Alex Samuels, The Texas Tribune

Alex Samuels is a newsletters fellow for The Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. Alex has worked for USA Today College since her sophomore year and has been a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She also worked as an editorial intern for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.

Director Michael Rubin tends to cannabis plants at Compassionate Cultivation
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

A week into opening the application process for medical cannabis dispensaries to apply for permits in Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety — without warning — suspended the process.

Texas Republicans say the pledge of allegiance at the convention in Fort Worth in 2018.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Come next fall, there might not be a single person of color among Texas Republicans in the U.S. House. But that’s not top of mind for Gerard Garcia.

“Diversity is welcome, but when I vote I’m more focused on the politician’s positions,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Sen. Jane Nelson, Sen. Larry Taylor, Gov. Greg Abbott and Rep. Greg Bonnen
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

After the second Texas mass shooting in a month, Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday night that "we're working on a legislative package right now" and that "expedited executions for mass murderers would be a nice addition."

Gov. Greg Abbott meets with El Paso area state legislators
Jesus Rosales for The Texas Tribune

EL PASO — Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that “mistakes were made” in his fundraising letter that used alarmist language in calling to “DEFEND” the Texas border and was dated one day before a deadly shooting that targeted Hispanics in El Paso.

Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro
Michael Minasi for KUT

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted Tuesday morning that he has achieved the polling requirement to qualify for the primary debate in Houston this fall.

President Donald Trump
Lynda M. González for KUT

Beginning in June, thousands of voters across the country saw a fundraising plea in the form of a Facebook ad from the president’s official social media page. It described how the “fake news media” would bolster Donald Trump’s reelection bid.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Nearly two weeks after a mass shooting in El Paso, Gov. Greg Abbott promised that his office, and the Legislature, would take appropriate action to stop future tragedies — but quashed any speculation that he’d call lawmakers back for a special session to make it happen.

Beto O'Rourke
Jesus Rosales for The Texas Tribune

Nearly two weeks after suspending his presidential campaign in response to the mass shooting in El Paso, Beto O’Rourke plans to return to the trail Thursday.

The Democratic former congressman will restart following a speech in his border city hometown that will “outline the path forward for his presidential campaign,” according to his campaign.

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro
Michael Minasi for KUT

Julián Castro, a Democratic candidate for president, plans to release a television ad Wednesday on Fox News connecting President Donald Trump to a recent attack in El Paso that federal law enforcement officials have classified as an act of domestic terrorism.

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe
U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Heath Republican, will remain in Congress instead of replacing Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Sunday disclosed that he and his wife are both descended from slave owners.

A middle school served as a reunion point for parents and students after a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in 2018.
Michael Stravato / The Texas Tribune

In the immediate aftermath of the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School, a man who said he witnessed the carnage seemed to turn up everywhere.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For the first time in a decade, members of Congress examined the topic of reparations for African Americans over slavery at a hearing on a proposed study on the issue from U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.

Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Capping off a yearslong effort to prevent another school shooting like the Santa Fe High tragedy, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a series of bills into law Thursday that would, among other things, strengthen mental health initiatives available to children and allot money to school districts that can go toward “hardening” their campuses.

A Prairie View street has been renamed after Sandra Bland.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Tensions over the arrest and death of Sandra Bland boiled over during a Capitol committee hearing Friday morning in which lawmakers and state officials argued over whether the state intentionally withheld newly-released footage of the incident, shot with Bland’s cellphone, from lawyers for Bland’s family and lawmakers.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

The Texas House on Monday advanced a bill that would expand the list of debilitating conditions that allow Texans to legally use medical cannabis.

Marijuana plants
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

After a brief discussion, the Texas House gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would reduce the penalties for low-level possession of marijuana — a move lauded as a win by those eager for the state to take its first major step toward loosening its staunch marijuana laws.

Friendswood Republican Larry Taylor
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

In the first legislative session after the deadly mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, the Texas Senate nearly unanimously approved a sweeping school safety bill Monday aimed at preventing — or at least mitigating — another mass tragedy.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House on Tuesday gave broad preliminary approval to a bill that would allow farmers in the state to legally grow industrial hemp — a move lauded as a win for the state’s farmers.

Proponents of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana say fewer tax dollars will be spent housing people in county jails for nonviolent crimes.
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Lawmakers of all political stripes were chomping at the bit this session to file — or sign onto — bills that would decriminalize or lessen the criminal penalties for Texans found with small amounts of marijuana.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

After news broke that an activist pushing a “constitutional carry” gun proposal tried to visit the homes of several Texas House leaders, state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, declared his bill on the matter dead and wrote in a statement Friday he’s “officially canceling” his request for a committee hearing.

Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, talks with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Wednesday, as the House took up the budget debate.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

In Dennis Bonnen’s first major test as speaker of the Texas House, the chamber he oversees resoundingly passed a $251 billion budget Wednesday after a long but largely civil debate — a departure from the dramatics that have typically defined such an affair.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, was on the floor of the Texas House in 2015 trying to convince her colleagues to open up the state to medical cannabis, and it was not going well.

Ben Brewer / Reuters

Beto O'Rourke raised $6.1 million for his presidential campaign in his first 24 hours as a candidate, beating every other 2020 Democrat who has disclosed first-day figures, according to his campaign.

The haul surpasses that of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who raised $5.9 million in the 24 hours following his campaign launch.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson

WASHINGTON, Iowa — Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke acknowledged his involvement with a hacking group during a campaign trip in Iowa on Friday.

It was something “that I was part of as a teenager, not anything that I’m proud of today,” O’Rourke, 46, told reporters in Iowa. “That’s the long and short of it.”

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

What started as seemingly simple state legislation hailed as good for Texas businesses is drawing skepticism from legal experts and outrage from advocates worried it would strike employment protections and benefits for LGBTQ workers.

President Donald Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning that he will hold a rally Feb. 11 in El Paso. Just hours earlier, the president reiterated in his State of the Union a repeatedly debunked claim that El Paso was one of the country's most dangerous cities until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed and several miles of barrier were built there.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

What started Friday as a public State Preservation Board hearing on where to place a controversial Confederate plaque that was recently removed from the Texas Capitol quickly turned into a heated debate over whether the marker should’ve been taken down in the first place.

Two weeks prior, the board voted unanimously to remove the “Children of the Confederacy Creed” plaque, which falsely states that the Civil War was “not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery,” from its location near the Capitol rotunda.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

RICHLAND HILLS – Shahid Shafi will retain his role as vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party despite a push from a small faction of precinct chairs to remove him from his post because he's Muslim.

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