Archive for December, 2017

Daily Digest: Dec. 15

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


GOP Releases Final Tax Bill:

Republicans have unveiled the final version of their sweeping tax plan and newfound support from two wavering senators means it’s likely headed to President Trump to be signed by Christmas.

The bill would cut rates for corporations and the wealthy while offering modest reductions for the middle class.

It would also expand the child tax credit, preserve the adoption tax credit and allow Americans to deduct some medical expenses.

It does eliminate the requirement that Americans buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Friday in Austin he expects a vote by Tuesday.

“Our goal is to grow the economy for everybody. We’ve been suffering through anemic economic growth since the Great Recession of 2008, but I don’t think any of us should have to accept that as the new normal,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn was also asked about Rep. Blake Farenthold’s decision to not seek re-election.

The Corpus Christi Congressman was hit with multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Cornyn said Farenthold made the right decision and that Congress has “a lot to do” to regain its reputation as a safe workplace.


Reporter Roundtable:

Bob Garrett of the Dallas Morning News and Paul Weber with the Associated Press join us at 7 to discuss Rep. Farenthold’s decision to not seek re-election. They also weigh in on sexual harassment policy changes at the Texas Capitol and the 2018 state of play.


Texas CHIP Funding Extended Through February:

Texas will get additional money to keep the popular children’s health insurance program — CHIP — in business a little longer.

The state’s health agency said it got confirmation from the federal government that Texas will receive roughly $135 million in funds.

That’s enough to help cover CHIP clients through February so cancellation notices won’t be sent later this month.

CHIP covers more than 450,000 Texas kids.

The program’s future has been in limbo since Congress failed to renew its funding in September.

But Sen. Cornyn also tweeted Friday that Congress will pass a long-term CHIP funding bill next week.


UT System Chancellor Resigning in May:

The University of Texas System Chancellor has announced he’s stepping down. William McRaven said he plans to leave the school in May citing non-serious health concerns.

He informed the Board of Regents of his decision during a meeting Friday.

McRaven is most known for being the man who directed the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. The retired Navy Admiral had no professional academic experience when he was hired to lead the UT system.

He recently clashed with university regents but said he’s leaving for personal reasons.


PolitiFact Texas:

Foul play in the Alabama Senate race? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas is in to fact-check a claim about a recount. He also puts Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton to the truth-o-meter over a statement about Hurricane Harvey housing needs.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling




Daily Digest: Dec. 14

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Texas Senate Rewriting Sexual Harassment Policies:

Texas senators say it’s time to rewrite their sexual harassment policies. The push to update comes amid allegations of sexual harassment against two of their own.

According to the Senate Secretary, there’s only been one formal complaint of sexual harassment in the Senate since the current policies were put in place in 1995.

But a top Texas senator says current policies are so ambiguous even she’d be hesitant to come forward with a complaint.

“I want to make sure, again, that we have a robust environment where it allows someone to feel like they can report a situation without retaliation,” Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said.

Kolkhorst suggested making training for elected senators mandatory and providing more explicit details about how to report sexual harassment.

Lawmakers also suggested ensuring journalists and lobbyists are protected by the new policies.

Earlier this month, the Texas House strengthened its sexual harassment policies.


Rep. Farenthold Retiring Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations:

Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, is retiring from Congress amid sexual harassment allegations.

The news follows a new report that a former aide says Farenthold was verbally abusive, sexually demeaning and created an environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.

Farenthold took to Facebook Thursday to apologize for his actions.

“I’d never served in public office before. I had no idea how to run a Congressional office and, as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional,” he said.

The House ethics committee was already investigating Farenthold for sexual harassment claims made by a different former aide.

The Congressman has denied any wrongdoing in that case.


Net Neutrality Vote:

A vote Thursday could usher in big changes in how you use the internet.

The Federal Communications Commission voted to undo sweeping Obama-era “net neutrality” rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet.

We’ll have more on why the FCC’s decision likely isn’t the final word.


GOP Tax Bill Latest:

It’s been one-day since GOP House and Senate leaders said they struck a tentative deal on the tax bill. They are now scrambling to address last-minute concerns from members of their party.

Our Washington DC bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with members of Congress who are deeply involved in the process and will have the latest at 7.


