Gov. Rick Perry

Maryland next stop on Perry jobs tour

Gov. Rick Perry announced Thursday he will make Maryland the next stop on his “move to Texas” tour. He is planning to visit the state next week. As he has prior to previous trips, Perry launched television and radio ads, touting Texas’ “limited government, low taxes and a fair legal system.”

As in the past, the group Texas One is footing the $500,000 advertising bill and is paying for Perry’s travel expenses.

On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley dismissed Perry’s ads as a “tired old PR gimmick.”

Report: Perry willing to accept $100 million in Affordable Care Act funds

Gov. Rick Perry is negotiating with the Obama administration to accept Affordable Care Act money. As first reported by Politicostate health aides are in negotiations with the Obama administration to work out a deal that would allow the state to collect $100 million of Affordable Care Act money.

The federal funds would come from Community First Choice option, which is aimed at improving in-home services for disabled and elderly patients. The legislature approved the program this session. Now, according to Politico, Perry is asking the Obama administration to provide matching funds. About 12,000 Texans would benefit from the expansion.

The move comes as a surprise to many, as Gov. Perry has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul plan. He has repeatedly vowed that the state would not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has repeatedly called it a “broken system.”

Perry spokesman Josh Havens says Texas has provided these types of services via medicaid waivers for decades. He issued this statement:

“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives at a lower cost to taxpayers. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”


Gov. Perry taking jobs tour to Missiouri

Missouri will be the latest stop on Gov. Rick Perry’s “Wide Open for Business” road show. Perry will visit the state on August 29. A 30-second TV ad began airing today, ahead of the governor’s visit. Perry plans to meet with business leaders and owners and will attend a luncheon at the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

This is just the latest state Perry has visited to tout Texas’ job market and economic growth. Earlier this year, he made trips to California, New York and Illinois. As in the past, the group Texas One is footing the bill for Perry’s travels and the $106,400 ad buy.

Special prosecutor named to investigate Perry criminal complaint

A special prosecutor has been assigned to handle the criminal complaint filed against Governor Rick Perry. District Judge Robert Richardson today appointed San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum as the attorney Pro Tem.

The watchdog group Texans for Public Justice claims Perry abused his power and broke several laws when he threatened to veto funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. Perry hoped his threat would force Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunk driving arrest and conviction. Lehmberg refused, and Perry ultimately used a line item veto to strip more than $7 million from the unit.

As District Attorney, Lehmberg oversees that department. Texans for Public Justice says Perry used the power of his office in an attempt to coerce the District Attorney’s office. Lehmberg herself has accused Perry of playing politics with his threat. If Lehmberg, who is a Democrat, did step down, Republican Gov. Perry would appoint her replacement.

McCrum is a San Antonio based trial lawyer. According to his website, he has focused on white collar crimes as well as federal and state government investigations. He will lead an investigation into the complaint to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward. His findings could ultimately lead to a trial.

Perry appoints new members to Water Development Board

Gov. Rick Perry has named the three people who will replace the six, current members of the state’s Water Development Board.

Carlos Rubinstein, Bech Bruun and Mary Ann Williamson will serve full-time starting next month, with Rubinstein serving as chair. Each of the members currently holds a different government post, and all were previously appointed or hired by Perry. Rubinstein has served on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since 2009; Bruun works in the governor’s office as the Director of Governmental Appointments; and Williamson has been a board member of the Texas Lottery Commission since 2008 and now serves as chair.

“The new board will provide leadership, planning, and financial and technical assistance for the responsible development of water for Texas,” Perry’s statement said.

The change was set in motion with the passage of House Bill 4, which calls for “active, full-time governance” from the board. The bill is also part of a larger funding plan that includes Senate Joint Resolution 1, which is set to go before voters in November.

The board is currently made up of six members serving six-year, staggered terms. Each of those terms will come to an early end on September 1, when the new appointments take effect.


Walt named Perry’s chief of staff

Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that Kathy Walt is his new chief of staff. Walt is actually returning to the governor’s office after a stint at the Lower Colorado River Authority, where she served as manager of governmental affairs.

“Kathy is a long-time trusted adviser and her continued service will be invaluable as she returns home to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Governor’s Office,” Perry said in a press release.

