Archive for September, 2013

Court order lets March primaries go ahead as scheduled

Delays that plagued the 2012 primary elections won’t be a factor in 2014, thanks to a recent court order.

A San Antonio court has allowed the redistricting maps approved by the Texas legislature this summer to be used for the 2014 election cycle, meaning the March 4 primaries will take place as scheduled.

The court order came down Friday afternoon. In it, the three-judge panel explains that there isn’t enough time to complete their review before the 2014 elections. That means that the redistricting maps approved in the first special session of the 83rd Legislature will stand, for now. Those maps are minor variations on the ones approved by the court for use in the 2012 primaries for both Texas House and U.S. Congressional districts.

However, the judges have made it clear that the legal issues that brought the maps before the court in the first place will not be dropped. The redistricting maps passed by a Republican-led legislature in 2011 drew lawsuits from Hispanic, African American and Democratic groups under the Voting Rights Act. The court order asserts that the plaintiffs’ case has not been settled, and that the judge’s final decision could affect future legislative action:

“The fact that the Legislature has adopted the Court’s interim plans in an attempt to curb this particular litigation is no assurance that it will not engage in the same conduct in the next legislative session or any session thereafter.”

A ruling by the Supreme Court this year invalidated the part of the Voting Rights Act that submits Texas to preclearance for changes to election law. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has joined in the lawsuit over redistricting and wants Texas to continue to have changes to voting laws approved by the federal government.

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office issued a statement shortly after the court’s decision was announced. It reads:

“We are pleased that the court agreed to allow the 2014 elections to proceed on time using the new maps drawn by the Legislature. That certainty benefits all Texans.

“The State will continue to respond in court to the unwarranted challenges to the new maps by the Obama administration and various plaintiff groups. Texas has prevailed each time the redistricting litigation has reached the U.S. Supreme Court and remains confident that the Legislature’s maps will be vindicated, either at the San Antonio federal district court or at the Supreme Court, if necessary.”

Capital Tonight: One-on-one with McCaul on Syria

Congress is getting ready to return to Capitol Hill from summer break, and members have a big decision to make when they get back. President Barack Obama is asking Congress to authorize a military strike on Syria in response to reported chemical weapons attacks on civilians in the country.

Congressman Michael McCaul is among Washington lawmakers who are skeptical of getting involved in the conflict. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with the Homeland Security Committee Chairman to talk about his concerns.

STATEWIDE DEBATE

The San Antonio City Council gave the go-ahead to a controversial anti-discrimination measure. The ordinance will expand the city’s current policy to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.

The city hall was packed with equal-rights activists who cheered the 8-3 vote, but the new ordinance has received backlash from some of Texas’ top Republicans.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

The repercussions continue after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunk driving arrest. Now, a grand jury will decide her fate and that of Gov. Rick Perry. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to weigh in on where things go from here.

Capital Tonight: McCaul leaning toward ‘no’ vote on Syria strike

A Senate Committee has taken the first step toward authorizing United States military action in Syria, but a final yes vote remains far from certain.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we look at how the Texas delegation is expected to vote, along with Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s doubts about the repercussions.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE

The hot summer months aren’t cooling down Attorney General Greg Abbott’s fundraising streak. Abbott says he raised almost $1.2 million in August, alone. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to look at how the campaign cash will affect his run for the governor’s office.

COMPTROLLER CAMPAIGN

Plus, it’s a crowded race for comptroller on the Republican side. We spoke to former state Rep. Raul Torres about what separates him from the pack.

Abbott touts August fundraising totals

Attorney General Greg Abbott is boasting another impressive fundraising month. Abbott’s campaign announced he raised nearly $1.2 million between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31. Almost all of those donations came from within Texas.

“Historically, summer months are a slow time for fundraising, but Texans continue to be enthusiastic about General Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign,” Finance Director Sarah Whitley said. “These numbers show, once again, broad support across the state and the commitment of Texans to the conservative principles that Greg Abbott represents.”

The latest totals leave Abbott with more than $20 million dollars in his campaign war chest.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Texas delegation expresses doubts about Syria strike

While the Obama administration makes its case for military action in Syria, it’s clear Washington lawmakers representing Texas are reluctant to cast a “yes” vote.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we hear from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Roger Williams and Rep. John Carter on the Republican side, along with Democratic Reps. Lloyd Doggett and Joaquin Castro.

WATER AND DEVELOPMENT

A new board tasked with solving the state’s water problems began work Tuesday. Gov. Rick Perry swore in the three, full-time members of the Texas Water Development Board, which will oversee a new $2 billion state water fund, but only if it’s approved by voters in November.

RACE FOR HD 50

Plus, we heard from a candidate who has been active in numerous commissions and boards in the Austin area, and who now wants to serve in the Texas House. Click the image below to hear from Celia Israel, who is running to replace Mark Strama in House District 50.

Abbott launches new ‘Main Street Texas Tour’ web ad

Attorney General Greg Abbott launched a new online campaign ad Tuesday. Abbott, who is running for governor, is touting what he calls his “Main Street Texas Tour.”

The new ad features video of campaign stops in Boerne, Kerrville and Fredericksburg. You can watch it, here: