Keyword: Texas Legislature
Senate District 30 Special Election Early Votes through Friday, September 25. Election Day for the special election is September 29.
State Senator Pat Fallon’s Senate seat is not only still warm, it’s not even technically vacated, which made Governor Abbott’s thumb-on-the-scale calling of a snap election for his replacement the major political preoccupation inside the Austin beltway (such as it is) this week. We take a look at the district, presumed frontrunner State Rep. Drew Springer’s positioning there, and possible spoiler Shelly Luther’s potential audience among the Texas GOP. Meanwhile, in Charlotte and on several public properties in the Washington, D.C. area, Donald Trump and his political party attempted to rally fervid Trump Republicans while shoring up some key corners where they fear attrition in November, a tricky task, even if you do have the White House as a backdrop. Hurricane Laura came ashore big, though luckily appears to have inflicted less damage than anticipated. Still, some Texas areas adjacent to the major disaster areas in Western Louisiana were hit hard; we gingerly consider the possible political consequences of the disaster in Texas, along with other data points from the week in politics.
While national politics focused on Democrats’ virtual convention and how it would promote the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, the top three figures in Texas state government made a show of promising a dubious means of protecting the police from the depredations of municipal efforts to reduce their budgets. The policy was vague and seemingly hard to deliver, at least as discussed, but the show was understandable given the latest news on the pandemic and on the data supposedly informing those decisions. Meanwhile, we have a very interesting opportunity to look at the views of a key group of policy makers toward how their own workplace should be regulated in response to the pandemic as the political class ponders how to conduct the legislative session that commences in January, courtesy of a survey conducted by the House Administration Committee chaired by Charlie Geren (R-Ft. Worth). We also got some new data on the presidential election in Texas, which we had the opportunity to discuss with our colleague Mark Jones from the Baker Institute at Rice University. Read on for these and more data points from another hot week in Texas politics.
On August 14, the Chairman of the House Administration Committee, State Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Ft. Worth), released the results of a survey of House Members' responses to a range of questions about the operation of the House in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of the results was published by Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report the same day. The questionaire was made up of 38 questions, including 13 open-ended items. We've created graphics for most of the responses, including the open-ended responses, which were coded into categories when appropriate. (Some of the questions were simply general inquiries.) Each graphic below includes the question and the number of respondents to that item. Based on the released results, 116 of the 150 House members responded at least partially to the questionnaire, though not all of the respondents answered all 38 questions.
The week started with the Comptroller releasing revenue numbers that invited cherry picking by the desperate, manipulative, and just plain inattentive. But they weren’t really very sweet if you looked closely. Governor Abbott held events and press conferences on two separate days as he continued his attempts to manage the COVID-19 crisis and the politics surrounding it, which have not gotten any easier, as illustrated by the fact that he got sued this week by five legislators ostensibly on his team. Those legislators are a thorn in the governor’s side, but the whole affair points to the larger question of whether we can expect to see a less obstructionist, more constructive vision of the role of the legislature restore some balance between the two main branches of government in 2021. Part of the answer to this question depends heavily on the outcome of the 2020 election. Speaking of the election, we very seriously doubt that Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Black voters to take another look at him as a candidate, while claiming that he is more of a civil rights hero than John Lewis, are going to help him move his lopsided numbers among Black Texans.
Official economic data released Thursday confirmed what millions of Americans and Texans already knew from experience – that giant sucking sound in everyone’s ears is coming from the contraction of the economy. The same day (what a coincidence!), the president’s Tweet about delaying the November election, and the immediate frenzied responses, had a similar sucking effect. By comparison, Governor Greg Abbott’s addition of another week to the early voting period and an ever-so-slight relaxation of the vote-by-mail rules was a gentle whisper in the ear of the electorate (“I care…”). The Attorney General’s message to local health authorities was decidedly less gentle. Meanwhile, the legislature – remember them? – is getting antsy about how to manage the practical matters of what everybody realizes is going to be a miserable, fiscally strapped session in 2021 no matter how many people they have an excuse to keep out of their offices. And, well, Congressman Louis Gohmert. Read on for public opinion data on all this and more.
As the national and international discussion of the larger role of Facebook and other social media applications rages in the wake of Russian subversion, the ongoing Cambridge Analytica revelations, and Mark Zuckerberg's appearances on Capitol Hill, attention has shifted away from the more mundane uses of Facebook by real live elected officials.
Even with all the current angst about Facebook data as a backdrop, we are interested in how members of the #TXLege use the social media platform given its nearly ubiquitous use by elected officials in the state. One-hundred-forty-one members of the Texas House and 28 Texas Senators posted on public campaign Facebook pages where they designated themselves as a “politician” or a “public official” during the 2017 Session. This makes Facebook a venue for interactions with constituents as well as a forum for public interaction with the legislature as a whole.
On the Texas side of politics, this week felt like a flashback to last Spring, as the anti-sanctuary city law, the bathroom bill, and the general tone of the 85th Legislature all got rehearings. It’s hard not to feel yet again that there are much bigger goings-on nationally, as students not on spring break staged a national walk-out to protest inaction on gun policy, the Democrats won a squeaker in a Pennsylvania special election, and we discovered what many presupposed, that Special Counsel Mueller has some questions about the Trump business empire and its connections to Russians. Read on for Texas public opinion data linked to some of the big stories from the week in politics.
The increasing efforts to use state government to pre-empt the power of local governments emerges from a confluence of state and national politics that is much bigger than Austin, even though the Legislature has a history of treating Austin as a liberal burr under an ever more conservative saddle.
In his much-anticipated state of the state address before the legislature, Governor Abbott declared four emergency items. At the top of the list, as widely expected, he called the Legislature to work swiftly and comprehensively on addressing problems in child protective services and foster care. “Do it right!,” he exhorted them shortly before revealing it as his top emergency item. The Governor also declared banning Sanctuary cities, ethics reform, and a measure calling for a Convention of the states to consider constitutional amendments – one of his pet projects.