Statements on SCOTUS ACA Ruling

We have compiled all the statements we have received from Texas lawmakers about today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. We will continue to update this post as more come in.


Governor Greg Abbott (R):

“The Supreme Court abandoned the Constitution to resuscitate a failing healthcare law. Today’s action underscores why it is now more important than ever to ensure we elect a President who will repeal Obamacare and enact real healthcare reforms.”

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Daily Digest | June 3

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:

The dust may still be settling from the final gavel of the 84th Legislature, but we are already looking ahead to 2016. Former Governor Rick Perry is expected to announce his presidential ambitions at the Addison Airport outside of Dallas tomorrow. Follow Karina Kling (@KarinaKling) as she heads to Dallas. We’ll check in with her tonight from the spot where Perry is speaking, and talk about his campaign efforts so far.

Mitch Goulding (@MitchTWCN) is sitting down with the people behind Mothers and Sons, a play at the Zach Scott Theatre this month addressing same-sex marriage. With a looming Supreme Court decision that could alter the legal rights of same-sex couples forever, he’ll look into the changing perception of the LGBT community over the decades, and the effect that may have had in the last legislative session.

Finally — last night, we sat down with Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, who announced Monday he is stepping down after nearly a decade in the Legislature. We talked about his time at the Capitol, and how he sees Texas politics shaping up in the future. Check out that conversation here.

Make sure to tune in to Capital Tonight at 7 and 11 for more on all of this. We’re joined tonight by Rep. Jason Isaac (R – TX House District 45) to talk about the flood recovery happening in his district and his signature water bill that passed in dramatic fashion this session. Plus the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg will provide his perspective on all the week’s stories. Tune in on Time Warner Cable News in Austin and San Antonio.

Daily Digest | June 1

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

The 84th Legislative Session has officially come to a close. Both chambers officially gaveled out for the final time this year early this afternoon. It comes after a jam-packed weekend that sent a flurry of bills to the governor’s desk, including the campus carry bill, the final vote on open carry, legalizing a form of medical cannabis oil and changing the way individual schools are graded. It also marked the end of several lawmakers’ tenures in the Legislature. Rep. Sylvester Turner (D – TX House District 139), Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R – TX House District 54), Rep. Allen Fletcher (R – Texas House District 130) and Rep. Joe Farias (D – TX House District 118) have all announced they will not be returning for the next session in 2017. Some have other political aspirations, others are returning to private citizenship.

Make sure to tune in to Capital Tonight at 7 and 11 tonight for a special Sine Die edition to cap off the 84th Legislative Session. We’ll be joined by political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi as well as Harvey Kronberg from the Quorum Report. We’ll look back on the key takeaways from the session, the biggest policy decisions affecting Texans, and the political implications for state lawmakers moving forward. Tune in on Time Warner Cable News in Austin and San Antonio.



Daily Digest | May 20

Twelve days left until the end of the 84th Texas Legislature. Here’s what we have our eye on today:

There’s a lot of movement today on components of the state budget and tax cut plans. The budget conference committee is expected to start voting on components of the budget this afternoon, according to Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson (R – TX Senate District 12). She also told a group of reporters today that the full budget could be passed out of conference committee as soon as tomorrow. That came after a Senate Finance Committee meeting this morning where they passed a modified version of the House business tax plan. The proposal approved out of committee includes a 25 percent franchise tax cut, and raises the threshold for businesses to use the E-Z calculation rate to $20 million. It also makes that 25 percent tax cut permanent, removing a provision that would have allowed lawmakers to lower that rate again in the future. The competing tax cut plans have been the biggest sticking point of the session, but it now seems details of the plan are taking shape with less than two weeks left in the session. And of course the the tax cut plan is a critical part of the budget, the only thing the Legislature is required to pass to avoid an automatic special session.

We’re also getting a better idea of how the tax cut plan will affect Texans, and it may not be as much as lawmakers promised. The $3.8 billion deal is expected to wrap up this week, but it is about $1 billion less than what House Republicans first proposed. This means the average homeowner would roughly save about an extra $120 on their property taxes, and those savings may be short-lived. Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson acknowledged Wednesday that rising home appraisals could mitigate that tax relief.

Also tonight, we will take a closer look at the House’s omnibus border security funding bill as it starts to regain its momentum in the upper chamber. House Bill 11 was voted out of the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security this morning as lawmakers get closer to a possible deal.  It would increase the number of Texas Department of Public Safety officers on the border over the next two years. It would also establish an intelligence center in Hidalgo County to analyze border crime data, and create a volunteer corps of retired DPS officers to bolster the agency’s ranks.

Our guest tonight is highly-involved in both of these major pieces of legislation. Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R – TX House District 25) is the chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, which handles tax cuts. We’ll talk to him about that, plus he wrote the House border security bill, so we will talk about what that plan will mean for Texans as well. All that plus the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg will join us with his observations. Tune in to “Capital Tonight”, at 7 and 11 p.m., only on Time Warner Cable News.



