Alex Samuels, Texas Tribune | KERA News

Alex Samuels, Texas Tribune

Alex Samuels is a reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She came to the Tribune in fall 2016 as a newsletters fellow, writing the daily Brief and contributing to the water, education and health newsletters. Alex previously worked for USA Today College as both a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She has also worked for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.

Lawmakers returned to Austin this month for the first time since the Santa Fe High School shooting, and they have repeatedly assured that school safety will take center stage during the legislative session.
Associated Press

 

Following a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in May that left 10 dead and 13 others wounded, Gov. Greg Abbott released a 43-page school safety plan outlining suggestions for bills the Legislature could pass this session to reduce the threat of gun violence in Texas schools.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

Shahid Shafi will retain his role as vice-chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party despite a push from a small faction of precinct chairs to remove him from his post because he's Muslim.

Southlake City Council member and Tarrant County Republican Party vice-chair Shahid Shafi.
Facebook page

 

Shahid Shafi identifies as a Republican because of his firm belief in small government, lower taxes and secure borders. But his commitment to core GOP values hasn’t shielded him from ire within his own party.

A group of Tarrant County Republicans will vote Thursday evening on whether to remove Shafi as vice-chairman of the county party after a small faction of members put forth a formal motion to oust him because he's Muslim.

The Texas State Capitol on the first day of the 86th legislative session.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

A gray fog descended on Austin Tuesday morning, but the scene inside the Texas Capitol was all colorful and festive to mark the first day of the 86th biennial legislative session.

And perhaps the loudest celebration took place in the Texas House, where lawmakers whooped and hollered after the unanimous election of state Rep. Dennis Bonnen as House speaker.

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton
Photo Illustration by Emily Albracht / Robert Daemmrich and Anneke Els Paterson for the Texas Tribune

Ten votes.

That’s the razor-thin margin by which a young Dennis Bonnen — two years out of college — made it into the 1996 Republican primary runoff for House District 25.

Screenshot of video via Texas Tribune

The short answer is yes. And a handful of such local control battles have raged in the Texas Legislature in recent years.

Joanna Cattanach and state Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas.
Facebook campaign pages

Democrat Joanna Cattanach conceded Thursday afternoon to Republican state Rep. Morgan Meyer of Dallas, closing out the last recount requested by a candidate after the Nov. 6 midterm election.

Clockwise from top left: Gina Ortiz Jones and U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes; state Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy and Gina Calanni; Adam Milasincic and state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston; and Joanna Cattanach and state Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas.
Campaign Facebook pages via Texas Tribune

Election Day was more than a week ago. But a handful of Texas candidates who lost by roughly 1,000 votes or less have yet to concede — or are already calling for recounts in their own races.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen announced Monday that he has support from 109 members to become the next speaker of the Texas House. That number, if it holds, is more than enough votes for him to win the gavel.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera: Huffines/Robert Hart: Johnson

DALLAS — Four years ago, state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, claimed victory in a nail-biter of a GOP primary race against incumbent John Carona, ousting a fellow Republican who had served a whopping six terms in the Texas Senate.

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool

During their second — and perhaps last — U.S. Senate debate, Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, went back and forth on a number of issues Tuesday night in San Antonio, including the economy, the impact of the #MeToo movement and civility in politics. The debate got heated at times, and both candidates slung attacks at one another throughout the night. But how much of what they said was true?

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Republican lawmakers in the Texas Senate were sitting pretty last year. Now, with less than two months until Election Day, they are finding that keeping that supermajority in the Senate is no longer a sure thing.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

In a tweet Friday, President Donald Trump announced that he’d be coming to Texas in October to participate in “a major rally” for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican incumbent facing a tougher-than-usual challenge this year against Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera: O'Rourke/Bob Daemmrich: Cruz / Texas Tribune

A new poll released Wednesday morning suggests a tightening race between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Texas isn’t likely to be the next Colorado or California. The state almost certainly won’t be the next one to legalize recreational marijuana use. But there are signs that both the public opinion and political calculus on pot are shifting in Texas, with advocates hopeful that those shifts could yield significant progress during next year’s legislative session.

Joan Brook for The Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH — Even before Texas Democrats’ convention officially got underway here this weekend, its top candidates were chomping at the bit to seize on the biggest story in the country: thousands of immigrant children being separated from their parents at the border.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

Several thousand Texans will descend on San Antonio and Fort Worth for the biennial Republican and Democratic conventions to hear from the state’s most prominent politicians, adopt new platforms and elect party leaders.

Todd Wiseman

A state law that crowdfunds money for rape kit testing has collected almost a quarter-million dollars in its first five months, according to the bill's author, state Rep. Victoria Neave.

Bob Daemmrich

From Jacquelyn Callanen’s perch in the Bexar County elections office, the period following Texas’ voter registration deadlines is best described as a paper tsunami.

Some of it arrives by mail. Some stacks are delivered by volunteer voter registrars. The secretary of state’s office sends over a handful of boxes filled to the brim.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, announced early Wednesday that he filed the necessary paperwork to run for speaker of the Texas House, making him the first Democrat to enter the race to succeed retiring House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.

Tiffany Szerpicki

Teachers in states across the nation are going on strike to protest funding cuts for public education. But a Texas law is quashing talk of teachers here joining the walkouts. 

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

After initially reporting a package explosion in South Austin on Tuesday evening, authorities later said the incident involved an incendiary device rather than a bomb and may not be connected to previous explosions in the Austin area since early March.

Brandon Thibodeaux/Bob Daemmrich

President Donald Trump has asked former national campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson to re-join the Trump Campaign as a senior advisor, two weeks after he tapped Brad Parscale, another Texan, to serve as his campaign manager. 

Illustration by Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

A six-year-old Texan on Thursday became the first person in the state to receive a legal delivery of medical cannabis — more than two years after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law legalizing the sale of a specific kind of cannabis oil to Texans with intractable epilepsy.

John Jordan / The Texas Tribune

A meeting between state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over Confederate monuments on Capitol grounds ended with the governor expressing a desire to move forward with the removal of a controversial plaque from inside the Capitol, Johnson told The Texas Tribune.

John Jordan / The Texas Tribune

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus requested on Tuesday that a contentious Confederate plaque be removed from the Capitol.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

A Confederate heritage group sued the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday for removing several Confederate statues from its campus earlier this week.

Matthew Watkins / Texas Tribune

Saying they’re concerned about student safety, Texas A&M University leaders announced Monday that they have canceled a planned white nationalist rally on campus.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

Jeffrey Payne thinks Texas is ready to turn blue. That’s why the openly gay, 49-year-old Dallas Democrat who owns five businesses — including The Dallas Eagle, a popular gay bar — is doing what some might say is impossible: attempting to win the governor’s seat by running against one of the most popular and well-funded governors in recent memory. 

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