Greg Abbott

James Malone, Texas Tribune

Signs offering promises of “quick cash” can be seen all over Texas. So-called payday lenders offer short-term loans under $700, but those loans have been criticized for interest rates that can climb to 500 percent.

For some customers, taking one on leaves them in a never-ending cycle of debt. It’s controversial, and the practice is actually banned in 12 states.

Recently, it’s become an issue in this year’s governor’s race.

The topic was kicked up after the chairman of the Texas Finance Commission – William White – made comments to the El Paso Times suggesting payday lenders should be able to charge whatever fees they want. Previously unheard of, White’s comments put him in the spotlight among payday loan regulation advocates.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera & Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

The first time State Senator Wendy Davis made waves as a Texas lawmaker was during the 2011 legislative session when she filibustered a budget that cut four billion dollars in funding for public schools.

“It’s the first time that we’ve ever done this in state history and the funding of public education and it’s a cut that I simply cannot stand for," Davis said during that filibuster.

But stand she did, pushing the 2011 legislature into a special session, where the budget plan were eventually approved anyway with the cuts included.

Mark Graham / Cooper Neil via the Texas Tribune

State Sen. Wendy Davis, who got off to a slow and often rocky start in her race for Texas governor, will ring in the New Year with a much bigger bank account and an aggressive new strategy designed to keep front-running candidate Greg Abbott on the defensive. 

For Abbott, a three-term attorney general, it’s steady as she goes: He’ll keep unveiling carefully crafted policy initiatives and tying Davis to President Obama while remaining hyper-cautious in his own dealings with the news media — lest he become the first Republican in nearly a quarter-century to blow a governor’s race.

Wendy Davis made headlines earlier this year with her abortion rights filibuster heard around the nation. In September and October, she teased the Texas body politic with her gubernatorial guessing game.

After bursting into the race in early October with a big announcement in Fort Worth, the Davis campaign has hit the ground running, from Brownsville, to … Pharr, Texas?

So where’s Wendy Davis? That's what Paul Burka is asking.

The current dean of Texas political writers and senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, Burka sat down with KUT’s David Brown to discuss the Davis campaign. 

 

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

The closer we get to next year's March  primaries, the faster the campaign promises fly. Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Greg Abbott recently made a splash by releasing an extensive list of items he says he’ll push for once elected.

One proposal in particular stood out a bit: safeguarding your DNA.

The proposal is a part of Abbott’s “We The People” plan. It also includes things like gun rights, campaign ethics and blocking the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But DNA is item number one.

 

KUT News

Several races in the 2014 GOP primary appear promising for advocates of expanding gun rights in Texas.

Top Republican candidates are making sure primary voters know they’re opposed to any gun control efforts at the federal level – with some even proposing ways to loosen current Texas law.

Attorney General Greg Abbott has included a couple of gun-related proposals as part of a major policy paper released by his gubernatorial campaign. As spelled out in his “We the People” plan, Abbott would allow Texans to openly carry handguns and allow guns to be brought on college campuses.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Texas governor, holds a single-digit lead over the likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

In a head-to-head race, Abbott got 40 percent of registered voters to Davis’ 34 percent, with 25 percent of the voters undecided. In a three-way general election, he would get 40 percent, Davis would get 35 percent and Libertarian Kathie Glass would get 5 percent.

“What you’ve got is a race in which, for the first time in a long time, the Democrat is as well-known as the Republican at the outset of the race,” said poll co-director Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

Callie Richmond, flickr.com/thetexastribune

The leading Republican in the race to be the next Texas Governor has released his first major policy plan of the campaign. Attorney General Greg Abbott’s “Working Texas” plan includes several proposals for restraining state and local government spending. 

Parts of the plan are a nod to proposals in Governor Rick Perry’s 2012 Texas Budget Compact. That includes linking the state’s constitutional spending cap to population growth and inflation instead of growth in personal incomes.

