Bush made his challenge official Wednesday evening during an event at a downtown Austin bar. Former President Donald Trump said last week that he would issue an endorsement in the race "in the not-so-distant future."  Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced Wednesday that he is running for attorney general, challenging fellow Republican Ken Paxton with a sharp focus on Paxton's legal troubles.  "Enough is enough, Ken," Bush said during a campaign kickoff at a downtown Austin bar. "You've brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office. And as a career politician for 20 years, it's time for you to go."    (03) view article arw

Lawmakers didn’t succeed in curtailing the governor's power during a disaster, but they did pass bills that prohibit so-called vaccine passports and ban the mandatory closure of churches and gun stores.  During a legislative session that kicked off at the height of the pandemic in Texas in January, state lawmakers sent a slate of bills to the governor aimed largely at protecting Texans’ rights against a state pandemic response that conservative state leaders believed went too far.  Lawmakers passed bills that, among other things, prohibit so-called vaccine passports, and ban the mandatory closure of churches and gun sores during an emergency declaration.  “Let freedom ring!” state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, tweeted Sunday after the Legislature approved bills that included the ban on government entities and businesses requiring proof of vaccination for products or services.    (03) view article arw

Texas’ top Republican leaders are already on a collision course over a special legislative session. Since House Democrats staged a walkout that killed Republicans’ priority elections bill for the regular session, the governor and the leaders of the state House and Senate — have diverged notably in interviews about how they are planning for the overtime round.    (03) view article arw

While lawmakers took significant steps toward preventing another blackout, hardly any of the proposals passed during this legislative session will aid consumers in recovering from the February storm — but they’ll see higher utility bills.  The first day, Melissa Hutchins and her husband burned furniture to keep warm. Friends of theirs burned their children’s toys. A neighbor’s roof caved in.  When the Hutchins lost water because the pipes froze, they went to a hotel.  Three nights and four maxed out credit cards later, they returned to their Arlington condominium when power was restored to Texans after one of the deadliest and costliest disasters in state history.    (03) view article arw

State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, approaches the Texas House like she does a courtroom: She wants everything on the record. The sole Black freshman in the Legislature, Crockett stood out during this year’s session for both the number of bills she filed and her passionate delivery on the House floor. But her experience as a first-time legislator also shows the consequences of such an outspoken approach. New members are often encouraged and expected to keep a low profile. Crockett took the opposite tack, debating her fellow members enthusiastically on the House floor and drafting ambitious legislation that sought to reform policing, expand voting options and loosen drug laws in the state. view article arw

All they could get was a temporary win. But the lawmakers said taking the extraordinary measure of breaking quorum was justified by the harm they felt their mostly Black and Hispanic constituents would face under the GOP’s voting bill.  Before they walked out of the Texas Capitol on Sunday night to block a sweeping, restrictive voting bill, House Democrats took a detour to the past.  Ahead of a midnight deadline for the bill to be approved, they had huddled for a series of meetings to strategize how far to go to stop the GOP priority legislation they saw as an offense against the voting rights of people of color. It was in those meetings that Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest-serving Black member of the Texas Legislature, told her colleagues about her own family’s struggles and reminded them of the lasting fight to convince a white majority that people of color also should have a say in their democracy. view article arw

The state Legislature won’t curtail Gov. Greg Abbott’s pandemic powers, after members of the House and the Senate failed to hash out their differences over it. The measure, House Bill 3, was priority legislation in the lower chamber, and variations of the bill had passed both the House and the Senate. But representatives appointed to find a compromise missed a key deadline late Saturday to release new bill text, killing the measure. It was not immediately clear why the bill died. Representatives for House Speaker Dade Phelan, and the two members who led negotiations, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday. view article arw

Tensions between the two chambers are peaking, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is putting pressure on Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session for unfinished business on conservative priorities  The 2021 Texas legislative session is heading into its final weekend fraught with uncertainty and tension between the two chambers that could lead to a special session.  After three of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s priorities effectively died Tuesday night in the House, the Senate presiding officer called for a special session to pass them, jolting the final several days of a session that was already on track to be the most conservative in recent memory. The last day of the session is Monday, and procedural deadlines have been increasingly cutting off opportunities to hash out key issues.  In some ways, it is a familiar story from past sessions: Tensions between the two chambers are peaking, and Patrick is putting pressure on Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session for unfinished business on conservative priorities. Patrick got his way in 2017, forcing a special session in an ultimately failed push to pass legislation to regulate bathroom use by transgender people. view article arw

