Joshua Blank

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

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.

No, That Really is Rain You Feel on Your Back: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics, March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The House raised the bet in the budget poker game as the House and Senate also displayed differences on sanctuary cities legislation, one of the Governor's emergency items. On the other hand, rejecting Governor Abbotts' lead on pre-k funding is an area of increasingly rare agreement between the House and the Senate. Still pending is how the Senate will respond to the statewide texting-while-driving ban passed this week by the House after a pretty lively debate. SB 6 passed the Senate this week, even as Chairman Cook confirmed the general sense that the House leadership, like the public, per UT/Texas Tribune Polling, is much less interested in the legislature regulating bathroom access than the Senate leadership. Looking toward 2018, Congressmen Will Hurd and Beto O'Rourke took a roadtrip and live streamed the whole thing, much to the delight of the national media and Jonathan Tilove – but probably not Texas' Junior Senator.

A Quick Look at the School Finance Runs from HB 21 with Maps

March 8, 2017
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

The House Education Committee began hearings on HB 21 this week, the bill sponsored by Committee Chair Dan Huberty, intending to begin the process of changing Texas' beleaguered school financing system. Also released with the bill are were the "runs" for 2018 and 2019, the tables of legislative lore which show how the proposal would impact the operating budgets of each district compared to current law, including the impact that it would have on per student funding (according to the weighted average daily attendance for each district, aka the WADA). We worked a little with the data in the run, and produced some maps and a table.

New Travel Ban, Same Opinions

March 6, 2017
By: 
Joshua Blank

President Trump today signed a revised version his controversial executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The updates exclude Iraq from the list of seven countries, removes a provision that prioritized immigration by religious minorities from those countries (aka Christians), and makes clear that it no longer affects people currently holding visas. As for the likely public reaction in Texas, February 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Polling showed that among the Texas GOP, the President had little to fear, as they expressed favorable opinions towards his proposals (and some more extreme ones from the campaign trail). 

Public Opinion May be Reinforcing Resistance to SB 6 in the Texas GOP

March 6, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Senate State Affairs Committee hearing tomorrow on Senator Lois Kolkhorst’s Senate Bill 6 has triggered three press conferences today and will no doubt be the focus of a large chunk of tomorrow’s news media coverage in Texas – and probably some national coverage, too. Much of the extant coverage has missed how conflicting public attitudes provide an essential context for understanding the politics among the leadership. Recent results from the February 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll confirm that while Texans’ attitudes convey the expected conservative tilt, only a minority – 39 percent – think it is important for the legislature to act on this issue now.

Everywhere you look, Democracy! Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics

March 2, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The week was barely underway when the new Public Education Chair in the Texas House illustrated just how much style and personality can make the same position feel really different when it comes from a Huberty rather than an Aycock. The House managed to make a fight out of the one issue that there seemed to be universal agreement on in the Legislature, while the Texas Supreme Court decided they want to hear arguments about gay marriage after all.  Meanwhile, in the commanding heights, Governor Abbott was invited by the other two-thirds of the big three to have a fight with one of them, but it was no cigar. Instead, the Governor was plenty happy to take the resolution passed by the Senate joining the call for a Convention of the States, though conservatives are not all of the same mind on whether that’s a good idea or not.  If the governor has to change their mind, maybe he ought to ask the President, who seems to have done a good job of moving Republicans toward a more open-minded position on the President of Russia -- though it turns out Attorney General Sessions may have jumped the gun on that front at least a little.

Peculiar Partisan Patterns Persist in Lukewarm Views of Constitutional Revision

February 27, 2017
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Legislation clearing the way for Texas to join the call for a Convention of the States aimed at considering amendments to the U.S. Constitution appears poised to hit the Senate floor for debate this week, as early as Tuesday. Statewide polling, however, continues to show patterns of support among Texans that don’t necessarily correspond to a project favored by the state GOP’s standard bearer.

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