Walt, a former newspaper reporter, previously served as Perry’s deputy chief of staff and press secretary.

Perry also announced today that Jonathan Taylor will serve as his director of the Economic Development and Tourism Division. Taylor most recently served as director of the Enterprise Project Management Office at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.



Federal government grants West major disaster declaration

Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday the federal government has granted the state’s request for aid to help rebuild the town of West. The town’s fertilizer plant exploded in April, killing 15 people and damaging hundreds of buildings, including the town’s schools.

FEMA had initially denied the state’s request for $35 million to help rebuild the schools and other infrastructure. A spokesman with Gov. Perry’s office said Friday FEMA will “work with the community identify those public works projects that sustained damage in the blast.” It is not clear yet if FEMA will grant the full $35 million.

Gov. Perry issued this statement, following FEMA’s decision:

“The approval of the state’s appeal for a major disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West. I appreciate everyone who joined me in standing with the people whose lives have been forever impacted to move this appeal forward, especially our congressional delegation. This, along with the disaster relief funding provided by the Texas Legislature, will help this community rebuild their infrastructure, school district and public works as quickly as possible.”

Mixed reaction to Holder’s comments on Texas voting laws

Texas political leaders are commenting on remarks made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder regarding Texas voting laws.

Holder told members of the National Urban League on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice will ask a federal court to require Texas to ask for permission before changing its election laws. The move follows a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that essentialy eliminated the use of a pre-clerance provision of the Voting Rights Act for states with a history of discrimination.

“Once again, the Obama Administration is demonstrating utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances, not to mention the U.S. Constitution,” Republican Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement released in response. “This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process.”

Democratic State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston had a different take on Holder’s announcement.

“I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to join the lawsuit that would require Texas to submit all voting law changes for preclearance for the next decade,” Ellis said in his own statement released to the media.  “Anyone who thinks Texas doesn’t need continued oversight simply hasn’t been paying attention.”

Ellis added that, in his view, Texas has clearly shown a repeated and documented history of discrimination against minority voters, pointing to last year when he said Texas was singled out as the only state to pass redistricting maps which were deliberately discriminatory.

“This is hopefully just the first step,” Ellis said.  “Congress needs to take action [to] revamp the Voting Rights Act to create a formula which takes into account current and historical discrimination and bias while meeting the requirements the Supreme Court has set out.  Otherwise, the voting rights of millions of Americans are in peril.”

Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was also quick to respond to Holder’s comments.

“By first going around the voters and now the Supreme Court, Attorney General Holder and President Obama’s intentions are readily transparent,” Cornyn said in a released statement. ” This decision has nothing to do with protecting voting rights and everything to do with advancing a partisan political agenda. Texans should not — and will not — stand for the continued bullying of our state by the Obama Administration.”

Perry signs controversial abortion reform bill

Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law new stricter abortion regulations. Among other things, the law will ban abortion after 20 weeks and require upgrades to existing abortion clinics.

Clinics have until September of 2014 to transform their operations into surgical centers. Opponents say the expensive upgrades, along with a component of the bill requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, will force all but five of the state’s 42 existing clinics to close.

Supporters of the legislation have maintained that the regulations will help improve safety and women’s health. “This is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women,” said Gov. Perry.

The abortion legislation has sparked weeks of protests at the State Capitol. Lawmakers failed to pass the bill during the first special session. Sen. Wendy Davis’ 11 hour filibuster and outbursts from the Senate gallery pushed the vote past the midnight deadline. Republicans were able to easily push the through legislation last week. The law officially takes effect in October.


Capital Tonight: Alamo City announcements and Capitol contraband

Big Announcement

In Sunday’s show, we check in from San Antonio ahead of Attorney General Greg Abbott’s announcement. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry appeared on CNN to reflect on his 13 years in office.

Reporter Roundtable

Between Gov. Perry’s speech Monday and Friday’s passage of a controversial abortion bill, it’s been another memorable week in state politics. Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune and Scott Braddock with the Quorum Report joined us to look back.

Political Future

There’s been a lot of talk about Senator Wendy Davis’ political future in light of the attention she gained from her abortion filibuster. Democrats are energized by the attention they’ve received, but can they carry that momentum through an election? Jim Henson from the Texas Politics Project joined us to share his analysis.