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Daily Digest: Oct. 16

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:


Trump, McConnell Pledge Unity:

In a wide-ranging press conference at the White House Monday, President Donald Trump said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are “closer than ever before.” Trump said McConnell has been a “friend of mine for a long time” and that they are “fighting for the same thing.”

Trump also said Republicans are close on health care legislation and that they are working together on a tax overhaul.

We’ll have a breakdown of the expansive press conference at 7.


Tillerson on North Korea:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supports diplomatic efforts with North Korea and said the President agrees and is not seeking to go to war.

But Tillerson mentioned one exception in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union.

“He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts, which we are and we will — as I’ve told others, those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops,” Tillerson said.

President Trump said weeks ago that Tillerson was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korea.

The President also threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea as it continues efforts to develop nuclear capabilities.

Tillerson said the President’s initial comments were only to “motivate action.”


Judge Says Abbott Wrong to Remove Mock Nativity:

(AP) A federal judge has ruled that Gov. Greg Abbott engaged in improper censorship when he ordered a mock Nativity scene be removed from the Capitol in 2015.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled late Friday that Abbott violated the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Sparks also said the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation can seek to depose Abbott about his motives for removing the exhibit.

The foundation sued Abbott last year over the removal of the display, which showed Benjamin Franklin, the Statue of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington peering down at the Bill of Rights in a manger.

Abbott called it a spiteful message of “tasteless sarcasm.”

The State Preservation Board had approved the display, which was set up in the Capitol’s basement rotunda a week before Christmas.


Dallas Businessman Discusses Why He’s Running for Texas Governor:

Texas Democrats continue to insist they’ll soon have a viable Democratic gubernatorial candidate. But there are already a number of challengers lining up to take on Republican incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.

Jeffrey Payne is a Dallas-based businessman who owns a gay leather bar and four other businesses including a court reporting firm. He doesn’t have a background in politics but told our Karina Kling during an afternoon interview Monday that the state needs someone with leadership skills that knows how to run a business.

He also said the main reason he got into the race was conservative Republicans pushing the so-called bathroom bill that would regulate where transgender Texans can use the restroom.

“We are wasting yet more time and energy on a bathroom bill. At the end of the day it was an issue that was created that wasn’t an issue,” Payne said.

Payne said he does understand Democrats’ predicament but called himself a viable candidate.

“I am outside the box. But that box hasn’t worked in 24 years so maybe it’s time to look outside the box,” Payne said.

Payne’s put in $2.5 million of his own money to his campaign and said donations are starting to come in.

Watch the full interview tonight at 7.


On the Agenda:

The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg is in with his analysis of the race for governor, Speaker Joe Straus’ new business committee and the ongoing battle over remaking the Alamo.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling




Daily Digest: Oct. 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:


Trump Signs Order on Health Care:

President Trump has taken the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare into his own hands.

With a swipe of his pen, the president signed an executive order today to start the process of dismantling the health care legislation.

It was one of his central campaign promises — but attempts to ditch Obamacare have fallen short in Congress.

We’ll have the latest on the order and Jamie Dudensing, CEO of the Texas Association of Health Plans, joins us in studio to discuss what it could mean for Texans.


Straus Launches Committee to Study Economic Competitiveness:

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is calling on the business community to ‘not back down.’

In a speech to the Austin Chamber today, the San Antonio Republican says he hopes the recent fight over the so-called “bathroom bill” can be a clear turning point for both Texas and his party.

The failed legislation would have regulated where transgender Texans could use the restroom.

It was a priority of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick but received widespread business backlash.

Now, Straus is putting together a new committee to make sure Texas can continue to entice new companies.

“We can’t just assume that jobs are destined to come to Texas if we continue to spend so much time talking about bathroom bills or whatever wedge issue gets manufactured next,” Straus said.

Straus said the committee will look at factors that draw businesses to the state — including education and infrastructure. He’s given the panel a December 12th deadline to reports its findings.


Schools Ask Lawmakers for Help with Harvey Recovery Costs:

Texas may be on the mend following Hurricane Harvey. But the massive price tag for the disaster continues to come into focus.

