Daily Digest: Dec. 12

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


CHIP Funding Still in Limbo as Time Runs Out for Texas Families:

Texas is still waiting for additional money to keep a popular children’s health insurance program in business a little longer.

CHIP covers more than 400,000 Texas kids.

Its future remains in limbo after Congress failed to renew the program in September.

Our Max Gorden spoke with some health care professionals today who say delaying CHIP funding any longer could have long-term health effects.

Plus, Laura Guerra-Cardus, Texas Deputy Director for the Children’s Defense Fund, also joins us tonight to discuss the issue further.


Homeland Security Chief Lauds Texas ‘sanctuary cities’ Ban:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ New U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is decrying “sanctuary cities” in a state that recently approved strict laws banning them.

President Donald Trump’s former deputy White House chief of staff, Nielsen was confirmed by the Senate last week.

She’s visiting Austin, where county sheriff Sally Hernandez once promised not to comply with some “detainers,” or federal requests to hold for possible deportation people who were jailed on non-violent, non-immigration charges.

That helped prompt the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature to approve a sanctuary cities crackdown that allows sheriffs and police chiefs to face removal from office and even criminal charges for failing to fully enforce federal immigration policy.

The measure now is being contested in federal court, but Hernandez has since changed policies. Nielsen urged other states to follow Texas’ lead.


Alabama Senate Race:

It’s the election that everyone has been talking about with allegations of decades-old sexual assault, shined a light on divisions in the Republican Party and has implications on the balance of power in Washington.

We’ll have the latest on any early results and a report from Alabama as the candidates cast their ballots today.


Trump Lashes Out at Lawmaker Amid Calls to Resign:

President Trump and a Democratic New York lawmaker got into a virtual brawl on Twitter Tuesday.

It comes amid growing calls for the president to resign over sexual misconduct allegations.

Our Washington DC bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York. Hear why the state’s junior senator isn’t backing down.


2018 Primary Battles:

Now that the stage is set for the 2018 primaries, what are the top races to watch? Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report weighs in with his must-watch primary battles including the George P. Bush/Jerry Patterson matchup.


Join us for these stories and more.

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Dec. 8

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Jerry Patterson to Challenge Bush for Land Commissioner:

A former Texas Land Commissioner says he wants his old job back. Friday the race to head up the General Land Office took a new twist as Jerry Patterson announced he’ll be filing to run for the position next week.

Patterson has been frustrated with current Commissioner George P. Bush over what he calls a lack of transparency about the Alamo redesign project and his response to Hurricane Harvey.

Patterson says he’s been searching for a candidate to run against Commissioner Bush for the past four months.

“And at the end of the day I guess it’s me,” Patterson said.

Hear more from Patterson and the newly-filed Democratic candidate at 7.


Reporter Roundtable:

Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune and James Barragan of the Dallas Morning News join our reporter roundtable to discuss the race for Land Commissioner, Governor and sexual harassment policies at the State Capitol.


Trump Promotes Moore:

President Trump is in Florida tonight for a campaign-style rally just 25 miles from the Alabama state line.

The White House has said the rally is a campaign event for Trump. But the location — which also feeds Alabama TV markets — is stoking speculation that it’s a backdoor way for Trump to give controversial U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore a boost.

The rally and election are also coming at a watershed moment in the nation’s capital.


PolitiFact Texas:

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas is in to fact check a claim about the share of Texas students succeeding in education after high school and whether domestic violence is a consistent predictor of mass shootings.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Dec. 7

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Women’s Group Calls on Texas Senators to Resign:

A prominent Texas women’s political group is calling on two state senators to step down.

It comes after the online news website – the Daily Beast — reported multiple allegations that Senators Borris Miles, D-Houston, and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, sexually harassed women.

Our Max Gorden will have the latest on the accusations and the growing calls for a culture shift inside the Texas Capitol.


Sen. Franken Resigns:

Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken has announced he’ll step down. The decision comes amid growing calls for his resignation in the wake of a series of sexual misconduct allegations.

Hear why Franken calls his stepping down ironic.

And we’re joined by Bruce Kellison to discuss what he calls a coming culture shift. He’s the co-director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin.


Democrat Andrew White Announces Run for Governor:

Texas Democrats have another candidate in the race for Governor. But this one’s running as a conservative Democrat against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.

Andrew White made his gubernatorial bid official today during a campaign speech in Houston.

White’s the son of the late former Gov. Mark White.

The 45-year-old Houston entrepreneur has never fun for office and calls himself a “common sense Democrat” who thinks the state’s Republican leaders have shifted too far to the right.

“I’m asking you to trust me with your state and I’m pledging to you, I’ll earn your respect,” White said. “I’ll work harder than I’ve ever worked. And when I’m done, Texas will be in a better shape than when I started.”

White joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates running in the spring primary.

