Archive for May, 2013

Capital Tonight: Battle lines drawn over redistricting

Battle Lines Drawn

Despite calls for swift action, the special session call for redistricting could drag on.

The House Select Committee on Redistricting took up the issue Friday, a day after Senate lawmakers did the same. Gov. Rick Perry wants the legislature to act quickly to adopt interim court-drawn maps that were used last election, but so far, it looks like lawmakers have different plans.

Call Confusion

While the interim maps are the only issue lawmakers are tasked with dealing with in the special session, even that is causing some confusion. Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune and Ben Philpott with KUT’s Agenda Texas joined us to help sort things out.


Plus, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul joined us in the studio.
Click the image below to hear his thoughts on the progress Washington is making on immigration reform and border security.

Capital Tonight: Battle lines drawn over redistricting

Hearings Begin

A day after a three judge panel convened to update the status of the state’s redistricting legal battles, a Senate committee met Thursday to take up the issue.

The governor called lawmakers back to ratify the interim maps that were drawn by the court just in time to hold the 2012 Texas primaries, and the author of the bill was originally set on not accepting any amendments to those maps. But it looks like that has changed.

Statewide Shuffle

With Susan Combs out of the 2014 picture, Republican candidates are coming out of the woodwork. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to look at how it could all shake out.

Transparency Check

Transparency was the buzzword at the start of session, but is the window on state government staying shut?

We spoke with Jay Root of the Texas Tribune about whether those efforts led anywhere.

Capital Tonight: Comptroller Combs endorses Dewhurst, talks post-political plans

Life after Politics

Just hours after announcing her intent not to run for office in 2014, Comptroller Susan Combs came on Capital Tonight to talk about what’s next.

She talked about her reasons for stepping down, her plans for life after statewide office, and her endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for re-election.

Revisiting Redistricting

Redistricting was back before a federal panel of judges Wednesday. The state is facing off against minority and civil rights groups who sued over redrawn political lines almost two years ago. Capital Tonight’s Karina Kling was in San Antonio for the hearing.

Special Session Secrets

Former Democratic State Rep. Sherri Greenberg and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Peña joined us to talk about the rules of the special session.

Republicans lining up for Combs’ Comptroller seat

It’s only been a few hours since Comptroller Susan Combs announced she would retire at the end of her term, but already there is a long line of Republicans eyeing her seat.

Former gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party activist Debra Media was among the first to formally throw her hat in the ring. She also launched a 2014 Exploratory Campaign website.

Sen. Glenn Hegar made his plans official this afternoon. He issued a statement wishing Comptroller Combs well, saying “I also want to announce that I will be a candidate for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in 2014. My campaign will have more to say in the coming days. I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Texas.”

Other potential candidates include State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran and Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams. In a press release, Williams said he will begin an exploratory effort once the special session ends.


State leaders weigh in on Combs’ resignation

Gov. Rick Perry is commenting on Susan Combs’ announcement that she won’t be running for political office in 2014. His office released a statement today.

“Susan Combs has played a key role in cultivating the strength of the Texas economy, and has been a trusted and capable steward of the public accounts for many years. A major proponent of openness in government, she leaves behind a legacy of transparency, and a state that’s more responsive, more accessible and more accountable to the public. Anita joins me in wishing Susan the best in the future.” – Gov. Rick Perry

Attorney General Greg Abbott also released a statement:

“The State of Texas has been lucky to have Susan serving as one of its leaders for so many years. Whether it was fighting to increase transparency in state and local spending, helping create a more business friendly climate in Texas, or being a pioneer on issues like childhood obesity and school nutrition, Susan has always had the best interest of Texans in mind. Susan’s leadership will be missed, and I thank her for years of dedicated service to the State of Texas.” – Attorney General Greg Abbott


Comptroller Combs will not seek office in 2014

State Comptroller Susan Combs announced today she will not seek elective office in 2014. The announcement comes after months of speculation over her political future, including a potential bid for lieutenant governor.

“I want to make my intentions clear as soon as possible for prospective statewide candidates,” Combs said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

This means the race for lieutenant governor in the GOP primary will include the incumbent, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, along with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. All three have said they will run. Combs’ announcement also opens up the race for comptroller.

Combs indicated during a recent appearance on Capital Tonight that she would discuss her future plans with her husband over the Memorial Day weekend before making any decisions. She will be our guest on Capital Tonight this evening at 7. Her entire statement is below the jump.

More >

New York Republicans keeping distance from Ted Cruz

Wherever Sen. Ted Cruz goes, it’s a safe bet that controversy will follow.

Case in point: the Senator’s planned speech at a New York State Republican dinner scheduled for tomorrow in Manhattan.

Today, Democrats tried to turn Cruz’s appearance into a talking point against some New York Republicans. Across parts of that state, Cruz is persona non grata due to his efforts earlier this year to block federal aid for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Rep. Peter King, a Republican Congressman from Long Island, said today that he would not attend the dinner, telling BuzzFeed, “I don’t think we should be acknowledging people who are voting against us in our hour of need.”

Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican who represents Sandy-devastated Staten Island, also said that he would not attend, after getting a beating from the Democratic National Committee and The House Majority PAC, a group leading the Democratic Party’s efforts to take back the House of Representatives.

In a statement, Grimm did not take issue with Cruz, but instead the Democrats who criticized him.

“To use an event as tragic as Sandy to try and score a few cheap political points is beyond reprehensible, and I expect more from my NYC colleagues, who quite frankly should know better,” said Grimm.

“I could only hope that that they will put as much effort into Sandy relief as they have launching baseless political attacks. I invite them to join me in my ongoing efforts to return displaced families to their homes and reopen the small businesses that have yet to open their doors – instead of wasting time on partisan nonsense that only divides our country and makes average citizens lose more faith in Congress.”





Perry not hinting at special session additions

If Gov. Rick Perry has any plans to add more legislation to the special session call, he isn’t letting on.

Lawmakers were called back almost immediately following Sine Die yesterday. As many had expected, Gov. Perry set a special session on redistricting. Attorney General Greg Abbott has said he wants lawmakers to adopt the court-drawn interim election maps used in the last election.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, meanwhile, has asked that Gov. Perry add some conservative items that died during the regular session. He wants legislators to approve, among other things, tougher abortion laws and looser gun laws. During a bill signing today, Perry said, “No decisions have been made at this time about any other additions than what we already have.”

When pressed, Perry told reporters, “I’m not going to anticipate anything until we’ve had a chance to look at all the pieces of legislation. The members are here and if there are some things that need to be either tweaked or what have you, we’ll address those as we can.”

Perry can add more legislation to the special session call at any time.


It’s official: Lawmakers called back for special session

Just moments after adjourning Sine Die, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced Senators would be called back for a special session at 6:00 p.m. A short time later, Gov. Rick Perry confirmed speculation that lawmakers would be asked to take up redistricting. Perry is asking lawmakers to adopt the court drawn interim election maps used last session.

He issued this statement:

“We can all be proud of the responsible steps made this session to invest in our citizens, fund water infrastructure, and build an even stronger foundation for the future of our economy and Texas families. By lowering taxes on job creators, opening the door to more higher education opportunities in South Texas, investing in a skilled workforce and keeping our state government efficient and accountable, hardworking taxpayers have freedom, opportunity and peace of mind. However, there is still work to be done on behalf of the citizens of Texas.”

House Speaker Joe Straus announced that the House would be called into special session at 11 a.m., Tuesday.