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.

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.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera: O'Rourke/Bob Daemmrich: Cruz

A new poll released Wednesday suggests that U.S. Sen Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, are in a dead heat.

The poll from Texas Lyceum shows Cruz holding a slim margin over his Democratic challenger in the U.S. Senate race. Among likely voters, Cruz carries 41 percent of the vote compared to O’Rourke’s 39 percent. Nineteen percent of voters said they were undecided.

Joan Brook for The Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH — Even before Texas Democrats’ convention officially got underway here this weekend, its top candidates were chomping at the bit to seize on the biggest story in the country: thousands of immigrant children being separated from their parents at the border.

Tamir Kalifa for the Texas Tribune

After subtracting student fees and paying for insurance, doctoral student Tom Millay takes home about $15,000 per year from a Baylor University stipend. But soon he could be taxed as though he earns three times more.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A meeting between state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over Confederate monuments on Capitol grounds ended with the governor expressing a desire to move forward with the removal of a controversial plaque from inside the Capitol, Johnson told The Texas Tribune.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

The winding road that leads to Compassionate Cultivation could easily be mistaken for a dead end. It takes several seconds before drivers get off the main road and end up at a warehouse immediately surrounded by a dirt lot.

In a few months, however, scientists and manufacturers working out of this warehouse in Austin will begin legally growing marijuana.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday for removing several Confederate statues from its campus earlier this week.

UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird confirmed Thursday that the university had received the lawsuit by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, declined a deal from the Travis County District Attorney's office Tuesday that would have allowed the 12-term representative to have all corruption charges dropped against her if she had agreed to resign immediately.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Travis County District Attorney's office has told state Rep. Dawnna Dukes it would drop corruption charges against her if she agrees to resign from office and agree to a drug and alcohol assessment by the end of business Tuesday.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday visited a shooting range to sign a bill into law that significantly reduces the cost to get a license to carry a handgun, making Texas one of the states with the lowest fee in the nation.

Ståle Grut / Flickr

Five days after a controversial amendment defining "sex" as "the physical condition of being male or female" was added to a statewide ride-hailing bill, representatives from Uber and Lyft called the addition disappointing and unnecessary — though both companies stopped short of saying they'd withdraw their support. 

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

After a lengthy debate among lawmakers over the best way to regulate services like Uber and Lyft, the Texas House backed a proposal that would override local regulations concerning ride-hailing companies.

Data Shows Dukes Has Missed Most Votes In Texas House

Apr 12, 2017
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has missed more than 100 record votes during the current legislative session, the most of the 150 members of the House, according to a Tribune analysis of data from a legislative analytics website.

The 11-term Democrat — who was indicted in January on abuse-of-office charges — has missed 64 percent of the votes taken so far during the legislative session as of Friday, according to data collected by recordvotes.com.

Qiling Wang for Texas Tribune

Texas Republicans followed North Carolina’s lead earlier this year in unveiling their own “bathroom bill.” Since then, supporters have described the Texas bill as similar to the North Carolina law yet different in important ways.

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