Senate budget panel approves $308 billion spending plan with new money for teachers, mental health, juvenile justice
The proposal for the 2024-25 budget cycle includes $142.1 billion in general revenue spending — about $5 billion higher than the proposal approved last week by the Texas House — at a time when lawmakers have a historic $32.7 billion surplus at their disposal this session.
Texas senators seem open to major change in state’s public education funding formula
Senators in the finance committee asked questions Monday about the pros and cons of basing the amount of money that schools get per student on enrollment instead of attendance. Districts say the change could mean millions in additional funding.
A year after George Floyd’s murder, only a few of Texas lawmakers’ police reform measures appear likely to become law
Narrowly targeted pieces of Texas’ George Floyd Act — like restricting chokeholds and requiring officers to provide first aid — are expected to pass. But the Act itself and many other related reforms have failed to progress during the legislative session that ends Monday.
Texas Senate changes rules so Republicans can still bring bills to floor without Democratic support
The Texas Senate gallery is mostly empty due to social distancing at the Capitol on Tuesday. Credit: Jay Janner/Austin American-StatesmanThe Texas Senate on Wednesday approved a fundamental alteration of its rules, ending the minority party’s ability to block legislation it unanimously opposes in the Republican-controlled upper chamber. In a 18-13 vote, lawmakers voted to lower the threshold of support that legislation needs to make it onto the Senate floor. In past sessions, the Senate required a two-thirds supermajority, or 19 votes, to bring legislation to the floor. The gravity of the change was reflected in an unusual scene on the Senate floor: Nearly all 31 senators were in their seats, rapt, as the chamber debated.
State Sen. Royce West won't vote for fellow Democrat MJ Hegar, accuses her of having "a problem all along with Black folks"
Sen. Royce West, D-Texas, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate MJ Hegar. "MJ respects Senator West, they went through a spirited race and sometimes that leaves hard feelings," said Hegar spokesperson Amanda Sherman. At the debate, Hegar said she hadn't reached out to West because it was not her style to seek such endorsements. To be sure, Hegar's campaign is making a serious effort to court Black voters. While West is not backing Hegar, the third-place primary finisher, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, has endorsed Hegar as the nominee.
MJ Hegar leading Royce West in Democratic runoff for U.S. Senate
MJ Hegar was holding a single-digit lead over Royce West on Tuesday night in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate, according to unofficial results. Hegar is the former Air Force helicopter pilot endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, while West is the longtime state senator from Dallas. West sharply questioned Hegar's allegiance to the Democratic Party, while she implied West, a wealthy lawyer, has enriched himself in office. West also aired TV ads in the runoff's closing days, but Hegar's side maintained a staggering advantage on the air. By one count published Tuesday morning, Hegar's campaign and its allies outspent West $102 to $1 on TV and radio advertising.
MJ Hegar leading Royce West in Democratic runoff for U.S. Senate
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and MJ Hegar are vying to be the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican John Cornyn in November. Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson and Eddie Gaspar for The Texas TribuneMJ Hegar was holding a single-digit lead over Royce West on Tuesday night in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate, according to unofficial results. Hegar is the former Air Force helicopter pilot endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, while West is the longtime state senator from Dallas. West sharply questioned Hegar's allegiance to the Democratic Party, while she implied West, a wealthy lawyer, has enriched himself in office. By one count published Tuesday morning, Hegar's campaign and its allies outspent West $102 to $1 on TV and radio advertising.
Trump's former doctor wins House GOP nomination in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas President Donald Trumps former White House physician and onetime pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs won the Republican nomination for a U.S. House seat in Texas in an election that unfolded amid an alarming spread of the coronavirus. Ronny Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral, defeated agriculture advocate Josh Winegarner in a primary runoff Tuesday in the deeply red Texas Panhandle. Jackson will face Gus Trujillo, who won Tuesday's Democratic nomination for the 13th congressional district in Texas, in the November general election. He returned to the White House medical office, retired from the Navy in 2019 and launched his bid for Congress. He earned a marine biology degree from Texas A&M before graduating from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1995.
Six things to watch in Texas primary runoff election
Texans will be voting in the middle of a pandemic on Tuesday in a runoff election originally scheduled for May. The wild card: Robert MorrowFor Republicans in Texas, Robert Morrow advancing to the GOP primary runoff for a seat on the State Board of Education was nothing short of frightening. The winner in the GOP runoff Tuesday will face Texas State University English professor Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a Democrat, in Novembers general election. When he issued a statewide mask mandate, Abbott excluded churches and people voting in the primary runoff elections. Disclosure: Texas State University and the Texas secretary of state have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors.