His announcement comes one day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made her bid official. She’s considered the Democrats most high-profile candidate.

The Texas Politics Project Director Jim Henson joins us at 7 to discuss White’s chances and the state of the Democratic Party.


Join us for these stories and more on Capital Tonight at 7.


Posted by Karina Kling





Democrat Andrew White Announces Run for Governor

Andrew White, the son of the late former Gov. Mark White, made his gubernatorial bid official today during a campaign speech in Houston.

“I’m proud to be Mark White’s son. But I’m not running because I’m his son,” White said. “I’m running because we need more leaders like Mark White. We need leaders willing to do right and risk their re-election.”

White is a Houston entrepreneur. He’s never run for office but calls himself a “common sense Democrat” who thinks the state’s Republican leaders have shifted too far to the right.

“The one thing that separates the governors who made history from the ones that simply lived in it: in the words of Sam Houston, ‘Do right and risk the consequences.’ That’s why I’m running for Governor: to do right and let the cards fall where they may,” White said.

White joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates running in the spring primary. His announcement comes one day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made her bid official. She’s considered the Democrats most high-profile candidate.

All of the Democratic candidates still face an uphill battle to beat Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott has a campaign war chest of $40 plus million dollars.

White, who considers himself a “conservative Democrat,” could also face resistance in his party’s primary.




Daily Digest: Dec. 6

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Dallas County Sheriff Announces Run for Governor:

Texas’ first Hispanic female sheriff wants to be the first Hispanic female governor of Texas.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced this morning she’s running against incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.

She gives Texas Democrats a serious candidate with just days to go before the end of the 2018 candidate filing period.

Our Max Gorden has more on who she is — and the uphill battle she faces and our political analysts weigh in on her chances.


House Okays Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Gun Bill:

The US House has approved a Republican-backed bill that makes it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines.

The bill is the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Texas and Nevada killed more than 80 people.

The legislation is top priority of the National Rifle Association, which called it an important step to allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits..

But opponents say the bill could endanger public safety by overriding state laws that place strict limits on guns.

Democrats also criticized Republicans for including a bill on background checks in the concealed-carry legislation.

“They are combining these two pieces of legislation because they know the national concealed weapons bill is deeply unpopular,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said. “They know they face political liability if they force this through, so they are trying to dress it up with a politically popular piece of legislation.”

Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn says the two measures should be kept separate.

He introduced the so-called “fix NICS” act following the Sutherland Springs shooting. His bill was heard in committee today.

It measure would strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

“I hope that if anything good comes out of this tragedy it will be that we finally fix on a bipartisan basis, this broken background check system,” Cornyn said.

The Senate Committee also heard testimony on bumpstocks, the device used by the Las Vegas gunman which makes a semi-automatic gun act as a fully automatic machine gun.

The discussion comes one day after the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced it has launched a review to look at the legality of the device.


Activists Call on Congress for DACA Fix:

Activists are calling on Congress for action to protect so-called Dreamers—immigrants who arrived illegally in the U.S. when they were children.

President Trump ended the Obama-era deferred action program in September and gave Congress until March 5 to find a permanent solution.

Thousands of activists were in the nation’s capital today urging lawmakers to take immediate action..

Our Washington reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with a Dreamer whose future is now in limbo.


Join us for these stories and more at 7 on Capital Tonight.


Posted by Karina Kling



Democrat Lupe Valdez will Run for Texas Governor

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made it official Wednesday morning — she’s running for Governor of Texas.


“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition,” Valdez said in a statement. “Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor.”


Valdez will deliver remarks and file for Governor at 11:45am at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.


Valdez was first elected sheriff in 2004. She and Gov. Greg Abbott have sparred before over immigration practices the governor has criticized as “sanctuary city” policies.


While Valdez becomes the highest-profile Democratic gubernatorial candidate to date, she still faces an uphill battle against Abbott. Abbott has a $40 million dollar campaign war chest and Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide in more than two decades.


Under the Texas Constitution, Valdez is required to step down in order to run for another office. Her campaign said she will officially notify the Dallas County Commissioners Court of her decision to run for Governor this morning.


Posted by Karina Kling




Daily Digest: Dec. 5

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Merging the Tax Plans:

Now that the Republican majority in the Senate has passed their bill to overhaul the US tax code, a new process begins.

And it could be just as complicated – combining the House and Senate versions into one. Our Washington D-C bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth takes a look at where things stand.


Repealing ACA Individual Mandate?:

The new tax bill could mean the end of the road for the individual mandate — the tax that punishes people who don’t buy health insurance.

It’s currently part of the Senate’s tax bill, and House tax writers signaled today that they expect it to make it into the final piece of legislation.

But as our Max Gorden explains, it has some health care leaders concerned.