Despite a last-minute showstopper by Democrats, the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature is closing out the legislative session with many of its conservative priorities heading to the governor’s desk. They included an anti-abortion bill banning the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy, now law in Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure about two weeks ago. Lawmakers also approved the so-called “constitutional carry” bill allowing Texans to carry handguns in public without a permit, and they shielded businesses from COVID-related lawsuits. On HoustonChronicle.com: Gov. Abbott threatens to veto legislative salaries in response to Democrats' walkout view article arw

Katy ISD’s standalone virtual high school is on hold as the legislation that would grant funding for such virtual statewide school options has been put on hold. Enrollment was set to open for the 2021-2022 academic school year today. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he would veto the section of the state budget that funds the Legislature hours after a Democratic walkout killed his priority elections bill. “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” Abbott said in a tweet. “Stay tuned.” Late Sunday night, enough Democrats left the House to break a quorum and block passage of the elections bill, Senate Bill 7, before a midnight deadline. Calling the bill’s failure “deeply disappointing,” Abbott quickly made clear he would call a special session to get it passed, though he has not specified a timeline. view article arw

The endorsement comes as Abbott faces a primary challenge from former state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas and as other fellow Republicans eye the race.  Former President Donald Trump endorsed Gov. Greg Abbott for reelection on Tuesday, giving him an early and crucial stamp of approval as he confronts a possibly competitive primary.  Abbott has already drawn a challenge from former state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller also has been considering a run, and Texas GOP Chair Allen West has not ruled it out.  "Greg Abbott is a fighter and a Great Governor for the incredible people of Texas," Trump said in a written statement, praising Abbott's record on issues including border security and gun rights. "Governor Greg Abbott will continue to be a great leader for the Lone Star State, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement for re-election. He will never let you down!" view article arw

Texas Republicans fear ballots more than bullets. - State lawmakers passed permitless carry legislation during their recently ended regular session — letting most adults carry guns in public without licenses, permits or training — and sent it to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature, surprising a fair number of people inside and outside the Texas Capitol. And Abbott’s for it, but it wasn’t on the list of priorities he outlined early in the session. view article arw

The Texas Legislature closed out its regular 140-day session Monday with sniping among the state's top political leaders and lawmakers already well aware they will be back this calendar year for an overtime round.  "We will be back — when, I don't know, but we will be back," House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, told members from the speaker's dais. "There's a lot of work to be done, but I look forward to doing it with every single one of you."  Talk of a special session — and questions about how soon one may happen or what additional issues Gov. Greg Abbott could task legislators with — has largely defined the last weekend of the Legislature's 140-day stretch after lawmakers left unfinished a number of GOP priorities and tensions between the two chambers escalated. view article arw

The last week of session is coming to a close and the long nights have stretched into the early hours of the following mornings. We’re sprinting to the finish of an unusual session and passing consequential and substantial legislation. Here are five things happening around your state: view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Midnight was coming fast. Any moment now, the Texas House of Representatives would sign off on one of the most restrictive new voting laws in America. It was 10:35 p.m. Suddenly, every Democrat still on the floor got a text message. “Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.” The walkout was a go, and minutes later, Senate Bill 7 was dead. Left without enough House members to conduct business under the rules before a midnight deadline Sunday, Texas Republicans were forced to abandon for now an elections overhaul they had crammed with previously unseen restrictions during closed-door negotiations, including one prohibiting Sunday morning early voting — a time widely used by Black churchgoers in “souls to the polls" campaigns. view article arw

DALLAS — A bill that would severely limit how teachers can discuss race and history in classrooms is now just one signature away from becoming law. House Bill 3979 would essentially ban the academic discussion known as “Critical Race Theory,” though the bill doesn't mention it directly. It mirrors legislation being considered and passed by state lawmakers across the U.S. view article arw

During the last two weeks of class, masks are optional at Dallas ISD schools. Parents do have the option to move their kids virtual if they're uncomfortable. After a year of back and forth in the classroom, Emily Castillo says her family has come to a decision that her 9-year-old nephew will switch once again from in-person learning to virtual learning for the final two weeks of school. view article arw

