio.


May 22, 2017      3:35 PM

Budget conference documents now available on LBB website

Sen. Nelson urged members to check it out and said, “very soon we should be tying it up with a bow.”

Go here and check out the documents under Conference.


May 22, 2017      3:09 PM

Patrick unimpressed with House on bathrooms and property taxes, but does not threaten special session

Following maneuvers by Team Straus, Patrick said “There is still time for the House and Senate to address these concerns…”

Here is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s full statement:

"I share Governor Abbott's concern about the lack of a rollback provision in Senate Bill 669 on property taxes. In terms of privacy, I had not seen the language on the "Paddie Amendment" on House Bill 2078 before it was voted on last night. I also have concerns about its ambiguous language, which doesn't appear to do much. There is still time for the House and Senate to address these concerns - which are both priorities for Texas voters - in a meaningful way."

Hat tip to Alexa Ura at the Texas Tribune, who tweeted Patrick’s statement.


May 22, 2017      12:53 PM

Texas House gives final passage to bathroom restrictions in schools

Bonnen argues it is intended “to be respectful and fair” but Moody says ‘This bill now hurts kids by exclusion and discrimination”

A version of the so-called “bathroom bill” was tentatively passed Sunday night in the form of an amendment to a bill dealing with school safety measures.

The amendment by Rep. Chris Paddie tacked onto the legislation is not as extensive as its predecessors Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 2899, excluding all entities other than public schools and open enrollment charter schools. It does require school board trustees provide a single occupancy bathroom for students who don’t want to use the bathroom of their “biological sex.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eleanor Dearman


May 22, 2017      1:48 AM

Updated: With school vouchers added, Senate passes HB 21 on a vote of 21 to 10

it’s bound to end up something of a disappointment to both chambers, if it eventually passes at all

Republicans pushed a combined school finance and school choice bill through the Senate early this morning along a party line vote, 21-10.

As everyone remembers, the House gave the Senate the school finance package that the lower chamber wanted.

In exchange, the Senate gave the House its pared-down education savings account. The discussion that may now play out in a conference committee is whether each can accept the other’s gift in what will most likely turn into a twisted un-holiday version of O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves


May 21, 2017      9:44 PM

Buckling to pressure from Patrick, Abbott adds Voter ID as emergency item


May 21, 2017      9:39 PM

Updated: Paddie bathroom amendment approved 91 to 50

Speaker Straus says “Representative Paddie's amendment will allow schools to continue to handle sensitive issues as they have been handling them."

A version of the so-called “bathroom bill” was tentatively passed Sunday night in the form of an amendment to a bill dealing with school safety measures.

The amendment by Rep. Chris Paddie tacked onto the legislation is not as extensive as its predecessors Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 2899, excluding all entities other than public schools and open enrollment charter schools. It does require school board trustees provide a single occupancy bathroom for students who don’t want to use the bathroom of their “biological sex.”

The amendment says “The board of trustees of a school district or the governing body of an open-enrolment charter school shall ensure that each school or school facility accommodates the right of each student to access restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities with privacy, dignity, and safety by requiring the provision of single-occupancy facilities for use by a student who does not wish to use the facilities designated for use or commonly used by persons of the student’s biological sex.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eleanor Dearman


May 21, 2017      8:03 PM

Video: Rep. Thompson speaks about bathrooms being used to divide

Mrs. T reminds us that then-Sen. Barbara Jordan could not use the same restroom as everyone else in the Capitol when she served in the Texas Senate


May 21, 2017      7:09 PM

Bathroom debate begins in the Texas House

Rep. Paddie is carrying an amendment on school safety bill; it's focused on the ISDs and charters; allows the schools to make accommodations for transgender students


May 21, 2017      6:46 PM

Lawmakers may be close to the partial repeal of the Driver Responsibility Program

“Unfortunately, the most likely vehicle for the repeal of the DRP is looking like its solution could be worse than the disease.”

A bill to repeal the Driver Responsibility Program could hit the floor of the Senate tonight, but even those most supportive of the concept consider House Bill 2068 to be far from ideal.

But, as sponsor Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, told his colleagues on the House floor, it’s the best plan the state has got right now to reduce the footprint of the program and still fund trauma care. That’s the up side. The down side is that everyone getting a ticket in Texas soon could pay an additional $20 charge to fund trauma care, until other funding is found.

Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, is carrying HB 2068 in the Senate. In a post shared on the Grits for Breakfast criminal justice blog last Thursday, Attorney Emily Gerrick of the Texas Fair Defense Project said the bill will have limited impact without additional floor amendments.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves


May 20, 2017      10:03 PM

Updated: Conferees come to budget agreement, remaining issues at play including school vouchers

The Senate makes small concessions on Economic Stabilization Fund, House has choice ahead on vouchers

The budget conference committee has made its choices on the budget, but one decision still looms large: Will the House take vouchers in exchange for additional school funding?

This afternoon’s discussion of the decision docket, article by article, has stretched well into evening. Here are some things that we do know about the budget:

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves


May 20, 2017      5:39 PM

Conferees announcing a Texas budget agreement at this hour

"White smoke has emerged and we have reached a consensus" Chair Nelson said


May 20, 2017      4:58 PM

HK: Claims that Patrick controlled the end of the session may have been...overstated

Conferees reportedly have a budget agreement -- Is the Senate prepared to vote for a penalty-free automatic 4.99% annual property tax increase?

Ultimatums by the Lt. Governor notwithstanding, House leadership today executed two maneuvers that went a long way toward undermining Dan Patrick’s effort to engineer a special session that could have damaged both Governor Greg Abbott and Speaker Joe Straus while hot boxing the Freedom Caucus.

Earlier this week Patrick had threatened to blow up the budget and kill the Sunset Safety net bill thereby forcing a special session if the House did not pass his pet bathroom and property tax legislation.  He did hold out a fig leaf on one when he said that he could accept Rep. Simmon’s language for his “privacy bill”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg


May 20, 2017      4:06 PM

RPT Chairman Tom Mechler resigns, effective immediately

The SREC will hold an election for an interim chairman on June 3

You can read Mechler’s letter regarding his resignation by downloading it right here.


May 20, 2017      2:56 PM

Updated: With the Bonnen version of SB 2 added, Texas House tentatively passes SB 669

House parliamentarians have ruled amendments on rollback rates are not germane to SB 669

The choice of Chairman Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, to attach the substance of the House version of Senate Bill 2 to another Senate bill has some Republicans aligned with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick furious with the idea they might have no chance this session to take a vote on rollback elections for cities and counties.

Both on the floor and on Twitter, Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, attacked Bonnen’s maneuver as failing to go far enough and ignoring the will of the voters.

That’s even though Stickland supported Bonnnen’s effort.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kimberly Reeves and Scott Braddock


May 20, 2017      2:55 PM

House takes care of Sunset scheduling issue by extending five agencies under SB 80


May 20, 2017      2:15 PM

Chairman Bonnen is now offering his version of SB 2 as an amendment to a Nelson bill, SB 669

In exchange with Stickland, Chair Bonnen declines to say whether he will bring SB 2 back to the floor


May 20, 2017      1:41 PM

Sources confirm to QR Tom Mechler will step down as RPT chairman today

No explanation as of yet; Mechler is expected to send an email this afternoon giving his reasons