It’s encouraging when we can report that a good law is delivering on its intended results.  Such is the case with a Texas rule that banned out-ofschool suspensions for the state’s youngest students except in cases of bringing weapons or drugs to school.  A new report from the advocacy group Texans Care for Children shows that the number of pre-K through second grade kids kicked out of school dropped nearly 80% the first year the law was in effect, from 36,475 in 2015-2016 to 7,640 in 2017-2018. view article arw

For fiscal year 2019-20, Eanes ISD is looking at paying a slightly lower percentage of its tax revenue to the state than it did for FY 2018-19, but at least one district official said that will likely not be the case moving forward. According to EISD Superintendent Tom Leonard, more affluent districts such as his will still be paying more in Texas’ recapture system but could soon be hamstrung by tax revenue caps enacted this year. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 2, effectively curbing the property tax revenue growth of local governments, municipalities and school districts. view article arw

Navigating the streets to the U.S. Supreme Court on a Sunday morning, veteran civil rights attorney Jose Garza was anxious.  It was the spring of 2018, and in two days the high court would consider whether Texas lawmakers had drawn political maps that purposefully undermined the voting strength of their state’s people of color.  Garza had made the walk several times before. Much of his career has been dedicated to dismantling Texas political structures that keep people of color out of power, taking down discriminatory gerrymanders and forcing change in local election systems.  view article arw

The local funding for San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA program has made all-day preschool possible for thousands of the city’s 4-year-olds. But the funding doesn’t go far enough to provide universal pre-k for all. view article arw

Lucio’s challengers

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Will definitely want to keep an eye on this. This cycle, [Sen. Eddie] Lucio’s record will be dissected as two opponents—one a trial lawyer and daughter of a former Cameron County Democratic chair, and another a current State Board of Education member—take aim at this titan of Rio Grande Valley politics. Can they persuade the voters of Lucio’s district, which is 89 percent Hispanic with a 37 percent poverty rate, to reject the Texas Senate’s most conservative Democrat, or will the 73-year-old prevail again? view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued eight executive orders in response to last month’s mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa. “Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings,” Abbott said in a statement. “I will continue to work expeditiously with the legislature on laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans.” view article arw

Kronda Thimesch, a member of the Lewisville ISD board of trustees, announced Sept. 4 that she will run for election in 2020 as a Republican to represent District 65, which includes parts of Highland Village and Flower Mound, in the Texas House of Representatives. view article arw

The Texas Tribune is touring the state with a series of post-session events recapping the major policy debates of the 86th Texas Legislature and what they mean for different communities. Join us for a conversation about public education, taxes, immigration, health care, spending and other consequential matters with two legislators representing rural Texas districts — state Rep. Trent Ashby and state Sen. Robert Nichols. Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune, will moderate the conversation. view article arw

Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, I never felt that this country was my home. We didn’t talk about voting or politics at our house. My parents focused on making sure my brother and I did well in school, because they saw education as the family’s pathway into belonging here in America. In college, I learned about systemic oppression and our nation’s legacy of policies that discriminate against marginalized groups. It was there that I saw the power of our vote as a young generation. I became a teacher to empower young people to take ownership of their right to belong, and to have a say in how their country is governed. view article arw

State Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, filed legislation lifting what he called an "antiquated" ban on brass knuckles last session, which the governor signed in May. The key chain — with pointy blades for ears — could have cost Kyli Phillips, who was 21 and living in Dallas at the time, $4,000 in fines and a year of jail time if she had been convicted of the misdemeanor. In late July, lawyers dismissed the case against her and canceled an upcoming court date. view article arw

This Sunday, 820 new laws passed during the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature will go into effect. They range from the huge — a $250 billion two-year budget — to the symbolic — a number of bills to rename parts of Texas highways. Here's a sample of several that will impact Texans' lives: view article arw

When Jennifer Allen’s son Samuel got his driver’s license at age 18, she wasn’t concerned about him being behind the wheel, but she worried about how symptoms of his Asperger’s diagnosis might be interpreted by the police in a traffic stop.  People with Asperger’s – also known as mild or high-functioning autism – experience significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. If someone with Asperger’s were to be pulled over by law enforcement, his or her behavior could be seen as combative or defiant, Allen said. view article arw

For the third month in a row, the number of migrant children in Texas shelters decreased in August.  These shelters are where some unaccompanied minors go after leaving temporary U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities if officials cannot find U.S.-based sponsors to take them in. The shelters are run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and regulated by the state. view article arw

Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard led the discussion on the financial implications of House Bill 3 during an Aug. 27 meeting. According to him, many people have been trying to figure out what HB 3 will mean for the district. “Like most things in the life there’s some good, there’s some bad and there’s some ugly,” said Leonard. Residents could see a decrease in school property taxes as a result of HB 3, according to Leonard, who added residents under the age of 65 will likely pay less or an equal amount of property taxes when compared to 2018-19. view article arw

Check out our new voting tools!

