Agenda Texas

Texas Tribune

Now you may have heard about the current troubles the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is going through. Lead scientists have quit over what they claim were inadequate reviews of grant recipients.

Nicolas Raymond / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

It’s a battle that’s enflamed passions on both sides and even brought one lawmaker to tears.

No, it’s not school funding, or abortion.  On its face, it’s an investigation over how the UT-Austin Law School Foundation ran a forgivable loan program.

Rob Boudon/Flickr

As Yogi Berra would say, it’s déjà vu all over again in the Texas Legislature for supporters of casino gambling in Texas.

For the 27th session in a row (that's our unofficial estimate) there’s a push to create casino gambling in Texas. 

Lizzie Chen, KUT News

As your guide to everything under the dome and how it hits home (yes that's our tag line) Agenda Texas will try to keep you in the loop on the big bills moving through the Legislature each week.

Ben Philpott

Have you ever watched a debate at the Texas Capitol? It’s not always the easiest thing to follow. With all the speakers and amendments and votes that it takes for just one bill to pass, it’s not hard to get lost.

Well what if you were one of the lawmakers, trying to navigate these legislative waters for the first time?

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

photo by KUT News

Thursday the Texas House will take up the only bill lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass: The state budget.

The debate could easily last well into the night. There have been 267 amendments filed.

Ben Philpott

Last week we talked about the renewed push to pass a couple bills that would increase state regulations for abortion clinics. Supporters, like Texas Right to Life director Elizabeth Graham, said the measures would make abortions safer.

Filipa Rodrigues

It’ll be another busy week for the Texas Legislature. With a take on what to watch for this week, here's Texas Tribune executive editor, Ross Ramsey.

Filipa Rodrigues

The Texas Legislature started the session with more than $8 billion of dollars left over from the last session and almost $12 billion projected to be in the state’s rainy day fund.

Filipa Rodrigues

In last week's show we got a legislative review from the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith. One thing he pointed out: Socially conservative issues had not yet played a prominent role.

KUT News

Texas lawmakers roll up their sleeves and get down to some serious work this week. From here on out, bills will be flying out of committee to the House and Senate floors for debate.

Finally Funding Water Projects:

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

We’re halfway through the 2013 legislative session. And with only one bill making it to the governor’s desk so far, there’s plenty of work ahead. To look into future at what the final two months of the session may hold, Agenda Texas talked with Evan Smith, the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune.

Photo by Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

How many tests are too many?

If you’ve got kids, you know the state rolled out a new testing system last school year called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness or STAAR. It includes 15 end-of-course exams that high school students must pass in order to graduate. A number State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) wants to cut.

Texas Well and Healthy Coalition

A new Gallup poll out this morning says almost 29 percent of Texans don’t have health insurance. That easily puts Texas at the highest percentage of uninsured in the country. And the highest Gallup has ever recorded in Texas.

About a million of those uninsured could find coverage under Medicaid expansion, if Governor Rick Perry were to allow it. So let’s meet a couple of the people hoping he’ll change his mind.

There’s a perception, not unjustified, that it takes a high-priced high-powered lobbyist to get a bill passed in the Texas Legislature. But people still try to get something done with an army of volunteers. Some who are still in elementary school.

Around 100 kids from across the state came to Austin for the Texas Home School Coalition's rally day. The kids spent the day learning about the legislative process, yes they got school credit for participating, and to help support home school legislative efforts.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

The December school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut left the nation stunned and  grief-stricken – and scared it could happen again.

Texas lawmakers have filed a handful of bills they say could increase security for students and peace of mind for parents. But some say those bills are more show than substance.

"A couple of bills are obviously just designed to appeal to the NRA while making it appear that they’re trying to make schools safer, when in fact they wouldn’t," says Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison.

Ben Philpott/KUT News

The Texas legislature cut more than $5 billion from public education in 2011 to help balance the state budget. Then last month lawmakers were told previous revenue estimates were wrong – and that they had more than $8 billion left to spend on that budget.

Spending That Money

Photo by KUT News

The 83rd Texas Legislature has already called for spending to improve the state’s water infrastructure. Now, Governor Rick Perry’s saying the economy depends on another major investment:

“We’ll have to deal with our transportation needs if we want to keep our winning streak going," Perry said. "I mean that is just the facts.”

Texas Tribune

  To Take...or Not To Take

Will Texas expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? That’s the $100 billion question at the Capitol this session. The state’s Republican leadership says "no". But supporters for the Affordable Care Act continue to gain ammunition. A recent report by former Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton indicated that if the state spent $15 billion on a Medicaid expansion over 10 years, it would get $100 billion back. And about 231,000 new jobs by 2016. 

“To look at something that helps to create jobs in Texas. That helps improve the health of Texans, their ability to work. And then to have a more dependable way to access healthcare, are all plusses in our minds on this," said Maureen Milligan, president and CEO of the Teaching Hospitals of Texas.

Ben Philpott

Deciphering Tax Relief

Texas lawmakers are slowly cranking up the 83rd legislative session. A major focus so far has been how to spend billions of dollars in extra revenue. Gov. Rick Perry knows what should be done with that money.

“It’s time for us to take a hard look at providing tax relief,” he says.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Wetting your Whistle

Texas lawmakers have begun their 83rd session with money to spend – and a LONG list of projects to fund.  One item keeps percolating to the top of the agenda as lawmakers are asked about funding priorities priorities.


Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

The 83rd Texas State Legislature started with good news from the state Comptroller: Susan Combs told lawmakers they’d have more than $101 billion dollars to spend in the next session. Education advocates are already asking for more dough to head to Texas classrooms, even pre-schools.

Kara Johnson is with Texans Care for Children, a child advocacy group. She quotes a 2006 study from the Bush school at Texas A&M that shows it’s smart budgeting to support early childhood education.