Rep. Gary VanDeaver has announced he will seek re-election to the Texas House, and he has received endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott. “I am proud to endorse Rep. Gary VanDeaver for re-election,” Abbott said in a press release. “Gary is a strong conservative leader who worked to rein in your property taxes and improve education for Texas students.” VanDeaver said he is proud to have Abbott’s support. view article arw

Pilgrim Academy eighth-grader Printis Stevens has big dreams of becoming a forensic anthropologist, turning her fascination with science into a job that helps law enforcement investigators solve crimes and bring closure to families. Her love of science gets cultivated each day in the bright, high-ceilinged classroom of Christopher Hua, an energetic, Johns Hopkins-educated teacher now in his fourth year at the Houston ISD campus. Students and the school’s principal, Diana Castillo, lavish praise on Hua for his ability to relate with students and willingness to spend after-hours time with kids. view article arw

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is heading to a runoff against high-profile attorney Tony Buzbee in his rowdy reelection race.  With all vote centers reporting Wednesday morning, Turner had 47% of the vote in unofficial returns to 28% for Buzbee. Turner was around 7,800 votes short of winning enough of the vote — over 50% — to avert an overtime round.  The runoff is set for Dec. 14. view article arw

Turnout in odd-numbered years has always been historically low. While this year’s turnout is higher than in 2017, it's still overwhelmingly low.  Texas voters approved nine amendments to the state’s Constitution on Tuesday. Only 12% of registered voters actually cast ballots — a higher percentage from the 2017 election, but still overwhelmingly low overall.  A majority of Texas voters must approve any changes to the Texas Constitution. Getting a proposed amendment on the ballot requires support from more than two-thirds of both chambers of the Legislature. view article arw

A last-minute change in how votes were counted threw Harris County into an electoral muddle Tuesday, causing nearly 12-hour delays in results for the closely watched mayor's race and a raft of state constitutional amendments.  While exasperating election night vigils are not unusual in the state's largest county, this election's prolonged delay raised questions about what went wrong and why it took hours to make even a fraction of tallies public. view article arw

The Texas legislative session is over, but several lawmakers were back in Austin this week working during the interim. view article arw

As voters go to the polls Tuesday for a constitutional amendment election, the transition from Bexar County’s old voting machines to its new ones with paper cards has gone smoothly, Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said.  Related: Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot in Texas  In the summer, Bexar County commissioners approved a $12.5 million purchase of new voting machines to replace the 17-year-old system that the county had been using. More than 42,000 people turned out to use Bexar County’s new voting machines during the early voting period, which ended Friday.  view article arw

Dan Patrick’s budget destruction

November 0408:42 AM

It’s not what you think it is, but it’s still bad. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Texas state government, an arcane team of 100 or so budget nerds has led a private, if stressful, life — running financial models, ensuring state government and its private contractors aren’t spending beyond their means, and keeping lawmakers informed about each line item in the state’s 1,000-page, $250 billion two-year budget. view article arw

Last session lawmakers passed House Bill 1888 that bans mobile polling locations. Supporters of the bill said it will make it easier for some people to vote, while Democrats are saying the bill is unconstitutional. Now, Democrats are suing the state over the new law, but what exactly are mobile polling locations, and what did Texas voters lose? view article arw

One week after Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen said that he would not run for reelection, conservative activists on Wednesday urged Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to elect a new speaker. Michael Quinn Sullivan, chief executive of Empower Texans, and leaders of other conservative groups including Texas Right to Life and Texas Homeschool Coalition held a news conference outside Dallas, requesting that lawmakers immediately remove Bonnen as speaker and address issues they say Republican leaders ignored during the regular session. view article arw

A recorded and reckless conversation between a top state official and a political activist rocked the state Capitol this summer and upended the career of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen last month. But it hardly registered with most voters, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.  More than two-thirds of registered voters said they have heard “nothing at all” (50%) or “a little” (18%) “about the controversy over a June 2019 meeting between the speaker of the Texas House and the head of a political action committee.” Only 12% said they have heard “a lot,” and 19% said they have heard “some” about the incident. view article arw

For the second time in two years, the members of the Texas House have the chance — if they so desire — to elect the first woman to serve as speaker. Two women — Miriam “Ma” Ferguson and Ann Richards — have served as governors of Texas. But no woman has served as speaker of the Texas House, nor as the state’s lieutenant governor. Texas has had 43 lieutenant governors, from Albert Clinton Horton to Dan Patrick. And from William Crump to Dennis Bonnen, there have been 70 speakers. view article arw

