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The lawsuit says the president had no legal right to put a stop to wall construction on the Texas-Mexico border because Congress had already appropriated the funds.  Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming the president is illegally preventing the construction of a wall on the Texas-Mexico border. Bush announced the lawsuit Wednesday, saying his office is suing Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “on grounds that (the Biden administration) is illegally preventing the border wall from being constructed.” “The issue here is simple — no man is above the law. And that includes President Biden,” Bush said. The lawsuit comes as Gov. Greg Abbott has announced his administration’s efforts to build a wall on the border, using at least $250 million of state money and private donations.    (15) view article arw

Texas teachers and students denounced a more strict “anti-critical race theory” bill as censorship and anti-civics education at a Senate committee hearing. The bill will likely reach the full Senate for a vote soon after gaining committee approval Thursday afternoon. The special session proposal builds off of a bill Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last month that seeks to ban critical race theory from the classroom. Abbott insisted more could be done to “abolish” the theory from being taught to Texas public school students.    (19) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he was preparing to take action to restrict transition-related medical care for transgender minors in Texas after legislation to do so failed during the regular session.  "I have another way of achieving the exact same thing, and it's about a finished product as we speak right now and may be announced as soon as this week," Abbott said during a radio interview. He did not provide further details.  Abbott's comments came as the interviewer, Mark Davis, asked Abbott why he did not add the issue to his agenda for the special session that began earlier this month. Abbott blamed the lower chamber, saying the "chances of that passing during the session in the House of Representatives was nil."    (20) view article arw

The bill now moves to the House for approval. This cannot happen if they do not return to the Texas Capitol. TEXAS, USA — While voting legislation is dominating the conversation at the Texas State Capitol, on Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 7, or the "13th Check." The bill gives retired teachers, counselors and school staff in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRST) who retired on or before Dec. 31, 2020, an additional, one-time retirement check.  view article arw

Houston state Rep. Garnet Coleman has been at the forefront of voting and social justice battles for decades and helped lead the 2003 flight of Democratic legislators to Oklahoma. Not being with his colleagues who went to Washington, D.C., has been agonizing, he says.   For a week now, state Rep. Garnet Coleman has been hiding out in Texas, wondering if police are going to track him down.  While dozens of other Texas House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., to block a Republican voting bill, the longtime Houston legislator stayed behind, unable to travel while recovering from severe illness that led to the amputation of his lower right leg in May. His continued presence in the state makes him more vulnerable to arrest, as Republicans have voted to force back to the Texas Capitol any absent House Democrat within state police jurisdiction.  That prospect doesn't trouble the 59-year-old lawmaker, who questions both the constitutionality and optics of such a move.    (20) view article arw

State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) has his first official primary opponent for the 2022 election cycle. Coahoma ISD school board member Stormy Bradley announced her candidacy for the Texas Senate through a campaign commercial released on Thursday. In her announcement, Bradley said she plans to prioritize issues such as gun rights and the unborn in her campaign agenda. view article arw

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — While a special session is already in progress, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are already thinking about the redistricting session which will occur later this year once the census data is released. To prepare, the House Redistricting Committee has held public hearings focused on needs in Houston, El Paso and San Antonio. These hearings are meant to allow Texans to share their thoughts on the process and the outcomes they want to see. State Sen. Carol Alvarado, Sen. José Menéndez, and Rep. James White, who are all on their respective chamber’s redistricting committees, also shared their insights. Menéndez, D-San Antonio, stressed the importance of keeping communities within the same district. view article arw

SAN ANTONIO - The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which oversees the governance of public school athletics in Texas, is currently "very entrenched in the process" of understanding the new Name, Image and Likeness rules. UIL Deputy Director Dr. Jamey Harrison spoke to the media on Sunday morning - the opening day of the 2021 Texas High School Coaches Association School - inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and addressed NIL. "We were aware of the conversations, so we were having internal discussions about that might look like," Harrison said. "That conversation was trying to follow two paths simultaneously. One is, with our existing rules is there a way for a student to benefit from their name, image and likeness without running afoul of their rules and how that might work. The other conversation was about future rule changes and how that might happen. view article arw