That’s especially evident for Texas public schools, many of which suffered heavy damage during the storm.

From flooded classrooms to roofs that were ripped away, some schools suffered catastrophic damage. Others assisted in sheltering refugees.

They’re now faced with millions in storm costs and lawmakers are trying to figure out how the state will pay for it. We dive into the details at 7.


US House Passes $36.5 Billion in Disaster Relief:

The US House has passed a crucial disaster relief package totaling 36.5 billion dollars.

The bill combines 18.7 billion for FEMA disaster relief with 16 billion to permit the financially troubled federal flood insurance program pay an influx of Harvey-related claims.

The bill did not include the nearly 19 billion dollars in funding Gov. Abbott and the Texas Congressional delegation requested specifically for Gulf Coast victims in Texas.

But leaders have promised more aid for Texas in the coming weeks.

The aid package passed today also includes five billion to help keep Puerto Rico’s government functioning following Hurricane Maria.

An additional 577 million would also pay for firefighting efforts on the west coast.

The Senate is set to vote on the bill next week.



Daily Digest: Oct. 11

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:


Judge Won’t Order Officials to Allow Abortion:

It’s a blow to abortion rights activists. A judge won’t order federal immigration officials to allow a pregnant undocumented immigrant teen to get an abortion.

The case has raised the issue over whether undocumented immigrants have the constitutional right to get the procedure in the U.S.

The judge did say she doesn’t understand why federal officials won’t allow the teen to get an abortion. But says the case was being heard in the wrong court, which is why she issued the ruling.

Now — the issue of whether or not abortions for undocumented immigrants is constitutionally protected is still up for debate. We’ll have the latest on the legal battle at 7.


Cornyn, Cruz Try to Woo Amazon:

Texas’ two senators are urging Amazon to call the Lone Star State home for its proposed second headquarters. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a letter today saying in part quote:

“Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes our economy, our skilled workforce and our quality of life.”

Cornyn and Cruz go on to tout Texas’ workforce and limited government. They add San Antonio, Austin and Houston are among the fastest growing US cities and each are becoming well-known global hubs for technology.

Amazon put mid-to-large-size cities on notice in September when it launched a search for a city to host a second headquarters.

The company has promised it would create 50-thousand jobs that would pay on average of 100-thousand dollars per year.

The deadline for cities to submit their pitch to Amazon is October 19th.

Colin Pope of the Austin Business Journal joins us at 7 to discuss the state’s chances of getting the headquarters.


Cruz vs. O’Rourke:

Texas’ junior senator has out-raised his democratic rival in the latest fundraising round.

Sen. Ted Cruz brought in more than 2 million dollars for his re-election campaign…and its allied groups, his team announced today.

His opponent — Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke — raised 1.7 million for latest the three-month period.

Earlier this year — O’Rourke outraised Cruz — giving the challenger a boost of momentum as he got his campaign off the ground.

Cruz still has about a 3.5 million dollar cash-on-hand advantage over O’Rourke.

Ed Espinoza with Progress Texas and Matt Mackowiak with the Travis County Republican Party join us at 7 to talk 2018.


Watch for these stories and more at 7 on Capital Tonight.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.



Daily Digest: Oct. 10

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:


Clean Power Plan Repeal:

The move away from the Clean Power Plan could mean a second chance for coal. Tuesday, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency repealed the Obama-era plan that aimed to reduce emissions at existing US power plants.

It comes on the heels of a Texas coal-fired power plant announcing it will be shutting down.

Energy experts say they don’t believe this will change the fate of that plant.

They say it was only being run a few weeks out of the year and was beginning to age.

It marks a similar trend as coal-fired power plants across Texas and the US face an uncertain future, even with the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

At 7, hear the Texas take on the issue with views from all sides — Texas Public Policy Foundation, Environment Texas, Austin Energy and the UT Energy Institute.


Texas Tech Shooting Update:

Texas Tech University has identified the police officer shot and killed by a student last night. Officer Floyd East, Jr. had been with the University Police since 2014.

