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Daily Digest: Jan 22

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:

 

Congress pass bill to end government shutdown:

Congress voted to reopen the government Monday evening. The House followed the Senate in approving a bill and Trump’s quick signature is expected. We’ll have the latest on what led to the negotiations and how Texas lawmakers are responding.

 

School Finance Fix?:

Turning to an ongoing Texas showdown – Tuesday a newly-formed school finance commission will meet for the first time to begin looking at ways to fix what’s been deemed a broken system.

It coincides with “school choice” week — the push to allow public funding to flow to private schools.

The battle over the two issues sunk any school finance fix last session.

Our Max Gorden will have the latest on how school choice advocates are continuing to try to be part of the school finance discussion.

 

Sen. Uresti trial begins:

There’s a lot on the line for Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti. His criminal fraud trial began Monday in San Antonio.

Uresti faces felony charges of fraud and money laundering. Our John Garcia is following the trial and will have the latest on day one.

 

Dallas County Republicans file lawsuit to kick 128 Democrats off ballot:

There’s an effort in Dallas County to kick 128 Democrats off the March primary ballot.

The County Republican party has filed a lawsuit that alleges the County Democratic Party Chair did not sign the petitions of the 128 candidates before sending them to the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

That’s required by state law.

Democrats decried the lawsuit as an attempt to disenfranchise minority voters.

State Representative Eric Johnson is one of the candidates named in the lawsuit..

He issued a statement saying in part, “This is just the latest attempt by Texas Republicans to take away the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice.”

 

On the agenda:

The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg joins us live to discuss the Dallas County ballot debate and what’s next after the government shutdown.

 

Bulletproof vests for Texas police:

Thousands of Texas law enforcement officers are becoming better protected.

Earlier this month — Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state was doling out nearly $23 million in state grants to help 453 agencies provide bulletproof vests.

The money equips around 33,000 officers with rifle-resistant vests designed to protect against high caliber rounds.

That covers more than 40 percent of licensed law enforcement officers in the state.

The grant program was created by lawmakers last year after a sniper killed five Dallas police officers protecting a Black Lives Matter march in 2016.

“They’re a good thing. They’ll protect the officers,” Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said. “They’re something that should have and could have been done a long time ago and it took a crisis, a tragedy in Dallas to get it done and we’re proud to have supported it.”

Hear more from Wilkison, including his push to extend the program permanently, at 7.

 

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.

@TxCapTonight

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

Daily Digest: Jan. 5

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:

 

Texas has nation’s first primary:

Texans love to be bigger and better than other states in the nation and in this election year, the Lone Star State earns another title: first to vote.

Texas will be batting lead-off in this year’s primary season, with early voting starting February 20.

At 7, hear why election experts say Texas results could forecast how this midterm election season will go nationally.

 

Chairmen Hinojosa and Dickey square off:

The chairmen of the state Republican and Democratic parties join us at 7 to discuss the 2018 primaries, the crowded field of candidates and how the Trump effect could play into this midterm. Plus, hear their take on the legal battle over removing Congressman Blake Farenthold’s name from the primary ballot.

 

Noose found on Central Texas Congressional candidate sign:

A Central Texas congressional candidate said she found a noose hanging around one of her campaign signs.

Dr. Christine Eady Mann is running as a Democrat in the District 31 race. She said the property owners where the campaign sign stands notified her about it Thursday.

It’s since been taken down, but Mann says the noose is “symbolic of the hate” that still exists in Texas.

“I do have an African American Campaign Manager, I’m a woman,” Mann said. “I think that there are a lot of people who feel threatened when women, especially black women make their voices heard. ”

Mann said the incident hasn’t made her fearful for her safety. She said it’s simply fueling her to campaign harder.

 

PolitiFact Texas:

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas is in to put Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez and Republican Land Commissioner candidate Jerry Patterson to the truth-o-meter.

 

Fire and Fury fallout:

President Trump is waging a two-front battle Friday against a new bombshell book that details the turmoil within the White House and against a report that lays out new details in the Russia investigation. We’ll have the latest from Washington at 7.

