Archive for January, 2013

Turning Texas blue?

At the Democratic National Convention in September, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa stressed that Texas is primed to be the newest battle ground state. 

“Texas should not only be a donor state where people come and take money, but rather it should be a state that has a real possibility to turn blue for the Democratic party,” he said. “A little bit of lovin,’ as I say, to the Texas Democratic Party, will result in big gains nationally for our Democratic party.”

Now, it looks like those hopes might become reality.  As Politico is reporting today, a new independent group called “Battleground Texas, ” will focus resources on Texas’ minority population.  Sources told Politico the budget could be in the tens of millions of dollars.

The effort is being spearheaded by former Obama campaign staffer, Jeremy Bird.  In a statement to Politico, Bird said “Battleground Texas” would be “a grass-roots organization that will make Texas a battleground state by treating it like one.”

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers draw straws for terms

Click on the link at the bottom of this post to watch Wednesday’s full show.

Redistricting forced state senators to draw numbers Wednesday to determine who got four-terms and who will have to face another election in Fall 2014.

Our political strategists, Republican Ted Delisi and Democrat Harold Cook, also weighed in on the pick for term lengths, and what it means for some of the unlucky senators who received a two-year term.


Click the link below to watch Wednesday’s full show, available for a limited time to non-Time Warner Cable subscribers.


Capital Tonight: New ideas on school security

In the wake of last month’s mass shooting in Newtown Connecticut, Texas lawmakers continue to propose new ideas on how to keep students safe. Tuesday, Republican Sen. Tommy Williams, Democratic Sen. John Whitmire and Republican Rep. Dan Huberty announced their intention to file the “Texas School District Security Act.”

The bill would allow individual school districts to create a security fund, separate from all other district funding, to pay for licensed law enforcement officers. The bill’s creators say the emphasis on local control is what makes their idea different.

“I believe that school communities are smart enough to figure out what works best for them and how much they are willing to commit to solve their security issues,” Sen. Williams said.

The law would also include some safeguards, including a requirement for public hearings and the ability to repeal the change through district-wide petition. One hiccup: lawmakers admit a statewide constitutional amendment might be necessary to give school districts the authority to implement such a change.

One man who isn’t shy about his thoughts on school security or gun control or is Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. He stopped by the Capital Tonight studio Tuesday to talk about those issues and more.

And Harvey Kronberg of The Quorum Report is looking at a possible shift among Republican voters when it comes to immigration reform. Click the image below to see the full episode.






Capital Tonight: Smaller crowd expresses big hope for second Obama term

The Capital Tonight team headed to Washington, D.C. for Monday’s inauguration ceremonies. While the crowd was smaller than in 2009 (an estimated 700,000 people showed up this year, compared to 1.8 million for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration) there was no shortage of enthusiasm.

The president’s speech was also more compact than the first time around. Over the span of about 20 minutes, he touched on climate change, immigration reform, same-sex marriage and gun control.

He tied it all together by invoking the Declaration of Independence.

“That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness — real for every American,” Obama said. “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.”

Click the image below to watch Monday’s full episode, including analysis from The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg on the future of Texas Democrats beyond the Obama adminstration.

Obama: Today we continue a never-ending journey

President Barack Obama’s second inauguration speech included a broad outline of what his second term would look like, through the lens of America’s history of reform.

After being sworn in publicly just after noon on Monday, the president gave a nearly 20-minute speech that touched lightly on climate change, immigration reform, gay rights and gun control. He tied it all together by invoking the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

“For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth,” Obama said.

You can view the president’s entire speech online by clicking the link below, or read the full transcript in PDF form.


Lt. Gov. Dewhurst releases full committee assignments

The top spots have been arranged since last October, but we now know the full list of Senate committee assignments for the 83rd legislative session.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst released the list shortly after 5 o’clock today.

In a statement, Dewhurst said: “During this session, we will be focused on balancing the budget without raising taxes, improving public education and increasing highway capacity and drinking water resources for our growing population.  I know that our Senators are up to the challenge to keep Texas number one for decades to come.”

You can view a PDF of the full list of assignments below.


Senate Committee Assignments

Capital Tonight: Looking beyond gun regulations

President Barack Obama made his case for more restrictive gun laws Wednesday, in a much-anticipated speech.

“We have to examine ourselves and our hearts and ask ourselves what is important. This will not happen unless the American people demand it,” President Obama said.

The gun control push comes on the heels of the tragic mass shooting of 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, but guns are just one side of the debate over what, if any, changes to make. A new report from National Alliance on Mental Illness ranks the state second to last when it comes to funding mental healthcare.

Texas Sen. John Whitmire says that needs to change.

“We all know that there are disturbed individuals in our community that we’ve identified, and they’re not getting the mental health services that they need,” Sen. Whitmire said.

A bill has been filed in the House that aims to make hospital beds more available to mental health patients by setting a required minimum of state funding aside.

“We have made some strides,” Iliana Gilman of Travis County Integral Care said. “And we hope that this year, with the tragedies that have happened, we’ll see more support.”


In Wednesday night’s episode, we also heard from former lawmakers Aaron Pena and Sherri Greenberg, as well as the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg. Click the link below to watch the entire episode online.



Abbott ads encourage New Yorkers to ‘keep your guns, come to TX’

Attorney General Greg Abbott is getting creative with his campaign dollars.

According to the Austin American Statesman, a new series of advertisements is popping up in New York, targeting people who may be opposed to their state’s sweeping new gun laws. The ads redirect to a Facebook page, where the viewer is encouraged to move to Texas.

“Here in Texas, you will have the liberty and the opportunity to achieve your dreams,” the page says. “You’ll also get to keep more of what you earn and use some of that extra money to buy more ammo.”

The Statesman reports that the ads appear on major online news outlets, like the New York Times.


Obama: “Now is the Time”

Here is President Obama’s full “plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.”

Gov. Perry fires back at Obama gun proposals

Gov. Rick Perry is taking aim at President Obama’s $500 million dollar gun safety package. 

The plan, announced this morning, includes 23 executive actions and several legislative proposals. His executive orders, which do not require approval by Congress, include improved access to data for background checks and more mental health research to determine the causes of gun violence. 

In addition, the President is asking Congress to pass a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  He is also calling for universal background checks for gun sales.

In an email statement, Gov. Perry accused the Obama administration of using the Newtown shootings to “advance a pre-existing political agenda.”  The full statement is below.

“The Vice President’s committee was appointed in response to the tragedy at Newtown, but very few of his recommendations have anything to do with what happened there.

Guns require a finger to pull the trigger. The sad young man who did that in Newtown was clearly haunted by demons and no gun law could have saved the children in Sandy Hook Elementary from his terror.

There is evil prowling in the world – it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations, and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds. As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be.  Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice.  Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children.

In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally.  The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.”