Keyword: Greg Abbott

Giving (Some of) the People What They Want: 85th Legislature Endgame Edition

Texas GOP Leaders Face Budget Choices Amidst Vague Public Attitudes

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

 The public — in particular the part of the public that matters most in practical terms, Republican voters — likely remains to be persuaded of the best path forward, holding attitudes that are not especially well-informed or fixed. In particular, given that the sticking point seems to be whether or not to tap the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund (RDF), only a plurality hew to a reflexive reluctance to tap the fund, with a decisive chunk of voters not having any opinion as of February.   

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

| By: Joshua Blank and 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?”

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

| By: Jim Henson and 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

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

| By: Jim Henson and 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

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Budget, Railroad Commission Sunset, More in #TxLege today

| 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.

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

| By: Jim Henson and 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.

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

| By: Jim Henson and 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.

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

| By: Jim Henson and 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.

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Peculiar Partisan Patterns Persist in Lukewarm Views of Constitutional Revision

| By: Jim Henson and 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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