Archive for September, 2013

Capital Tonight: Health care and the cost of doing business

Ready or not, the new health care law is going into effect soon, and business owners are studying the details. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we continued our series on the Affordable Care Act with a look at what it means for employers and workers in Texas.



To get more perspective from the business world, we spoke to the people who hear from business leaders every day. That includes Laura Hoke of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Austin Business Journal editor Colin Pope.


And in Washington, the battle over funding the bill continues. As our D.C. reporter Michael Scotto explains, Democrats are warning that divisions within the Republican party could bring the government to a halt at the end of the month.

Maryland next stop on Perry jobs tour

Gov. Rick Perry announced Thursday he will make Maryland the next stop on his “move to Texas” tour. He is planning to visit the state next week. As he has prior to previous trips, Perry launched television and radio ads, touting Texas’ “limited government, low taxes and a fair legal system.”

As in the past, the group Texas One is footing the $500,000 advertising bill and is paying for Perry’s travel expenses.

On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley dismissed Perry’s ads as a “tired old PR gimmick.”

Cruz, Cornyn file Fort Hood shooting legislation

Texas’ two U.S. senators are moving forward with a bill to reclassify the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist attack. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz introduced the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act on Capitol Hill Thursday.

The shooting is currently classified as an act of workplace violence. Changing the designation would give the victims and their families the same benefits and honors as victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It would provide life insurance, tax breaks for death in a combat zone and other combat-related pay.

The measure also has sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reps. John Carter and Roger Williams are introducing similar legislation in the lower chamber. Lawmakers say they expect bipartisan support for the bill and hope to have it passed through Congress by the end of the year.

Last month Maj. Nidal Hasan was convicted of killing 13 people and injuring dozens more in the 2009 shooting. He is sitting on death row at Fort Leavenworth.

Capital Tonight: Confronting the controversy over Obamacare

It may be the law of the land, but there’s still plenty of political debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act. In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we tackle the controversy head-on, from the back-and-forth over Medicaid expansion to the question of whether Congress should even fund the law at all.


The law known as Obamacare has spawned plenty of opinions, making it hard to focus on the actual impact. We spoke to Anne Dunkelberg of the Center for Public Policy Priorities and John Davidson with the Texas Public Policy Foundation about the research being looked at by both sides of the debate.


And it’s not the first time Texas has seen a flare-up over health care. TheQuorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us with an eye on the past.

Watch Obama’s full speech on Syria

President Barack Obama used a prime-time television address to make his case for military action Tuesday night, while staying open to the possibility of diplomacy. In just over 15 minutes, the president explained his thinking on the civil war in Syria and asked for the American public’s support for a targeted strike against chemical weapons facilities. Click the logo below to see the speech in its entirety.


Capital Tonight: Understanding the insurance marketplace

Starting January 1, the individual mandate takes effect, requiring all Americans to have health insurance. Open enrollment for those plans begins in just three weeks, and many here in Texas still don’t know what’s required of them or how to go about getting covered.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how groups are working to get people informed, and we spoke to Mimi Garcia, the state coordinator for Enroll America, about what the insurance marketplace will look like.


Meanwhile, the debate in Washington continues over whether the law known as Obamacare should be funded at all. Our Capital Commentators joined us to talk about the ongoing political debate surrounding health care reform.

Perry appoints new chief justice of Texas Supreme Court

Gov. Rick Perry has named Justice Nathan Hecht as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas.

Hecht was first elected to the Court in 1998 and currently serves as senior justice. His term is set to last until the next general election in 2014, when he’ll have to run again to keep the position.

“I know Justice Hecht to be a man of the most upstanding character and integrity, with an uncompromising commitment to protecting the interests of the citizens of Texas,” Gov. Perry said in a statement.

Hecht will replace Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, who will step down on October 1. Jefferson has served since 2004, when he became the first African American Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.


Texas lawmakers weighing Syria vote

Updated: As Congress prepares to vote to authorize military action in Syria, Capital Tonight is tracking how Texas’ Congressional delegation plans to vote.

Below is our breakdown of where lawmakers stand:

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R) – NO
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R) – NO
  • Rep. Michael McCaul (R) – LEANING AGAINST
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) – UNDECIDED
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R) – NO
  • Rep. Roger Williams (R) – NO
  • Rep. John Carter (R) – NO
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R) – AWAITING RESPONSE
  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) – LEANING AGAINST
  • Rep. Steve Stockman (R) – NO

Capital Tonight: Understanding the Affordable Care Act

Three years after President Barack Obama’s landmark heath care overhaul became law, major changes to coverage are on the horizon. Starting in January, all Americans will be required to have health insurance, but the process begins for many people on October 1, when open enrollment in the insurance marketplace will start.

While we know the broad strokes of the plan, many questions remain as to how exactly it will be implemented across the country. To get an idea about how the law will affect people in Texas, we spoke to experts at the county, state and local level.

Click the logo below to see part one of our weeklong series on the Afforable Care Act, with Stephanie Goodman of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Dr. Mark Hernandez of Travis County’s Community Care Collaborative and Texas Academy of Family Physicians CEO Tom Banning.

Capital Tonight: Meet the new head of the Texas Water Development Board

This legislative session brought major changes to the board tasked with overseeing the state’s water infrastructure needs. We spoke to the new head of the Texas Water Development Board, Carlos Rubinstein, about the plans and projects that could help solve the state’s water woes.

Syria Decision

It’s been more than three weeks since a chemical weapon attack in Syria left more than 1,400 people dead, but the question of what America should do about it is still being debated.

That question was top-of-mind for members of the Texas delegation this week, as they heard from constituents at home. In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we look at where Congressional lawmakers from Texas stand and whether it’s a sign of the bigger picture.


The race is on for campaign contributions as Republicans head into a crowded primary. But can fundraising power alone shut down potential rivals before they start? Ross Ramsey from the Texas Tribune, Christy Hoppe from The Dallas Morning News and Brian Sweany from Texas Monthly joined us to weigh in on that question and more.