 

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

@TXCapTonight

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

Daily Digest: Jan. 2

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:

 

Congress’ to-do list includes DACA, funding government

Congress is up against a long to-do list as members return to Capitol Hill this week from the holiday break.

Some of the must-tackle items: funding the government and deciding what to do about the status of so-called Dreamers.

At 7, the latest on where lawmakers stand on the issues.

 

Cornyn says DACA deal will be done by deadline

Texas’ Senior Senator says he thinks Congress will reach a DACA deal by the March deadline. Sen. John Cornyn told reporters in Austin Tuesday that he believes President Trump did the right thing by placing the issue back into the hands of Congress.

“I do believe we will get this done before the March Deadline…and I hope the President does not extend it because that puts the pressure on us and I think that Congress tends to respond when it’s put under pressure,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn was also asked about President Trump’s first year. He called it “pretty successful” but added the President’s tendency to unload on Twitter often “undermines his own effectiveness” and creates “uncertainty.”

 

Willett takes oath for 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett was sworn in to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday. It marks his official move to the federal judiciary.

Willett was nominated by President Trump last September. The conservative Texan is a prolific tweeter who was unofficially named the “Tweeter Laureate of Texas.”

Willett says he’s already toned down the tweeting as he prepares to join the panel in New Orleans.

“My title today has changed from justice to judge, but my task has not,” Willett said during a ceremony in Austin. “Judging according to the rule of law is a sacred trust.”

James Blacklock was also sworn in Tuesday. He’ll replace Willett on the Texas Supreme Court.

 

Julian Castro launches new PAC

A prominent Texas Democrat has launched a political action committee that aims to boost party gains nationally and statewide.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro publicly launched the Opportunity First PAC Tuesday.

Castro has said the PAC will support party efforts to take control of the US House and make gains in state legislatures for Democrats before the next round of redistricting in 2021.

And while Castro has repeatedly said he has not made a decision on a run for president, candidates considering it often get involved in such mid-term election campaigns.

 

On the Agenda

The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg joins us at 7 to weigh in on Castro’s new PAC and the speculation about a 2020 presidential run.

 

Races to watch in 2018

As the new year begins, we take a look at the big Texas races to watch. From the race for governor to Congress and on down the ballot, political reporters Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report and Mike Ward with the Houston Chronicle weigh in.

 

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.

Follow us on Twitter @TXCapTonight

Daily Digest: Dec. 15

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:

 

GOP Releases Final Tax Bill:

Republicans have unveiled the final version of their sweeping tax plan and newfound support from two wavering senators means it’s likely headed to President Trump to be signed by Christmas.

The bill would cut rates for corporations and the wealthy while offering modest reductions for the middle class.

It would also expand the child tax credit, preserve the adoption tax credit and allow Americans to deduct some medical expenses.

It does eliminate the requirement that Americans buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Friday in Austin he expects a vote by Tuesday.

“Our goal is to grow the economy for everybody. We’ve been suffering through anemic economic growth since the Great Recession of 2008, but I don’t think any of us should have to accept that as the new normal,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn was also asked about Rep. Blake Farenthold’s decision to not seek re-election.

The Corpus Christi Congressman was hit with multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Cornyn said Farenthold made the right decision and that Congress has “a lot to do” to regain its reputation as a safe workplace.

 

Reporter Roundtable:

Bob Garrett of the Dallas Morning News and Paul Weber with the Associated Press join us at 7 to discuss Rep. Farenthold’s decision to not seek re-election. They also weigh in on sexual harassment policy changes at the Texas Capitol and the 2018 state of play.

 

Texas CHIP Funding Extended Through February:

Texas will get additional money to keep the popular children’s health insurance program — CHIP — in business a little longer.

The state’s health agency said it got confirmation from the federal government that Texas will receive roughly $135 million in funds.

That’s enough to help cover CHIP clients through February so cancellation notices won’t be sent later this month.

CHIP covers more than 450,000 Texas kids.

The program’s future has been in limbo since Congress failed to renew its funding in September.

But Sen. Cornyn also tweeted Friday that Congress will pass a long-term CHIP funding bill next week.