Texas heads to polls for Senate runoff as virus rages
Texas has become one of the world's virus hot zones and is in far worse shape now than when the runoff was postponed in March. Last week was the deadliest of the pandemic for Texas, and Republican Gov. Abbott did not include polling places in his recent statewide mask order, and unlike many states, Texas has fought efforts to expand mail-in balloting during the pandemic. The Senate runoff is between Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, who narrowly lost a race for a House seat in 2018, and state Sen. Royce West, who if he wins would become Texas' first Black U.S. senator. For now, both remain underdogs against Cornyn, a three-term Senate veteran who has a hefty stockpile of campaign dollars.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's reelection war chest grows to $14.5 million, expanding advantage over Democratic challengers
Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, during a Senate Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on June 23, 2020. Rod Lamkey/CNP via REUTERSU.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has $14.5 million saved up for his reelection bid after raising $3.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, his campaign announced Monday. The figures come a day before a Democratic primary runoff will settle who faces Cornyn in November: MJ Hegar, the Air Force veteran backed by national Democrats, or Royce West, the longtime state senator from Dallas. Cornyn has regularly stayed ahead of his Democratic challengers in the money race as they have had to focus on their protracted nominating process. On their pre-runoff campaign finance reports covering all but the last several days of the second quarter Hegar reported raising $1.6 million and having $1.6 million cash on hand, while West said he took in $430,000 and had $160,000 in reserves.
Decision 2020: Where US Senate candidates MJ Hegar and Royce West stand on major issues
HOUSTON Texas will hold its 2020 primary runoff election on July 14. Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and Texas State Sen. Royce West, both Democrats, are squaring off for their partys ticket in November against incumbent U.S. Senator John Cornyn. Heres what to know about the candidates and their stance on the big issues:HealthcareMJ HegarWants to create a public option to make Medicare available for all those who want itBelieves every child should have healthcare coverageWants to protect the progress made by the Affordable Care Act while making improvementsWill stand up for Texans against special interests who put profits over peopleBelieves Big Pharma interests must be held accountable for their part in the opioid epidemicRoyce WestBelieves healthcare is a basic human right, not a privilege reserved for only those who can afford itBelieves the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a monumental step for the American healthcare system, but it didnt go far enoughWants to ensure that everyone who wants to enroll in the ACA can do so, without forcing others to forfeit their employer-sponsored insuranceWants to continue educating people on the importance of mental health and include those services with basic healthcare packagesSays he will fight to ensure every Texan receives the affordable care we all deserveEducationMJ HegarBelieves every child should have access to an affordable and quality educationWants teachers, educators, and school staff to be paid salaries worthy of the critical service they provide to societyWants to put an end to the government profiting off loans by lowering interest rates on student debtWants to ensure all higher education from apprenticeship programs to vocational training to degree programs is more affordable for current and future studentsWants to encourage support for and investment in vocational programsRoyce WestWants to ensure funding follows low-income studentsWants a statewide pay increase for teachersWants to offer debt relief programs for college graduatesWants to invest in community colleges, offering free tuition for low-income studentsWants to make the path from a community college into a 4-year institution easier to navigate for studentsWomens rightsMJ HegarSupports federal law codifying Roe v. WadeBelieves politicians should not legislate a womans most intimate decisionsSupports organizations that are providing communities with needed womens health care servicesIs opposed to efforts to shutter clinics that provide critical care to women all over Texas, especially in rural areasWants to provide support for women and families by increasing access to sex education, affordable over-the-counter contraception, and cost-effective childcareRoyce WestBelieves a woman has the right to make decisions about her bodyBelieves any issue involving a womans healthcare is between her and her doctorDedicated to continuing this fight for womens reproductive freedom in WashingtonPlans to take this fight from the Texas State Senate floor to the United States Senate floorImmigrationMJ HegarWants to permanently end child separationWants to ensure asylum seekers are not treated as criminals and their claims are properly processedWants to secure the border with effective procedures and technologiesWants to build a path to citizenship for undocumented residents that prioritizes security and reflects core values as AmericansRoyce WestBelieves children do not belong in cages, and families must stay togetherWants to immediately address the humanitarian crisis going on at the borderBelieves the border needs more resources, like judges who can expedite hearings for asylum seekersWants to take a proactive approach and work with Mexico and Central America in order to stop citizens from fleeing their homesWants to solve the humanitarian crisis at the border, while also investing in technology and infrastructure to keep them secureGun violenceMJ HegarWants to pass common-sense gun safety legislation to require background checks on every single gun sale, including closing the gun show loopholeWants to stop the sale of assault weapons to the publicWants to pass red flag laws limiting access to firearms for domestic abusers including closing the boyfriend loophole and those who would commit acts of domestic terrorismWants to fully fund the CDC to reverse ban on gun violence researchWants for state and local officials to end open carryRoyce West
EMILYs List adds to massive spending on behalf of MJ Hegar in Democratic runoff against Royce West
Prior to the EMILY's List move, Hegar's campaign was already spending $662,000 on television ads. Additionally, her campaign made a joint purchase of $605,000 with the Senate Democratic campaign arm, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. EMILY's List endorsed Hegar shortly after she finished first in the crowded March primary, which had featured multiple other women. The commercials that are being paid for by the Hegar campaign and DSCC tout her commitment to health care, immigration and battling systemic racism. The ensuing days brought further recriminations, with West tying Hegar to "systemic racism" and Hegar implying his indignation was being driven by sexism.
New Houston task force on police reform: Real change or window dressing?