Daily Digest | May 18

Sine die is two weeks from today, and there’s still plenty of work to do at the Legislature. Here’s what we have our eye on today:

The House’s border security funding plan could be sent to the full Senate as soon as this afternoon. House Bill 11 was left pending in the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security this morning, but is expected to be brought back up later this afternoon. It would increase the number of Texas Department of Public Safety officers on the border over the next two years. It would also establish an intelligence center in Hidalgo County to analyze border crime data, and create a volunteer corps of retired DPS officers to bolster the agency’s ranks.

Gun control legislation, which dominated the early parts of the session, is coming back to the forefront this week. The House’s version of open carry, House Bill 910, is set to go before a Senate Committee today after going untouched for weeks. If it becomes law, concealed handgun license owners would be able to openly carry handguns. Law enforcement agencies have spoken out against an amendment that would prohibit police officers from stopping people who are openly carrying to ask them if they have a license, saying it would make it impossible to distinguish law-abiding citizens from criminals. As Chuck Lindell with the Austin American-Statesman reports, that provision is expected to be stripped from the bill in the Senate. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 11, which would allow concealed handgun owners to bring their guns onto campuses — but not carry them openly — is expected to get a second chamber vote this week. The full House could consider that bill as early as Wednesday, and if they approve the bill without any changes, it will go straight to the governor’s desk.

Governor Abbott is set to sign a major piece of legislation into law today: House Bill 40. That’s the legislation that would ban municipal governments from creating regulations on hydraulic fracturing. Critics of the bill say local governments and its citizens should have a say in whether drilling is done on their land. The bill’s authors say a statewide regulation would eliminate the confusion that could arise from a so-called patchwork of different regulations among local governments.

And the Senate sent a bill banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors to Governor Abbott’s desk this morning. House changes to Senate Bill 97 were approved by the upper chamber today. Critics raised concerns about government overreach, but in the end it passed, on a 20-10 vote. A recent study found more young people are trying e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes, and supporters of the bill say they should be treated like real cigarettes until more is known about their health effects.

For more on all of these stories, check out tonight’s episode of “Capital Tonight.” Our guest tonight will be Charley Wilkison, the executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT. He’ll talk about what’s been addressed by lawmakers this session, including CLEAT’s role in the compromise over a police body camera bill. Plus Harvey Kronberg from the Quorum Report will join us for his weekly analysis. Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Time Warner Cable News.

Daily Digest | May 5

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

The Senate is expected to take action soon on Senate Bill 1735, which amends Hazlewood benefits for Texas veterans. The bill’s author, Sen. Brian Birdwell (R – TX House District 22) has promoted it as a way to rein in the skyrocketing costs of the tuition exemption. Currently, veterans with at least 180 days of active duty can get up to 150 credit hours of free tuition at a public university, and any of it they don’t use can be passed on to their children. That cost Texas universities about $170 million last year, and is expected to double in the next five years. The bill would tighten eligibility requirements — recipients would have to live in Texas for eight years — and would cut the amount of free tuition veterans get. That would be cut to 120 credit hours, the equivalent of a four-year degree, and would cap the number of credit hours that can be transferred to children at 60.

We’re also checking on the status of Legislative efforts to regulate ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. A bill authored by State Rep. Chris Paddie (R – TX House District 9) has been approved by the House Transportation Committee, but is still waiting to be placed on the House calendar. Rollout of the growing ride-sharing companies has been slowed by local regulations in Texas. The bill’s backers say this creates a standard statewide protocol and does away with what they call a patchwork of confusing local regulations. The crux of the issue is the question of how to keep dangerous riders off the road. Lobbyists for the ride-sharing companies say they already do background checks and adding more checks isn’t necessary. The bill was amended to allow some city control of background checks, including the power for cities to require Uber and Lyft to subject drivers to fingerprint background checks. Some critics of the bill say it doesn’t do enough to hold drivers accountable, while others question whether allowing cities to require different background checks will create the same problem as before: a “mish mash” of different local regulations.

Republicans in the Senate have pushed through a bill that would reduce access to abortions in Texas. Under Senate Bill 575, private health insurance plans as well as plans through the Affordable Care Act’s health care marketplace could only provide coverage for abortions in cases of medical emergencies.  If the bill is passed, women would have to buy supplemental insurance to cover an elective abortion. Supporters say it would protect Texans who oppose abortion from subsidizing the procedure for others through their insurance payments. Democrats called the measure “extreme,” considering Texas already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country.

For more on all of these stories, check out tonight’s episode of “Capital Tonight.” Our guest tonight is Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who will tell us about his initiative to change statewide policy to allow deep fryers in schools, reversing a decade-old policy. Plus, political analysts Harold Cook and Ted Delisi join us to give their takes on the week’s headlines. Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Time Warner Cable News.

Daily Digest | May 4

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

Senators are hearing testimony on Senate Bill 2065 today. The bill, which was fast-tracked weeks after the filing deadline at the request of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, would excuse clergy members from officiating marriages that violate their beliefs. Democrats in the Senate delayed the bill to allow more of the public to testify.