 

UT System Chancellor Resigning in May:

The University of Texas System Chancellor has announced he’s stepping down. William McRaven said he plans to leave the school in May citing non-serious health concerns.

He informed the Board of Regents of his decision during a meeting Friday.

McRaven is most known for being the man who directed the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. The retired Navy Admiral had no professional academic experience when he was hired to lead the UT system.

He recently clashed with university regents but said he’s leaving for personal reasons.

 

PolitiFact Texas:

Foul play in the Alabama Senate race? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas is in to fact-check a claim about a recount. He also puts Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton to the truth-o-meter over a statement about Hurricane Harvey housing needs.

 

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

 

Daily Digest: Dec. 14

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:

 

Texas Senate Rewriting Sexual Harassment Policies:

Texas senators say it’s time to rewrite their sexual harassment policies. The push to update comes amid allegations of sexual harassment against two of their own.

According to the Senate Secretary, there’s only been one formal complaint of sexual harassment in the Senate since the current policies were put in place in 1995.

But a top Texas senator says current policies are so ambiguous even she’d be hesitant to come forward with a complaint.

“I want to make sure, again, that we have a robust environment where it allows someone to feel like they can report a situation without retaliation,” Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said.

Kolkhorst suggested making training for elected senators mandatory and providing more explicit details about how to report sexual harassment.

Lawmakers also suggested ensuring journalists and lobbyists are protected by the new policies.

Earlier this month, the Texas House strengthened its sexual harassment policies.

 

Rep. Farenthold Retiring Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations:

Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, is retiring from Congress amid sexual harassment allegations.

The news follows a new report that a former aide says Farenthold was verbally abusive, sexually demeaning and created an environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.

Farenthold took to Facebook Thursday to apologize for his actions.

“I’d never served in public office before. I had no idea how to run a Congressional office and, as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional,” he said.

The House ethics committee was already investigating Farenthold for sexual harassment claims made by a different former aide.

The Congressman has denied any wrongdoing in that case.

 

Net Neutrality Vote:

A vote Thursday could usher in big changes in how you use the internet.

The Federal Communications Commission voted to undo sweeping Obama-era “net neutrality” rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet.

We’ll have more on why the FCC’s decision likely isn’t the final word.

 

GOP Tax Bill Latest:

It’s been one-day since GOP House and Senate leaders said they struck a tentative deal on the tax bill. They are now scrambling to address last-minute concerns from members of their party.

Our Washington DC bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with members of Congress who are deeply involved in the process and will have the latest at 7.

 

James Ho Confirmed to 5th Circuit:

Another Texan has been confirmed to serve on the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Senate voted 53-43 Thursday to confirm former Texas solicitor general James Ho.

Ho is the 12th circuit court judge to be confirmed during Trump’s first year in office.

Texas’ Republican Senators applauded his confirmation. But some Democrats have raised concerns that Ho will seek to roll back abortion rights.

His confirmation comes a day after the Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett — who will also serve on the 5th Circuit.

 

I-35 Austin Toll Lanes Cut from Project:

Toll lanes on I-35 have been cut from a key 10-year construction plan. State transportation officials voted Thursday to remove all toll way projects from the proposal — including the addition of two toll lanes to each side of the interstate through Central Texas.

The move comes amid an outcry from anti-toll groups and state Republican leaders who argued that when Texas voters approved more money for roads, they were promised that wouldn’t include new tolls.

TxDOT has said even with the extra money for roads — some projects won’t be possible without selling bonds and charging tolls.

Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty has been pushing to keep the express lanes in the plan. Hear his take at 7.

 

Texas Death Row Population Dropping:

The use of the death penalty in Texas continues to decline. According to a new report released today by groups critical of the death penalty, the downward trend is largely due to fewer new death sentences and more reduced punishments.

But Texas still executed more people than any other state in 2017.

Kristin Houle with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is in to discuss the data further.

 

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

Daily Digest: Dec. 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:

 

CHIP Funding Still in Limbo as Time Runs Out for Texas Families:

Texas is still waiting for additional money to keep a popular children’s health insurance program in business a little longer.