James Ho Confirmed to 5th Circuit:

Another Texan has been confirmed to serve on the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Senate voted 53-43 Thursday to confirm former Texas solicitor general James Ho.

Ho is the 12th circuit court judge to be confirmed during Trump’s first year in office.

Texas’ Republican Senators applauded his confirmation. But some Democrats have raised concerns that Ho will seek to roll back abortion rights.

His confirmation comes a day after the Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett — who will also serve on the 5th Circuit.


I-35 Austin Toll Lanes Cut from Project:

Toll lanes on I-35 have been cut from a key 10-year construction plan. State transportation officials voted Thursday to remove all toll way projects from the proposal — including the addition of two toll lanes to each side of the interstate through Central Texas.

The move comes amid an outcry from anti-toll groups and state Republican leaders who argued that when Texas voters approved more money for roads, they were promised that wouldn’t include new tolls.

TxDOT has said even with the extra money for roads — some projects won’t be possible without selling bonds and charging tolls.

Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty has been pushing to keep the express lanes in the plan. Hear his take at 7.


Texas Death Row Population Dropping:

The use of the death penalty in Texas continues to decline. According to a new report released today by groups critical of the death penalty, the downward trend is largely due to fewer new death sentences and more reduced punishments.

But Texas still executed more people than any other state in 2017.

Kristin Houle with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is in to discuss the data further.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Dec. 12

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


CHIP Funding Still in Limbo as Time Runs Out for Texas Families:

Texas is still waiting for additional money to keep a popular children’s health insurance program in business a little longer.

CHIP covers more than 400,000 Texas kids.

Its future remains in limbo after Congress failed to renew the program in September.

Our Max Gorden spoke with some health care professionals today who say delaying CHIP funding any longer could have long-term health effects.

Plus, Laura Guerra-Cardus, Texas Deputy Director for the Children’s Defense Fund, also joins us tonight to discuss the issue further.


Homeland Security Chief Lauds Texas ‘sanctuary cities’ Ban:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ New U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is decrying “sanctuary cities” in a state that recently approved strict laws banning them.

President Donald Trump’s former deputy White House chief of staff, Nielsen was confirmed by the Senate last week.

She’s visiting Austin, where county sheriff Sally Hernandez once promised not to comply with some “detainers,” or federal requests to hold for possible deportation people who were jailed on non-violent, non-immigration charges.

That helped prompt the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature to approve a sanctuary cities crackdown that allows sheriffs and police chiefs to face removal from office and even criminal charges for failing to fully enforce federal immigration policy.

The measure now is being contested in federal court, but Hernandez has since changed policies. Nielsen urged other states to follow Texas’ lead.


Alabama Senate Race:

It’s the election that everyone has been talking about with allegations of decades-old sexual assault, shined a light on divisions in the Republican Party and has implications on the balance of power in Washington.

We’ll have the latest on any early results and a report from Alabama as the candidates cast their ballots today.


Trump Lashes Out at Lawmaker Amid Calls to Resign:

President Trump and a Democratic New York lawmaker got into a virtual brawl on Twitter Tuesday.

It comes amid growing calls for the president to resign over sexual misconduct allegations.

Our Washington DC bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York. Hear why the state’s junior senator isn’t backing down.


2018 Primary Battles:

Now that the stage is set for the 2018 primaries, what are the top races to watch? Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report weighs in with his must-watch primary battles including the George P. Bush/Jerry Patterson matchup.


Join us for these stories and more.

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Dec. 8

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Jerry Patterson to Challenge Bush for Land Commissioner:

A former Texas Land Commissioner says he wants his old job back. Friday the race to head up the General Land Office took a new twist as Jerry Patterson announced he’ll be filing to run for the position next week.

Patterson has been frustrated with current Commissioner George P. Bush over what he calls a lack of transparency about the Alamo redesign project and his response to Hurricane Harvey.

Patterson says he’s been searching for a candidate to run against Commissioner Bush for the past four months.

“And at the end of the day I guess it’s me,” Patterson said.

Hear more from Patterson and the newly-filed Democratic candidate at 7.


