With all the bills that are going to get filed now in the system, the committees in both chambershttp://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/calendars/html/S120170313.htm will get even busier, and there is likely to be at least some drama in the Senate as one of the headline-grabbing pieces of legislation thus far in the session hits the intent calendar in the upper chamber starting Monday. There will also be some other matters that have been on the public's mind, too.
It’s hard not to see the late-breaking addition of the Public Education Committee chair Dan Huberty’s just-filed HB 21 to the committee's agenda Tuesday as a bit of a chess move against both voucher advocates and the Senate, where the State Affairs Committee will be holding a high profile hearing on SB 6, the bathroom access bill championed by the Lt. Governor.
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.
The Texas Tribune published stories all week long on the February 2017 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, and we'll be mulling and writing about the results in the coming weeks. Ross Ramsey wrote stories about it all week long, bless his heart. But here are some first takes to end the week. We've posted many graphics, including lots of crosstabs at the latest poll page at the Texas Politics Project website - we'll post data files soon.
Advocates of proposed legislation that would constrain or reverse efforts by local governments to guarantee transgender people access to public facilities of their choice repeatedly have invoked public opinion polling as evidence of broad public support for the legislation. The currently available polling, however, provides only tentative information about public attitudes toward the highest profile legislation, Senate Bill 6. Because access to public facilities is a comparatively new issue on the public agenda, most people are still forming opinions about it, which makes attention to the intentions and uses of different kinds of polling critical to assessing how polling is used for advocacy on this and other issues.
In what should be expected to be a continuing trend, the last week saw national news not only dominate coverage, but also touch Texas directly, even as each chamber of the legislature got a little busier, albeit each at their own respective pace. Though there were no other signs of the apocalypse, the Lt. Governor called a press conference promoting a Politifact column in the local paper, where he also again invoked polling that he says supports SB 6. That claim is pretty complicated, but that’s another story. Read on for some data points that shed light on some of the week’s political developments.
The first week of the New Year brought with it an unsurprising uptick in political signaling in the run-up to the advent of the 85th Texas Legislature. Speaker Straus gave an interview that sent some selected signals to both legislative chambers, while the Lt. Governor, having released a few lists of priorities before the holiday break, zeroed in on bathroom access Friday. In more indirect moves, Attorney General Ken Paxton released some strong fundraising numbers and an Austin-resident, ABC pundit, and scold of the two parties confirmed rumors that had circulated all through the fall that he was considering running in 2018 as an independent for the Texas Senate seat currently held by Ted Cruz. On the national front, the Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings in which testimony confirmed (along with a newly released report) that US intelligence agencies largely agreed that Russia intervened in the US election with the goals of de-legitimizing the process in the eyes of the world (and, presumably, Americans, it would seem), and also to aid Donald Trump.