Authorities say the suspect has confessed to killing him. 19-year-old Hollis Daniels was taken to police headquarters after officers found drugs in his room. That’s when they say Daniels pulled a gun and shot East in the head and ran.

The campus was placed on lockdown around 8pm Tuesday until SWAT arrested Daniels around 9:30pm.

Meanwhile, the Texas Democratic Party is apologizing for a tweet it sent out in response to the shooting.

The group posted on Twitter, “Allowing concealed guns on college campuses was a dumb and dangerous idea.”

The tweet referred to a law that took effect last year. It allows Texans with a concealed carry permit to bring guns into university classroom and buildings.

But critics noted you have to be 21 to get a concealed carry permit in Texas — and the suspected shooter was 19.

The Party released a follow-up statement Wednesday saying, “Our words were inadequate, hurried and we apologize. That tweet has now been removed.”


Attorney General Tells Court Texas “Can’t Become Sanctuary State for Abortions”:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is urging a federal court to say that women in the US illegally do not have a right to abortion services.

It comes as advocates for a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children are asking a federal judge to allow her get the procedure.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday on a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

A lawyer representing the Central American girl says she may be 14-weeks pregnant. Texas state law prohibits most abortions after 20 weeks.

Paxton argues if the girl wins — it will allow anyone who enters the US illegally the right to receive an abortion and added Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.


Lawmakers Cost of Travel:

President Trump promised to drain the swamp. But a growing number of his cabinet members — including the former Texas Governor — are facing questions over using taxpayer dollars to take private or government jets, instead of commercial flights.

Our Washington bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta has a look at the numbers at 7.


Harvey’s Hit to the State Budget:

“The economy’s not going to grow us out of this, but the economy’s going to be fine,” Comptroller Glenn Hegar told Capital Tonight last week. “There’s just some tough decisions that are going to have to be made next session.”

Today, he released his year-end report reiterating that statement.

Hegar says the Texas economy will continue to grow over the next two years and see small changes due to Harvey’s destruction.

But added some uncertainty remains in the outlook for the biennium due in part to the ongoing assessment of the economic impact of Harvey.

Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune joins us to discuss the money issues lawmakers could face next session.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



Daily Digest: Oct. 5

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


Texans Divided Over GOP Tax Plan:

The US House narrowly passed a $4.1 trillion budget Thursday. It’s a crucial step in advancing the GOP’s tax plan.

But some are concerned the plan could lead to even higher property taxes in Texas.

A study commissioned by the Texas Association of Realtors shows that 95 percent of Texas homeowners would pay more in property taxes under the current plan.

That’s drawn concern that people will buy fewer homes in Texas. The economists behind the study say middle class Texans could end up with lighter piggy banks because of it.

“The GOP leadership has made it very clear that they want the tax plan to benefit ordinary households,” William Mellor of Angelou Economics said. “But based off of the plan, we see that households with $200,000 or more are going to be benefitting, and that’s not how I define ordinary households.”

Still, others argue the GOP’s plan will be a boon to the American economy,

“The key part of this plan is to reduce some of the loopholes and deductions that are picking some of the winners and losers through the tax code, and lowering the overall rates,” Vance Ginn with the Texas Public Policy Foundation said. “That way we can bring tax rates down for everyone.”


DACA Deadline Prompt Calls for Clean DREAM Act:

The clock is ticking down on a major deadline for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.

As part of the program’s wind-down process announced by the Trump Administration last month, those eligible have until midnight to file for a renewal request.

After that, young undocumented immigrants won’t be able to apply to receive work permits and protection from deportation.

That led demonstrators to gather around the country to demand a clean Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for so-called DREAMERS.

Hear the message protesters are sending to Republican Congressman Will Hurd in San Antonio, tonight at 7pm.


Calls for Bump Stock Regulations:

Congress is showing more signs of willingness to take up the gun control debate following the Las Vegas shooting. But that willingness centers on one very specific issue — bump stocks. It’s a legal gun modification that makes legal semi-automatic guns fire almost like a banned automatic weapon.

Thursday afternoon, The National Rifle Association issued a statement calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to immediately review whether bump fire stocks comply with federal law.