The 2021 session of the Texas Legislature ended with some GOP priority bills failing. On Sunday night, Texas Democrats walked out of the House before midnight, blocking passage of a bill that would create new voting restrictions. The walkout also killed a bill that would make changes to the bail system. Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that both items – which he had declared emergency items – would be added to the agenda for a special legislative session. Before the events of Sunday night, some Texas Republicans were declaring this session the most conservative in the state’s recent history after they passed bills allowing permitless carry of handguns and restricting abortion. While Democrats successfully blocked bills aimed at transgender children, an attempt to block a ban on teaching critical race theory in schools was thwarted when the bill was revived in the Senate. view article arw

The strangest regular session in the modern history of the Texas Legislature is ending, but the pandemic shadow that darkened these proceedings isn’t finished with the state’s government and politics. Texas might be moving from a weird legislative session into a strange political cycle.  Because of the pandemic, the Legislature’s work isn’t done. And because that work isn’t done, the issues and the political fortunes that will be in play in the 2022 election year are uncertain.  COVID-19 delayed last year’s census. Because those numbers won’t be ready for four months, lawmakers didn’t have the data needed to draw new political districts for the state’s 38 U.S. House seats, 31 state Senate and 150 state House spots, and the 15 seats on the State Board of Education. view article arw

With the future of the power grid and voting laws in Texas hanging in the balance, tensions among the top political leaders in the Legislature are fueling a round of political gamesmanship that has even the future of the Texas Holocaust & Genocide Commission caught in the crossfire, one of many pawns in a larger battle over GOP priorities. view article arw

The Senate on Wednesday approved a watered-down version of a bill that dyslexia advocates had hoped would give children better access to education services. Advertisement FEATURED ON DALLAS NEWSTracker dslogo Power struggle: Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick again at odds over who’s in charge in… Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s demand Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott call a snap special session to… ADVERTISING The legislation’s initial language would have brought Texas into alignment with other states in streamlining the identification process for students suspected of having dyslexia. It aimed to ensure those kids got a more comprehensive evaluation for learning disabilities, opening up the possibility of tapping into additional services in their public schools. Once that evaluation was completed, school officials would have to meet with parents to discuss the findings and whether the child would be better served in a special education program or via other forms of accommodations.    (28) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott responded, "Some are trying to end the game before the time clock has run out. There’s still time remaining for the House and Senate to work together to get important conservative legislation to my desk."  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session of the Texas Legislature in June to advance three pieces of GOP-backed legislation that died in the Texas House at midnight on Tuesday. The bills sought to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams based on their gender identity, prohibit local governments from using taxpayer funds to pay for lobbyists and punish social media companies for "censoring" Texans based on their political viewpoints.  In a statement, Abbott said the call was premature and instead urged lawmakers to "work together to get important conservative legislation to my desk."    (28) view article arw

Lawmakers did away with a proposal that would have forced school systems to essentially save up to 40% of their federal pandemic aid until 2024. The requirement was inserted into a school finance cleanup bill earlier in May, leaving administrators worried they wouldn’t have enough funding to help students rebound from the pandemic. It was removed on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, the same day federal officials told Texas that such a move to “bank” pandemic aid could jeopardize the state’s compliance with the law governing those funds.  The new guidance noted that state legislatures and education agencies cannot limit school districts’ use of federal pandemic aid or restrict the length of time schools have to spend the money. “No banking is in this bill,” Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said. “The money is going straight to the schools, and they will have to spend that money in three years.” view article arw

Texas school district leaders can continue planning virtual options for the fall after the Senate gave approval to a key piece of legislation Wednesday. While hurdles remain before it becomes law, some administrators could breathe a sigh of relief that at least this bill wasn’t among the many doomed by procedural deadlines this week.  The legislation, which passed the Senate 27-4, would allow local districts to operate online schools that serve their own students and receive funding in the same manner as brick-and-mortar campuses. view article arw

Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, told Eyewitness News Abbott would have to consider a number of risks before approving for a special session in June.  "Special sessions are expensive," Rottinghaus said. "It means you are going to have to spend more than a million dollars to keep everybody there, and they can be pretty politically fraught. This is definitely a time where you're going to see peak partisanships, so it's going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out."   Abbott would also have to determine if the debate on the three conservative bills is worth dragging out.    (27) view article arw