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We know how hard you work and we want to make sure voting doesn't become another chore on your list. Voting is empowering, fun, and a great way to model civic engagement for young people. We have updated the TEV website to make it easier for you to register, research, and vote!  view article arw

Gov. Bill Lee used his honeymoon with Tennessee’s legislature to steer a controversial education voucher proposal into the law books, but their relationship may be less cozy with a leadership change in the House of Representatives, even under a Republican supermajority.  A banking executive from Crossville in East Tennessee, Sexton has signaled he’ll use his gavel to set a different tone from his predecessor. After the majority caucus voted last month to support his ascendancy to the House’s top leadership job, Sexton promised he would never hand committee leaders “kill lists” of bills to snuff out, as Casada did. view article arw

On this week’s TribCast, Emily talks to Ross, Alexa, Alex and Neena about the biggest new state laws taking effect Sept. 1, a crisis facing indigent defense in Texas, the new Texas secretary of state and the latest from the presidential campaign trail. view article arw

Ruth Ruggero Hughs replaces David Whitley, who failed to receive Senate confirmation after his office questioned the voter eligibility of thousands of naturalized citizens.  After losing his last chief election officer over a botched review of the state’s voter rolls, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday appointed a new secretary of state: Ruth Ruggero Hughs.  Ruggero Hughs is moving from the Texas Workforce Commission, which she has chaired since August 2018. She joins the secretary of state’s office nearly three months after Democratic senators blocked the confirmation of her predecessor, David Whitley, who questioned the voter registration of thousands of naturalized citizens. view article arw

While lawmakers never quite reached the $5,000 teacher raises they tried to sell the public on, local districts are doing what they can to ensure teachers are seeing their biggest raises in years. An analysis of data from local school districts shows that Smith County area districts are digging deep into local funds to ensure teachers are getting bigger pay bumps than usual. While most teachers will not see a salary increase of $5,000, most in the area will benefit from raises at least twice as large as those given in the past two years, if raises were given at all. view article arw

A statement released by his staff says Patrick was experiencing significant chest pain Thursday and was taken to a hospital. The statement says a doctor at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed a number of tests that were negative, but a final one showed a "dangerous heart blockage." view article arw

SAN ANTONIO — Palmira Aguirre has seen her fair share of principals come and go during her 23-year tenure as a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School — including most of a year when there was no permanent principal at all.  The Edgewood Independent School District physics teacher used to feel ashamed telling people where she worked — a school district managed by a board so mired in personal conflict that they couldn't make crucial hires to lead their high schools or their school system.  "It's like a revolving door," said Aguirre, who heads her high school's parent-teacher association. "There's no stability at the upper level." view article arw

A statement released by his staff says Patrick was experiencing significant chest pain Thursday and was taken to a hospital. The statement says a doctor at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed a number of tests that were negative, but a final one showed a "dangerous heart blockage." view article arw

Talk about a mood swing. At the end of May, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker were figuratively holding hands, reveling in the success of their plan to focus the Texas Legislature on school finance, property taxes and a handful of other issues.  At the end of July, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had gone from that heady celebration to the bottom of the barrel, trapped in a career-threatening mess of his own making, accused of conspiring with a political nemesis against 10 fellow Republican incumbents in the Texas House. view article arw

INTERNET ACCESS Sweeny ISD students who do not have internet service in their homes can benefit from a grant the district received from T-Mobile. The cellular provider will make HotSpots available for students to use at home that provide mobile internet access, board members learned Tuesday. SWEENY — The owner of an average-value home on Sweeny ISD will see their tax support for the district drop by almost $100 under the rate proposal put before trustees this week. view article arw