It said quote, “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”


Abbott and Texans in Congress Request Nearly $19 Billion in Additional Harvey Aid:

Texas members of Congress and Governor Abbott are requesting $18.7 in additional Harvey aid.

It’s a bipartisan effort to try to get extra funding to repair water projects and help homeowners and communities rebuild from the storm.

The request comes on top of President Trump’s call earlier this week for $29 billion in hurricane aid.

Last month Congress approved a $15 billion first installment for hurricane relief.


School Funding Cuts Study:

Back in 2011, state lawmakers cut $5-plus billion from public education. Fast forward five years and the effects of those cuts are still being felt.

That’s according to a new study released Thursday by a University of Texas professor and a member of the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.

They found that the state’s classroom funding still lags behind its pre-Great recession levels due to booming enrollment growth.

And despite increased funding more recently, it would take an extra $3.2 billion to bring 2016’s funding levels up to 2008’s.

The study also found low-income students have been hit the hardest.

Chandra Villanueva of CPPP joins us at 7pm to discuss the study further.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling




Daily Digest: Oct. 4

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


DACA Deadline:

The fate of DACA recipients remains unclear as their renewal deadline approaches. Thursday marks the last day for them to submit renewal applications before the Trump administration stops accepting them.

Last month — Trump announced the end of the program allowing undocumented immigrants who arrived as children to get jobs and protection from deportation.

Now, no new DACA applicants are being accepted and the Department of Homeland Security is not expected to extend the deadline.

Trump’s asked lawmakers in Washington to figure out a fix. But as Republicans push for tough immigration and border security measures in any compromise, the future of DACA recipients hangs in the balance.

Coming up at 7, we’ll bring you the story of one DACA recipient and why she’s worried that ending the program could mean she can no longer give back.


Border Wall Funding Passes Committee:

A Texan’s bill to fund a border wall is headed to the House floor. Congressman Michael McCaul’s Border Security for America Act passed his committee on a party line vote today.

The measure includes 10 billion dollars for the wall, 5 billion to improve ports of entry and adds 5000 border patrol and customs agents.

It also authorizes the federal government to reimburse states up to $35 million for use of National Guard assets to reinforce border security.

The bill is expected to pass the House — but unlikely to clear the Senate — where it needs a 60-vote majority.


Trump Visits Vegas, Bump Stock Bills Proposed:

President Trump and the First Lady were in Las Vegas Wednesday to meet with the victims of Sunday night’s deadly massacre.

Their visit comes on the same day the shooter’s girlfriend is being questioned by the FBI.

Meanwhile, the shooting is reigniting the gun control debate on Capitol Hill.

And much of the conversation is centering on a device used by the shooter to increase the amount of bullets his weapons could fire. Our Washington D-C Bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta will have more at 7pm.


Harvey’s Toll on the State Economy:

Comptroller Glenn Hegar joins us to discuss how the hurricane will impact the state budget, the potential costs to the state and what lawmakers are facing next session.


Political Analysts:

Democrat Harold Cook and Republican Ted Delisi are in to talk the reality of passing gun control legislation following the Las Vegas massacre.


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


Daily Digest: Oct. 3

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:


Supreme Court Split over Partisan Redistricting:

The U.S. Supreme Court could literally be taking politics back to the drawing board.

The High Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case out of Wisconsin involving partisan gerrymandering — the much-criticized practice of drawing up legislative boundaries to benefit the political party in power.

A decision by the court next year could trigger legal challenges to Congressional maps across the country, including Texas, which is dealing with its own redistricting battle.

Our Washington DC bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta was in the courtroom Tuesday morning and will join us from DC with the latest at 7pm.


DACA Deal:

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have started working on a deal for “Dreamers.” A Senate committee is trying to come up with a solution after President Trump announced plans to end a program protecting the young immigrants.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa opened Tuesday’s hearing by calling the Obama-era program unconstitutional.

It has granted temporary work permits and deportation protections for nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the US as children and living here illegally. That includes roughly 124,000 in Texas.

Grassley says a plan has to include “robust border security” but not a border wall.