Texas House Democrats’ dramatic fly-out to Washington, D.C. last week left the state House at a standstill. But across the hall in Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Senate, Republican lawmakers were undaunted, rapidly passing a conservative laundry list of legislation that's all but assured to die at the special session's end. The Texas Senate took just four days to crank out its new “election integrity” bill and a new bail reform bill designed to keep more folks accused of violent crimes locked up before trial. Gov. Greg Abbott said those two items were the main reasons he called for the current special legislative session, since previous bills covering both topics were killed by House Democrats in the waning hours of the regular session back in May. view article arw

Five Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives who traveled to Washington D.C. last week have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Texas House Democratic Caucus.  The five lawmakers are among House Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C., to stave off GOP priority voting bills during the special legislative session. The members who tested positive all have been fully vaccinated, which helps protect against severe illness. All of the lawmakers are showing no symptoms or only mild symptoms. The House Democratic Caucus announced on Saturday that three Democrats had tested positive. After further precautionary testing, two more members tested positive for COVID-19, the caucus announced late Sunday.  San Antonio Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said Sunday he was among the two new positive tests. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Democratic state representatives left Texas to prevent a vote on an elections bill, and for the last couple days, there’s been a lot of coverage of that issue. But, their absence has halted action on several other measures, too. “The work we’re doing for the people of Texas is being wasted,” said Republican State Sen. Larry Taylor at a press conference Wednesday morning. view article arw

A bill that would mandate the online disclosure of teaching materials could be caught up in an unusual special session  Educators are concerned about a “burdensome” bill that would require teachers to share information about their lessons online -- and are watching to see where it goes during this unpredictable special session.  Republican lawmakers want educators to disclose information about their class materials and activities online, sparking concern about the added administrative strain and purpose of such a requirement. view article arw

Helping children recover from the pandemic and maintaining funding for public schools were priorities during the regular legislative session that ended in May, Texas’ top education lawmakers say.  As many focus on the unpredictable special session, educators are still deciphering how the new laws passed in May will impact millions of Texas public school students.  Many of the successful regular legislative session’s proposals attempt to tackle the enormous challenge before schools after COVID-19 disrupted student learning, leaving millions of students lagging behind. view article arw

The plane will be on standby at Dulles International Airport, and Dade Phelan’s team said his political campaign, not taxpayers, will pay for the flight.  The push to bring fugitive Texas Democrats back to Austin could be reaching new heights.  House Speaker Dade Phelan said Thursday that he will charter a plane Saturday from Washington, D.C., to Austin to retrieve the Democrats who fled to the nation’s capital to avoid voting on an elections bill that they say would restrict voting rights.  “I am demanding all of our colleagues in D.C. to contact my staff immediately in order to secure their seat on the plane and return to Austin in order to do the state’s business,” Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, said in a statement. “The State of Texas is waiting.” view article arw

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — As Texas politicians faceoff over proposed state voting restrictions, Harris County is moving forward with preparations for its next election. County workers are unboxing brand new voting machines which the county ordered in February. The new technology, which offers more security, replaces decades old machines that were used in the November 2020 election. “We're running elections no matter what. We ran the May and June elections, even though they were fighting about election laws in Texas, because as much as they get to fight about it, I actually have to do it,” said Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria. view article arw