Reporter Roundtable:

Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune and James Barragan of the Dallas Morning News join our reporter roundtable to discuss the race for Land Commissioner, Governor and sexual harassment policies at the State Capitol.


Trump Promotes Moore:

President Trump is in Florida tonight for a campaign-style rally just 25 miles from the Alabama state line.

The White House has said the rally is a campaign event for Trump. But the location — which also feeds Alabama TV markets — is stoking speculation that it’s a backdoor way for Trump to give controversial U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore a boost.

The rally and election are also coming at a watershed moment in the nation’s capital.


PolitiFact Texas:

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas is in to fact check a claim about the share of Texas students succeeding in education after high school and whether domestic violence is a consistent predictor of mass shootings.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Dec. 7

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Women’s Group Calls on Texas Senators to Resign:

A prominent Texas women’s political group is calling on two state senators to step down.

It comes after the online news website – the Daily Beast — reported multiple allegations that Senators Borris Miles, D-Houston, and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, sexually harassed women.

Our Max Gorden will have the latest on the accusations and the growing calls for a culture shift inside the Texas Capitol.


Sen. Franken Resigns:

Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken has announced he’ll step down. The decision comes amid growing calls for his resignation in the wake of a series of sexual misconduct allegations.

Hear why Franken calls his stepping down ironic.

And we’re joined by Bruce Kellison to discuss what he calls a coming culture shift. He’s the co-director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin.


Democrat Andrew White Announces Run for Governor:

Texas Democrats have another candidate in the race for Governor. But this one’s running as a conservative Democrat against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.

Andrew White made his gubernatorial bid official today during a campaign speech in Houston.

White’s the son of the late former Gov. Mark White.

The 45-year-old Houston entrepreneur has never fun for office and calls himself a “common sense Democrat” who thinks the state’s Republican leaders have shifted too far to the right.

“I’m asking you to trust me with your state and I’m pledging to you, I’ll earn your respect,” White said. “I’ll work harder than I’ve ever worked. And when I’m done, Texas will be in a better shape than when I started.”

White joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates running in the spring primary.

His announcement comes one day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made her bid official. She’s considered the Democrats most high-profile candidate.

The Texas Politics Project Director Jim Henson joins us at 7 to discuss White’s chances and the state of the Democratic Party.


Join us for these stories and more on Capital Tonight at 7.


Posted by Karina Kling





Democrat Andrew White Announces Run for Governor

Andrew White, the son of the late former Gov. Mark White, made his gubernatorial bid official today during a campaign speech in Houston.

“I’m proud to be Mark White’s son. But I’m not running because I’m his son,” White said. “I’m running because we need more leaders like Mark White. We need leaders willing to do right and risk their re-election.”

White is a Houston entrepreneur. He’s never run for office but calls himself a “common sense Democrat” who thinks the state’s Republican leaders have shifted too far to the right.

“The one thing that separates the governors who made history from the ones that simply lived in it: in the words of Sam Houston, ‘Do right and risk the consequences.’ That’s why I’m running for Governor: to do right and let the cards fall where they may,” White said.

White joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates running in the spring primary. His announcement comes one day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made her bid official. She’s considered the Democrats most high-profile candidate.

All of the Democratic candidates still face an uphill battle to beat Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott has a campaign war chest of $40 plus million dollars.

White, who considers himself a “conservative Democrat,” could also face resistance in his party’s primary.




Daily Digest: Dec. 6

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Dallas County Sheriff Announces Run for Governor:

Texas’ first Hispanic female sheriff wants to be the first Hispanic female governor of Texas.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced this morning she’s running against incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.

She gives Texas Democrats a serious candidate with just days to go before the end of the 2018 candidate filing period.

Our Max Gorden has more on who she is — and the uphill battle she faces and our political analysts weigh in on her chances.


House Okays Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Gun Bill:

The US House has approved a Republican-backed bill that makes it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines.

The bill is the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Texas and Nevada killed more than 80 people.

The legislation is top priority of the National Rifle Association, which called it an important step to allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits..

But opponents say the bill could endanger public safety by overriding state laws that place strict limits on guns.

Democrats also criticized Republicans for including a bill on background checks in the concealed-carry legislation.

