Archive for April, 2013

Capital Tonight: Lottery commission survives after surprise vote

Dramatic Do-Over

A routine vote giving the Texas Lottery Commission the green light to run for another 12 years took an unexpected turn Tuesday. House lawmakers voted 82-64 to defeat the bill that would have reauthorized it. Less than two hours later, the bill was reconsidered and it passed on to third reading.

Funding Education

Rep. Harold Dutton was on the floor for the dramatic lottery discussion. He sat down with Karina Kling to discuss that, as well as a bill to increase the number of charter schools being considered in his committee.

Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Ted Delisi discussed the big events coming out of the Capitol, including public education and infrastructure. Click the logo below to watch the full episode.

House reauthorizes lottery commission after dramatic detour

A routine vote to reauthorize the Texas Lottery Commission took a dramatic turn Tuesday, casting doubt on the entire statewide lottery before being reconsidered.

Debate on the reauthorization measure started Tuesday afternoon, with questions about where unclaimed winnings go. It eventually became a referendum on the lottery system itself. Several lawmakers spoke against the lottery, calling it a de-facto tax on poor people.

House lawmakers then voted 82-64 to defeat the bill, then broke for lunch.

Less than two hours later, the House voted to reconsider the bill. It passed to third reading by a vote of 91-53.

The state lottery provides more than $2 billion in funding for public education. A final vote is expected to take place Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Capital Tonight: Former state inspector weighs in on West explosion

After the Blast

It’s been five days since a fertilizer plant exploded in the town of West, and while the community rebuilds, some questions remain. We spoke to a former state environmental inspector about where those questions could lead. 

Payday Lending Laws

The battle over payday lending is back.

Tempers flared again Monday, as Sen. John Carona brought Senate Bill 1247 to the Floor. The bill would create a regulatory framework for payday lenders, but opponents say it doesn’t do enough to protect consumers in cities where regulations are already in place. 

Immigration Update

Plus, the immigration debate in Washington got heated Monday. Click the image below for a look at the latest, including where senators John Cornyn Ted Cruz stand.



Speaker Straus names House budget negotiators

The list of 10 lawmakers who will likely decide the final shape of the next two-year budget is complete.

Monday, House Speaker Joe Straus named his appointees to the conference committee on Senate Bill 1. They are:

  • Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie)
  • Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton)
  • Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton)
  • Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston)
  • Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond)

Last week, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced the Senate appointees. The group will be responsible for merging the different budget bills passed out of the two chambers. The Senate bill allows for $1.7 billion more in spending.

Capital Tonight : Appraising the Devastation

Lawmakers visit Accident Site

U.S. senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz visited West today to see the devastation.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples joined Karina Kling to discuss the scene he witnessed passing through West shortly after the explosion. Staples also discussed the setback to agriculture the explosion is likely to have on food production.

Senate District 22

(R) Sen. Brian Birdwell joined Karina Kling from West, Texas. Birdwell discussed the damage he witnessed in West and how the local leadership is handling the situation.

Reporter Roundtable

Scott Braddock with the Quorum Report, Christy Hoppe from the Dallas Morning News and Jay Root with The Texas Tribune joined Karina Kling to discuss the events in politics this week.


Dewhurst names Senate budget conference committee members

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced his appointees to the Conference Committee on the state budget, Thursday. These are the members who will help bridge the differences between the Senate and House versions of the budget bill.

The Senate will be represented by:

  • Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)
  • Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)
  • Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)
  • Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston)

“I am confident that our Senate conferees will fulfill our Constitutional duty to balance our state budget, meet our obligations under current state and federal law, and fund our priorities in a fiscally responsible manner that does not raise taxes on hardworking Texans.” – Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers survey ‘nightmare scenario’

Search and rescue efforts are still underway after Wednesday night’s deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant. As of Thursday afternoon, officials have confirmed more than one person has died, but say more work needs to be done before they can know the exact number for certain.

Click the logo below to hear comments from Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, along with an update on the environmental conditions and information from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 


Perry: ‘We are mobilizing state resources’ to West, Texas

Emergency crews from across the state are en-route to the scene of a fertilizer plant

Courtesy: Daniel Rogers

explosion in West, Texas. Two explosions occurred at the plant, located about 20 miles north of Waco, just before 8 p.m. The entire town has been evacuated.

YNN has confirmed that a nursing home near the plant has collapsed and people may be trapped inside. There is no official word on casualties, but there are reports that more than 100 people were hurt. At least six helicopters have been dispatched to airlift the injured to area hospitals and the Red Cross is sending resources from across the state.

Gov. Rick Perry issued this statement, tonight:

“We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident. We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene.”

Capital Tonight: Senate scuffle has big implications

Things have been exceedingly cordial in the Senate this session, but an unexpected move created some tension Wednesday afternoon.

The spark? A motion brought forward by Sen. Dan Patrick to repeal a bill by Sen. Kel Seliger that had passed the day before. Senate Bill 346 would require certain, politically active nonprofits to disclose the names of donors. Sen. Patrick cited First Amendment concerns and the Citizens United decision for his reversal, while Sen. Seliger described the bill as a simple transparency issue.

Click the logo below to see the exchange leading up to the vote, along with analysis from the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg.


Senate votes down expanded background checks

Sweeping gun control overhaul efforts hit a major roadblock on Capitol Hill today. The Senate rejected a bipartisan plan to expand federal background checks to include gun shows and online purchases. The amendment was part of a package of Obama-backed bills prompted by the Newtown, CT, school shooting.

The legislation was the result of a bipartisan compromise by Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin. The defeat, while anticipated, was a crushing blow to supporters of stricter gun control laws. Vice President Joe Biden said just before the vote that tighter gun control measures will eventually pass, suggesting the White House wouldn’t abandon its push even though the vote appeared headed toward failure.

The Senate will consider nearly a dozen more amendments in the coming days, including a ban on certain assault rifles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report