The walkout in the Legislature could end up hitting retired teachers in their pockets. On Tuesday, the Senate passed -- on a 22-0 vote -- a bill that would provide a one-time additional annuity payment, known by teachers and lawmakers as a “13th check.” But the likelihood of that additional pension check actually making it to retirees looks doubtful, since legislation passed by the Senate also needs the House’s approval. A majority of the House’s Democrats left for Washington, D.C., on Monday, in protest of the state GOP’s renewed efforts to pass an election bill. By doing so, the House can’t reach the 100 members needed to make a quorum, effectively blocking any bill from moving forward. And Democratic House leaders have indicated they plan to stay away until the special session ends on Aug. 6. “Obviously, we’re glad to know that it passed out [of the Senate], but we feel like these are circumstances that are obviously out of our control,” said Tim Lee, the executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association. “We’re holding on to hope that we’ll get some relief because some of our members are in desperate need of some financial help.” view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House on Tuesday voted 76-4 to have the Sergeant at Arms send for at least 51 members who have gone to Washington, D.C., a procedural move that does not currently hold much weight as the lawmakers remain out of the jurisdiction of Texas law enforcement. The Democrats will be ordered back to Texas unless they have an excused absence. It is worth noting that the Sergeant at Arms or another officer will only arrest the unexcused lawmakers if necessary, once they arrive back in the state. So, they can only be arrested in Texas if they don't go willingly.    (14) view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Legislative efforts at the State Capitol are on hold, after more than 50 Texas House Democrats flew across state lines to the nation’s capitol this week. The move was part of an effort to block Republicans from enacting new voting regulations, as Texas law prevents any business from being done without at least two-thirds of lawmakers present to meet ‘quorum.’ However, the move also halts movement on dozens of other issues slated for discussion during this special session. view article arw

If the House Democrats who skipped town to block voting legislation don’t return before the special session ends, the Senate bills will languish without becoming law.  As Democrats fled the state to avoid voting on a GOP priority elections bill that would restrict voting rights in the state, the Texas Senate approved the bill Tuesday with a party-line vote of 18-4.  The Senate passed the controversial elections bill — and bail legislation — a day after 51 House Democrats decamped to Washington, D.C., to avoid voting on the elections bill in their chamber. If the Democrats don’t return before the special session ends, the Senate bills will languish.  Eight Senate Democrats announced Tuesday they had also fled to the nation’s capital — a ninth was expected to arrive that evening — on the same day as their chamber was set to vote on the elections bill. But the Senate kept a quorum with 22 of its 31 members present and was able to vote on the bill. view article arw

Legislation that would limit transgender students’ participation in school sports advanced out of a Senate committee on Monday after similar legislation failed to pass during the regular session. With no Democratic members present after dozens of Democrats fled the state, in an attempt to halt GOP-backed voting restrictions legislation, six Republicans on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee still had a quorum and held their first public hearing on two bills during the days-old special legislative session. Gov. Greg Abbott added the issue to lawmakers’ agenda when he called the special session. Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, who is also vice chair of the committee and who authored Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 32, said the bills would protect cisgender women’s rights to compete in their desired sports.    (13) view article arw

A showdown in the Texas House was locked into place Tuesday after the chamber voted overwhelmingly to send law enforcement after Democrats who left the state a day earlier in protest of a GOP priority elections legislation. More than 50 House Democrats left Monday for Washington, D.C., to deny the chamber a quorum — the minimum number of lawmakers needed to conduct business — as it takes up voting restrictions and other Republican priorities in a special session.    (14) view article arw

When the House was gaveled in Tuesday, just 80 members out of 150 were present. The House will remain at ease. The Texas House on Tuesday voted to order law enforcement authorities to retrieve dozens of Democratic lawmakers who fled to Washington, D.C., to block a vote on election legislation they are calling voter suppression. The mass exodus on Monday was in response to Republicans moving full steam ahead on versions of the bills, which were set to encounter major legislative hurdles this week. Now, Democrats say they are prepared to hunker down out of state for the rest of the special session, which ends in early August. view article arw