House GOP Proposes CHIP Extension:

House Republicans are proposing a 5-year extension for a popular program that provides health insurance to almost 400,000 Texans.

It comes three days after federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, expired. CHIP provides low-cost health insurance for children from low and middle income families.

The new proposal would increase Medicare premiums on high-earning people and take other steps to pay for extending the program. The measure also includes an additional one billion for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program.

A vote on the bill is expected Wednesday.

Mimi Garcia with the Texas Association of Community Health Centers will join us at 7 to discuss the proposal and what would happen if the CHIP program ended.


Las Vegas Investigation, ACL Fest Offering Refunds:

House Speaker Paul Ryan says there are no plans for the House to act soon on a bill that would ease regulations on gun silencers.

Ryan was pressed on the issue Tuesday after the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night.

The Republican-led Congress has been pushing measures to loosen gun restrictions, including the silencer bill and one to allow people with concealed-carry permits to carry across state lines.

Democrats are now seizing on the violence in Nevada to demand tougher gun restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Austin City Limits music festival is offering refunds to customers worried about their safety following the shooting in Las Vegas.

The option was not publicly announced and so far hasn’t been posted on the official website or social media accounts.

But we called Front Gate Tickets, the ticket exchange, and were told anyone feeling uncomfortable after the attack could get their money back. The original purchaser needs to call and have their order information ready.


Trump in Puerto Rico:

President Donald Trump compared Hurricane Maria’s death toll to that of the lives lost during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The president toured the damage in Puerto Rico today. He told officials there they should be “very proud” hundreds of people didn’t die during the hurricane as they did in a quote “real catastrophe like Katrina.”

We’ll have more on the President’s visit amid the criticism his administration isn’t doing enough to help the people there on tonight’s show.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling


Daily Digest: Oct. 2

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:


Las Vegas Shooting Latest:

At least 59 people are dead after a man broke out the window of his 32nd floor hotel room and started firing on a concert crowd below.

The shooter is believed to have killed himself before police got into his hotel room.

More than 515 people were injured and hundreds are still in the hospital.

The shooter’s family said he has ties to Texas, having lived near Dallas at one point.

We will have the latest on the massacre at 7pm.


Texas Lawmakers Reaction:

Texas lawmakers are reacting to Sunday night’s shooting.

Gov. Abbott said in a statement: “The news of this senseless act of violence in Las Vegas overnight is heartbreaking…Texas mourns and prays for the victims of this tragedy, and the entire Las Vegas Community in this time of unimaginable pain.”

Sen. Ted Cruz called the shooting despicable. Meanwhile Sen. John Cornyn offered up a hotline for victims’ families to call to locate their loved ones.


Dr. Tom Mijares:

Dr. Tom Mijares is a criminal justice professor at Texas State University, retired SWAT officer and wrote the book Significant Tactical Police Cases. He tells our Karina Kling this type of tragedy is the “new normal.” Watch the full interview at 7pm.


ACL Preps After Vegas:

Major outdoor events are planned for the next three weekends in Austin. Police Chief Brian Manley held a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss how the department is reviewing security plans in light of the Las Vegas attack.

“At this time there are absolutely no threats that have been made against ACL, nor have we heard any indication that anyone is targeting any large-scale events around the country right now,” Manley said.


State Lawmakers Hear Harvey Relief Funds Could Take Years:

It could be months before Texans trying to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey get federal funds for their homes.

Short-term FEMA money is already flowing in for relief like debris removal. But Land Commissioner George P. Bush told state lawmakers at a hearing in Houston Monday that the Housing and Urban Development disaster relief funds could take seven to 32 months to help get people permanently situated.

Lawmakers also tried to gauge the state costs of coping with Harvey’s destruction.

“There will be greater costs to the state associated with this hurricane than we have seen in the past with any other natural disaster,” Comptroller Glenn Hegar said.

Hegar said the ultimate impact is difficult to discern. but a large cost to the state will be in the area of public education.


On the Agenda:

The Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock joins us to discuss Harvey relief efforts and lawmakers’ response to the Las Vegas shooting.


Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7pm on Spectrum News.


Posted by Karina Kling



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