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Government

KERA provides in-depth coverage of state and regional politics and elections through our Voter's Voice stories, the Texas Debates and more.

Allison Shelley for the Texas Tribune

Andrew Oldham was confirmed to the federal bench Wednesday by a 50–49 vote, making him the the fourth alumnus of the Texas Attorney General’s Office to join the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals since President Donald Trump took office. That tally made his confirmation the narrowest of any Texas judicial nominee under Trump.

Oldham currently serves as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s top legal adviser.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

In a move that could expand the powers of his office, Gov. Greg Abbott has told Texas state agencies to submit proposed new rules to him before they are made available for public comment.

The Supreme Court of the United States
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Texas stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that states may force online retailers to collect sales tax even when they have no physical presence in the state.

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A longtime adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott is awaiting approval from the Senate for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Andrew Oldham was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, alongside two lawyers nominated for federal district courts in Texas, Alan Albright and Micheal Truncale. A vote from the full Senate is the final hurdle before they're confirmed to the federal bench.

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Monday is Memorial Day — a day to honor those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. It's also a time to reflect on the sacrifices that service members and their families have made.

In the small city of Fort Morgan, Colo., 33-year-old Verónica delicately stacks cans of food into her mini shopping cart, strolling the narrow aisles of the Rising Up food pantry to gather eggs, milk, apples and an extra-large box of cereal.

"This [place] is really helpful for me," Verónica says in Spanish. She has asked not to be identified by her full name because of the sensitive nature of the topic. "Without it, I'd be left some days without any food."

Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has handed in her resignation. The career diplomat, with more than 30 years in government service, says it was a difficult decision to leave.

Jacobson, 57, is the latest in a string of high-level diplomats to depart the State Department since President Trump took office.

In a note to embassy staff, Jacobson said, "The decision is all the more difficult because of my profound belief in the importance of the U.S.–Mexico relationship and knowledge that it is at a crucial moment."

Allison Sherry, Minneapolis Star Tribune/White House Pool

WASHINGTON – At a bipartisan White House meeting on gun violence Wednesday, President Donald Trump pressed Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and other lawmakers to come together and create “one great piece of legislation” to address background checks on gun sales, in addition to other measures.

From Texas Standard.

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker wasn’t supposed to be alive now. He was scheduled to be the fourth person executed in Texas this year, sentenced to death for coordinating the 2003 Sugar Land murders of his mom and brother and the attempted murder of his dad. He wanted the insurance money.

A former pharmaceutical industry official who says drug prices are too high will now be in charge of buying more medications than anyone in the world.

Alex Azar, former president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly & Co., was confirmed Wednesday as the secretary of health and human services.

In that role, he'll oversee the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates prescription drugs including those produced by his former employer. He'll also oversee Medicare and Medicaid, which together spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on prescription medications.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday unveiled a plan to "rein in skyrocketing property taxes" in Texas, looking to lay down a marker in a debate that dominated the legislative sessions last year and promises to remain front and center through the 2018 primaries and beyond.

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Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Further extending a drawn-out legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case over whether Texas' congressional and House district boundaries discriminate against voters of color. 

C-SPAN / YouTube screenshot

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Al Green’s impeachment vote failed; Melania got Whataburger; Texans apparently prefer Pez this time of year; and more.

flickr user longhorndave

While Dallas and Houston have been wrestling with very public battles over their pensions for city employees, Fort Worth has been nursing a pension crisis of its own for years. Now, city officials are working to find solutions.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

As the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy nears, information from the previously sealed FBI files related to the tragedy is still being processed by scholars and enthusiasts alike. 

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced the release of bipartisan legislation Thursday aimed at strengthening the federal background check database following the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced five Trump administration nominees for lifetime positions as federal judges on Thursday, special attention was paid to one of them: 36-year-old Brett Talley.

Talley's résumé, which features a J.D. from Harvard but limited experience as a practicing attorney, raised eyebrows and dissent from the committee's Democrats.

"It seems to me that when you get to the bench of a federal trial court, it would be helpful to have tried a case before," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee's ranking member.

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In this off-election year, voters across Texas will get to weigh in on seven proposed amendments to the state constitution.

There’s also a number of local initiatives in North Texas on the ballot, including a billion-dollar bond proposal in Dallas, school finance in Fort Worth and government changes in Denton.

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Among the Nov. 7 ballot items in Dallas is a billion-dollar bond package of items ranging from streets, parks and libraries to homelessness and economic development. 

City Hall reporter Tristan Hallman of The Dallas Morning News said City Council originally had a tab as low as $600 million in mind.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth is growing fast. And while all that growth is exciting, it comes with challenges the city must meet.

That’s what Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke recently told business leaders.

November’s election ballot is packed with lots of local items – from city council races to school bonds – but there are also seven proposals to amend the Texas Constitution.

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When President Donald Trump was sworn in, there were more than a hundred empty seats in the federal judiciary. That left open a rare opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by appointing judges to lifetime terms likely to outlast his administration.

With the end of his first year in office coming into focus, some of his supporters are frustrated with the pace of the Senate Judiciary Committee in approving nominees.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

In the wake of the "bathroom bill" fight that generated strong business backlash, House Speaker Joe Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas can continue to chase new companies. 

There are nearly 700,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and Thursday is the final deadline for them to renew their DACA status, which the Trump Administration announced would be discontinued unless Congress steps in to save it.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

The National Rifle Association says it is open to new regulations on bump stocks, devices possessed by the mass shooter in Las Vegas that can be used to fire rifles similarly to automatic weapons. This comes as top Republicans in Congress appear open to the idea of a federal law banning the devices.

Callie Richmond / The Texas Tribune

Insurance coverage for more than 390,000 Texas children and pregnant women is in jeopardy after Congress failed to renew authorization for a federal program.

The Texas Tribune

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is nominating two Texans to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and Dallas attorney James Ho. 

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott is making major changes in his office after his first two regular sessions — and a special session — bringing in several new senior staffers with deep legislative experience, according to aides.

Allison V. Smith/Spencer Selvidge

WASHINGTON – Confusion reigned Thursday morning after President Donald Trump offered conflicting statements on the state of a possible deal with Democratic leadership that would both extend an Obama-era immigration program and beef up border security.

The Supreme Court of the United States
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a serious setback to those hoping Texas would see new congressional and House district maps ahead of the 2018 elections. 

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