Voter ID Law Back in Court:

Texas’ controversial voter ID law was back in court today. Federal judges heard arguments over the state’s modified law.

The state’s attorney argued any constitutional problems have been fixed since lawmakers approved changes this past session after years of court battles. He pointed to the revision allowing voters who don’t have an acceptable ID to vote by signing an affidavit stating they cannot reasonably obtain one.

But opponents say the law still demonstrates a discriminatory intent and limits the kinds of acceptable ID to ones more likely to be held by white voters.

They also argue some voters fear criminal penalties if they mistakenly enter wrong information.

The judges did not indicate when they would rule.


Lawmakers Warns Against Divisive Social Legislation:

Some lawmakers in the Texas House are warning against divisive social issues.

A select panel on economic competitiveness met for the second and final time today. The chair of the committee asked business leaders to go on the record telling Gov. Greg Abbott that he could help keep Texas’ business climate predictable by making a public statement that the Legislature is done debating the so-called “bathroom bill.”

“When social issues create uncertainty for its business climate, it hurts us,” Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said.

On the issue of immigration, construction industry leaders who testified say there’s an urgent need for more legal workers in Texas. The worker shortage has been made more apparent after Hurricane Harvey — with many rebuilding efforts delayed due to a lack of a sufficient workforce.

Rep. Byron Cook joined us for a one-on-one interview this afternoon. Hear more from him at 7.


TMF Wants His Seat Back:

It’s been nearly two years since he’s served in the Texas Legislature. But former San Antonio State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer wants his seat back. He joined us from San Antonio to discuss why. Hear his full interview at 7.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Nov. 28

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


GOP Tax Plan Latest:

President Trump went to Capitol Hill today in an effort to push the Republican tax reform plan across the finish line. A vote on the bill is expected later this week in the Senate.

We explain why several hurdles still exist for Republicans to accomplish a much-needed legislative victory.


Texas Charities Fear Drop in Donations Under Tax Plan:

Just as the season of giving kicks off, charities in Texas and across the country are bracing for a potential loss of billions of dollars in annual contributions. It’s the result of the GOP tax overhaul plan which would eliminate the incentive to donate for nearly all Americans.

Both the House and Senate proposals would raise the standard deduction — resulting in a loss of the number of taxpayers who itemize.

Major Andrew Kelly, Salvation Army Austin Area Commander, joins us to discuss how it could affect his organization and what he’s calling on lawmakers to include.


Digital Privacy Case:

Your cell phone is constantly sending out information about where you are and it can give out clues about what you’re doing. How that data can be used is the subject of a case set to be heard before the Supreme Court Wednesday.

After a string of cell phone store robberies near Detroit, police pinned one suspect to the crimes using cell tower data, which showed his location.

But police didn’t use a warrant. Now, the suspect is saying his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. It’s sparking a debate about privacy in the digital age and Texas police are watching closely.

Max Gorden has the latest at 7.


Family of Sutherland Springs Shooting Victims File Claim Against Air Force:

A family who lost 9 people in the Sutherland Springs church shooting has filed a federal claim against the Air Force. They say the military branch is partly to blame for the deaths of 26 people.

Joe and Claryce Holcombe say the Air Force’s failure to report the gunman’s criminal history to the FBI database helped cause the Nov. 5 shooting.

Their claim could lead to a lawsuit if the Air Force denies it was at fault.

Meanwhile, the Air Force said Tuesday its failure to report the shooter’s criminal history was part of a pattern of such lapses.

The gunman had been convicted of domestic violence while in the Air Force and was kicked out. That conviction should have prevented him from ever getting any of the guns used in the attack.

The Air Force cited failures in training and compliance and says it’s taken actions to prevent such problems in the future.


Future of CPRIT:

Ten years ago this month, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas or CPRIT.

The goal: to make Texas a leader in fighting cancer by doling out $3 billion in grants for research and prevention.

Lawmakers designed it to last 15 years on state bond funding and so far CPRIT says it’s awarded about $1.8 billion.

Now with five years left and about a billion dollars to go, some in the legislature say the agency needs to be self-sufficient when that state money runs out.

Cam Scott with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network joins us at 7 to discuss the difficulty in that and an upcoming forum about the future of CPRIT.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.




Daily Digest: Nov. 27

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Congress’ Daunting December To-Do List:

Congress is back in session in the nation’s capital and lawmakers are facing a daunting December to-do list.

For Republicans, tax reform is a priority, but the government also needs a funding bill to pass before Dec. 8 to avoid a shutdown.

Our Washington D-C bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta explains the long list and constrained timetable to get it all done.


Gov. Abbott Taps Top Attorney for Texas Supreme Court:

Gov. Greg Abbott announced his top attorney will replace a Texas Supreme Court justice who’s awaiting confirmation for a seat on a U.S. appeals court.

Jimmy Blacklock is currently Abbott’s general counsel. Blacklock also served in the Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration.