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A bill removing permit restrictions for the open carry and concealment of handguns is headed to the desk of Governor Greg Abbott. House and Senate lawmakers reached a deal late Sunday night on the constitutional carry law which could have sweeping implications for gun owners across the state. Given Governor Abbott’s vocal support of the measure, legal analysts say they fully expect the bill to be signed into law in the coming days. Ready or not, lawmakers in Austin are pulling the trigger on gun licensing. view article arw

After weeks of backroom negotiations and plenty of pressure from gun fans, both the Texas House and Senate have voted to pass a new law that would completely gut the state’s requirements for Texas residents to get licenses and firearm safety training before they can lawfully carry their pistols in public. House Bill 1927, called the “constitutional carry” bill by its author Republican state Rep. Matt Schaefer, has now been sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature, the final step before the bill is etched into state law. There’s no suspense as to whether or not Abbott will sign HB 1927 — Abbott urged state lawmakers via Twitter Friday to “get it to my desk for signing,” and told conservative radio host Rick Roberts back in April that Texas “should have constitutional carry.” view article arw

A controversial Texas bill that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes in school sports ran out of time for consideration in the House as the lower chamber hit a crucial deadline Tuesday night for passing all Senate bills. Senate Bill 29 would have mandated that transgender student athletes play on sports teams based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their gender identity. The bill’s proponents said it was necessary to protect girls’ sports, arguing that allowing transgender girls to play on school sports teams gave them an unfair advantage because they have higher levels of testosterone. view article arw

Think of the kids today

May 2508:40 AM

Today, the anti-trans sports bill SB29 is on the House calendar. Hopefully, it will fail to make it to the floor before midnight, which is the deadline for Senate bills to be passed by the House. Whatever the case, spend a few minutes today thinking about the kids who have been targeted by these bills and have had to spend weeks at the Capitol trying to persuade a bunch of uncaring Republican legislators about their humanity, because as much as this session has sucked overall, it’s really sucked for them. view article arw

Texas legislators recently advanced two bills that restrict or ban the use of critical race theory in public schools. Much like bills in other states during the past few months, the Texas bills restrain discussions about race and racism in the classroom. Ironically, critical race theory is founded on the principle that no race is “inherently superior to another” as outlined in the Texas bills. It also recognizes that racism is not driven by individual racist acts. It seems, then, that the proposed bills are not designed to promote a spirit of equality, as professed by their proponents, but instead to protect white people from critical conversations about race. view article arw

The Texas Legislature is on the verge of approving a new law that would require some public schools and universities to display the phrase “In God We Trust” in prominent places inside all campus buildings.  Under Senate Bill 797, authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, any school that had a poster or framed copy of the phrase, which is the official national motto, donated to it would be required to hang it in “a conspicuous place in each building of the school.” view article arw

After hours of passionate debate about how Texas teachers can instruct school children about America’s history of subjugating people of color, the state Senate early Saturday morning advanced a new version of a controversial bill aimed at banning critical race theory in public and open-enrollment charter schools. Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, introduced a reworked version of House Bill 3979 that also requires the State Board of Education to develop new state standards for civics education with a corresponding teacher training program to start in the 2022-23 school year. The Senate approved the bill in an 18-13 vote over opposition from educators, school advocacy groups and senators of color who worry it limits necessary conversation about the roles race and racism play in U.S. history.    (24) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott told lawmakers Thursday evening that he would place the allocation of nearly $16 billion in federal funds for COVID-19 recovery on their plate during a special session in the fall.  Abbott already planned to call a special session later in the year for the Legislature to do its decennial redrawing of Texas political maps, which was delayed because of the Trump administration's handling of the census. But the allocation of the federal COVID-19 relief funds adds another item to their to-do list and allows the Legislature to participate in the administration of those funds.  House members were notified of the plan in an email Thursday evening. In a statement to The Texas Tribune, Abbott congratulated lawmakers for crafting a “conservative and balanced budget that will secure a more prosperous future for Texas” that keeps “government spending under control.”    (21) view article arw

A measure long sought by conservative activists allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license is on the cusp of becoming law after the Texas Senate approved a compromise on the bill Monday, sending it to Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott has said he would sign the permitless carry proposal into law. "We should have 'constitutional carry' in Texas," Abbott told North Texas radio host Rick Roberts in April.   Just before midnight Sunday, the House approved the deal, hashed out behind closed doors, in an 82-62 vote. The Senate approved the deal Monday in a 17-13 vote. view article arw