CHIP covers more than 400,000 Texas kids.

Its future remains in limbo after Congress failed to renew the program in September.

Our Max Gorden spoke with some health care professionals today who say delaying CHIP funding any longer could have long-term health effects.

Plus, Laura Guerra-Cardus, Texas Deputy Director for the Children’s Defense Fund, also joins us tonight to discuss the issue further.

 

Homeland Security Chief Lauds Texas ‘sanctuary cities’ Ban:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ New U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is decrying “sanctuary cities” in a state that recently approved strict laws banning them.

President Donald Trump’s former deputy White House chief of staff, Nielsen was confirmed by the Senate last week.

She’s visiting Austin, where county sheriff Sally Hernandez once promised not to comply with some “detainers,” or federal requests to hold for possible deportation people who were jailed on non-violent, non-immigration charges.

That helped prompt the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature to approve a sanctuary cities crackdown that allows sheriffs and police chiefs to face removal from office and even criminal charges for failing to fully enforce federal immigration policy.

The measure now is being contested in federal court, but Hernandez has since changed policies. Nielsen urged other states to follow Texas’ lead.

 

Alabama Senate Race:

It’s the election that everyone has been talking about with allegations of decades-old sexual assault, shined a light on divisions in the Republican Party and has implications on the balance of power in Washington.

We’ll have the latest on any early results and a report from Alabama as the candidates cast their ballots today.

 

Trump Lashes Out at Lawmaker Amid Calls to Resign:

President Trump and a Democratic New York lawmaker got into a virtual brawl on Twitter Tuesday.

It comes amid growing calls for the president to resign over sexual misconduct allegations.

Our Washington DC bureau reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York. Hear why the state’s junior senator isn’t backing down.

 

2018 Primary Battles:

Now that the stage is set for the 2018 primaries, what are the top races to watch? Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report weighs in with his must-watch primary battles including the George P. Bush/Jerry Patterson matchup.

 

Join us for these stories and more.

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

Daily Digest: Dec. 8

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:

 

Jerry Patterson to Challenge Bush for Land Commissioner:

A former Texas Land Commissioner says he wants his old job back. Friday the race to head up the General Land Office took a new twist as Jerry Patterson announced he’ll be filing to run for the position next week.

Patterson has been frustrated with current Commissioner George P. Bush over what he calls a lack of transparency about the Alamo redesign project and his response to Hurricane Harvey.

Patterson says he’s been searching for a candidate to run against Commissioner Bush for the past four months.

“And at the end of the day I guess it’s me,” Patterson said.

Hear more from Patterson and the newly-filed Democratic candidate at 7.

 

Reporter Roundtable:

Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune and James Barragan of the Dallas Morning News join our reporter roundtable to discuss the race for Land Commissioner, Governor and sexual harassment policies at the State Capitol.

 

Trump Promotes Moore:

President Trump is in Florida tonight for a campaign-style rally just 25 miles from the Alabama state line.

The White House has said the rally is a campaign event for Trump. But the location — which also feeds Alabama TV markets — is stoking speculation that it’s a backdoor way for Trump to give controversial U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore a boost.

The rally and election are also coming at a watershed moment in the nation’s capital.

 

PolitiFact Texas:

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas is in to fact check a claim about the share of Texas students succeeding in education after high school and whether domestic violence is a consistent predictor of mass shootings.

 

Capital Tonight airs weeknights at 7 on Spectrum News.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

Daily Digest: Dec. 7

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:

 

Women’s Group Calls on Texas Senators to Resign:

A prominent Texas women’s political group is calling on two state senators to step down.

It comes after the online news website – the Daily Beast — reported multiple allegations that Senators Borris Miles, D-Houston, and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, sexually harassed women.

Our Max Gorden will have the latest on the accusations and the growing calls for a culture shift inside the Texas Capitol.

 

Sen. Franken Resigns:

Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken has announced he’ll step down. The decision comes amid growing calls for his resignation in the wake of a series of sexual misconduct allegations.

Hear why Franken calls his stepping down ironic.

