Archive for October, 2013

Capital Tonight: Questions emerge over voter affidavits

Gregory Wayne Abbott will have to sign one when he shows up to the polls, and Wendy Russell Davis has already had to do so. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we examine the argument over affidavits — the sworn statements voters must sign when their photo IDs differ from their voter registration cards.

REVIVING CPRIT

The state’s cancer research funding agency is back up and running, after state leaders lifted a moratorium on the grant process. But after a high-profile scandal over misuse of the approval process, can the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas successfully rehabilitate its image? Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to weigh in on that topic and more.

HEALTH CARE COSTS

Regardless of your thoughts on the Affordable Care Act, there’s no doubt that premiums will rise for some in Texas. We spoke with John Davidson with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation about why he believes young, adult males will be hit the hardest.

Appeals court sides with state in abortion law ruling

An appeals court has overturned the decision of a federal judge who blocked parts of a controversial abortion bill.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Thursday night, allowing the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals to take effect while a lawsuit over the restriction continues.

The ruling comes just three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the same provision serves no medical purpose. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers had argued that the regulations were unconstitutional, and sought to have them delayed through a temporary injunction.

Instead, the new requirements will likely go into effect immediately.

Vice president calls for more funding to stop domestic violence

Vice President Joe Biden made a stop in the Austin area to speak about curbing domestic violence — a cause he’s championed since at least 1994.

Earlier in the day, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius went before a congressional committee to defend the online portal to the Affordable Care Act.

GOVERNOR’S ID

Gov. Rick Perry cast his ballot in West Austin and talked about implementation of the state’s Voter ID law. He also commented on a House committee’s investigation of UT Regent Wallace Hall. We sat down with the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg to talk about the governor’s stance, and a new rumor tying the United Nations to the Alamo.

MEET THE CANDIDATE

Former state Rep. Sid Miller may have hired an outspoken rock star to help lead his campaign, but the newly announced candidate for agriculture commissioner has his own record to talk about. We sat down with Miller for a one-on-one interview about Ted Nugent, water issues, feral hogs and more.

State leaders lift moratorium on CPRIT grants

The state’s cancer-fighting agency can once again provide grants.
Today, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus lifted the moratorium they imposed last December. The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas came under fire when it was revealed the agency failed to follow the proper procedures in awarding an $11 million grant to a Dallas firm. The scandal even prompted a criminal investigation.

Last session, lawmakers approved legislation to keep closer tabs on CPRIT, including a new six-member oversight board, which has since been appointed. Today’s announcement means CPRIT can resume grant operations and finalize remaining contracts.

The $3 billion agency was approved by voters in 2007 with the goal of funding cancer research and prevention efforts in Texas.

Capital Tonight: Looking ahead to the fight over abortion law

Now that the attorney general’s office has filed a motion to reverse a federal court’s ruling against tighter abortion restrictions, the next decision is in the hands of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we look back at the state’s record of success with the appeals court, and look ahead to where the fight is likely headed from there. 

TAPPING TEXAS DONORS

New fundraising numbers are out this week from groups working to get the word out about Proposition 6. The Water Texas PAC has raised a total of $2.1 million, adding more than a million to what it raised in the last filing period.

It’s a good sign for supporters of the ballot initiative, but some groups are raising questions about where the support is coming from and why. We sat down with Andrew Wheat with the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice to look at the bigger picture.

IMMIGRATION UPDATE

Conservative business owners, faith leaders and policymakers met Tuesday in Washington to try to revive immigration reform efforts. We checked in on where the issue stands now.

Capital Tonight: Perry, Davis respond to abortion law ruling

Less than 24 hours before it was set to take effect, a federal court struck down parts of a controversial abortion law. In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at what the ruling means for abortion providers, and heard reactions from Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Wendy Davis and others.

ON THE AGENDA

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about the newly named head of the Wendy Davis campaign, along with an ongoing Ethics Commission case that could be taking a new twist.

PROP 6 DEBATE

Just four days are left until early voting ends, and many Texans are still making up their minds about Proposition 6. That’s the ballot measure that would pull $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help finance water infrastructure projects.

We sat down with New Braunfels-area Rep. Doug Miller and Michele Gangnes, a bond attorney and water activist, to talk about their opposing views.

Reaction mixed over abortion ruling

The political reaction was quick to today’s court ruling that parts of the state’s abortion law are unconsitutional.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry indicated the abortion debate does not end with Monday’s decision.

“Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently,” the governor said in a press release. “We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”

Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio also issued a statement soon after the ruling.

“I’m grateful that a Texas court agreed today that House Bill 2 would have had harmful effects on women’s access to care and affirmed that the Republican-controlled Legislature went too far in its attacks on women” she said. Van de Putte is considering a run for lieutenant governor.

Judge: Parts of Texas abortion law unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that parts of the state’s new abortion law are unconstitutional, meaning they won’t go into effect Tuesday as planned.

District Judge Lee Yeakel made the ruling today.

His decision follows a three-day trial over the law, which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and regulates the way doctors can administer abortion-inducing drugs. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood argued that the regulations would shut down a third of the abortion clinics in Texas. The state has argued that the law protects women and the life of the fetus.

The attorney general’s office is expected to file an appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Capital Tonight: State sees renewed focus on health care issues

Problems continue to plague the Affordable Care Act’s online exchange, and the Obama administration is working on damage control. Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stepped foot in what some might call unfriendly Texas territory to try and address the website’s problems.

 

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The clock is ticking on a federal judge’s decision whether or not to delay a controversial health care law. We sat down with Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News, Scott Braddock from the Quorum Report and Becca Aaronson of the Texas Tribune to look at the politics and legal issues behind the state’s new abortion law.

DAVIS IN DC

Sen. Wendy Davis was back in D.C. Friday, preparing for a tough campaign for governor.
We caught up with the latest on her efforts from Washington, plus Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas joined us for a fact check of a new opposition ad.

Capital Tonight: Veterans, lawmakers push for ballot measures

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte joined military members at an event in San Antonio to rally support for Propositions 1 and 4. The first ballot measure would provide a tax break to the wives or husbands of service members who were killed in action. If passed, they would not have to pay property taxes where they currently live. Proposition 4 takes that concept further, allowing disabled veterans in Texas who receive donated homes to get a break on their property taxes, relative to their disability level.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to one wounded veteran about what the measures mean to him, plus we checked in on hearings in Washington over the federal government’s flawed health care enrollment website.

BOOK FEST PREVIEW

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, a book published just this month takes readers to the political climate surrounding the city just a few years before the events of November 22, 1963 in Dealey Plaza.

We sat down with Bill Minutaglio, co-author of “Dallas 1963,” to talk about his research and his upcoming appearance at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

Republican candidate Lisa Fritsch is the latest entrant in the Texas governor’s race. She joined us for a one-on-one interview about what separates her from her conservative counterparts.