Worried about the suppression of young voters in 2020, national and Texas Democrats are suing the state over a newly implemented election measure that’s triggered the shuttering of early voting places, including on college campuses, in various parts of the state. In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Austin, the Texas Democratic Party — joined by the Democratic campaign arms for the U.S. House and Senate — alleges that the state’s move to effectively end the use of what were known as temporary or mobile early voting sites is unconstitutional because it discriminates against young voters by shrinking their access to the ballot box. view article arw

The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Education met in Austin Monday to get an update on how districts are implementing the new school finance law. Texas school districts received more money from the state this school year thanks to House Bill 3 (HB3). HB3 infused more than $11 billion into the public school system, including increasing the basic allotment for each student, teacher raises and funding full-day Pre-K for all eligible students.     view article arw

Must Read - js - The Texas Legislative Budget Board is hemorrhaging staff and has been without an executive director for a year.  Tucked away in a quiet corner of Texas state government, an arcane team of 100 or so budget nerds has led a private, if stressful, life — running financial models, ensuring state government and its private contractors aren’t spending beyond their means, and keeping lawmakers informed about each line item in the state’s 1,000-page, $250 billion two-year budget. view article arw

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff made San Antonio environmentalists swallow their coffee hard last week when he told a business group he would like to transfer sales tax money that currently goes to protect the Edwards Aquifer and build creekside trails to VIA for expanded rapid transit service.  The decision would be made by voters, who get to renew the one-eighth-cent sales tax for aquifer protection and linear parks every five years. The issue is likely to be on the ballot in November 2020.  Memo to Wolff and San Antonio taxpayers: You’re not the only one eyeing that money.  view article arw

Several months after a major school finance law rewired how billions of dollars get funneled into hundreds of school districts across the state, educators and state officials are still trying to untangle the threads.  House Bill 3, an $11.6 billion measure, gave school districts more money for employee salaries and programs like full-day pre-K and dual language. But at a House Public Education hearing Monday, educators and advocates pointed to problems with the way the law was written that have resulted in unexpected increases or decreases in funding for individual school districts. view article arw

We are proud to announce that, as of last week, TEA staff have created twenty (20) HB 3 in 30 videos and associated support documents.  We have five (5) more to go. The intent behind this communication is two-fold. view article arw

School finance is an incredibly complex topic and this November you’ll get to vote on it again. Proposition 7 is the latest amendment to appear on ballots, and how you vote will help determine who is distributing billions of dollars for the next few years. view article arw

Senator Elizabeth Warren is famous for hurling at least one major plan against every policy issue and societal problem you ever heard of—or hadn’t. It’s true that a lot of them make my head ache, some of them turn my stomach, and practically none seem likely to get enacted during her lifetime, even were she to win the Oval Office. Still, her plans often contain provocative ideas, not all of them bad. At least she’s thinking about big, substantive matters and going after them with big, substantive proposals. That’s a nontrivial part of what a presidential candidate—or president—should do. The spendthrift K–12 education plan that her campaign team unveiled on Monday is certainly big and substantive. It’s also pretty awful, as it would reverse most of the major education reforms of recent decades, drive a stake through the heart of what’s left of bipartisan federal and state policy, and re-enshrine adult interests, especially those of the teachers unions, in place of children’s, while wasting immense sums of taxpayer dollars. (The total price tag is estimated at $800 billion.) view article arw

A white peacock butterfly alights on the delicate lavender-colored blossoms of a Gregg’s mistflower bush growing in a tangle with Turk’s cap and other butterfly-friendly flowers at the entrance to Estero Llano Grande State Park on Wednesday. Down a red brick-paved lane shaded by a canopy of more of the flowering shrubs, a pair of birdwatchers pause to observe another butterfly before heading on, cameras and high-powered scopes in tow, toward the expansive wooden deck that greets park visitors at the end of the lane. view article arw

There is a Texas public school connection.- js - The politics are easy, too: The Abbott vs. Austin dust-up syncs nicely with the running battle between the state and local governments over ride-sharing laws, sick-leave policies and local property taxes. Homelessness is another bead on that string.  The state's high officials probably don't want to talk about the uproar around House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. And they've got plenty of distractions to keep it that way. view article arw

Early voting continues for the Nov. 5 election where registered voters in Cameron County will cast ballots on 10 Constitutional Amendments. Specific voters will also be able to cast ballots in the creation of the Cameron County Assistance District No. 1 election and a special bond election for the Santa Maria Independent School District. view article arw