Democrats are preventing the Texas House from having enough members to pass legislation. We explain what that means, what options Republicans have and what’s in the voting bills Democrats oppose.  On July 12, Texas House Democrats packed their bags and headed for the nation’s capital in a high-profile effort to block passage of GOP-backed voting restrictions.  Democrats hoped their exodus would break what’s called a quorum — the minimum number of lawmakers needed to conduct business — so Republicans couldn’t pass legislation that could ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting, among other sweeping restrictions.    (14) view article arw

Texas Democrats in the state House have left Texas and are on flights to Washington D.C. in an effort to again block a GOP attempt to pass voting restrictions in the special legislative session that started last week. At least 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives were in the process of leaving, most on charter flights from Austin's airport Monday afternoon. The House is set to reconvene Tuesday morning, but the absent Democrats would mean there will not be enough members present to conduct business under House rules. Democrats — who are the minority party — walked out in the final hours of the regular legislative session in May, causing the House to lose its quorum and killing the voting legislation. view article arw

Representative Gina Hinojosa packed in a hurry this morning, stuffing a bag with enough clothes for weeks away from home, just moments before she left her house in Austin. “I can’t talk right now!” the 47-year-old Democrat said, as she zipped up her suitcase. By the afternoon, she sat on a chartered jet packed with dozens of her fellow Texas Democrats, ready to fly to Washington, D.C., in their latest ploy to block Republicans from passing new restrictions on voting. Just 42 days before, Hinojosa had been one of dozens of Democrats to “break quorum” by absenting themselves from the Texas Capitol at the end of the regular legislative session, denying Governor Greg Abbott and the Republican-controlled Legislature the ability to pass Senate Bill 7, legislation that would have further restricted voting in a state where access to the ballot box is already among the tightest in the nation. Now, five days into the Abbott-called special session of the Legislature, the House Democrats were jetting off to D.C. to deny a vote on SB 7’s successor. view article arw

Representative Gina Hinojosa packed in a hurry this morning, stuffing a bag with enough clothes for weeks away from home, just moments before she left her house in Austin. “I can’t talk right now!” the 47-year-old Democrat said, as she zipped up her suitcase. By the afternoon, she sat on a chartered jet packed with dozens of her fellow Texas Democrats, ready to fly to Washington, D.C., in their latest ploy to block Republicans from passing new restrictions on voting. Just 42 days before, Hinojosa had been one of dozens of Democrats to “break quorum” by absenting themselves from the Texas Capitol at the end of the regular legislative session, denying Governor Greg Abbott and the Republican-controlled Legislature the ability to pass Senate Bill 7, legislation that would have further restricted voting in a state where access to the ballot box is already among the tightest in the nation. Now, five days into the Abbott-called special session of the Legislature, the House Democrats were jetting off to D.C. to deny a vote on SB 7’s successor. view article arw

Privately managed charters were approved as an experiment to improve the public education system. The original bill analysis for the authorizing legislation states explicitly that charter supporters said: “It is worth trying an experiment that is being attempted with some success in other states.” Two generations of students, 293 charters, and $30 billion of taxpayer funding later, the State cannot document that privately managed charters produce better results than locally governed school districts. According to the State’s Academic Accountability Rating System mandated by the Texas legislature, school districts continue to outperform charters. Additionally, the State cannot document the educational purpose or benefit affiliated with the hundreds of charter expansions previously approved in local communities. view article arw

A number of House Republicans indicated that they would support what’s known as a call of the House, a procedural move that would allow law enforcement to track down lawmakers who have already fled the chamber.  After House Democrats left the state Monday in an attempt to block passage of a GOP election bill during the special legislative session, attention turned to the Republicans and what they can do to get the priority legislation passed.  House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said in a statement that afternoon that the chamber would “use every available resource under the Texas Constitution and the unanimously-passed House rules to secure a quorum” to pass items on the special session agenda, which was set by Gov. Greg Abbott. And a number of House Republicans indicated that they would support what’s known as a call of the House, a procedural move that would allow law enforcement to track down lawmakers who have already fled the chamber.    (13) view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas Senate committee will convene Monday morning to take up a revived effort to prevent transgender student-athletes from competing in sports corresponding to their gender identity. The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. to discuss Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 32, which mirror legislation that failed to pass during the regular session. The bills would require Texas public schools, colleges and universities to “not allow a student to compete in an interscholastic athletic competition sponsored or authorized by the district or school that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex.”    (13) view article arw

