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Texas Legislature

Immigrant rights advocates and state lawmakers rallied at the Texas Capitol on Monday to protest Senate Bill 4.
Sierra Juarez

Immigrant rights advocates and state lawmakers rallied at the Texas Capitol on Monday to protest Senate Bill 4, the state’s so-called sanctuary cities law. Among other things, the law allows local law enforcement to ask the immigration status of people they detain or arrest.

After a contentious three-hour public hearing Monday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill that would provide annual $5,000 pay raises for all full-time classroom teachers in the state.

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With the legislature at work in Austin, constituencies of all kinds are working to make their wants and needs clear. The Texas Municipal Police Association’s executive editor, Kevin Lawrence, says his wish list focused less on what he wants from lawmakers, but what he hopes they won’t do.

As the nomination of Texas Secretary of State David Whitley faces tough prospects in the Senate, two Republican senators filed bills raising the stakes for his effort to remove suspected noncitizens from voter rolls.

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, left, arrives for his confirmation hearing in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 7, 2019.
Associated Press

Opposition has intensified against Texas' new election chief as a key lawmaker said he won't back Gov. Greg Abbott's nominee, who called into question the U.S. citizenship of 95,000 voters using faulty data.

The opioid epidemic killed more than 1,300 Texans in 2016. The next year, state lawmakers passed legislation to mandate a prescription-monitoring program that requires medical providers to check a patient’s health records before prescribing opioids. The mandate is supposed to take effect in September, but the program may be delayed at the request of doctors.

From Texas Standard:

As Texas lawmakers begin tackling one of this session's top legislative priorities – school finance reform – a state Senate measure proposes giving public-school teachers a raise. How much money is on the table and what difference would it make for teachers living paycheck to paycheck? It depends on whom you ask and where you live.

Twenty child advocacy groups and nonprofits called on Texas lawmakers this week to increase funding for a struggling program that helps more than 50,000 small children with disabilities and developmental delays in the state.

Texans would be able to take home beer directly from local breweries if a bipartisan bill before the Texas Legislature becomes law. 

From Texas Standard:

Representatives from Texas food banks will gather at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk with legislators about food insecurity and lobby for ways the state can help. Food insecurity is a bigger problem than some may think. The term doesn't just describe people who are going hungry; it also describes people who don’t have the household resources to consistently buy healthy food.

Forensic analyst India Henry uses an ultraviolet light to look for evidence of semen on a pair of panties from a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Houston.
Associated Press

The 86th Texas Legislature is underway, and one group of state lawmakers say they are determined to make sure public safety needs in rural areas are better met, especially when it comes to the state’s backlog of rape evidence kits.  

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley at a state Senate Committee on Nominations hearing on Feb. 7, 2019. Whitley was appointed to the job by Gov. Greg Abbott, but Whitley must first clear the committee, then win a two-thirds vote in the Texas Senate.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Facing an uncertain path to confirmation after ordering a deeply flawed voter citizenship review that seemingly focused on naturalized citizens, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is now apologizing to state lawmakers for the way his office rolled out the review — but he is still holding firm behind the overall effort.

From the campaign trail to election night victory speeches to promises in the halls of the Texas Capitol, property taxes are the top priority for lawmakers. Depending on which metric you use, the state generally ranks in the top 5 nationally for having the highest property taxes. Lawmakers say they have to do something to lower those bills.

But what is that something?

Consumer advocates and health insurers are pushing Texas lawmakers to address surprise medical bills during this year’s legislative session.

Medicaid in Texas
Todd Wiseman

Idaho, Maine, Nebraska and Utah voters approved a Medicaid expansion through ballot initiatives. Now Texas legislators have filed bills for a vote over whether the state should expand coverage for the joint federal-state health insurance program.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton assured lawmakers on Friday that his office hadn’t launched criminal investigations into nearly 100,000 voters flagged by the secretary of state’s office for citizenship review.

From Texas Standard:

Two Texas lawmakers are at the forefront of a renewed battle over President Donald Trump's tax returns.

From Texas Standard:

In Texas, gambling is illegal in almost all forms. But you’d never know it driving down Business 77 in Willacy County. It cuts through a rural area of the Rio Grande Valley, but bares a passing resemblance to Las Vegas. It’s a headache for law enforcement, but a remedy could be on the way.

Four years ago, Gates Elementary on San Antonio’s east side was on the state’s list of failing schools. Only 15 percent of its students were reading at grade level.

Now Gates is one of the fastest improving campuses in the San Antonio Independent School District. School officials credit its success in part to teachers like Kayla John.


A bill in the Texas House of Representatives would make it a crime for telecommunications companies to impair mobile internet service in declared disaster areas. It comes after firefighters in California had their data plans “throttled” by Verizon during wildfires there.

From Texas Standard:

The GOP in Texas will face greater challenges in 2020 than it has for many years. Sen. John Cornyn and party Chairman James Dickey have acknowledged the problem.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht hears a case on Nov. 2, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

The top judge on the Texas Supreme Court gave lawmakers a big wish list during his State of the Judiciary speech in Austin today. Chief Justice Nathan Hecht’s list includes some new spending, some savings and fundamentally rethinking business-as-usual in Texas courts.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, listens as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, gives his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

Texas Governor Greg Abbott made mental health care one of the primary themes of his State of the State address Tuesday, including more student mental health screenings.

Gov. Greg Abbott addresses members of the Texas Legislature at his State of the State address in the House chambers at the Capitol on Feb. 5, 2019.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott, in his biennial State of the State address on Tuesday, stayed on message about education and taxes, continuing state leaders’ so-far unified focus on bread-and-butter policy reforms in a forum where he has in the past served up red meat.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing people with intellectual disabilities is cruel and unusual punishment.
Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., The Texas Tribune

 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

With all the talk about property tax and school finance reform in the Texas Legislature so far, one has to wonder — what about guns?

Robin Hood was put in place to ensure poorer school districts get more resources to educate kids.
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

 

For some in the debate over how to fund Texas' schools, "Robin Hood" is decidedly a villain.

An aerial view of the popular spring-fed swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park in Toyahvale. Balmorhea and other Texas state parks have an estimated $781 million in deferred maintenance needs.
Chase A. Fountain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department via The Texas Tribune

 

About 80 miles west of downtown Fort Worth, the already-named Palo Pinto Mountains State Park — with a scenic ridge overlooking a lake and more-than-ample space for camping — promises to be a huge recreational draw.

bill filed late last week in the Texas Legislature could allow liquor stores to sell on Sundays. 

Currently, stores are prohibited from selling then – as well as on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. House Bill 1100 from state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond would allow stores to sell from noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.

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Shortly after a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a 40-point plan for improving school safety, which included calls for boosting mental health services for students. 

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