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Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Voter education is one of the biggest reasons someone either does or does not vote. Studies have shown the more schooling a person has, the higher his or her chance of going to the polls. Meanwhile, people who don’t study up on the ballot are less likely to go.  

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a stopgap spending bill passed by Congress on Monday, ending the partial shutdown of the federal government after three days.

The White House has said normal government operations will resume by Tuesday morning.

The state of Texas owns a bunch of land. That's because, in case you didn't know, we used to be our own country and joined the United States without the need for a land grant from the Feds.

All that land needs someone – and an office – to look after it.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature writes the state budget. The governor signs it into law. But with a single action, the Texas comptroller can kill the entire appropriations process.

But before we get to that, let's start with the real burning issue: How do you pronounce comptroller? Do you pronounce it controller or comptroller?

The name, job description and spelling originally come from England. The full title there is Comptroller General of the Receipt and Issue of Her Majesty's Exchequer and Auditor General of Public Accounts.

Teresa Vieira for KUT News

When I moved to Austin in 2002, one of the first things I did to acclimate myself to Texas was visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum

I remember standing on the second floor, staring at the statue of the man whose name was chiseled onto the side of the building. Then I started to read his history on the plaque at the base of the statue to see just how long he'd been governor or U.S. senator.

That's when I discovered Bob Bullock had only been lieutenant governor.

As President Trump approaches the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, a majority of Americans think that his first year in office has been a failure and that he has divided the nation.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll data released Thursday finds that Americans deemed Trump's first year a failure, 53 percent to 40 percent. And by an almost 2-to-1 ratio (61 percent to 32 percent), Americans said they believe Trump has divided the country since his election.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A federal court in Corpus Christi will hear a case Feb. 12 challenging the way Texas voters elect judges for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. Voters and civil rights groups challenging the system say it makes it harder for Latinos to be represented.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr.

Democrats are running in every single Texas congressional race. But that doesn’t mean they’ll win – especially when you consider each of the districts was drawn to re-elect the party that currently holds the seat (i.e., mostly Republicans).

There is, for now, more enthusiasm for Democrats in general across the country. But we won’t really know until after the primaries whether that enthusiasm lasts and translates into wins this November for Democrats here in deep-red Texas.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear both of Texas’ redistricting appeals. The state’s congressional and statehouse maps were struck down by federal courts last year after judges ruled they intentionally discriminated against minorities.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

There is a wave of women running for public office in Texas this year.

As The Texas Tribune reported last week, about 50 women have filed to run for Congress. Patsy Woods Martin, the executive director of Annie’s List, says there is the same trend in races for the Texas Legislature.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Midterm elections, especially after a new president comes into office, often bring interesting stories. Just look at 2010, when we saw the rise of the Tea Party and a “red wave” that swept out dozens of congressional Democrats nationally and pushed an almost evenly split Texas House (76-74) to a GOP supermajority (101-49).

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Welcome to the 2018 Elections!

This could be a historic year at the ballot box. Republicans are looking to sweep all the statewide offices again, but Democrats have fielded more candidates for more races than they have in years. To help you navigate through all of this, we’re starting a weekly column. It’ll include not only the politics at play, but also information on the basics, like how to register or find your polling place.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

An election in Virginia was decided this morning by luck. Luck of the draw, specifically. The race between Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds for the Virginia House of Delegates was tied after a recount. So, today the State Board of Elections put their names in a bowl and pulled out the name of the winner: incumbent Yancey.

The news around this unorthodox way to pick an elected official got the KUT Newsroom wondering: What would happen if there were a tie in Texas?

This March, Texas voters will decide who will appear on November's general election ballot.

Primary elections work a little differently from general elections, and the barriers to participation in Texas appear to be higher. Texas consistently has among the lowest voter turnouts in primary elections. In 2016 — even with a battle over presidential nominations playing out — only 21 percent of Texas voters turned out.

So, we want to help make participation in primaries easier for voters – by making the primaries themselves easier to understand.

Official House portrait

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican, hasn't yet paid back the $84,000 in taxpayer dollars the federal government gave his former spokeswoman in a sexual harassment settlement, according to a new CNN report. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr.

A surge in Democratic candidates in Texas could be a turning point for the party, experts say.

According to the Texas Democratic Party, a candidate is running for every congressional seat this year and for almost 90 percent of seats in the state Legislature.

Official House portrait

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, will retire from Congress after finishing his current term, according to a source close to the congressman.

President Trump is renewing his tax pitch on Wednesday, just after an announcement that House and Senate GOP lawmakers have agreed on a final tax package.

Watch his address below.

 

Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says the House and Senate have combined their tax bills passed over the last month.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every congressional seat in next year's midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas’ 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

Ryan Poppe/Texas Public Radio

Today was the last day to file for candidacy in the statewide primary election. One of the candidates making a last-minute filing was former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

Official House portrait

WASHINGTON — Members of the U.S. House Ethics Committee unanimously voted Thursday to establish a subcommittee to investigate allegations that U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican, sexually harassed a subordinate several years ago.

Screenshot via PBS NewsHour

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation this morning after several allegations of sexual misconduct.

After two allegations last month, the senator apologized to his accusers and said that he would "do a lot of reflecting," but not resign. A Politico story yesterday detailed another story of a woman who said Franken forcibly kissed her in 2006. While Franken denies the claim, Democrats are calling for his resignation. 

Cheryl Gerber for The Texas Tribune

NEW ORLEANS — State officials and the minority rights groups suing Texas over its strict voter identification restrictions are headed back to court.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Tuesday over the state's recent revisions to its 2011 voter identification law and whether those changes cure legal issues with the original law. The recent changes — which softened previous voter ID requirements considered among the toughest in the nation — were passed in response to court rulings that the 2011 law discriminated against Hispanic and black voters.

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold will repay $84,000 in taxpayer money spent to settle a sexual harassment claim against him from his former spokeswoman, he told KRIS-TV Monday.

Official House portrait

WASHINGTON — Embattled U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, announced his retirement from Congress on Thursday.

"I am very proud of my public record and the many accomplishments of my office. It has been a tremendous honor to represent the 6th District of Texas for over three decades, but now it is time to step aside and let there be a new voice."

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The field for the 2018 party primaries in Texas is taking shape. The deadline for candidates to file is coming up, and political strategists have been trying to decipher what Democratic victories in other states mean for Texas. 


Official House portrait

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week. 

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down." 

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Top Texas lawmakers have called for reviews of sexual harassment policies at the state Capitol following reports detailing how current procedures offered little protection for victims. Proposed solutions have included better training aimed at preventing harassment and informing victims of their rights.

Youtube via PBS News Hour

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is headed back to Capitol Hill today to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

This post has been updated.

WASHINGTON — Texas' two U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, on Monday withdrew their support for Roy Moore, the embattled GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama. 

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