Archive for September, 2017

Daily Digest: Sept. 29

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on:


Abbott Gives Houston $50 Million for Harvey Recovery:

The Hurricane Harvey funding feud between Governor Greg Abbott and the Houston Mayor appears to be over.

Friday, Abbott handed Mayor Sylvester Turner a $50 million check for Harvey cleanup efforts. It comes just days after clashing with the Democratic mayor and insisting the city already had “all the money” it needed.

Turner had planned to raise property taxes for one year to pay for the recovery costs, noting it wouldn’t be needed if Abbott tapped the state’s savings account immediately.

But the tax increase has now been called off.

“The request that I was making would have generated about $50 million and this obviates the need to move on that,” Mayor Turner said.

Abbott reiterated that the Rainy Day Fund would be used for Harvey recovery and that if expenses are known, he could call lawmakers back.

“The time to use the thrust of the Rainy Day Fund is when the expenses are known, identified, and the cost of rebuilding are known so that members of the Legislature can know how best to use the Rainy Day Fund,” Gov. Abbott said.

He also noted the $10 billion fund would only be able to cover a “fraction of the costs” of longer term recovery and prevention.


Maternal Mortality Task Force:

It’s an unwanted distinction: Texas leads the nation in the rate at which mothers die due to childbirth. A task force created to study the issue met for the first time since lawmakers voted to extend it during the special session.

At 7, our Max Gorden explains why reversing such startling statistics is top priority for the task force.


Reporter Roundtable:

Paul Weber of the Associated Press, Ben Philpott with KUT News and Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle join us to discuss Harvey recovery costs and President Trump’s Texas picks for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.


PolitiFact Texas:

President Trump has said hundreds of pounds of drugs are being catapulted over the border wall. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas will be in to put that statement to the truth-o-meter. We’ll also look into a claim about population growth in the Austin area made by San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Sept. 27

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Trump Touts Tax Reform:

The focus in Washington is shifting to tax reform. Wednesday, President Trump touted his plan to overhaul the system calling it a “once in a generation” opportunity to cut taxes.

It comes after suffering a major defeat this week on health care.

Trump rallied in Indianapolis saying he wants to cut taxes for middle-class families to make the system simpler and fairer. The plan would pare back individual rates from seven tax brackets – down to three.

The president is also vowing to fight for a 20 percent corporate tax rate, a decrease from the current 35 percent rate.

Trump says the cuts would make the US more appealing to business and in the long run create jobs.

“It’s time to take care of our people to rebuild our nation and to fight for our great American workers,” President Trump said.

Trump also says his proposal will eliminate loopholes that benefit the wealthy and that it’s not good for him.

But the claim is impossible to verify since he’s refused to release his tax returns.

Trump also says under the plan, most families would be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper.

Trump’s proposal has some Texas Democrats challenging whether it would help the middle class.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett releasing a statement today saying in part:

“Despite repeated claims of ‘no tax cuts for the rich,’ this plan does the opposite by raising the bottom rate and cutting the top rate, eliminating the estate tax, and expanding a loophole to line Trump’s pockets. Like a Trump University degree or a Republican healthcare bill, the gap between what they say it does and what it actually does should be what ends it.”

Meanwhile, Texas’ Senior Sen. John Cornyn is praising the plan — saying it would help Texans keep more of what they earn.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues and the President to enact reforms that spur economic growth and put money back in the pockets of hardworking Texans,” Sen. Cornyn said in a statement.


Freestanding ER Rule Changes:

Not every emergency room is the same.

Texas lawmakers hope a couple of new laws will hold freestanding ERs to a higher standard after hearing from thousands of Texans who say they were duped.

The clinics have popped up all over Texas in the past ten years.

To a lot of people, they look like urgent care clinics and patient advocates say therein lies the problem.

People will walk in thinking the visit will cost a couple hundred bucks and leave with bills in the thousands.

The Texas Legislature passed two laws this past session that directly target freestanding ERs.

One requires them to let patients know which health insurance plans they are part of before they’re admitted.

Advocates say that’s key, because very few standalone ERs partner with insurance providers.

The Texas Association of Health Plans says some of the most common symptoms patients try to treat at a freestanding ER are sore throats, fevers and coughs.

“At a freestanding ER, you can pay $3,000 to have a cough treated. At an urgent care, that same treatment could be about $180,” Jessica Sandlin with the Texas Association of Health Plans said.