Abbott says the appointment reflects Texans’ wishes for a strict conservative judge on the high court.

“Someone who is gonig to apply the law as written, as opposed to making it up as they go,” Abbott said. “Someone who is going to apply the text of the constitution, as opposed to looking to extraneous matters.”

Republicans control all nine seats on the state’s highest civil court.

Blacklock would replace Justice Don Willett, who President Trump nominated for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Willett, who’s become known for his active and colorful tweets, is expected to be confirmed by the US Senate in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for Governor Abbott says Blacklock doesn’t have a Twitter account.


Who’s the Boss?:

There’s a battle over who’s the boss at a key consumer watchdog agency.

Both President Trump’s pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the person tapped by its former director showed up to work Monday.

Now, a recently filed lawsuit looks to settle the answer of who’s in charge. We’ll break down the legal saga.


Sexual Harassment Allegations Latest:

The White House says President Trump is not planning to campaign for Alabama GOP Senate Candidate Roy Moore. Meanwhile, the deadline to register to vote in Alabama’s upcoming special election is today.

And since allegations against Moore have surfaced, his Democratic opponent has slowly made headway in the deeply-red state.

We’ll introduce you to Doug Jones and explain why he still faces an uphill battle, despite sexual misconduct allegations against Moore.


“Embarresed and ashamed…” That’s how Sen. Al Franken is responding to groping allegations against him.

The Minnesota Democrat made the comments in his first Capitol appearance since the allegations came out.

Franken says he knows he let a lot of people down but has vowed to regain their trust.

“This is what I’ve been trying to do, I’ve been trying to take responsibility by apologizing and by apologizing to the people that I’ve let down and I’m going to work to regain their trust. I’m going to be accountable,” Sen. Franken said.

One woman says Franken forcibly kissed her in 2006 and took a suggestively sexual photo of her while she was sleeping. Three other women say Franken grabbed their rear ends while posing for photos at different campaign events..

Franken has dismissed questions of resignation and says he’ll cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.
Michigan Congressman John Conyers is giving up his leadership position as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

The Democrat’s decision comes ahead of a Congressional probe into allegations of sexual harassment made against him.

Conyers says he doesn’t want the accusations to undermine his colleagues.

But the 88-year-old lawmaker says he won’t resign from Congress and will keep fighting the allegations that he sexually harassed female staff members.


On the Agenda:

The Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock joins us to discuss Gov. Abbott’s comments on the GOP tax plan, Texas House Speaker commitment forms and an upcoming Texas House sexual harassment hearing.


Join us for these stories and more at 7 on Capital Tonight.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Nov. 21

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Texas Toll Troubles:

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, millions of people in the Lone Star State are hitting the road. But some state lawmakers say tolls are burning holes in Texans’ wallets.

Our Max Gorden will have more on the statements putting Texas toll projects in the slow lane.


New Transportation Group Vows to Ease Traffic Woes:

The fight over how best to ease traffic congestion has prompted the formation of a new nonprofit.

Business groups, local elected officials and highway industry interests announced the launch of Texans for Traffic Relief Monday.

Spokesman David White joins us to discuss what they say are the biggest problems and ways to address.


Border Patrol Agent’s Death Still Unclear:

AP: FBI officials say they are investigating the death of a border patrol agent and injuring of another in West Texas as a “potential assault,” but they wouldn’t rule out that they were injured in some other way.

Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said during a news conference at the FBI’s El Paso office Tuesday that the bureau is offering a reward of $25,000 for information that might lead to a resolution of the case.

The officials wouldn’t say why they believe the agents might have been attacked.

Agent Rogelio Martinez died Sunday after suffering extensive injuries to his head and body. His partner, whose name hasn’t been released, was seriously injured.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation told the Associated Press on Monday that investigators believe Martinez may have fallen into a culvert near Van Horn. The official said Martinez’s partner, who radioed for help, has no memory of what happened.


Tax Reform Reservations:

The fast-moving effort to overhaul the tax code now rests in the hands of a small number of GOP Senators, several who are now voicing their reservations with the bill.

The question now: will Republicans have enough votes to get the measure over the finish line or will changes need to be made?

Our Washington DC Bureau reporter, Samantha-Jo Roth has the latest on where things stand.


Ag Commissioner Sid Miller:

Tuesday marked the second annual Texas Agriculture Memorial Day. It’s a time to honor Texas farmers and ranchers who have lost their lives or been severely injured while engaged in agricultural-related pursuits. It also recognizes those who have contributed to the Texas economy. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller joins us to discuss the state of Texas agriculture and we talk 2018.


Trump Pardons Turkeys:

The White House is getting ready for the holidays, from the arrival of the White House Christmas Tree to the traditional turkey pardoning. We introduce you to Drumstick and Wishbone.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.