The full House could take up their contract reform bill today. It’s an issue that was thrust into the spotlight after accusations state agencies were giving out multimillion dollar contracts without proper oversight due to loopholes in the law. It became a major campaign point for Gov. Greg Abbott, who called the controversy a key part of his fifth emergency item: ethics reform.

A rally is scheduled Monday afternoon at the Capitol, put together by activists opposed to House Bill 40, known as the “Denton Fracking Bill.” It would prohibit municipalities from banning the oil and gas exploration method. The companion legislation is Senate Bill 1165.

On “Capital Tonight” this evening, James Henson, director of UT’s Texas Politics Project, is scheduled to join us. We’ll talk to him about a planned U.S. military training exercise that drew a lot of suspicion from the public, and even a statement from the governor. Henson points to recent polling that may explain the reaction by both the public and politicians.

Also, the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg will join us for his weekly commentary. That’s tonight at 7 and 11 on Time Warner Cable News.

Daily Digest | April 30

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

There was a controversial moment in the Senate State Affairs Committee. A Democratic Senator delayed debate on a so-called “religious freedom” bill that was filed just two days ago. Senate Bill 2065 would allow clergy members to refuse presiding over marriage ceremonies they say infringes on their beliefs. It was filed (by request of Dan Patrick, according to Lauren McGaughy with the Houston Chronicle) just two days ago, weeks after the filing deadline, but had been fast-tracked to a public hearing through a loophole usually reserved for smaller, less controversial bills. A similar “religious freedom” bill was filed in the House earlier this session, but support for that bill fell apart after a similar bill in Indiana made national headlines earlier this year. Critics say the bill is too broad and allows for discrimination against the LGBT community.  Senator Jose Menendez (D – TX Senate District 26) tagged the bill, putting at least a 48-hour delay on the legislation. It is now scheduled for a public hearing on Monday.

The Senate Education Committee is expected to take a vote today on Governor Greg Abbott’s priority pre-kindergarten education bill. House Bill 4 passed out of the lower chamber about three weeks ago, but was thrust back into the headlines last week after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Committee issued a scathing letter against the House pre-K plan. That letter is believed to be the main issue between the chamber leadership at their now-infamous boiling point moment during their Big 3 breakfast last week. Lieutenant Governor Patrick referred the bill to committee the next day. If it makes it out of committee, it will be one chamber vote away from being sent to the Governor’s desk.

In other news, the full House could vote today on a bill that would bring major reforms to the Texas Enterprise Fund. House Bill 26 would change the administration of the controversial TEF fund, create an Economic Incentive Oversight Board and abolish the Emerging Technology Fund. The funds, set up by then-Governor Rick Perry, have been criticized over lax oversight of the awarding of money. Opponents have also raised concerns about giving state money to private businesses.

Tonight on “Capital Tonight,” we take part in the ongoing Time Warner Cable News series “New Texas,” which takes a deeper look at the issues facing Texans as the state continues to evolve economically and culturally. For this week’s discussion on affordability, we’re joined by State Representative Carol Alvarado, chairman of the committee that deals with affordable housing legislation: the House Urban Affairs Committee. What’s being done this session to keep Texas affordable? That question, plus political analysts Harold Cook and Ted Delisi give their takes on the day’s headlines at the Capitol. Tune in to Time Warner Cable News at 7 and 11 p.m. for updates on all of these stories and more.


Daily Digest | April 29

Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:

Education is our headline today. A day after a House committee approved one of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s priority education bills, Governor Greg Abbott is speaking to supporters at the State Capitol about charter schools. Meanwhile, the governor’s first emergency item, pre-kindergarten education, takes a major step forward tomorrow. House Bill 4, which already passed out of the lower chamber, will go up for a public hearing in the Senate Education Committee, as it begins its journey through the upper chamber.

Lawmakers from both chambers and both sides of the aisle are pushing legislation to reign in payday lending. Sen. Rodney Ellis (D – TX Senate District 13), Sen. Royce West (D – TX Senate District 23) and Rep. Tom Craddick (R – TX House District 82) lent their support to bills that would limit the size and number of installments in loans offered by payday and title lenders. Some of those bills include House Bill 3047, House Bill 2808, Senate Bill 92 and Senate Bill 121.  Supporters say those types of companies are preying on the poor, while opponents raised concerns about restricting businesses.

In other news, the Senate moved forward with another one of Governor Abbott’s initiatives. It gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 632 today, which would abolish the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and create a new university research initiative. In his State of the State Address, Governor Abbott called on the Legislature to devote funding to bringing the best university researchers to Texas as part of his higher education emergency item.

On tonight’s episode of “Capital Tonight,” we will be joined by the newest member of the upper chamber, Sen. Jose Menendez (D – TX Senate District 26). He’ll tell us about his transition from the House and his priorities for the rest of session. Plus, the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg will join us to give his analysis. For that and more on all of these stories, tune in to Time Warner Cable News at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.