Lawmakers also broadened the scope of a law that allows patients to dispute high medical bills.

It allows Texans to file a complaint with the Department of Insurance and get some of their out-of-pocket costs reduced through mediation.

More importantly, patient advocates say you should think twice before you walk in that you’re at the most appropriate facility for your medical needs.


Political Analysts:

Democrat Harold Cook and Republican Ted Delisi are in tonight to discuss President Trump turning to Democrats to try to get something done on health care. We also discuss the clash between Governor Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over Harvey recovery costs.


A New Battle at the Alamo:

Reimagining the Alamo…

There’s been plenty of input about the restoration efforts around the historic San Antonio site. But now, the state Republican Party is raising some concerns about how the current Land Commissioner is leading the project.

It’s also upset the former Land Commissioner. Jerry Patterson joins us to discuss why he’s urging Commissioner George P. Bush to remember the 1836 Battle of the Alamo as it “reimagines” the site.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Sept. 26

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Gov. Abbott, Houston Mayor at odds over Harvey costs:

Gov. Greg Abbott said today that Houston’s mayor is holding the state “hostage” by proposing a 3.6 percent local tax increase unless Texas taps into its rainy day fund to help pay for Hurricane Harvey relief. During a press conference on the rebuilding efforts, Abbott said Mayor Sylvester Turner has “all the money he needs” for now.

Turner sent the governor a letter requesting state lawmakers tap into the savings account before the next legislative session. He said his call for a one-time property tax hike to pay for Harvey expenses wouldn’t be necessary is Abbott tapped into the nearly $10 billion emergency fund.

Abbott said now is not the time for “financial panic.”


1on1: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was at Tuesday’s Harvey press briefing and joined us from the FEMA joint field office in North Austin to discuss the state recovery efforts. He also responds to Mayor Turner’s request.


Graham-Cassidy Bill Doomed:

Senate Republicans will not vote this week on the latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. That’s according to senators who emerged from a closed-door meeting today.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake shook his head “no” when asked about plans for a vote. The decision marks the end of the latest effort to overturn the law, a promise the GOP has made to voters for seven years.

Today, President Trump expressed his disappointment with the Republican senators who said they’d vote against it.

“At some point there will be a repeal and replace but we’ll see whether or not that point is now or will it be shortly thereafter. But we are disappointed in certain so-called Republicans,” President Trump said.

The latest proposed bill was sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, but the opposition from at least three Republican Senators, Susan Collins, John McCain and Rand Paul, sunk the measure’s chances.

Democrats were unified in their opposition.


Virtual Doctor Visits:

Texas doctors are now allowed to see patients through a phone or video connection, instead of just face to face at the doctor’s office.

A new law took effect September first that makes virtual doctor visits legal. At 7, why these virtual visits played a critical role in responding to Hurricane Harvey.


SB4 Latest:

One day after a federal appeals court allowed more of the state’s anti-sanctuary cities law to take effect, Attorney General Ken Paxton says he’s now accepting complaints related to cities and counties that don’t comply.

Part of the law now in effect requires jurisdictions to comply with federal detention requests placed on jail inmates suspected of being in the country illegally.

Local police are also prohibited from creating policies that prevent officers from investigating a person’s immigration status during routine stops.

Paxton’s office can seek the removal of an elected official and create civil penalties based on the complaints.

Meanwhile, the Austin Police Department announced Tuesday it’s changed its policy to comply with the latest court ruling.

But the Police Chief says that doesn’t change their focus.

“It is still just as important as it ever has been that you continue to trust us as a department to understand the importance of our relationship and to be willing to come forward if you’ve ever been a victim of a crime or you’ve witnessed someone else be victimized,” Chief Brian Manley said.

The department will roll out new videos that will train officers on the policy changes.


1on1: Garry Mauro:

Texas Democrats say they’ll have a viable candidate for Governor — soon. As we wait to hear who it will be, one longtime party faithful and former Texas Land Commissioner says it’s okay if they don’t get a candidate to challenge Gov. Abbott.

Garry Mauro discusses his stance at 7, and where Democrats should place their focus instead.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling

@Karina Kling


Daily Digest: Sept. 22

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


SB4 in Court:

Attorneys for Texas asked a federal appeals court to let the state’s new sanctuary cities law take effect immediately. It comes after a federal judge in San Antonio blocked most of the law just before it was set to take effect September 1st.

