Capital Tonight: Lawmakers take on LCRA over water management plan

Two lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle are coming together over a critical water source found in both of their districts.

Republican Sen. Troy Fraser and Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson have put out a joint statement criticizing the Lower Colorado River Authority’s 2012 Water Management Plan, saying it “falls woefully short” of what is needed. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Sen. Fraser to hear his criticism of the LCRA’s proposal and what measures he believes would work better.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

A new ad accuses Senator Wendy Davis of reaching for the stars in California for campaign cash. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on whether the accusation will stick.

DRONE DEBATE

As the technology for small, airborne craft known as drones becomes cheaper, more people are discovering that the rules surrounding their use are far from clear. Now, a Wimberley man has filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration to allow him to fly drones to help find missing persons. We looked at how unregulated the drone industry is, despite its growth.

Abbott ad strikes back at Davis using ‘Star Wars’

It’s no lightsaber duel, but the latest online ad from the Abbott campaign uses a little light and magic to tie his opponent to the dark side — otherwise known as Hollywood.

The minute-long ad makes the most of Sen. Wendy Davis’s trip to Santa Monica, Calif. today, where sci-fi directors J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg are hosting a fundraiser. The event costs a minimum of $1,000 to get in the door, and includes a fundraising bar of $25,000 for “VIP reception” status.

Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Republican Party of Texas have sought to portray Davis as out of touch with Texas voters by highlighting her out-of-state fundraising trips.

The ad’s YouTube page sums up the most recent attack: “A candidate for Texas governor rubbing elbows with gun-grabbing, ObamaCare-promoting, tax-raising Hollywood elites? It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi fantasy film, but when it comes to Sen. Wendy Davis, it’s a reality show.”

Watch the full ad below.

 

Capital Tonight: A Lesson in Texas’ Rare Impeachment Process

A Texas House panel took another careful step forward Wednesday, beginning the process of drawing up articles of impeachment for UT Regent Wallace Hall. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry expressed his support for the embattled appointee, calling the committee’s efforts “overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats.”

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard more on how the impeachment process could move forward. Plus committee member Trey Martinez Fischer joined us in-studio to respond to the governor’s comments and talk about where things go from here.

CALM BEFORE THE STORM

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave his take on a surprisingly cordial debate between the Republican runoff candidates for lieutenant governor.

FOOD FIGHT

House Republicans want to let some schools opt out of providing healthier food options if they’re losing money on the federal lunch program. But First Lady Michelle Obama has stepped in, vowing to fight attempts to roll back the standards. We heard from all sides of the debate, including how kids are responding.

Perry issues statement of support for Regent Hall

Gov. Rick Perry today issued a statement of support for UT System Regent Wallace Hall. A select House committee is drawing up articles of impeachment against Hall, who has been accused of conducting a “witch hunt” against UT Austin President Bill Powers.

Here’s the governor’s statement:

“Wallace Hall should be commended for his persistence – in the face of overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats – in trying to ensure the institutions of higher education under his purview are operating effectively, efficiently and within the law. Hall is doing exactly what every regent and every appointee in the State of Texas should be doing: asking tough questions, gathering facts and searching for the truth. Even the chairman of the Board of Regents has said Hall did not commit an impeachable offense or a crime. Texans should be outraged by his treatment, and deeply concerned it will have a chilling effect on those who are tasked with the oversight of state agencies and institutions that they are responsible for.”

Capital Tonight: Texas veterans’ group weighs in on VA hospital scandal

They’re a key part of the vote in any election, but this year, women voters are set to play an even bigger role. A new Republican group called Red State Women is hoping to draw more female voters to their side. Meanwhile, Texas Democrats are fronting two women at the top of the ticket and hoping issues like equal pay and reproductive rights will bring more women to the polls.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from both Republican and Democratic leaders about what it takes to bring more women into the political fold.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

With the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor coming down to the wire, can last-minute attacks shift the momentum? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.

SERVING OUR TROOPS

The scandal over VA hospitals continues to grow, but does the problem stem from more than just the current leadership? We sat down with American Legion, Department of Texas adjutant Bill West to learn more.

