Archive for September, 2013

Capital Tonight: Hospitals prepare for Obamacare as shutdown looms

Monday afternoon, President Obama sounded as if the partial federal government shutdown were a foregone conclusion. He spoke after Senate Democrats flatly rejected a proposal that delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and before House Republicans sent back a similar bill in spite of the rejection.

Meanwhile, doctors and health officials in Texas went on with preparations for the law at the center of it all. They say regardless of the Washington standoff, they want to make sure patients know how the law will effect them.


For the first time statewide, voters will have to show an approved photo ID at the polls this November to cast their ballots. We looked at how county officials are getting the word out.



Plus, the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about the political figures making headlines at the state and national level.

Cruz leading in GOP primary poll

It seems Ted Cruz’s filibuster style Senate speech is fueling any potential presidential aspirations. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Cruz leading the pack in a hypothetical GOP primary race.

The poll puts him in the lead at 20 percent, ahead of Rand Paul at 17. Chris Christie is third with 11 percent and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are each tied with 10. The poll shows a huge bump for Cruz. He gained eight points since the last PPP survey was conducted in July.

According to the poll, the numbers “also suggest that Cruz is now viewed more broadly as the leader of the Republican Party.”

“Ted Cruz this week established himself as the grassroots hero of the Republican Party,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “The party base has a lot more faith in him than their more official leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.”

Women’s groups sue over abortion legislation

More than a dozen women’s health providers are suing to block key provisions of a controversial new abortion bill. Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed their challenge Friday in an Austin federal court. The plaintiffs claim stricter regulations enacted last legislative session are unconstitutional and “dramatically reduce women’s ability to access safe and legal abortion in Texas.”

The plaintiffs are attempting to specifically block two provisions of Texas House Bill 2. Those include a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and restrictions on the use of abortion medication. This lawsuit does not challenge the requirement that abortion clinics be upgrades to surgical center standards or the ban on abortion after 20 weeks.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said:

“We’re in court today to stop a terrible situation for women in Texas from getting even worse. Politicians are interfering with the personal medical decisions of women who already have the least access to birth control and preventive health care. If this law goes into effect, there is no doubt it will end access to safe and legal abortion for many women, leaving some to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. We won’t let that happen.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott has not yet responded to the lawsuit.



Capital Tonight: Measuring the Cruz effect

More than 21 hours after it started, Sen. Ted Cruz’s marathon speech against Obamacare came to a close without making any immediate legislative impact.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how the political aftermath is shaping up.


As Sen. Cruz was making his case, the Department of Health and Human Services was handing out some highly anticipated information. The Obama administration released the estimated costs of individual health plans late Tuesday night, and the news seems to be better than expected.


The Texas Democratic Party is still eagerly awaiting the official word from Sen. Wendy Davis on a possible run for governor. We sat down with the party’s chairman, Gilberto Hinojosa, and got his thoughts on what a Davis candidacy means for other potential statewide candidates.

Marathon Cruz speech ends after 21 hours

After speaking for 21 hours and 19 minutes, Sen. Ted Cruz yielded the floor Wednesday, allowing a vote on government funding to go ahead as planned.

Cruz began speaking just before 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday in opposition to the Affordable Care Act. With help from Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Cruz covered everything from constitutional law to “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. But apart from Obamacare, Cruz’s main complaint was with Senate Republicans who refused to follow his lead.

“Anyone who votes to cut off debate on this bill is voting to allow Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to fully fund Obamacare,” Cruz said. “That’s a vote that I think is a profound mistake.”

The speech was not technically a filibuster, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had enough votes to begin debate on a continuing resolution passed by the House. That bill included a provision that would strip funding for Obamacare, which Reid is expected to remove before sending the bill back to the House.



Capital Tonight: Can the Cruz strategy succeed?

Sen. Ted Cruz made good on a promise to stand against the Affordable Care Act Tuesday, beginning a speech on the Senate floor that could stretch until well past midnight. It’s an effort to use a must-pass spending bill to strip funding from the president’s health care law.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the delay tactic and looked at what the long-term repercussions could be with political analysts Harold Cook and Ted Delisi.


New data from the PEW Research Center shows fewer people are living in the U.S. illegally now than in 2007. The downward trend also holds true for five states that have 60 percent or more of the undocumented immigrant population, but not for Texas. We spoke to immigration expert Terri Givens about why Texas might be bucking the national trend.


The 83rd legislative session is behind us, and the Center for Politics and Governance at UT’s LBJ School is taking a closer look and what happened and why. We sat down with the center’s director, Sherri Greenberg, to talk about the forum

Sen. Cruz launches stall tactic over Obamacare

Sen. Ted Cruz  has vowed to speak in opposition to the Affordable Care Act until he can no longer stand.

Cruz began the stalling tactic just before 2 p.m. today, in an attempt to delay a motion by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. At issue is a continuing resolution that House lawmakers passed last week, which would continue to pay for government operations, but only if funding is stripped from Obamacare. Sen. Reid will move to put Obamacare funding back in the bill later this week, so it can make it past the president’s desk and avoid a government shutdown.

Senator Cruz says he’ll fight to keep that from happening, and denies accusations that his strategy is only for personal political gain.

“This fight is not about personalities,” Cruz said.  “Most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington.  Who cares?  Almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts.”

Many Republican leaders in the Senate are opposing Cruz’s strategy. They argue there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to stop the bill from passing .

Capital Tonight: UT President addresses higher education challenges

Higher education was a major issue for lawmakers this past session, particularly for those who felt University of Texas President Bill Powers was being micromanaged by the UT Board of Regents.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke one-on-one with Powers himself. He talked about his goals for UT’s flagship campus, his hopes for the next legislative session and about working with the regents.


As one of the worst droughts in state history drags on, the state’s agriculture commissioner is urging Texans to take water conservation into their own hands. That means monitoring their water use and taking a serious look at Proposition 6. Commissioner Todd Staples, who is also running for lieutenant governor, admits neither will immediately solve the state’s water woes, but says it’s a good place to start.


The Senate is set to vote this week on a continuing resolution that would avoid a government shutdown on October 1. At issue is an attempt by some Republicans — led by Sen. Ted Cruz — to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Capital Tonight: Glenn Hegar talks about run for comptroller

Following the news that former Congressman Tom DeLay’s money laundering conviction would be overturned, one Austin lawyer who helped build the case is speaking out. Former Travis County Assistant District Attorney Rick Reed says trial prosecutors botched the case from the start.

In Monday’s show, we heard more from Reed about mistakes he says were made, and we talked to Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News, Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune and Chris Tomlinson of The Associated Press.


It’s a crowded primary race for comptroller, but one young Senator says he stands apart.
We spoke with Republican Glenn Hegar about his bid for higher office.


Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas joined us to look at a claim David Dewhurst made on a Spanish-language show.

Capital Tonight: Travis County officials react to DeLay decision

A Texas appeals court has thrown out a money laundering conviction against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In a 2-1 vote, the court ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the conviction, but Travis County prosecutors say the case is far from over.

Meanwhile, a watchdog group based out of Washington D.C. is calling Gov. Rick Perry out for what they claim is excessive spending on advertisements to lure job providers to Texas.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke with one of the people behind the study to see how much is being spent and where the money is coming from.


Political strategists Ted Delisi and Harold Cook joined us to talk about the DeLay decision and consider the implications of Wendy Davis’ big October announcement.


And in the final part of our Candidate Conversation series for House District 50, we sat down with chiropractor Mike Van de Walle to talk about his position as the only Republican running in the special election.