Texas Legislature

Credit Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

From education to abortion, roads to water, taxes, budgets and more – if it’s important to Texas, it comes before the Texas Legislature.

The 85th session of the Texas Legislature begins in January. Immigration, abortion, voter ID, funding for public education and funding the rest of the state government will be top issues. But with hundreds of other laws up for debate, the 2017 legislative session will impact Texas in numerous other ways for years to come.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced Tuesday she is resigning to run for state Senate.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt resigned from her position Tuesday ahead of a run for the open seat in the Democrat-leaning Texas Senate District 14.

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez takes part in a Mexican American Legislative Caucus and House Elections Committee press conference on Jan. 30.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, an Austin Democrat, announced Saturday that he is running for Texas Senate District 14.

Gabriel C. Perez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Ever since Republicans flipped the Texas statehouse in their favor in 2003, Democrats have been trying to flip it back. But now, as the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, and Bernie Sanders polls high in Texas, his popularity might make it harder for them to do so.

Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson
Julia Reihs / KUT

State Sen. Kirk Watson, who has represented Austin in the Texas Senate since 2007, announced he's resigning this spring to become the founding dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

Michael Minasi/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Like few other Texans in recent years, one former El Paso congressman is known to many by his first name alone. But that extraordinary name recognition, and even an unexpectedly close Senate race against Ted Cruz in 2018, wasn't enough to propel Beto O'Rourke to the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, O'Rourke is focused on getting more Democrats elected in Texas.

State Rep. Rick Miller, R- Sugar Land
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, is no longer running for reelection after he sparked a firestorm for saying he was facing primary challengers because they are “Asian.”

Gov. Greg Abbott talks with state Reps. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredricksburg (left) and Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, an Eagle Pass Democrat and House chairman, turned himself in to authorities to be booked on felony drug possession charges Thursday evening and was released after posting his bond of $10,000, according to both the lawmaker and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A memorial for victims of a mass shooting
Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

Democrats in the Texas House are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to convene a special legislative session to address gun violence — a move designed to place even more pressure on the state’s top GOP official to act in the wake of two deadly mass shootings just weeks apart.

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen met with hardline conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan in his office earlier this summer, after the legislative session. State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, was in the room too. No one denies the June 12 meeting happened — but their disagreement over what was said could have major implications for Texas, after two GOP lawmakers who heard the recording disputed Bonnen's account.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Texas Legislature heads back to work today. While you may know the body's main objective is to pass laws – especially the next state budget – you might not know much else.

That's not a criticism! The legislative process can be complex, so let's go over the basics of what the Legislature is and how it works.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

An investigation by the University of Texas into allegations that Georgetown state Sen. Charles Schwertner sent inappropriate texts to a grad student has found the senator did not violate university policy or Title IX.

The student alleged the Republican senator, who won re-election in November, initially engaged with her over LinkedIn after meeting at an event on UT campus. Schwertner, the accuser said, then solicited sex over text and sent an unwanted sexual image, what the sender called "proof of life."

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Days after a federal lawsuit was filed in Pflugerville, Texas faces another suit over its 2017 law requiring contractors to pledge they won't boycott Israel – this time from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

A Round Rock-based speech pathologist is suing the Pflugerville Independent School District over a 2017 state law that required her to pledge allegiance to Israel, which, she argues, violates her First Amendment right to free speech.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The U.S. Senate race is taking up almost all the oxygen in Texas politics, but there are some state Senate races worth consideration as well.

The Austin area has five Senate Districts. Since state senators have staggered four-year terms, only three of them are up for election this year.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The 2018 midterms have turned into one of the most competitive elections across the country, with more candidates running in more places. That's certainly been true in Texas, as the state's Democrats have come off the mat to field candidates in all congressional and statewide races.

Why Is The Center Missing From Texas Politics?

Sep 28, 2018
Julia Reihs/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

During these highly partisan times, you might be wondering, what happened to the political center? What happened to that willingness to work together despite party affiliation to get things done? Experts agree the center is definitely not holding. And they’re not sure when it’s going to come back.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

In the face of a sexual harassment allegation, state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, has hired two Austin attorneys and denied sending “any inappropriate texts as alleged” — “Period.” — in a new statement Wednesday from the attorneys.

Gallego: Bob Daemmrich; Flores: Campaign website

Republican Pete Flores defeated Democrat Pete Gallego on Tuesday night in the special election runoff for Senate District 19, a major upset in a Democratic-friendly seat.

With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, Flores was leading Gallego by 6 percentage points in the race to replace convicted former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. Flores had 53 percent of the vote and Gallego 47 percent in unofficial returns.

Gallego conceded to Flores around 9 p.m., according to both campaigns.

WhatsApp/Houston Public Media

From Texas Standard.

After another school shooting in Texas, this time in Santa Fe, calls for action have come from various places along the political spectrum. Some believe that beefed-up school security is the answer, while others advocate gun regulation. Texas lawmakers are talking about how to move forward, including Republican Jason Villalba, a member of the Texas House from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.

Austin Price/KUT

From Texas Standard.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a long-running Texas redistricting case. The dispute goes back to 2011, when Republicans in the state legislature drew Congressional and state legislative districts in a way designed to favor GOP candidates, and to move as many Democrats as possible into a few other districts.

Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

SAN ANTONIO— State Sen. Carlos Uresti was found guilty Thursday of 11 felonies, opening up the possibility of years in federal prison and millions in fines, and throwing into question his future as a Texas legislator.

The San Antonio Democrat was charged with 11 felony counts, including fraud and money laundering. The room was silent Thursday morning as the courtroom deputy read “guilty” verdict after “guilty” verdict. Uresti sat motionless and expressionless, his gaze directed at the deputy.

Nathan Bernier

From Texas Standard.

The content of this story may not be appropriate for younger listeners.

Annie’s List, which works to elect female Democrats in Texas, is calling for the resignations of two powerful Democrats – Sen. Borris Miles of Houston and Sen. Carlos Uresti of San Antonio.

The news comes after the Daily Beast published a story that will likely have major implications for Texas politics.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

There’s a whole lot of potential change right now on the Texas political landscape. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has a challenger for his office from fellow Republican Trey Blocker, a longtime lobbyist who will take on the colorful incumbent. It’s the most serious intra-party challenge to a sitting statewide official – at least so far.

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.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus says he will not run for re-election in 2018.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, has filed paperwork to run to be the next speaker of the Texas House.

"Over the past several months, many of my colleagues have encouraged me to consider running for Speaker," King said in a statement. "In order to have an open discussion concerning the future of our Texas House, I have filed the required paperwork to declare my candidacy for Speaker."

WATCH LIVE: The 86th Texas Legislature

May 11, 2017

WATCH LIVE: The Texas Senate

May 3, 2017

ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas is one of six states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. But a new bill wants Texas to follow the national trend of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18.

House Bill 122, authored by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) and Gene Wu (D-Houston), passed the House last week and could be on its way to the Senate.


Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Dan Huberty succeeded at a difficult task Wednesday: getting the Texas House of Representatives to vote for legislation overhauling the funding system for public education, without a court mandate.


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