It is just one of the incidents that led to the formation of the Houston Task Force on Policing Reform. Laurence “Larry” Payne is the chair of the task force and says the goal is clear. Here’s what else you can expect on this week’s Houston Newsmakers:Democrats in runoff to fight for chance to face Senator John CornynM.J. Hegar led 12 others in the Democratic primary on March 3rd. Her 22% beat 2nd place finisher State Senator Royce West who captured almost 15% of the vote. They’re now in the runoff that takes place on July 14th and both are guests this week on Houston Newsmakers.
MJ Hegar maintains big fundraising lead over Royce West in U.S. Senate runoff
Hegar's runoff opponent, Royce West, took in $430,000 over a slightly shorter period, his campaign said after Hegar's announcement. West's campaign quickly followed up its fundraising announcement with some better news: the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro. West's campaign said it has built more fundraising momentum since the debate, which happened after the last date covered by the pre-runoff report. Hegar's campaign argued Thursday that her latest fundraising details show she is prepared for the general election. Wests campaign said he spent $391,000 between April 1 and June 24, while Hegars did not offer that figure.
MJ Hegar raises $1.7 million in second quarter of Democratic U.S. Senate race
MJ Hegar is facing state Sen. Royce West of Dallas in the Democratic runoff for U.S. Senate. John Jordan/The Texas TribuneMJ Hegar raised over $1.7 million in the second quarter of 2020, her campaign announced Thursday, unveiling a haul that marks her best three-month period yet while seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Hegar, the former Air Force helicopter pilot backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, faces state Sen. Royce West of Dallas in the July 14 primary runoff to take on Cornyn. While West's second-quarter figures were not immediately available, Hegar had a major cash-on-hand advantage over him after the first quarter, $1.1 million to $121,000. Cornyn has stayed far ahead of his Democratic competition, with $12.9 million saved up by the end of March.
MJ Hegar, Royce West spar on party loyalty, ethics in debate
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates MJ Hegar and State Sen. Royce West face off at KVUEs Democratic U.S. Senate Primary debate on June 29, 2020. Screenshot via KVUELong-simmering grievances boiled over Monday in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate as Royce West and MJ Hegar sparred bitterly in their latest debate. When West brought it up at the debate, Hegar immediately pushed back, saying she was "disappointed because I think this is why people tune out from politics." West told Hegar at the debate. "Make no mistake about it, she is alleging Royce West broke the law and now its on her to prove it."
Face shields, gloves, wipes: Texas votes as virus rages
PLANO, Texas As coronavirus cases skyrocket in Texas, Regina Greenwell showed up to vote Monday bent on minimizing the risks. She brought her own pen but inside was a touchscreen system with disposable latex finger guards for voters to use. A steady trickle of eager morning voters all arriving in masks kept poll workers busy at Davis Elementary School in Austin. Poll workers sat behind plastic shields, and blue tape on the floor encouraged voters in line to keep their distance from one another. Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County Clerk who oversees Austin's elections, recruited about 80 poll workers on standby after having a slew of no-shows on Super Tuesday.
Heres whats happening in the week ahead in the Houston area
Here are some of the things happening in the week ahead:Early voting in the Texas primary runoff begins MondayTexas Gov. Voters participating in the Democratic primary will decide the outcome in two statewide races. Most notably, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is facing decorated Air Force veteran MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat. The other statewide Democratic primary runoff is for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees the oil and natural gas industry. Space Center Houston scheduled to reopen to the public WednesdaySpace Center Houston is reopening its doors to the public on July 1.
Issues of race, policing dominate final stretch of Democratic runoff to face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
"I think that you know me well enough to know that I'm running against John Cornyn," she said, reciting her contrasts with Cornyn. A Fox News poll released Thursday found both Hegar and West each trailing Cornyn by 10 percentage points in hypothetical matchups. Hegar and West are due to disclose their campaign finances on Thursday for the first time since the end of March. It was in that debate that Hegar and West largely agreed on most major issues but did show a little separation. West has also had a foil in Cornyn as he has sought to put issues of race front and center in the runoff.
Monday is your deadline to register to vote in the Texas primary runoff
Eddie Gaspar/The Texas TribuneTexans who want to vote in the upcoming Texas primary runoff election have until Monday, to register. Greg Abbott delayed the upcoming primary runoffs from May to July after the coronavirus pandemic hit the state of Texas. The other statewide Democratic primary runoff is for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees the oil and natural gas industry. Voters who voted in the Republican primary in March cannot cross parties and vote in the Democratic primary and vice versa. See the primary runoff ballot here and add key Texas 2020 election dates to your calendar here.
Watch U.S. Senate Democratic runoff candidates Royce West and MJ Hegar debate
As the pandemic continues to prevent large in-person gatherings, the candidates in Texas' top Democratic primary runoff will meet Saturday for a virtual debate at the Texas Democratic Convention. The threat of the new coronavirus has meant MJ Hegar and Royce West have been campaigning almost exclusively online since the March primary. Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot, has received the backing of the powerful Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Hegar finished first in the 12-way Democratic Senate primary on March 3. She remains the top Democratic fundraiser, ending the latest fundraising period which went through March 31 with $1.1 million cash on hand to West's $121,000.