Jim Henson

Texas data points of order for the week of April 7, 2017

April 7, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Most of this week's focus in state politics was on the budget bill coming to the floor in the House, and the debate was filled with the usual theater, hijinks, and even a few surprises (we're looking at you, Texas Enterprise Fund).  Meanwhile, the Trump administration got their man nominated to the Supreme Court and lobbed some cruise missiles at an isolated (and probably forewarned) airport, though many (especially the not-consulted U.S. Congress) wonder what the strategy in Syria is beyond some missile-based signaling.

Marijuana Attitudes in Texas May Portend Change – Not Right Now Though

April 6, 2017
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

While it’s unlikely that the Texas Legislature will lessen penalties for marijuana use in the 2017 session, HB 81, a bill that would decrease the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a ticket and a Class B misdemeanor, was passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday on a 4-2 vote with two Republicans in favor of the measure. Coincidentally, the first Democrat to jump into the 2018 race against Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, is the co-author of a book on the failures of the war on drugs, prompting Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe to ask: “Is Texas Ready For Statewide Candidate Who Wants To Legalize Marijuana?”

A Document with All House Budget Amendments Searchable by Keyword

April 5, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

This pdf document combines all of the amendments to the House budget bill scheduled for debate on Thursday April 6, converted so that you it's searchable by keywords.  The document is a large pdf posted to Google drive, so you can simply download it if you so desire.  (You could save it to iBooks if you have an iPhone..) These are the amendments without numbers, and you can't search by member given that most have the members names handwritten on the document.  But if you're trying to figure out who's done what, it's a start.  

Aiming for Germaneness: Texas data points for the week of March 31, 2017

April 1, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The House and Senate budgets are now fully gassed up and pointed at each other on a dark road outside of town, now that the House Appropriations Committee has sent its version of the budget to the House floor.  On the other side of the building, Senator Taylor got the much-debated school choice bill passed by the Senate, though in much reduced form and with three GOP no votes.  The Railroad Commission kept its name and won’t be enforcing bathroom access, at least per the House version of the much-lobbied TRC Sunset bill. In the wake of Governor Greg Abbott’s big rhetorical play on state sovereignty last week, Ross Ramsey wrote a smart column we wish we had thought of first, connecting that message with the governor’s play on a Convention of the State – all topped of with a clever Lord of the Rings reference that just seemed greedy. We had to settle for trying to explain the roots of Sauron’s power in public attitudes in the Burkablog at Texas Monthly. The week ended with Beto O’Rourke formally confirming he’s going to run for the Democratic Senate nomination to face off against Ted Cruz, though he didn’t take a road trip to do it.  Data on all this below - don’t forget that the graphics are interactive, though maybe, like readers of The New York Times,  you don’t care

Aiming for Germaneness: Texas Data points for the week of March 21, 2017

March 31, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The House and Senate budgets are now fully gassed up and pointed at each other on a dark road outside of town, now that the House Appropriations Committee has sent its version of the budget to the House floor.  On the other side of the building, Senator Taylor got the much-debated school choice bill passed by the Senate, though in much reduced form and with three GOP no votes.  The Railroad Commission kept its name and won’t be enforcing bathroom access, at least per the House version of the much-lobbied TRC Sunset bill. In the wake of Governor Greg Abbott’s big rhetorical play on state sovereignty last week, Ross Ramsey wrote a smart column we wish we had thought of first, connecting that message with the governor’s play on a Convention of the State – all topped of with a clever Lord of the Rings reference that just seemed greedy. We had to settle for trying to explain the roots of Sauron’s power in public attitudes in the Burkablog at Texas Monthly. The week ended with Beto O’Rourke formally confirming he’s going to run for the Democratic Senate nomination to face off against Ted Cruz, though he didn’t take a road trip to do it.  Data on all this below - don’t forget that the graphics are interactive, though maybe, like readers of The New York Times,  you don’t care

Budget, Railroad Commission Sunset, More in #TxLege today

March 28, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson

The Senate Budget bil is expected to hit the floor of the upper chamber today, while the House is expected to vote on the heavily lobbied Texas Railroad Commission sunset bill.  A slew of amendments have been filed on that bill, but it seems unlikely to be derailed at this point.  Polling and recent commentary provide some context for today's busy agenda in the 85th Texas Legislature.

Full Video of Speaker Straus Interview at UT Austin

March 25, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson

Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, was our guest in the Texas Politics Speaker Series on Friday, March 24, 2017.  Here is a complete video of the interview, along with short excerpts on key topics including the budget, education policy, his own political future, and, of course, bathroom access.

Audio from Today's Texas Politics Project Conversation with Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus

March 24, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson

In an interview at UT Austin on Friday, March 24, 2017, Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus discussed issues before the 85th Legislature as well as the state politics and the state of the Republican Party.  Below is an audio file of the interview - video clips will follow soon.

Texas Public Opinion on ACA Repeal Illustrates GOP, Trump Difficulties in Congress

March 23, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

As the bill meant to repeal Obamacare faces a close floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, results from the February 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll illustrate the cross currents in the Republican Party that are forcing Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump to furiously whip the first major vote of the new administration.

Public Opinion on Vouchers as SB 3 Gets a Committee Hearing in the Senate

March 21, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson

The February 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll asked battery of questions about public education policy that included two items related to vouchers that provide context for the March 21 Senate Education Committee hearings on SB 3, the omnibus voucher/school schoice bill sponsoered by Senator Larry Taylor.  The bill, which is the vehicle for Lt. Governor Patrick's efforts to introduce more private options into the k-12 education system, includes a form of educational savings accounts as well as scholarship set asides that parents can use for private school options.  Below are some key results on the questions we asked, followed by brief comments Josh Blank and I wrote about the results shortly after the poll was released.

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