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate group that drafts “model policies” in collaboration with conservative state legislators, is holding its 46th annual meeting in Austin, Aug. 13th-16th, at the JW Marriott, Downtown. ALEC describes itself as “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.” That’s about one-half the story. The other half, as the Center for Media and Democracyhas reported, is that ALEC is a legislative bill-mill where “global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights.” view article arw

Outcry against high property taxes and recapture payments, along with a desire for quality education, were at the forefront of legislators’ minds this past session, elected officials say. Many lawmakers have expressed enthusiasm about the passage of House Bill 3, a massive school spending bill. But local school administrators are a little more apprehensive about the bill, expressing some reservations about what these changes could mean for their budgets for fiscal year 2019-20 and beyond. view article arw


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MADISON – The Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause released a new report today detailing the profound influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Texas. The report comes as ALEC prepares to hold its Annual Meeting in Austin tomorrow, where legislators and corporate lobbyists will meet behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues view article arw

Thrall ISD shows a positive impact from HB3 and the 86th Legislative Session; Thrall ISD has been identified as a Texas Fast Growth District from the past three-years enrollment data. The 86th Legislative Session ended in May and HB3 was passed to bring a significant amount of funding for Texas School Districts. view article arw

In their lawsuit, the Democrats contend Bonnen, Sullivan and state Rep. Dustin Burrows violated campaign finance laws and demanded that Sullivan produce a recording of the meeting that he has so far played only for select Republicans  Texas Democrats are suing over a June 12 meeting House Speaker Dennis Bonnenhad with one of his top lieutenants and Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist, saying the three were engaged in serious campaign finance violations and demanding that Sullivan produce a full recording of the gathering that he has shared with only a small group of Republicans. view article arw

AUSTIN, TX — Of the three Texas representatives who have listened to the Michael Quinn Sullivan recording, two are recipients of an outsized amount of Empower Texans campaign cash and the third lost the contest for speaker to Bonnen and is alleged to be among those Republicans targeted for electoral defeat by the House Speaker. He might carry a grudge.  Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan alleges that in a secret, backroom meeting with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and State GOP Caucus Chair and Rep. Dustin Burrows, Sullivan’s Empower Texans news website, Texas Scorecard, was offered press credentials on the House floor next session if Empower Texans would target 10 Republican state representatives for defeat this election cycle. view article arw

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Director of Bands for New Deal ISD has announced plans to run on the Republican ticket for House District 83, challenging Republican incumbent Representative Dustin Burrows.  David Speer has more than 15 years experience teaching students in west Texas, starting as band director at Frenship High School in 2004.  Born in Austin, Speer graduated from the University of Texas and married his wife Tamara, a Texas Tech graduate, raising three children in Lubbock. view article arw

The chair of the powerful House budget-writing Appropriations Committee, state Rep. John Zerwas, will be the new executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System.  Zerwas, a doctor by training, announced Wednesday that he would retire from the Legislature effective Sept. 30, after representing Richmond as a Republican for more than a decade. He was first named the lower chamber's chief budget writer in 2017, and he previously chaired the House Higher Education Committee and served on the Public Health Committee. view article arw

A memo obtained by The Texas Tribune instructs DPS officers to cite and release suspects in misdemeanor marijuana cases "as appropriate." Officials said the goal is to continue enforcement even though some prosecutors aren't taking new pot cases.  Texas’ largest law enforcement agency is moving away from arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses. It’s the latest development in the chaos that has surrounded pot prosecution after state lawmakers legalized hemp this year. view article arw

Months before Texas district attorneys started dropping or delaying low-level marijuana cases, state lawmakers were told that a well-liked bill to legalize hempwas going to complicate pot prosecutions. The warnings fell flat. In early April, members of the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee sat through two hours of testimony supporting a bill to legalize and regulate hemp and its derivatives, like CBD oil. Most of the discussion focused on farming and regulatory procedures. Near the end of the hearing, though, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime lab director, Brady Mills, was brought up to the microphone to address any law enforcement concerns the legislators may have overlooked. view article arw

The ending will be the only way to judge what’s going on in the Texas House right now, after a political operative with a well-supported political action committee made an unsubstantiated claim that the Republican speaker offered House floor access in return for attacking 10 named Republicans in the 2020 primaries.  At the end of this escapade, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen will either have the confidence of the members of the House or not, and the judgment of people outside the Capitol will probably flow from that. view article arw