Attorneys representing a group of cities suing to stop what’s also known as SB4, say it violates the Fourth Amendment by requiring police to detain individuals who are suspected of being in the country illegally without probable cause.

They want the temporary hold on the law to continue while it plays out in courts.

Before the proceedings began, around 100 protesters gathered outside the courthouse. Among them were state and local elected officials.

“We’re continuing the fight to stop this law which is really a racial profiling, anti-immigrant, anti-job bill,” Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said.

The state argues it’s about public safety — and that it has the authority to mandate that local law enforcement cooperate with federal officials.

In a statement, Attorney General Ken Paxton said:

“We delivered a strong case for allowing Senate Bill 4 to take effect…Enforcing immigration law helps prevent dangerous criminals from being released into Texas communities.”

The judges didn’t give any indication on when they will rule on today’s matter. Meanwhile, a full hearing on the law is schedule for November 6th.

Join us at 7 to hear more on today’s arguments from retired UT Austin clinical law professor Barbara Hines.


Reporter Roundtable:

Bob Garrett of the Dallas Morning News and John Gravois of the Houston Chronicle join our reporter roundtable to give their take on the SB4 arguments. We also discuss the latest Harvey rebuilding efforts and where most of the state costs are expected to fall.


War of Words:

Deranged — mad man — those are the terms being thrown back and forth between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after President Trump’s Speech to the U.N. General Assembly sparked the latest escalation in a war of words between the two leaders.

But will the rising rhetoric lead to something more grave? We’ll have a full report at 7pm.


Sen. Cornyn Responds to North Korea and Health Care Bill:

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, says he’s glad the President is putting pressure on Kim Jung Un. But he told reporters today he’s unaware of the “war of words” between the two.

“I don’t know if that helps impress Kim Jong Un with the seriousness of what he’s doing, discourages him. My sense is that he doesn’t really care what anybody says or does because this is about his survival, survival of the regime,” Cornyn said.

The senator was asked about the conflict after an event honoring an Austin police officer today.

Cornyn’s a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and says the threat North Korea poses is substantial. He says it’s important the US not turn its head and let an individual threaten any of our allies.

The senator was also asked about the fate of the latest GOP health care bill. He called it a work in progress but expects a vote on it next week.

Cornyn’s comments came shortly before Sen. John McCain announced he’s a no vote on the bill. McCain’s opposition likely keeps it from passing.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Sept. 19

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Straus Calls for Removal of Confederate Plaque:

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is joining a growing number of state lawmakers calling for the removal of a controversial Confederate plaque inside the State Capitol.

It’s tucked in the Capitol’s East wing and many say it’s inaccurate because it claims the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.

In a letter to the State Preservation Board, Speaker Straus wrote:

“Texans should expect to see an accurate depiction of history when they visit their state Capitol. As I have stated before, I also believe that Preservation Board Staff should study the historical accuracy and context of other symbols on the Capitol grounds.”

Democratic Rep. Eric Johnson started the push to remove the plaque shortly after the end of the special session in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly.

Johnson says Speaker Straus placing his support behind the plaque’s removal sends a powerful message.

“I think it tells everyone, ‘look guys, it’s ok.’ It’s not about Republicans versus Democrats or Conservatives versus Liberals, this is about people who value truth,” Johnson said.

Johnson will also be meeting with Governor Greg Abbott to discuss Confederate monuments on the Capitol Grounds. Abbott has condemned the actions of white nationalists but says removing symbols won’t erase the past.

Join us at 7pm for an in depth look at the issue and where Confederate statues exist in Texas.


Lead Levels in Texas Schools:

Lead levels have been detected in almost 800 Texas schools. That’s according to an environmental advocacy group that is now calling for more testing.

The group, Environment Texas, wants all school districts to ‘get the lead out.’

They held a news conference today in Austin, shining light on the school district itself here in the Capital City, which tested all of its 130 campuses and found lead present in seven different campuses.

That includes five elementary schools and two sports facilities.

Austin ISD says it took several steps, including swapping out a drinking fountain at Zavala Elementary in East Austin, which they say tested high for lead.

After test that with a new fountain, they said there was no lead present.

Environment Texas says that may not be a true sign that the lead is gone from the system altogether.

They say there are problems with the pipes–not only in schools, but in neighborhoods themselves.

They are calling on local water utilities across Texas and the EPA to make sure they hold up the highest standards for drinking water, especially where students spend most of their days.