In 2014, Texas voters might just see something they haven't experienced in two decades — a competitive race for governor.

Current Republican Gov. Rick Perry isn't running for re-election, so it's an open race, with new faces and new optimism for Texas Democrats.

Earlier this year, the Democrats were once again facing the prospect of scrambling to find someone to run as their candidate. Then, on June 25, state Sen. Wendy Davis came to the Capitol in Austin wearing running shoes and ready to block a restrictive abortion bill.

A new statewide poll released Wednesday shows Republican Greg Abbott with an eight-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the Texas governor’s race.

The poll, conducted by the Texas Lyceum, shows Abbott, the Texas Attorney General, leading with 29 percent. Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat, has 21 percent.

But most registered voters don’t know who will get their vote – 50 percent are undecided.

The new cover of Texas Monthly is likely to ruffle some feathers. 

It depicts Attorney General Greg Abbott in his wheelchair, shotgun slung over his shoulder. In bold print above him are the words "The Gov," with an asterisk. In small print: "Barring an unlikely occurrence." 

clockwise from left: Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News, flickr.com/sarowen, KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the State of Texas over its voter ID law.

It's the DOJ’s latest attempt to require Texas to get federal approval before making changes to its election laws. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in June. It got rid of Section 4 – the formula that had required some states, including Texas, to get preclearance from the federal government for any changes to voting procedures.

KUT News

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says the district hopes to offer open enrollment for domestic partner benefits as soon as this fall.

"While we still have a few obstacles to overcome, legal and otherwise, a clear path forward has emerged,” Carstarphen said in a recorded video as part of AISD's annual convocation on Wednesday. “Employees will have the opportunity to add new, qualifying individuals to their coverage as part of a separate enrollment period as soon as October 2013."

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

As his followers know, Attorney General Greg Abbott, widely considered the frontrunner to be Texas' next governor, manages his own Twitter feed. It's not uncommon for him to use it to thank his supporters. 

But his appreciation for a supporter's tweet on Sunday night — one that called state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, an "idiot" and a "Retard Barbie" — has fast become the most controversial moment of Abbott's young gubernatorial bid. And it has highlighted the high-risk, high-reward proposition of letting a candidate handle his or her own social media.     

dewfeed.com

It may be too early to start running attack ads on TV and radio for the 2014 Texas general and primary elections. But it's apparently never too early to launch an attack website.

So to give you something to do heading into the weekend, we've compiled a list of some of the most prominent attack sites out there at the moment. The number will certainly grow as we get closer to the primaries in March.

Bob Daemmrich ,Texas Tribune

Long-time Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is running for the GOP nomination for governor in 2014. His official announcement has been anticipated in the days after Gov. Rick Perry announced he would not seek re-election.

A few hundred friends and supporters came to Plaza Juarez in downtown San Antonio to hear Abbott announce his run. A video shown at the announcement and his speech that followed focused on his life in office and on the accident 29 years ago that left Abbott paralyzed.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

AISD says it will likely not grant health benefits to domestic partners of employees. The school district will wait until a federal court decides on the issue.

This is after AISD announced in March it would extend health benefits to domestic partners, which includes same sex and unmarried couples.

flickr.com/myfwcmedia

A federal district judge has overturned a federal emergency rule that would shorten the red snapper fishing season to as few as 12 days in Texas – down from a projected 22 days.

Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger says that he is disappointed in the ruling. The federal decision that would have shortened the season was put in place to stop the overfishing of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

flickr.com/musicfirstcoalition

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the FBI's criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service could include potential civil rights violations, false statements and potential violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in some partisan political activities.

President Obama is meeting with Treasury officials today to discuss the IRS targeting of conservative groups for special review.

Eric Kayne for Texas Tribune

Cheerleaders at an East Texas high school who were told to stop displaying Bible verses on banners at school athletic events can resume such displays, after a state district judge ruled in their favor Wednesday.

