Archive for April, 2013

Capital Tonight: Water, guns and education

Planning for Growth

The need to fund water infrastructure has been at the forefront of the legislative session this year, especially with the growing population in Texas. A plan to draw out $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund failed to pass Monday, but Gov. Perry said lawmakers can expect to be in session until they find a resolution.

A bill passed out of committee Tuesday that would allow students to store their licensed concealed handgun in their vehicle on campus. Lawmakers said they want to give students the same rights that others have.

Standardized Testing

The house voted Tuesday to make changes to standardized tests for fourth and seventh grades. The changes include removing the standardized writing test and limiting the time needed to take the required tests.

Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment is one of the grass roots groups supporting the changes. Joanne Salazar joined Paul Brown to discuss their campaign and the changes they hope to bring about.

Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Steve Munisteri sat down with Paul Brown to discuss the day’s political news, including the Rainy Day Fund and Battleground Texas.

The Transparency Committee is continuing its look into CPRIT, and a bill that will make changes to the embattled agency is headed to the House.

Straus vows to find way forward on water funding

The day after a bill to fund the state’s water plan failed on a point of order, House Speaker Joe Straus’ office released a statement reaffirming his commitment to finding a solution.

“Speaker Straus will not let a technicality seal the debate on water and remains committed to working with Appropriators, Members of the House and stakeholders to ensure funding for the state water plan this session,” the statement said.

Straus has made water infrastructure a priority since the start of session, calling it a key factor in the state’s potential for economic growth.

House Bill 11, which would have put $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund toward the state’s water plan, was pulled from the House floor Monday on a point of order. Democrats raised the technicality in an effort to get more money for public education.

The funding could still come through other means, however. House Bill 19 lays out a similar plan, and the Senate has passed a resolution that would fund water and transportation through a constitutional amendment.

Abbott: Same-sex marriage benefits unconstitutional

Local governments and school districts that provide marriage benefits to same-sex couples are violating the Texas Constitution, according to an opinion issued today by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) sought the ruling last November, arguing that Texas amended its constitution in 2005 to define marriage as between one man and one woman, while prohibiting government entities from recognizing anything similar to marriage.

“By creating domestic partnerships and offering health benefits based on them, the political subdivisions have created and recognized something not established by Texas law,” Abbott wrote in the opinion.

The cities of El Paso, Austin and Forth Worth have offered some benefits to domestic partners. Pflugerville ISD became the state’s first school district to extend similar benefits.

See the entire opinion below.



Rep. Peter King renews call for Lehmberg resignation

Texas Rep. Peter King (R-Weatherford) is renewing his call for Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s resignation. Lehmberg is currently serving jail time after pleading to drunk driving charges earlier this month. Police documents show her blood alcohol limit was nearly three times the legal limit. Video footage taken at the time of Lehmberg’s arrest shows she was combative and uncooperative while in custody. Lehmberg has said she intends to continue as district attorney when she has served her time.

The case has the attention of state lawmakers because the Travis County DA is also responsible for running the Public Integrity Unit. That is the office in charge of investigating government corruption and ethics complaints.

Rep. King adressed the issue on the floor, Friday, calling for Lehmberg to step down. Today, he renewed that call, saying “Anyone can make a mistake, but the belligerence Ms. Lehmberg showed to the police officers and jail personnel was extraordinary. The public should go on-line and review these recordings.”

Not everyone agrees that Lehmberg should lose her job. More than 100 local attorneys, calling themselves “Friends of Rosemary,” signed on to a brief supporting Lehmberg’s decision to stay on as the county’s chief prosecutor.

Capital Tonight: Week In Review

Reporter Roundtable

Paul Brown sat down with Reeve Hamilton from the Texas Tribune, Ryan Poppe from Texas Public Radio and Christy Hoppe from the Dallas Morning News to recap the weeks events in the Capitol, including the Lottery Commission and the Rainy Day Fund.


Helping Women Worldwide

Paul Brown spoke to Charity Wallace earlier this week at the Bush Library dedication.
Wallace serves as the director of the Women’s Initiative at the Bush Institute and was Chief of Staff for First Lady Laura Bush.


Capital Tonight: Former presidents reevaluate Bush legacy

The George W. Bush Presidential Center was officially dedicated Thursday morning on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Bush was joined by the other living presidents, along with a crowd of thousands, all there to pay tribute to the Bush years. 


Inside the Museum

While the public won’t be able to see the inside of the library until next week, the Capital Tonight team was able to get an early look.


West Memorial

After the dedication ceremony, President Obama and the First Lady traveled to Waco, where thousands gathered to pay tribute to the first responders killed in the West fertilizer plant explosion. 

Click the image below to see Thursday night’s full episode, including thoughts from Sen. Ted Cruz, Bush Center Director Alan Lowe and our Capital Commentators.

Bush Center Dedication Ceremony Photos

Our Capital Tonight crew will be updating this slideshow from the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, throughout the day.

Capital Tonight: George W. Bush museum leaves strong first impression

The Capital Tonight crew got an early look at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, along with several people who worked with the president during his term.

In Wednesday night’s show, former Bush advisor Karen Hughes, Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News and others shared their impressions of the main exhibit. 


While the museum’s main focus is on Bush’s time as president, his five years as Texas governor played a significant role in his political career. We spoke to two lawmakers who worked closely with him at the State Capitol: Sherri Greenberg and Kip Averitt. Click the logo below to see the full episode.


Web Exclusive: SMU president talks about Bush museum

Southern Methodist University President R. Gerald Turner has been a part of the design process for the George W. Bush Museum and Library from the beginning.

Click the image below to hear his impressions of the finished exhibit, and what it means for the campus.

Preparations underway for George W. Bush Center dedication