And we’re joined by Bruce Kellison to discuss what he calls a coming culture shift. He’s the co-director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Democrat Andrew White Announces Run for Governor:

Texas Democrats have another candidate in the race for Governor. But this one’s running as a conservative Democrat against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.

Andrew White made his gubernatorial bid official today during a campaign speech in Houston.

White’s the son of the late former Gov. Mark White.

The 45-year-old Houston entrepreneur has never fun for office and calls himself a “common sense Democrat” who thinks the state’s Republican leaders have shifted too far to the right.

“I’m asking you to trust me with your state and I’m pledging to you, I’ll earn your respect,” White said. “I’ll work harder than I’ve ever worked. And when I’m done, Texas will be in a better shape than when I started.”

White joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates running in the spring primary.

His announcement comes one day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made her bid official. She’s considered the Democrats most high-profile candidate.

The Texas Politics Project Director Jim Henson joins us at 7 to discuss White’s chances and the state of the Democratic Party.

 

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

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

 

 

Democrat Andrew White Announces Run for Governor

Andrew White, the son of the late former Gov. Mark White, made his gubernatorial bid official today during a campaign speech in Houston.

“I’m proud to be Mark White’s son. But I’m not running because I’m his son,” White said. “I’m running because we need more leaders like Mark White. We need leaders willing to do right and risk their re-election.”

White is a Houston entrepreneur. He’s never run for office but calls himself a “common sense Democrat” who thinks the state’s Republican leaders have shifted too far to the right.

“The one thing that separates the governors who made history from the ones that simply lived in it: in the words of Sam Houston, ‘Do right and risk the consequences.’ That’s why I’m running for Governor: to do right and let the cards fall where they may,” White said.

White joins a crowded field of Democratic candidates running in the spring primary. His announcement comes one day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made her bid official. She’s considered the Democrats most high-profile candidate.

All of the Democratic candidates still face an uphill battle to beat Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott has a campaign war chest of $40 plus million dollars.

White, who considers himself a “conservative Democrat,” could also face resistance in his party’s primary.

 

 

 

Daily Digest: Dec. 6

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:

 

Dallas County Sheriff Announces Run for Governor:

Texas’ first Hispanic female sheriff wants to be the first Hispanic female governor of Texas.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced this morning she’s running against incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.

She gives Texas Democrats a serious candidate with just days to go before the end of the 2018 candidate filing period.

Our Max Gorden has more on who she is — and the uphill battle she faces and our political analysts weigh in on her chances.

 

House Okays Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Gun Bill:

The US House has approved a Republican-backed bill that makes it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines.

The bill is the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Texas and Nevada killed more than 80 people.

The legislation is top priority of the National Rifle Association, which called it an important step to allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits..

But opponents say the bill could endanger public safety by overriding state laws that place strict limits on guns.

Democrats also criticized Republicans for including a bill on background checks in the concealed-carry legislation.

“They are combining these two pieces of legislation because they know the national concealed weapons bill is deeply unpopular,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said. “They know they face political liability if they force this through, so they are trying to dress it up with a politically popular piece of legislation.”

Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn says the two measures should be kept separate.

He introduced the so-called “fix NICS” act following the Sutherland Springs shooting. His bill was heard in committee today.

It measure would strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

“I hope that if anything good comes out of this tragedy it will be that we finally fix on a bipartisan basis, this broken background check system,” Cornyn said.

The Senate Committee also heard testimony on bumpstocks, the device used by the Las Vegas gunman which makes a semi-automatic gun act as a fully automatic machine gun.

The discussion comes one day after the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced it has launched a review to look at the legality of the device.

 

Activists Call on Congress for DACA Fix:

Activists are calling on Congress for action to protect so-called Dreamers—immigrants who arrived illegally in the U.S. when they were children.

President Trump ended the Obama-era deferred action program in September and gave Congress until March 5 to find a permanent solution.

Thousands of activists were in the nation’s capital today urging lawmakers to take immediate action..

Our Washington reporter Samantha-Jo Roth spoke with a Dreamer whose future is now in limbo.

 

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

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling