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.
With the 60-day bill filing deadline looming on Friday March 10, it will be a busy week in the Texas Capitol. We’ve pulled out a few highlights from recent polling to provide some context for some of Monday’s hearings -- Senate Finance, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III, the House Energy Resources Committee, and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
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.
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.
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.
Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced today the House committees for the 85th Legislative session. Here's a look at what's changed and what's remained the same in one handy table.
Governor Greg Abbott’s state of the state speech to the Texas Legislature provided the big event of the week, and it yielded the emergency designations that enabled Senate committees to propel two of the four emergency items – sanctuary cities legislation and ethics reform – out of committee. This meant an early-session, late night meeting of the Senate State Affairs committee, punctuated by heated feelings from the gallery likely spurred on by the polarized national reactions to Donald Trump’s delivery on his campaign promise to halt the flow of Syrian refugees, and more broadly to stem the entry of Muslims into the country, which, in effect, he did last week with his executive orders. The week also saw Lt. Governor Dan Patrick preside over the unveiling of Senator Larry Taylor’s SB 4, the long awaited school choice bill providing for educational savings accounts and a scholarship program for private school students funded by redirected insurance premium tax funds. No sign of the v-word here! Read on for data related to the week in Texas politics.
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.