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

@KarinaKling