The national headline-grabbing lawsuit arose last fall when Kountze Independent School District administrators ordered its high school cheerleaders to stop displaying religious messages during athletic events after a group advocating for the separation of church and state threatened to sue. 

Update: More signs from the City of Austin that Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion won't mean any changes for now: a memo from City Manager Marc Ott on the matter. It reads, in part: 

While we will continue to evaluate the Attorney General’s opinion, it continues to be our belief that the City’s domestic partner group benefits program is not prohibited by the Texas Marriage Amendment, and that the Texas Legislature did not intend the Amendment to have that effect when it was placed before the voters in 2005.

The Attorney General’s opinion does not require the City to take any specific action, and we do not intend to change domestic partner eligibility for our benefits program at this time. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was among the state AG's with an Earth Day gift for the Environmental Protection Agency: A lawsuit.

Abbott is one of 12 attorneys general asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that claims the agency created “absurd” regulations of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act.

KUT News

Update: The Austin City Council decided to delay their vote Thursday night, citing concerns that they did not have enough information.

City staff will return next week with a sampling of how many properties repealing the Project Duration Ordinance would affect. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the only council member against the delay last night.

Original Story (March 20, 7:22 p.m.): Permits for building projects may lose their expiration dates, depending on a vote at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.

Bill Would Make DNA Testing Mandatory in Death Penalty Cases

Mar 19, 2013
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some officials in Texas – including Attorney General Greg Abbott – want to change how the state handles DNA evidence.

Abbott says he thinks testing on DNA evidence should happen before a death penalty case goes to trial.

"If you’re innocent, you’re going to find out that your exoneration will come sooner," Abbott said. "If you are guilty, justice will be more swift and more certain."

KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a "Workers Bill of Rights" this morning at the Capitol. The document outlines the rights of Texas workers, including the ability to abstain from union membership and paying union dues. 

Abbott also took the occasion to promote House Bill 1524, a bill that would allow Texas workers to have "secret ballots" in union votes, saying that the privacy would allow workers to express opinions without any possible union interference or coercion from union leadership. 

courtesy flickr.com/danielctw

Toyota has settled with Texas and 29 other states that investigated the car company for dangerous defects that came to light in 2009.

The states investigated whether Toyota adequately disclosed that voluntary recalls included popular models like the Camry, Tundra and Prius.

Toyota is now required to enhance safety procedures, pay back customers, and pay $217,000 in attorneys’ fees for the state of Texas.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Governor Rick Perry says Attorney General Greg Abbott will not challenge him in the 2014 Republican primary if Perry decides to seek re-election.

“Greg is a dear friend. He has said clearly that if I ran again, he’s not going to be running against me," Perry said in an exclusive interview with Dallas TV station WFAA. 

Gage Skidmore

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is inviting New Yorkers who feel their state's new gun laws are too restrictive to migrate to Texas. 

Abbott has launched a new Google ad campaign encouraging New Yorkers to move to Texas. It says gun-loving Yanks "will have the right to bear arms" and, due to Texas’ low taxes, will also have "more money to buy ammo."

If you've gotten the "Death Spiral" email that's apparently been arriving in many inboxes, here's the verdict from two major, nonpartisan fact checkers:

It is NOT true, as the email claims, that in 11 states there are more people on welfare than there are working.

The debunkers: both PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org.

Todd Wiseman / Jeff Wilcox for Texas Tribune

In an opinion released Monday that reinforces a 2011 law, Attorney General Greg Abbott's office said that employers cannot prohibit an employee with a concealed handgun license from keeping a handgun in a locked, private vehicle in an employee parking lot.

State Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, wrote a request for opinion from the office on May 7 on the matter. During the 2011 session, the Legislature passed a law allowing employees to store concealed handguns in their vehicles on employer property except in cases where prohibited by federal or state law.

According to the attorney general’s opinion, Section 30.06 of the Texas penal code — which allows employers to post notices restricting handguns or other firearms on the premises — does not supersede the state law that protects concealed handgun license holders.

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