Texas lawmakers focused much of the legislative session on conservative culture war issues related to education, including what teams transgender student athletes should play on and how to curb “critical race theory” in the classroom.  But they also tackled more bread-and-butter subjects such as maintaining school funding levels, the high stakes of standardized testing and the distribution of billions in federal aid to help combat COVID-19 learning loss.  On Tuesday, the chairmen of the House and Senate education committees will delve into the Legislature’s recent actions. Eva-Marie Ayala, The Dallas Morning News Education Lab editor, will moderate the discussion. view article arw

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The special session began this week at the Texas Capitol. Democrats in both chambers were present, but there are still questions of whether they will attempt another walkout, similar to the tactic used to block election legislation at the end of the regular session. “Many are eager to get back to work,” said Speaker of the House Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) of the members in the House. Phelan acknowledged the challenge of balancing the priorities of Democrats in the chamber and the governor’s agenda for the special session. Though he added agenda items dealing with dating violence and funding for Child Protective Services have broad support. view article arw

Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 will be the starting points for the Legislature's efforts to tighten Texas voting laws. Here's what the bills would do. With the Texas Legislature gaveled back in for legislative overtime, the House and Senate have each revealed their opening bids in the GOP’s push to enact new voting restrictions, finding common ground on proposals to narrow local control of elections. Unlike during the spring’s regular legislative session, Republicans from both chambers appear more closely aligned in their starting approaches to the priority voting legislation that Gov. Greg Abbott put on the agenda for the special session that began Thursday. In Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3, both chambers have revived proposals to further clamp down the state’s voting-by-mail rules, and rein in initiatives that Harris County — the state’s largest county that is home to Houston and a diverse population — attempted in 2020 to widen access to voting.    (09) view article arw

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The special session began this week at the Texas Capitol. Democrats in both chambers were present, but there are still questions of whether they will attempt another walkout, similar to the tactic used to block election legislation at the end of the regular session.  “Many are eager to get back to work,” said Speaker of the House Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) of the members in the House. view article arw

Texas teacher Juan Carmona says it’s important to talk about the experiences of marginalized groups with students of color because they should see themselves represented in history books.  A new Texas law that restricts how current events and America’s history of racism can be taught in Texas schools has been commonly referred to as the critical race theory bill, though that term never appears in it.  Critics say the law targets any teachings that challenge and complicate dominant narratives about the country’s history and identity. Many educators of color fear the legislation will stifle classroom discussion and silence their perspectives and the views of students of color.  Juan Carmona, a Mexican American history and social studies teacher at Donna High School in McAllen, said it is important to talk about the experiences of marginalized groups with students of color in the classroom because they should see themselves represented in history books.    (12) view article arw

Authors of the legislation are moving to ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting options, enhance access for partisan poll watchers and prohibit local election officials from proactively distributing applications to request mail-in ballots. Both bills also include language to further restrict the state’s voting-by-mail rules, including new ID requirements for absentee voters.  The second round of the Texas voting bill fight kicked off with haste this weekend as Republicans worked to rapidly push through new restrictions in overnight hearings.  Just a few days into a 30-day special legislative session, a Texas House committee voted early Sunday morning to advance a revived GOP-backed bill that would bring back many of the proposals that failed to pass in the spring. A panel of Senate lawmakers followed suit later in the day following a lengthy public hearing on its version of the legislation that played out Saturday afternoon into the night.  The votes from the Republican-majority committees put the bills on a path to be voted on by the full chamber this week.   (12) view article arw