The Texas House may have been in turmoil on Tuesday — reeling from the news that its once-revered leader, Dennis Bonnen, would relinquish the seat he’s represented since 1997 and with it the speaker’s gavel — but in Houston, urgent business continued apace. In the student services building at Lone Star College, state Rep. Phil King gaveled in the Texas House Redistricting Committee for the fifth of more than two dozen hearings the Weatherford Republican plans to convene across the state between now and the 2021 legislative session. view article arw

By Monday afternoon, Dennis Bonnen had seen the signs that the end was likely in sight.The Republican House speaker had just finished a two-hour conversation at the Texas Capitol with some of the chamber’s most influential members — and the news they had delivered was bleak: Bonnen had lost their support. view article arw

Six weeks ago, I accused Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen of engaging in “a stunning act of hypocritical perfidy.” Last week’s release of the recording of his secret meeting with Michael Quinn Sullivan, the heavily funded right-wing bad boy of Capitol activists, confirms that in granular detail. It also demonstrates that Bonnen is almost criminally stupid – both tactically and strategically. view article arw

State Rep. Steve Allison, one of 10 moderate Republicans on a target list discussed during a meeting between House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan, released a statement Monday blasting Bonnen, saying he will no longer support him as House Speaker.  “We must demand honesty, integrity, and respect from our members. Speaker Bonnen and Representative Burrows have lost the confidence and trust required of a member in such a position,” Allison wrote. “Consequently, I am no longer able to support Dennis Bonnen as Speaker of the Texas House and implore both Bonnen and Burrows to take the necessary actions to do what is right in this disturbing situation.” view article arw

The agency released an HB 3 in 30 webinar focusing on the Additional Days School Year (ADSY) section of the bill, which you can access at  The Additional Days School Year incentive adds half day formula funding for school districts and open-enrollment charters that want to add up to 30 instructional days to any of their elementary schools (grades PK-5). Districts and charters are eligible after they reach 180 instructional days and meet the minimum 75,600 minutes requirement, not including waivers, starting in the 2020-2021 school year.  view article arw

Texas GOP House Speaker Dennis Bonnen says he will not run for re-election, making the announcement less than a week after the release of a secretly recorded conversation in which Bonnen sought help ousting members of his own party in 2020 and called a female lawmaker "vile." Bonnen says in a statement Tuesday "it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election" as either a state representative or house speaker and that the time has come to "move on" after "numerous conversations with members who care deeply about the Texas House." view article arw

This Election Day, Nov. 5, Texas voters will see 10 state propositions on their ballots. Each is a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution and, as usual, voters will have the opportunity to vote “for” or “against” each of them. To make it easier to know how you want to vote, we broke down what each of the propositions would do if passed, as well as some of the arguments for and against each of them. view article arw

Republican Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Tuesday announced he will not seek reelection to the lower chamber in 2020 as calls for his resignation reached a near majority among members of his own caucus.  Bonnen, who for months was dogged by allegations that he planned to politically target sitting Republicans, offered a hardline conservative activist media access to his organization and said insulting things about Democrats in the lower chamber, said in a statement that he respected “the manner in which [House members] have handled this entire situation.” view article arw

Texas voters are about to weigh in on 10 proposed amendments to the state constitution, which deal with everything from retiring law enforcement animals to the state's tax code. Voters in three state House districts will also participate in special elections to fill empty seats.  Early voting begins Monday and runs through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.  During this year's legislative session, lawmakers passed several bills that require amendments to the Texas Constitution. A majority of Texas voters must vote to support any change to the state constitution in a statewide referendum. In 2017, all seven constitutional amendments on the ballot passed. view article arw

In the recent Texas legislative session, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to allow Texans to vote this November on Proposition 6, a bond issue to fund the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.   Originally approved by voters in 2007 with a 61 percent margin, CPRIT provides matching funds to private companies who have raised their own funding for cancer prevention and research. This is not a hand-out – funding is awarded only to companies which have raised or devoted capital to existing programs through a rigorous process that includes legal, corporate, and academic professionals via a two-phase approval and grant process.  view article arw

After Jim Skinner met Jessie in the Philippines, he couldn’t imagine his life without her. Skinner, a former Air Force security police dog handler, extended his overseas tour for an additional year and a half so he wouldn’t have to leave Jessie, his K-9. Until 2000, federally owned dogs were regularly euthanized at the end of their military careers. view article arw

Texas voters are about to weigh in on 10 proposed amendments to the state constitution, which deal with everything from retiring law enforcement animals to the state’s tax code. Voters in three state House districts will also participate in special elections to fill empty seats. Early voting begins Monday and runs through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5. view article arw