Cassandra Pollock, Texas Tribune | KERA News

Cassandra Pollock, Texas Tribune

Cassandra Pollock is an engagement reporter for The Texas Tribune, which she joined in June 2017 after a stint as a fellow during the 85th Texas Legislature. She graduated in 2017 from The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism. Cassi has previously reported for The Daily Texan, the university’s official student newspaper, and The Washington Examiner in Washington, D.C.

Health care workers collect coronavirus tests at a drive-thru site in the Fifth Ward in Houston.
Annie Mulligan for The Texas Tribune

As Texas grapples with soaring coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, local elected officials in some of the state’s most populous counties are asking Gov. Greg Abbott to roll back business reopenings and allow them to reinstate stay-at-home orders for their communities in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Members of Austin's LGBTQ community gathered on the steps of the Texas Capitol in 2017 to celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots.
Austin Price for The Texas Tribune

LGBTQ Texans marked a major victory Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal civil rights law prevents employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But in Texas, which did not have such workplace safeguards, LGBTQ lawmakers and advocates say they are far from done fighting for other essential protections.

Austin police officers stand near an overpass on Interstate 35 to prevent protesters from blocking traffic during a rally at Austin police headquarters.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

After Sandra Bland's death in a rural Texas jail drew outrage across the nation, two Texas lawmakers filed a comprehensive bill to address racial profiling during traffic stops, ban police from stopping drivers on a traffic violation as a pretext to investigate other potential crimes, limit police searches of vehicles and other jail and policing reforms.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gives an update on the coronavirus at an earlier press conference on March 13, 2020.
Eric Gay / Associated Press

Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to Houston on Monday to attend the public visitation of George Floyd, a black man who was killed recently in Minneapolis police custody. Abbott told reporters afterward that Floyd’s death was “the most horrific tragedy I’ve ever personally observed” and signaled an openness to pursuing policing reforms in the future.

Salon owner Shelley Luther hugs supporters after she was released from jail in Dallas on Thursday.
Associated Press

Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther, who had defied orders to keep her business closed during the pandemic, was released from jail Thursday, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office. She had been in jail since Tuesday after being sentenced to seven days, but the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday morning granted a motion to release her.

portrait of Ken Paxton at 2017 press conference
Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday said the seven-day jail sentence a Dallas salon owner received for defying orders to keep her business closed was excessive — and Paxton called for her immediate release.

Shuttered businesses on South Congress in Austin during the coronavirus pandemic.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas collected $2.58 billion in state sales tax revenue in April — a roughly 9% drop from what the state collected the same month last year, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Friday. That drop, from $2.8 to $2.58 billion, marked the steepest decline since January 2010, Hegar said.

The floor of the house on April 11, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Nearly the entire Harris County Democratic legislative delegation has asked the county attorney and district attorney to open a criminal investigation into the candidacy of a Texas House candidate whose existence was called into question after this year’s March election.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / For The Texas Tribune

Comptroller Glenn Hegar briefed Texas House members on the state's economy and budget Sunday night, saying that while it was too soon for specific forecasts, both are expected to take potentially massive hits in the wake of the new coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple people who were on the conference call.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott has postponed the special election for the Austin area's Texas Senate District 14 due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott briefs reporters during a press conference on a Domestic Terrorism Task Force roundtable held at the capitol on Jan. 7, 2020.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott is warning Texans to be “particularly vigilant” over potential cyberterrorism from Iran, suggesting that heightened tensions with the country have caused an increase in attempted attacks on state agencies.

State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, speaks at a Texans for Vaccine Choice event at the state Capitol in Austin on May 3, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, has made a late decision to not seek reelection after filing to run for another term in the Texas House.

Zedler's office confirmed the news to The Texas Tribune on Tuesday afternoon. Zedler plans to withdraw from the race later Tuesday, which he must do to ensure his name does not appear on the 2020 ballot.

State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, speaks on the House floor on May 4, 2017.
Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

As far as falls from grace in Texas politics go, state Rep. Rick Miller’s was about as fast as they come.

On Monday night, the Sugar Land Republican was quoted in a story published by The Houston Chronicle saying his two primary challengers likely joined the race because they are Asian in a district with a considerable Asian population.

Gov. Greg Abbott talks with state Reps. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredricksburg, left, and Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, on the House floor in Austin on March 27, 2019.
Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, an Eagle Pass Democrat and House chairman, turned himself in to authorities to be booked on felony drug possession charges Thursday evening and was released after posting his bond of $10,000, according to both the lawmaker and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, on the House floor on May 1, 2019.
Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

About two months before state Rep. Poncho Nevárez announced he was retiring from the Texas House, the Eagle Pass Democrat was caught on surveillance footage dropping an envelope stuffed with cocaine as he was leaving the Austin airport, according to an affidavit filed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen will not be criminally prosecuted for the things he said during a secretly recorded June meeting with a hardline conservative activist, the district attorney in his hometown announced Thursday.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

First-term Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Tuesday announced he will not seek reelection to the lower chamber in 2020 — completing a stunning fall for the Angleton Republican who enjoyed near unanimous support in the House just months earlier.

Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

A small but growing bipartisan group of Texas House members have called for Speaker Dennis Bonnen to resign after a secret recording of the GOP leader meeting with a conservative activist was released this week.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

During a June conversation at the Texas Capitol, Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen urged hardline conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan to target members of their own party in the 2020 primaries and suggested he could get Sullivan’s group media access to the House floor, according to a secret recording of the conversation released Tuesday.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

State Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat, announced Friday that he will not seek reelection to the upper chamber in 2020.

Rodriguez informed El Paso colleagues of his decision in a text late Thursday night that was obtained by The Texas Tribune. He made the announcement official at his district office.

Jesus Rosales / The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued eight executive orders in response to the El Paso and Odessa-Midland mass shootings that happened just weeks apart, his office announced Thursday.

Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

Democrats in the Texas House are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to convene a special legislative session to address gun violence — a move designed to place even more pressure on the state’s top GOP official to act in the wake of two deadly mass shootings just weeks apart.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Whatever members of the Texas House think of the recent headlines involving Speaker Dennis Bonnen, the drama curdling the lower chamber has raised the stakes for Republicans and Democrats ahead of an already crucial election cycle — and it could undermine a recent warning the speaker issued about incumbents campaigning against colleagues in 2020.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock has resigned as chair of the Texas House GOP Caucus, according to two people familiar with the matter. Burrows’ departure comes amid allegations that he, along with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, planned to politically target members from their own party in the 2020 primaries — and it marks the largest fallout yet since the accusations surfaced.

Associated Press

Allen West, a former congressman from Florida, announced Thursday he is running for Texas GOP chair, challenging current party leader James Dickey for the position.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House General Investigating Committee voted Monday to request that the Texas Rangers look into allegations against House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and one of his top lieutenants in the lower chamber.

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