We have reached out to other school districts across the region. We will bring you their updates on Capital Tonight at 7pm.


Congressman Lloyd Doggett Discusses GOP Health Care Bill:

The Trump administration says it’s “all in” in a last ditch effort by Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

A chief sponsor of the bill says he’s feeling good about where they’re at — but stopped short of predicting the GOP has the votes to pass it.

The so-called Graham-Cassidy bill would keep much of the Obamacare tax structure in place. But it would give the money back to the states in the form of temporary block grants, allowing states to design their own health care systems.

Sen. Lindsay Graham says Republicans are out of options — and need to pass this bill.

“You can have different opinions about the quality of this bill. At the end of the day, this is the only process left available to stop a march toward socialism. We have between now and the end of the month to have a vote and a debate about whether this is better than the status quo,” Graham said.

Opponents say it will mean millions will lose coverage including Democratic Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He joins us tonight to discuss his opposition to the bill, DACA discussions and redistricting.


Bill Miller Talks Abbott Staff Shake-up:

When Gov. Greg Abbott announced his staff shake-up yesterday, aides and other officials called it a natural transition at this point in the Governor’s tenure.

Two years in — and heading into his reelection bid, longtime Austin lobbyist Bill Miller joins us to discuss the changes and what it signals moving forward.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm.


Posted by Karina Kling






Daily Digest: Sept. 13

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Bipartisan Tax Reform:

Many Americans think of April 15th when they think of taxes, but Congressional leaders say the week of September 25th is the next big date on the calendar when it comes to how much you may pay Uncle Sam.

House Ways and Means Chairman and Texas Congressman Kevin Brady announced today that’s when key tax legislation writers, along with the White House, will have a proposal for a revised federal tax code.

Coming up at 7pm we’ll have more on talk of bi-partisan agreement in Washington and what it would take to lead to action.


Sen. Cruz’s Tax Reform Vision:

Sen. Ted Cruz also laid out his vision for tax reform today. The priorities include full and immediate write-offs of businesses’ capital investments and the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Cruz made his pitch at an event hosted by the conservative Tax Foundation. He called tax reform a “fundamental promise that Washington is grappling with.”

“The promise to remodel our antiquated, bureaucratic, ineffective tax system, with the objective of creating more jobs, higher wages, more opportunity,” Cruz said.

Cruz discussed tax reform frequently while campaigning for President in 2016. But he’s not a member of the Senate’s tax-writing committee.

The Texans most likely to be in the middle of the discussions — Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady.


DACA Discussions:

Bipartisan discussions dealing with DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — are also happening in Washington.

Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others met late this afternoon to talk about legislative options for DREAMERS.

Last Tuesday, President Trump announced he would end the program, but offered up a six month delay, giving congress time to come up with a plan to fix it.

Today he said a bipartisan approach could do just that.

“We want to see if we can do something in regard to immigration with regard to the 800,000 people that are now young people they aren’t children anymore, they were children but now they are young people, but we want to see if we can do something in a bipartisan fashion.”

The President will continue bipartisan discussions on DACA with Pelosi and Sen. Schumer tonight during a dinner at the White House.


Not in My State Campaign:

A coalition of Hispanic groups are launching the “Not in My State Campaign.”

The goal is to fight back against what they call anti-Latino policies being pushed across the country.

In Texas, that includes the state’s anti-sanctuary cities law, which has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.

And they’re calling on lawmakers to find a fix for DACA…

“The climate that we’re operating in is unlike any that we’ve seen before which alludes to the launching of this initiative to say we’re done. We’ve had enough,” Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, said.

Similar campaign launches were also held today in at least nine other states.

Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, joins us at 7pm to discuss the campaign further.


Redistricting Latest:

Those hoping to see new state political maps ahead of the 2018 election have suffered a big set-back. Late Tuesday, a divided US Supreme Court blocked lower court rulings that ordered Texas to redraw some Congressional and State House districts.

The 5-4 decision means the state will likely hold elections next year in districts that were struck down as racially discriminatory.


Workers Comp for First Responders’ Families:

First responders have some of the most stressful and dangerous jobs. Whenever they answer a call, they put their lives on the line, along with their families, who face an uncertain future should they die in the line of duty.

At 7pm, our Victoria Maranan shows us how a new law gives these families a lifeline.


Political Analysts:

Democrat Harold Cook and Republican Ted Delisi are in to discuss the latest redistricting ruling and why Democrats still don’t have a candidate for governor.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.