UT regent says he will not resign

An embattled University of Texas regent is standing firm, despite calls for his resignation.

According to his lawyer, UT Regent Wallace Hall sent a letter to Chairman Paul Foster today, in response to Foster’s suggestion that he step down. The contents of the letter haven’t been released, but Hall made his opinions clear in a statement released afterward.

“Which approach benefits the UT System, asking the Board of Regents to address wrongdoing, or asking regents who uncover the wrongdoing to resign? Will the public ever know the truth about problems in our institutions if legislators are allowed to impeach Board members who reveal them?”

Hall is accused of abusing the power of his office while investigating UT President Bill Powers. He’s also the subject of an investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office for his handling of confidential student information. Last week, Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster asked Hall to step down but stopped short of a board vote of confidence, which could force Hall out.

Hall’s response comes two days before a House panel is expected to draw up articles of impeachment, which they could then send to the full House. If lawmakers follow through, Hall would be the first non-elected official to be removed from office in state history.

Perry aides testify before grand jury

The grand jury investigating Gov. Rick Perry returned to work Friday. Four of Perry’s top aides headed into the grand jury room through the public entrance, despite a request to enter through a private door. The aides included spokesman Rich Parsons, general counsel Mary Anne Wiley, and deputy chief of staff Mike Morrissey.

The grand jury is investigating whether Perry illegally withheld money from the Travis County District Attorney’s office. Perry vetoed funding last year for the public integrity unit, which is overseen by the District Attorney’s office. Perry had threatened to slash the funding if DA Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after a drunk driving arrest. He followed through with that threat when she refused.

It is not clear when Perry will testify and his aides did not comment Friday.

Capital Tonight: Rep. Coleman explains progress of integrated health projects

Two groups interested in criminal justice reform are calling for a closer look at the state’s prison system in light of Gov. Rick Perry’s refusal to abide by a law known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard why the Prison Justice League and the Texas Civil Rights Project say Perry’s decision is putting juvenile inmates at risk. Plus, we checked in on new developments involving UT Regent Wallace Hall, the U.S. secretary of veterans affairs and more.

INTEGRATED CARE

At the State Capitol, lawmakers on the County Affairs Committee dug into the details of health care costs and how more cooperation among regional stakeholders is helping to keep them down while drawing in federal funding. We spoke to the chairman of that committee, Rep. Garnet Coleman, about how those efforts are going.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to react to the day’s political news, including an awkward request involving the governor’s attorney, a judge and the Travis County district attorney.

Capital Tonight: Education, veterans’ issues and a conservative push for immigration reform

The fight over public education is back at the Capitol, this time over whether teacher evaluations should be tied to state standardized testing.

In Monday’s Capitol Tonight, we heard from one teacher who says the plan would suck the life out education. Plus, we checked in on a special committee hearing in San Antonio, where lawmakers discussed best practices for veterans’ courts.

IMMIGRATION CHANGE

The push for immigration reform is coming back to life — this time from a growing coalition on the right. We spoke Brad Bailey, co-founder of the new nonprofit group Texas Immigration Solution, about what he calls a market-based approach.

CAMPAIGN AIR WARS

New ads are hitting the airwaves in the Republican runoff race for attorney general. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to give his take on whether the accusations could tip the scales with just days away from early voting.

Capital Tonight: Death penalty opponents respond to last-minute stay of execution

A Texas execution planned for Tuesday was called off just hours before it was set to happen. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay based on new claims that inmate Robert Campbell was intellectually disabled, which would make him ineligible for the death penalty.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to the head of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Kristin Houlé, about the botched Oklahoma execution, the secrecy surrounding execution drugs, and whether attitudes about the death penalty are changing.

SENATE LIMITS

The fight for lieutenant governor continues, but what happens if the Senate decides to strip the eventual winner of some of his authority? We spoke to Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report about the ways that scenario has played out before and how it could happen again.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is doubling down on his endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by appearing in a new campaign ad. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that development and more.