Why is the Lieutenant Governor Killing the House’s Buzz on Marijuana Decriminalization and Medical Cannabis?
Talk of the Texas Legislature passing some legislation to lighten the state’s traditionally harsh marijuana laws have been in the air since long before the 86th legislature got underway in January. The expectations, cultivated by a combination of optimistic advocates and click-seeking news outlets, were fleetingly validated with the House of Representatives’ passage of Rep. Joe Moody’s bill (ultimately watered down) containing reduced misdemeanor penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and lowering the threshold for having those convictions expunged from one’s record.
The euphoria among supporters, however, was short lived.
The Texas Senate’s rejection of the much-hyped proposal by the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House to ask voters to approve a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax has produced what passes for high drama in the Capitol. The Senate’s outright rejection of an approach promoted by its presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, only worsened the already obvious problems in the House, where Democrats are publicly unified in their opposition amidst lower-key but palpable skepticism among House members who have to run in GOP primaries next year. (Shortly after the original version of this post appeared in TribTalk on May 7, the House sponsor of the bills pulled them from consideration, all but guaranteeing the death of the sales tax increase.)
We've made the new runs released by the House committee available in a spreadsheets for 2020 and 2021 via Google Drive, should you want to interact with the data yourself.
Given the widely recognized demographic trajectory of the state, the political attitudes of Latino voters in Texas remains one of the topics most likely come up in any and all discussions of the state’s electoral future. The approach of a recent article in The Conversation by Stella Rouse and Shibley Telhami with the highly clickable title “How Latinos Really Feel About Trump” got us thinking about the Texas-specific answers to some of the questions raised by the authors about Latinos nationally.
The Texas House will take up HB3, the omnibus school finance bill years in the making, on Wednesday. As with any attempt to tweak the school finance system in Texas, the attention of legislators in the House has shifted to the "runs", the document produced by the Legislative Budget Board outlining how funding will change for each member's school districts. Old timers in the process will remember how, in the past, when new runs were released, members walked around with sheafs of paper, looking for the small handful (or less) of members who could walk them through the implications.
Ah, technology! For those who enjoy looking at the data themselves and maybe even playing with it, we have converted the .pdf's released by the LBB into spreadsheets and shared them for easy access.
For those following the debate in the Texas House of Representatives today on HB 1, the appropriations bill, here's a searchable pdf of the pre-filed amendments, via Google Docs. If you're not a regular Google Docs user:after you follow the link, there's a download icon in the upper right that will download the pdf to your device, then you can open using whatever you're used to using.
Amidst all the unknowns about this phase of the Mueller investigation, now that the "report" has been submitted, one thing we know from University of Texas/Texas Tribune Polling: reactions will be heavily determined by partisanship. Looking back over the time series of UT/TT Polls, attitudes towards Mueller, the Russia Investigation, and even the FBI as an organization split along partisan lines a considerable time ago.
Following principle rather than politics would require crossing Texas GOP voters who are overwhelmingly and uncompromisingly supportive of the wall, comfortable with Trump’s reliance on executive power to deliver it and still intensely supportive of his presidency.
[This post originally appeared in Tribtalk on March 13, 2019. When the Senate voted on March 14, Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn both voted against the resolution. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of the motion, which passed 59-41.]
As the political press awaits Beto O’Rourke’s announcement that he’s ready to “push the button” on a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, we’ve gathered a set of results from the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll that chart his rise in his home state. All of this put him in a strong position to challenge John Cornyn in 2020, but he has apparently chosen ostensibly bigger and better things at the national level.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released 30 priority bills for the current legislative session Friday, conveniently mapped onto the numbering of Senate Bills 1-30. We published a similar list when Governor Abbott used the power of the governorship to shape the legislative agenda with his declaration of emergency items in February, prior to the most recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. The overlap between the Lt. Governor’s priorities and those previously announced by the governor means that several of the items below provide a useful update for that post, too.