Daily Digest: Sept. 12

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Irma Congressional Response:

For the second time in three weeks, millions of Americans are reeling from a natural disaster.

As Texans start to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, Floridians are just starting to get a glimpse of the devastation Irma left behind.

The people of Florida are relying on the federal government to help with the recovery. It will be up to Congress to approve emergency funds – but will it happen, and how quickly?

Our Washington bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta has the latest on the Congressional response at 7pm.


Hand-in-Hand Day:

Thousands have stepped up to help in Harvey recovery efforts. And that will be on full display tonight during a star-studded telethon benefiting the victims of both hurricanes.

Earlier today, Gov. Greg Abbott joined the King of Country and other musicians performing at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio tonight.

George Strait’s Harvey benefit concert sold out in 30 minutes. He says this likely won’t be the last event they do to help out the people of Texas.

“I’d like to see us raise a lot of money,” Strait said. “These people need money they need financial support and clothes and pets and that’s the example we want to set.”

Strait was joined by Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

Tonight’s San Antonio concert coincides with the nationally broadcast Hand in Hand telethon. Funds raised from the telethon will go to several organizations including the Rebuild Texas Fund.


No Cost for LTC Replacements:

In true Texas fashion, if you’ve lost or damaged your license to carry a handgun due to Harvey, you can get a free replacement.

Gov. Abbott says he lifted what he called “burdensome” fees so Texans can focus on rebuilding their lives and communities.

A replacement normally costs $25. But if you live in a county that’s been declared a disaster area — you’re eligible to receive a replacement at no cost.


Straus Urges Business Community to Keep Up Fight Against “Bathroom Bill”:

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus urged business leaders to continue the fight against a so-called “bathroom bill” today.

The legislation to regulate where transgender Texans can use the restroom failed to pass in the regular and special sessions.

In a speech to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Straus added the business community needs to stay engaged.

“Texans rejected name-calling and scare tactics and as a result we avoided a major mistake that would have cost our economy greatly and divided us unnecessarily,” Straus said.

Speaking with reporters after his speech, Straus agreed with Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that a special session would not be needed to deal with the response to Harvey.

He noted lawmakers have plenty of authority to free up money to provide aid.


School Buses Must Have Seat Belts:

Buckling up is no longer reserved for your personal vehicle. A new state law now requires new school buses to be equipped with three-point seatbelts.

Our Victoria Maranan explains the details at 7pm.


Rep. Larry Gonzales Not Running for Reelection:

The Round Rock Republican recently announced he won’t be seeking re-election.

Rep. Gonzales was first elected to the Texas House in 2010. He’s served on the appropriations committee and as chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission, which is responsible for periodic reviews of state agencies.

He joins us tonight to explain why and what he calls his biggest accomplishments as a state lawmakers.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Sept. 11

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Remembering 9/11, 16 Years Later:

President Trump led September 11th remembrances for the first time as Commander-in-Chief. It comes 16 years after then-President George W. Bush told the nation of the terrorist attacks.

For hours on this anniversary, three sites observed the moments 2977 people died. On tonight’s show, we take a look at a day of remembering what happened and renewing resolve to keep if from happening again.


Austin Fire Department Tower Climb:

The Austin Fire Department held its sixteenth annual tower climb to remember the 343 firefighters that died in the World Trade Center.

Join us at 7 for a look at how Austin firefighters endured 189 flights of stairs, to complete the journey their fallen brothers and sisters never finished.


McCaul on Harvey Aid No Votes:

Texas Congressman Michael McCaul is calling a vote against a $15 billion Harvey relief package “unconscionable.”

Last week, Congress passed the initial aid bill for victims of the storm. But four Texas Republican colleagues voted no.

They complained the aid was linked to a three-month lifting of the debt ceiling.

“I don’t want to judge them,” McCaul said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday. “I judge myself and my conscience and when I have people dying and hurting in my home state, it was my duty and my moral obligation to help them, and I felt that that vote was a vote of conscience to help people in my state and also now in Florida.”

None of the four Texans who voted ‘no’ represent districts affected by Harvey.


Irma Latest:

After battering Florida, what’s left of Tropical Storm Irma is causing more problems. Millions of people are without power and there is the threat of a potentially deadly storm surge.

We bring you a report out of Naples where people there are now starting to clean up.


Rep. Tony Dale on Front Lines of Harvey Response:

Four state lawmakers were on the front lines of the Harvey response efforts.

