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