#txlege

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Parts of the Texas House map must be redrawn ahead of the 2018 elections because lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities in crafting a handful of districts, federal judges ruled on Thursday. 

A three-judge panel in San Antonio unanimously invalidated some of the state’s 150 state House districts, which will force lawmakers to correct violations. Specifically listed are districts in Bell, Dallas, Nueces and Tarrant counties.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

A bill that would change the way cities and counties collect property taxes is moving forward in the Texas House. On Saturday, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1 on second reading. The measure would lower the rollback rate, or the annual percent increase in property taxes, from 8 percent to 6 percent. Any increases above that would have to go to the public for a vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, repeatedly noted that SB 1 does not aim to save taxpayers any money, but it would allow them to weigh in on some increases.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Tim Mattox doesn’t want to live in Austin, but soon he might not have a choice. Mattox has lived in the River Place neighborhood for 19 years. It’s a community of about 1,100 homes just northwest of the city near Lake Austin. In December, Mattox’s neighborhood is scheduled to be annexed by the city.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Making a list of the best and worst lawmakers after each Texas legislative session isn't quite as old as the Legislature itself, but it's still a time-honored tradition. Texas Monthly has put out such a list since 1973, and each one is an occasion awaited with bated breath by political observers, legislative aides and of course, the lawmakers themselves.

LoneStarMike / via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas has more than 150 state agencies -- everything from the Affordable Housing Corporation to the Workforce Commission. Do these agencies provide too much oversight and bureaucracy? That's what the Sunset Commission is tasked with finding out. A group of lawmakers from the Texas House and Senate, along with two members of the public, do periodic reviews to make sure state agencies are needed and that they're operating as they should.

Charlie Pearce/Texas Tribune

UPDATE (6 p.m., Saturday): A longtime spokesperson for Rep. Dawnna Dukes told KUT News Saturday evening that the report of Dukes' change of plans would be news to him.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune


After months of sparring over whether transgender Texans should be allowed to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday officially set the legislative stage for the debate.

mirsasha via flickr

For more than a century, the Austin State Hospital has been a fixture in Hyde Park. While the facility near Guadalupe and 41st Streets is primarily a psychiatric hospital, its winding trails and tree-lined campus are a popular recreational space for neighbors. Now, state leaders are considering selling the property and relocating the hospital – a move that has some residents concerned. 

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

The next Texas legislative session is almost a year away, but Senate Republicans are already zeroing in on proposals to bolster legal protections for religious opponents of same-sex marriage after its legalization by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

At a hearing of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, some Republicans appeared to endorse a piecemeal approach to passing legislation shielding religious objectors to same-sex marriage instead of pushing for more comprehensive state constitutional amendments like Indiana’s embattled “religious freedom” law


Ashley Lopez for KUT News

As in most of the country, opioid abuse is a serious problem in Texas. A growing number of people in the state are becoming addicted to and even dying from the use of heroin and prescription pain medications.

Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill aimed at curbing opioid overdoses, but some advocates say the state has been moving too slowly—especially since the problem doesn't seem to be getting any better.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Seven Democrats are vying for a seat that will be vacated next year by retiring Democratic State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, who has represented Central Austin for more than two decades.

All seven candidates running for the HD 49 are progressive Democrats in Austin. For the most part there are not a lot of stark differences among them. In fact, six of the seven candidates have a legal background; almost all are running for public office for the first time; and most of the candidates have some experience working or advocating at the Texas Legislature.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Today, Sept. 1, marks the legal start for more than 600 new state laws for Texans to follow. From healthcare to transportation to education and public safety, there’s something that affects everyone in the Lone Star State.


Why Statewide Officers Might Pack Up and Leave Austin

May 28, 2015
Liang Shi/KUT News

Under a measure passed by the Texas House and Senate (SJR 52), statewide office-holders would be able to live outside of Austin — but voters will have a say first.

Since 1876, the Texas Constitution has required certain statewide officials to live in the state capital, and that hasn’t changed. On Wednesday, however, the Texas House approved a measure that would allow statewide officials to live somewhere other than Austin if they want to. While they would likely reside in Austin during lawmaking sessions, they wouldn't have to keep a permanent residence in Travis County for the duration of their four-year terms.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A bill (House Bill 3994) that would add restrictions to how minors can bypass the state’s parental consent law to get an abortion was approved by the Texas Senate today.

What’s called the judicial bypass bill received plenty of roadblocks from opponents, however. 

Before the bill was even brought up for a vote, opponents in the Senate had hours’ worth of questions about what the bill would require a minor and a judge to do.

KUT News

It's been almost 100 years since the state school opened its doors to adults with severe developmental disabilities. Today the state school is called Austin State Supported Living Center, and it's facing closure via two bills in the legislature: Senate Bill 204 and House Bill 2699.

The process started last summer when the state's Sunset Advisory Commission, the group of legislators who study which state agencies are obsolete, decided the school needed to close. Despite opposition from the parents and guardians of the 215 people who live at the school, the bills are steadily inching their way through the legislative process.

Patrick Lewis/flickr

Each year, more than 80,000 people visit the San Marcos River to tube (or "toob") the waters and have a good time. But those crowds leave a lot of litter and create safety concerns for local law enforcement. Now a bill at the state senate aims to solve the problem.

Senate Bill 234 would let voters in Caldwell and Guadalupe counties set up a “recreation district” on the river downstream of San Marcos that would be funded by fees charged to river revelers. The district would have the authority to hire law enforcement to patrol the water and crack down on litter.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Every legislative session, there are bound to be bills targeting some regulation or other in Austin.

Which is why every session, Austin City Attorney Karen Kennard heads to the Capitol to learn more about the bills and to see if their impact on Austin would be positive or negative. These are her projections.

Morguefile/flickr

Today the Texas Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill — the Pastor Protection Act — that would allow religious ministers the right to deny performing a marriage ceremony to a couple if doing so would violate his or her religious beliefs. While the bill's sponsor, Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), acknowledged an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer that could legalize same-sex marriage, he said the bill is designed to protect clergy members from potential lawsuits.  

Liang Shi/KUT News

Less than a month remains in this year's legislative session, and Texas lawmakers face hundreds of bills and several procedural deadlines this week.

Today is the last day House committee members can vote on bills that originated in the House, which means it's the last day a House bill has a chance of being placed on the calendar for the whole chamber to hear.

flickr.com/xomiele

On Wednesday, Texas Senators passed a bill (SB 1252) that would create an inter-state southern border compact — a group of states that would share resources to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the bill.

It didn't pass, however, before Democrats and Republicans brought up their differences on the need for border security. 

Abortion Coverage Would Get Dropped Under Texas Bill

May 6, 2015
msjacoby/flickr

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate tentatively passed a bill that would prohibit abortion coverage under many health insurance plans. It could get final approval today.

The bill would only allow coverage for abortions in cases where there’s a medical emergency. State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) says his measure gives Texans who don’t support abortion the choice not to pay for others to get the procedure.

Watch: Abbott Delivers State of the State

Feb 17, 2015
Gage Skidmore/Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott delivered his first State of the State address as Texas governor today.

In his address, Abbott highlighted five emergency items for the state's legislative session: early and higher education, road funding, border security and ethics. Watch the governor's speech below.