They serve in the Texas State Guard, which was called up alongside the Texas National Guard.

Rep. Tony Dale of Cedar Park was one of them and he joins us at 7 to discuss his role in the relief efforts, and how his service informs his decisions as a policymaker.


On the Agenda:

The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg is in at to talk 2018 and Harvey recovery efforts.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling




Daily Digest: Sept. 8

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


Trump Signs Harvey Aid Bill:

President Trump and Congress have quickly acted to help deliver storm recovery money to the thousands of Texans dealing with the aftermath of Harvey.

The US House overwhelmingly approved sending a $15.3 billion disaster aid package to the President Friday morning and Trump signed it Friday afternoon.

Lawmakers overcame objections from conservatives who didn’t want the emergency aid linked to a temporary increase in the country’s borrowing authority.

The bill keeps the government funded into December.

“I thought it was absolutely the right thing to do,” Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, said. “I think the president is sending the message that the president is a very results driven person. He wants to see results. And right now he wants to see results on hurricane Harvey, hurricane Irma and tax reform and he saw an opportunity to work with the Democrats on this particular issue, this particular time to get those things done.”

The measure would refill depleted emergency accounts. It’s only the first installment of a federal aid package that could exceed the $100-billion plus provided after Hurricane Katrina.


Federal Government Preps for Irma:

But is the money enough to help Texas and Florida as people there prepare to face or flee Hurricane Irma? We take a look at how FEMA resources are dwindling as Congress scrambles to send billions more to the agency.


Reporter Roundtable:

Capitol Press Corps reporters Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report, Patrick Svitek with the Texas Tribune and Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News weigh in on Gov. Abbott’s response to Harvey and his pick to lead the state’s rebuilding efforts. Plus, the DACA decision and what it means for Texas.


PolitiFact Texas:

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recently said during an interview on Capital Tonight that a poll showed 70 to 75 percent of people want to see Confederate statues remain up and not taken down. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas put Miller to the truth-o-meter. Find out how he rated tonight at 7pm.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling


Daily Digest: Sept. 7

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:


A&M Chancellor to lead Harvey rebuilding efforts:

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed the leader of Texas A&M University to head the state’s rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

Abbott says he tapped Chancellor John Sharp, in part, because he knows how to cut through red tape and wants a swift-moving recovery effort. Sharp is a former longtime Democratic lawmaker who represented coastal counties and served as Comptroller.

At 7, our Max Gorden explains why some state leaders have concerns that the money to rebuild quickly isn’t there.


US Senate Approves $15.3 billion in Harvey Relief:

The US Senate has passed a $15.3 billion aid package for Harvey victims. That nearly doubles President Trump’s emergency request.

Senators also added a deal between Trump and Democrats to temporarily extend the government’s ability to borrow money to cover its bills.

The 80-17 vote returns the legislation to the House, which is expected to vote on it Friday and send it to the president’s desk.

Texas’ senior Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, urged lawmakers to expedite the process.

“I hope my colleagues will keep in mind the scope of this catastrophe and deliver this funding to those whom Harvey has cost much more than just dollars,” Cornyn said.

The aid money comes as Harvey recovery efforts are draining federal disaster aid coffers — and as Irma takes aim at Florida.


Gas Supply Recovering Following Harvey:

Hoarding and panic buying following Harvey put unnecessary strains on gas pumps in parts of Texas. But one state official says the supply is quickly recovering and any shortages should be resolved within the next couple of days.

Another piece of good news, several refineries idled by the storm have restarted.

Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton joins us tonight to discuss how the oil and gas industry is recovering.


Harvey’s Toll on Higher Education:

College classes have resumed on many Texas campuses, but Harvey’s effect on higher education is being widely felt. The state’s higher education coordinating board estimates 500,000 students are enrolled in Texas schools from counties affected by the hurricane, and trying to figure out support financially and emotionally has become a big focus.

Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes told Capital Tonight most schools are open and accepting students but the real problem is personal circumstances.

“The campuses are in decent shape. It’s the students we’re concerned about,” Paredes said.

Paredes said counselors, call centers, websites including one that the coordinating board has put in place to advise students about their options are all available to help.

He also said a larger issue will be making sure there are people in place that can repair the damage.

“We’re going to have to find ways to retrain students in a much shorter period of time than is the norm,” Paredes said.

Watch his full interview at 7pm.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling