Archive for May, 2013

Slate of gun bills headed for Senate

After surviving a contentious Saturday known as “gun day,” a range of bills dealing with statewide gun laws passed on final reading Monday without incident.

Among them are Rep. Jason Villalba’s House Bill 1009, which would create a new tier of law enforcement officer called a school marshall and provide guidelines for training. It passed 123-22. The Texas Firearm Protection Act, which prohibits local entities from enforcing federal gun control laws, passed as well, along with an amendment added Saturday that would make sure no money for legal challenges came at taxpayers’ expense.  The bill also makes it a Class A misdemeanor for an officer to enforce new federal gun laws.

A bill that would allow college students with conceal-and-carry permits to bring their guns on campus was delayed until 1 p.m. while its author, Rep. Allen Fletcher, attended a police memorial. It received tentative approval Saturday, but only after a number of parliamentary challenges.

The bills are now headed to the Senate, where many political experts believe they face an uphill battle.

 

Capital Tonight: Senate stalls on education bill

Reporter Roundtable

A much anticipated vote on the Senate floor failed to happen, Friday. Texas Senators say they need more time before moving forward with House Bill 5, which calls for flexibility in the state’s education standards and would cut back on the number of tests required to graduate high school.

Becca Aaronson from the Texas Tribune, Bob Garrett with the Dallas Morning News, and Ben Philpott with sat down with Paul Brown to discuss that, along with more of the week’s political news.

Working Together

Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer sat down with Paul Brown to discuss recent stirrings in the Capitol on water and education. Fischer talked about the budget shortfalls from last session and how those can be restored this session.

President Obama returning to Austin

It’s becoming almost an annual tradition: President Obama is returning to Austin. The White House says Obama will be in town Thursday for “events on the economy.” Officials have not released any other details.

This is the second time President Obama will be in Texas in less than a month. He attended the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication on April 25th and then attended a memorial for the victims of the West Fertilizer Plant explosion.

President Obama is no stranger to the Capital City. He last visited Austin during the 2012 presidential campaign where he attended a sold-out fundraiser at The Austin Music Hall. He also made a swing through town in 2011 for a fundraiser at the Moody Theatre and a more exclusive private function at a West Lake home. And in 2010, President Obama delivered an education address at the University of Texas.

We’ll bring you more details of his visit as soon as we have them.

Capital Tonight: Straus sets up showdown over water funding

A showdown could be brewing between the House and Senate over funding for the state’s water plan.

In an interview with Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News, House Speaker Joe Straus revealed he was digging in his heels against a Senate plan that would include funding for education.

Senate Joint Resolution 1 would ask voters to authorize dipping nearly $6 billion into the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund to pay for water and transportation infrastructure. But the measure also includes an extra $800 million for public education as part of a compromise with Senate Democrats.

Straus has been vocal about the need for water infrastructure funding since the start of session, but he now says such a decision should be made by lawmakers. He compared the constitutional amendment strategy to punting the issue to voters.

Capital Commentators Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us in studio to talk about the implications of Straus’ new stance. 

  

Education Bill Update

After passing with overwhelming support in the House, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock’s bill to change graduation and testing requirements remains stalled on the Senate side. The House Public Education chair spoke to Capital Tonight’s Paul Brown about what he believes will happen next. 

  

House Gun Debate

The gun debate has been in the national spotlight lately, and this weekend, it’s expected to spur renewed debate at the Capitol. Capital Tonight’s LeAnn Wallace spoke to one lawmaker whose name is on several of the proposed bills to get a preview of what to expect.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers push for answers on West explosion

Demanding Answers

It was two weeks ago that a massive fertilizer plant explosion forever changed the small city of West, Texas. The fire and the subsequent blast have raised questions about safety and state regulations. Wednesday, lawmakers looked for answers to some of those questions during a Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee meeting. 

 

Saving CPRIT

The Cancer Prevention and Research Agency has taken a lot of heat this session, but there’s one group standing by the agency’s goals and touting the good work it has done. Grant recipients who benefited the most from the state’s cancer fighting agency defended it Wednesday at a House committee hearing dealing with CPRIT overhaul. 

 

Technical Tactics

Few people know what a point of order is, but it can be used to kill even the biggest bill, including a measure to fund the state’s water prevention plan that died on the House floor Monday.

We spoke to former Democratic State Senator Hector Uribe and Former Republican State Representative Aaron Peña about the art of the technicality. 

 

 

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Sen. Cruz dismissing 2016 presidential buzz

He’s only been senator for a  few months, but Sen. Ted Cruz’s actions on Capitol Hill are already prompting some to wonder about at possible 2016 presidential run. The first of such speculation came in the form of a National Review article citing unnamed Cruz confidants who say the freshman senator is pondering the possibility.

The Review quotes an anonymous insider as saying “If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention. Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”

Cruz, of course, has not made any public indication that he’s eyeing the Oval Office. He responded to the article on his Facebook page with a statement that reads:

“In my short tenure, my focus has been — and will remain — on two things: fighting for conservative principles in the Senate, and working to help elect strong conservatives to win a majority in the Senate in 2014. The Senate is the battlefield to defend liberty.

I was elected because thousands of grassroots conservatives came together to protect the Constitution, shrink the federal government, and promote growth and opportunity. It is a continued source of amazement that the simple fact that I am working hard with like-minded Senators to keep my promise is seen as newsworthy and cause for wild speculation.”

Regardless of Sen. Cruz’s possible hopes for higher office, there’s no denying he took the Capitol by storm. He has made national headlines after heated questioning over drone use and dust-ups with veteran senators like Dianne Feinstein. Cruz was also on the receiving end of criticism from members of his own party after he supported a filibuster on a bipartisan gun legislation package that later failed a floor vote.