2014 GOP Convention

Daily Digest | May 26

We’re now just six days from the end of the 84th Legislature. Here’s what we’re watching out for at the State Capitol today:

All eyes are on the House as it faces a major legislative deadline: Tuesday is the last day it can take up contested Senate bills. Democrats are expected to use stall tactics and parliamentary procedures in an attempt to block several controversial bills from coming to the floor. One of those is the so-called “campus carry” bill (Senate Bill 11), which would allow the concealed carry of handguns for licensed gun owners on public university campuses. Lawmakers had considered attaching that bill to the open carry bill to try to push it through the chamber, but they announced last week they would take up the bill on its own. The controversial piece of legislation has seen staunch opposition from police as well as university leaders; UT System Chancellor William McRaven has spoken out on several occasions against the legislation, saying it will hurt recruiting and will make campuses less safe. Supporters say a person’s second amendment rights shouldn’t be infringed when they step onto a college campus. A proposal to let campuses opt out of the legislation has failed to gain traction in the legislature.

Several other controversial pieces of legislation could come up for a vote. One bill (Senate Bill 575) would block women from using health insurance plans to get an abortion. They would be forced to get a supplemental abortion insurance plan in order to have the procedure covered. The bill’s author says using insurance forces people who don’t agree with abortion to help subsidize the cost through insurance payments. Reproductive rights advocates say it just puts more obstacles in the way for women in a state that already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. And finally, Senate Bill 206, a Sunset review bill to streamline the Department of Family and Protective Services could come up for a vote. Critics of the bill are trying to block an amendment that would protect child welfare agencies from being sued if they don’t allow same-sex couples to adopt or foster children. It would also allow welfare agencies to sue the state if a social worker tries to force them to do something against their religious beliefs. It’s another move in Texas aimed at life after a possible ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage. Supporters say they want to protect religious freedom, while opponents argue Texas’ overburdened foster care system doesn’t need more obstacles to overcome, and argue the bill is so broad it would affect more than just same-sex couples.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will hear a case challenging how Texas sets up its political districts. The case is centered around whether Texas should use total population or just the voting age population when drawing its districts. It’s a case with big implications in Texas, a state with a relatively high number of people under 18, and where many of those districts include a high number of non-voting undocumented immigrants. The state’s redistricting plan was signed into law just two years ago, but has seen several legal challenges from civil rights groups who claim they discriminate against minorities.

For more on all of these stories, check out tonight’s episode of “Capital Tonight.” Our guest tonight is Jim Henson with the Texas Politics Project, who will discuss recent polling about the importance of tax cuts to Texas voters. All session, lawmakers have said they are fighting for the will of the voters as tax cut negotiations dominated the session, but how many Texans actually name tax cuts as a priority? All that, plus political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi will join us with their perspectives. Tune in tonight at 7 and 11 on Time Warner Cable News.

Capital Tonight: Texas Republicans Remain Split over Platform Language

For Republicans in Texas, Fort Worth is the place to be this week. That’s where Attorney General Greg Abbott officially accepted his party’s nomination to run for governor at the 2014 Texas GOP Convention, and it’s where delegates are working hard behind the scenes to come to a consensus on the official record of the party’s beliefs.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we put together highlights from Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and other big-name speakers at today’s event, and we looked behind the scenes at the fight over anti-gay language in the party platform.

FROM THE FLOOR

There are always multiple storylines during these state conventions, and the staff of the Quorum Report can be counted on to have an ear to the ground about all of them. We spoke to Scott Braddock from the convention floor about the mood from delegates, the level of support for Abbott and more.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

From a twist in the school finance case to a short-lived dispute over open-carry,there was plenty of other political news to get to Friday. We sat down with Lauren McGaughy of the Houston Chronicle and Terrence Stutz of The Dallas Morning News to put it all in context.

Capital Tonight: Texas GOP Delegates Unify Behind Candidates

Republican delegates from around the state are in Fort Worth this week for the Texas GOP Convention. As the longest serving governor in Texas history, Gov. Rick Perry kicked off Thursday’s events by touting the state’s achievements in education, job creation and more. But was it a farewell speech or just the beginning of something else?

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how delegates and political experts read the governor’s speech. Plus, we spoke to Rep. Scott Turner about his bid to replace Rep. Joe Straus as Texas House Speaker.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Republican political strategist Ted Delisi joined us live from the convention and Democratic strategist Harold Cook joined us in-studio to talk about the day’s events, including whether delegates can come to an agreement on immigration reform.

POST-PRIMARY STRATEGY

This week’s events mark the first time all the Republican nominees for statewide office are in one place. That’s because many of the candidates were caught up in a drawn-out — and sometimes heated — runoff campaign all the way until the end of May. We caught up with Republican agriculture commissioner candidate Sid Miller to talk about his strategy heading into the general election.