“They are combining these two pieces of legislation because they know the national concealed weapons bill is deeply unpopular,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said. “They know they face political liability if they force this through, so they are trying to dress it up with a politically popular piece of legislation.”

Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn says the two measures should be kept separate.

He introduced the so-called “fix NICS” act following the Sutherland Springs shooting. His bill was heard in committee today.

It measure would strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

“I hope that if anything good comes out of this tragedy it will be that we finally fix on a bipartisan basis, this broken background check system,” Cornyn said.

The Senate Committee also heard testimony on bumpstocks, the device used by the Las Vegas gunman which makes a semi-automatic gun act as a fully automatic machine gun.

The discussion comes one day after the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced it has launched a review to look at the legality of the device.


Activists Call on Congress for DACA Fix:

Activists are calling on Congress for action to protect so-called Dreamers—immigrants who arrived illegally in the U.S. when they were children.

President Trump ended the Obama-era deferred action program in September and gave Congress until March 5 to find a permanent solution.

Thousands of activists were in the nation’s capital today urging lawmakers to take immediate action..

Our Washington reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with a Dreamer whose future is now in limbo.


Join us for these stories and more at 7 on Capital Tonight.


Posted by Karina Kling



Democrat Lupe Valdez will Run for Texas Governor

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made it official Wednesday morning — she’s running for Governor of Texas.


“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition,” Valdez said in a statement. “Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor.”


Valdez will deliver remarks and file for Governor at 11:45am at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.


Valdez was first elected sheriff in 2004. She and Gov. Greg Abbott have sparred before over immigration practices the governor has criticized as “sanctuary city” policies.


While Valdez becomes the highest-profile Democratic gubernatorial candidate to date, she still faces an uphill battle against Abbott. Abbott has a $40 million dollar campaign war chest and Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide in more than two decades.


Under the Texas Constitution, Valdez is required to step down in order to run for another office. Her campaign said she will officially notify the Dallas County Commissioners Court of her decision to run for Governor this morning.


Posted by Karina Kling




Daily Digest: Dec. 5

Our daily digest is an update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re working on for 7pm:


Merging the Tax Plans:

Now that the Republican majority in the Senate has passed their bill to overhaul the US tax code, a new process begins.

And it could be just as complicated – combining the House and Senate versions into one. Our Washington D-C bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth takes a look at where things stand.


Repealing ACA Individual Mandate?:

The new tax bill could mean the end of the road for the individual mandate — the tax that punishes people who don’t buy health insurance.

It’s currently part of the Senate’s tax bill, and House tax writers signaled today that they expect it to make it into the final piece of legislation.

But as our Max Gorden explains, it has some health care leaders concerned.


Voter ID Law Back in Court:

Texas’ controversial voter ID law was back in court today. Federal judges heard arguments over the state’s modified law.

The state’s attorney argued any constitutional problems have been fixed since lawmakers approved changes this past session after years of court battles. He pointed to the revision allowing voters who don’t have an acceptable ID to vote by signing an affidavit stating they cannot reasonably obtain one.

But opponents say the law still demonstrates a discriminatory intent and limits the kinds of acceptable ID to ones more likely to be held by white voters.

They also argue some voters fear criminal penalties if they mistakenly enter wrong information.

The judges did not indicate when they would rule.


Lawmakers Warns Against Divisive Social Legislation:

Some lawmakers in the Texas House are warning against divisive social issues.

A select panel on economic competitiveness met for the second and final time today. The chair of the committee asked business leaders to go on the record telling Gov. Greg Abbott that he could help keep Texas’ business climate predictable by making a public statement that the Legislature is done debating the so-called “bathroom bill.”

“When social issues create uncertainty for its business climate, it hurts us,” Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said.

On the issue of immigration, construction industry leaders who testified say there’s an urgent need for more legal workers in Texas. The worker shortage has been made more apparent after Hurricane Harvey — with many rebuilding efforts delayed due to a lack of a sufficient workforce.

Rep. Byron Cook joined us for a one-on-one interview this afternoon. Hear more from him at 7.


TMF Wants His Seat Back:

It’s been nearly two years since he’s served in the Texas Legislature. But former San Antonio State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer wants his seat back. He joined us from San Antonio to discuss why. Hear his full interview at 7.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling