Gun Laws

Capital Tonight: Senate approves high school testing overhaul

Texas High Schools are one step closer to seeing some major reform.

Monday, the Senate unanimously passed forward a bill that would restructure graduation requirements and cut back on the number of standardized tests. But it includes some key differences from the House version passed in March.

We heard more on the bill from Sen. Eddie Lucio, the vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

 

Gun Bills Head to Senate

After surviving a contentious Saturday, a range of gun bills passed out of the House Monday. Harvey Kronberg of The Quorum Report joined us to talk about that and more. 

 

Perry’s Welcome Mat

We’re learning more about President Barack Obama’s visit to the Austin area Thursday.

In addition to Manor New Tech High School, he’ll be visiting Austin tech manufacturer Applied Materials. Now, Governor Perry is weighing in on the visit. 

 
 

Slate of gun bills headed for Senate

After surviving a contentious Saturday known as “gun day,” a range of bills dealing with statewide gun laws passed on final reading Monday without incident.

Among them are Rep. Jason Villalba’s House Bill 1009, which would create a new tier of law enforcement officer called a school marshall and provide guidelines for training. It passed 123-22. The Texas Firearm Protection Act, which prohibits local entities from enforcing federal gun control laws, passed as well, along with an amendment added Saturday that would make sure no money for legal challenges came at taxpayers’ expense.  The bill also makes it a Class A misdemeanor for an officer to enforce new federal gun laws.

A bill that would allow college students with conceal-and-carry permits to bring their guns on campus was delayed until 1 p.m. while its author, Rep. Allen Fletcher, attended a police memorial. It received tentative approval Saturday, but only after a number of parliamentary challenges.

The bills are now headed to the Senate, where many political experts believe they face an uphill battle.

 

Capital Tonight: Water, guns and education

Planning for Growth

The need to fund water infrastructure has been at the forefront of the legislative session this year, especially with the growing population in Texas. A plan to draw out $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund failed to pass Monday, but Gov. Perry said lawmakers can expect to be in session until they find a resolution.

A bill passed out of committee Tuesday that would allow students to store their licensed concealed handgun in their vehicle on campus. Lawmakers said they want to give students the same rights that others have.

Standardized Testing

The house voted Tuesday to make changes to standardized tests for fourth and seventh grades. The changes include removing the standardized writing test and limiting the time needed to take the required tests.

Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment is one of the grass roots groups supporting the changes. Joanne Salazar joined Paul Brown to discuss their campaign and the changes they hope to bring about.

Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Steve Munisteri sat down with Paul Brown to discuss the day’s political news, including the Rainy Day Fund and Battleground Texas.

The Transparency Committee is continuing its look into CPRIT, and a bill that will make changes to the embattled agency is headed to the House.

Senate votes down expanded background checks

Sweeping gun control overhaul efforts hit a major roadblock on Capitol Hill today. The Senate rejected a bipartisan plan to expand federal background checks to include gun shows and online purchases. The amendment was part of a package of Obama-backed bills prompted by the Newtown, CT, school shooting.

The legislation was the result of a bipartisan compromise by Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin. The defeat, while anticipated, was a crushing blow to supporters of stricter gun control laws. Vice President Joe Biden said just before the vote that tighter gun control measures will eventually pass, suggesting the White House wouldn’t abandon its push even though the vote appeared headed toward failure.

The Senate will consider nearly a dozen more amendments in the coming days, including a ban on certain assault rifles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

 

Capital Tonight: Reversing course on ‘rainy day’ money

There’s been a lot of talk about it, and now state lawmakers appear ready to finally dip in to the state’s Rainy Day Fund this session.

The Senate Finance Committee voted to take 6 billion dollars out of the fund to pay for water and infrastructure projects.

 

Taking on the Governor

We don’t know if Gov. Rick Perry will run for re-election, and we don’t know if Attorney General Greg Abbott will throw his hat into the ring. But we do know of one former state agency leader who will seek your vote as a Republican candidate for governor.

Click the image below to see our one-on-one interview with Tom Pauken.

Senate Standoff Ends

The push for new gun safety legislation cleared a major hurdle Thursday.

With the help of 16 Republicans, the Senate voted to block a threatened Republican filibuster. That means debate on background checks and other, less popular legislation can begin.

Sen. John Cornyn voted to block the debate, but said he hoped for a substantive discussion afterward. Click the YNN logo below to watch the full episode.

 

Capital Tonight: Revisiting vouchers, CPRIT and more

School Vouchers

Republicans and Democrats sparred once again over school vouchers Tuesday — including whether or not a newly proposed law counted as a voucher at all.

A bill filed by Sen. Dan Patrick would partially pay for private school tuition through scholarships funded by tax-exempt donations. The bill has the support of Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., but Sen. Wendy Davis expressed skepticism.

Another hearing Tuesday looked into oversight of the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. CPRIT has been under fire since last year, with questions of grant-rigging and even a criminal investigation. Trust, transparency and accountability were at the top of the committee’s list Tuesday.

Equal Under the Law

A bill extending the Romeo and Juliet provision passed out of a Senate committee Tuesday. It would extend the Romeo and Juliet defense to same-sex couples over the age of 14.

Earlier in the day, 600 women visited the Capitol hoping to turn it blue for the day. Blue Ribbon Lobby Day organizers are pushing lawmakers to say yes to Medicaid expansion, restoring public education cuts and returning Planned Parenthood to the Women’s Health Program.

Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Ted Delisi sat down with Paul Brown to discuss the day’s political news, including school choice bills, CPRIT and new border security legislation filed by Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Michael McCaul.

Capital Tonight: Abbott pushes for pre-trial DNA testing

A bill limiting statewide officials to two consecutive terms passed out of the Senate Tuesday. If approved by the House, the bill would go to voters in November.

A joint committee is looking into the relationship between the University of Texas Board of Regents and UT President Bill Powers. The committee asked for a year’s worth of communication between the Board of Regents and all University of Texas staff.

Attorney General Greg Abbott discussed a recently proposed bill to ensure DNA testing of evidence is done before cases that involve the death penalty begin.

Abbott described the bipartisan bill as a way to streamline the criminal justice process.

“We need to get all that [DNA testing] done upfront, to make sure that we convict the right person, or if the DNA evidence shows the person was innocent, they are released,” Abbott said.

Paul Brown also spoke to Abbott about the Second Amendment and gun-control efforts in Washington.

Harold Cook and Ted Delisi sat down with Paul Brown to discuss a statement Gov. Rick Perry made to a Florida political blog. In an interview with The Shark Tank, Perry said he’ll likely make an announcement about a possible 2016 presidential run later this year.


Capital Tonight: Lawmakers mull drug testing for benefits

Lawmakers are considering a bill requiring drug testing of those receiving unemployment benefits. Both sides gave testimony this week about the bill’s effect on those receiving unemployment.

Reporter Roundtable

Paul Brown sat down with Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune, Peggy Fikac from the Houston Chronicle and Terry Stutz from the Dallas Morning News to discuss Gov. Rick Perry’s appearance at CPAC, lawmakers turned lobbyists, and all the week’s events in Texas politics.

Texas White House

The importance of the LBJ Ranch to Central Texas dates back over 50 years. Superintendent Russ Whitlock discussed the park’s importance and how recent budget cuts affected the operating budget.

Click the image below to watch Friday’s full episode.

 

Capital Tonight: Calls for Medicaid expansion growing

More than a thousand Texans gathered at the Capitol Tuesday, asking lawmakers to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Although Gov. Rick Perry has said he’s against expanding Medicaid in its current form, Democratic Rep. Lon Burnam has a proposal modeled after Arizona’s plan that could gain bipartisan support.

Impassioned testimony

A proposed bill aimed at reducing the number of wrongful convictions in Texas drew emotional testimony at a House committee hearing Tuesday. The bill would establish a review commission to investigate the role prosecutors and judges play in the process.

Where do Texans stand on gun control?

James Henson with the Texas Politics Project joined Paul Brown to discuss recent polling numbers on gun control. The poll looks at where Texans stand on high-capacity magazines, semi-automatic weapons and gun laws in general.

 

Capital Tonight: Sen. Cruz returns to Texas

Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz stopped by a gun manufacturing business in Leander Tuesday to reiterate his stance on gun control.

“I will fight every day to protect our constitutional right to bear arms,” Cruz said.

Karina Kling spoke with Harold Cook and Ted Delisi about Cruz’s growing influence in Washington. They also discussed Sen. John Cornyn and how the possibility of a primary challenger might be affecting his votes.

 

Funding infrastructure

Transportation is a top issue this legislative session. Tuesday, TxDOT hosted its annual Texas Transportation Forum in Austin. Innovate funding ideas, such as toll roads, could help fund future road building in Texas.

 

 

Gridlock in Washington

President Obama spoke about the challenges Washington lawmakers face in trying to avoid the sequester scheduled for March 1, which would automatically cut $1.2 trillion in spending from defense and social programs.

 

 
Click the image below to watch Tuesday’s full episode.