Congratulations to HCRP Precinct Chair and Chaplain Trebor Gordon - fighting for free speech and fair elections in Houston!
Houston Chronicle - A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a law limiting when candidates in Houston municipal elections can raise money, prompting a scramble to contact donors sooner than campaigns had intended.
The injunction, two months after a City Council candidate said the law infringed on his constitutional rights, could reorder the timeline for future elections and accelerate this year’s mayoral race – the first without an incumbent since 2009.
...The lawsuit against the city, filed by candidate Trebor Gordon, argued that his First Amendment right to political expression authorized him to raise money for his campaigns whenever his contributors wished to donate. Lake said in the order that Gordon was likely to succeed on the merits in the case.
KPRC Local 2 - Will Texas' lawyerly governor-elect see eye-to-eye with the firebrand incoming lieutenant governor? Could plummeting oil prices thwart promised tax-cuts? Can gun advocates armed with a 3-D printer producing firearm components on the state Capitol lawn draw support from lawmakers for expanding gun rights? The start of Texas' 140-day legislative session Tuesday may answer some key questions, but it is sure to raise many others.
Texas Tribune - State regulators say they have found a way to lower Texans’ natural gas utility bills: keep money out of lawyers’ pockets. Last month, the Texas Railroad Commission quietly approved a rule that simplifies how cities challenge rate increases for natural gas – a multimillion-dollar proposition for monopoly utilities that have no local competition.
...Public support for the rule came from two utilities — CenterPoint Energy and Texas Gas Service Company; two legal reform groups; the Texas Conservative Coalition; and state Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring. Last session, Harless proposed two pieces of similar legislation that failed in the committee stage after local governments loudly objected.
Houston Chronicle - By the time Harris County's conservative leaders fished for their car keys at their Election Night watch party, there were few candidates left to congratulate. Nearly every Republican had won, and each had earned a handshake or name-check from the movement's political class. Every one, that is, but Gilbert Pena.
..."If you underestimate Gilbert Pena, you're making a mistake," said his treasurer, Bill Treneer.
San Angelo Standard-Times - Anti-abortion lawmakers are looking to use the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature to build on the restrictions that led to the closing of more than half of Texas’ 40 abortion clinics. Among the proposals: more limits on legal exemptions for girls seeking abortions without notifying their parents and efforts to ensure that women are not coerced into having abortions, particularly in human trafficking cases.
...Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle has offered a bill to require staff at abortion clinics to complete a training program to recognize and respond to signs of human trafficking. Riddle said she sees abortion facilities as the “first line of defense” for female victims.
“If somebody, a doctor or a nurse or somebody dealing with that young woman, can spot the fact that that young woman is a victim of human trafficking, then that will help,” Riddle said.
Bryan-College Station, The Eagle - State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst took a leap of faith when she decided to run for the vacant Senate District 18 in a special election, but the risk and hard work paid off with her swearing-in to the seat by Gov.-elect Greg Abbott in Austin...
..."I have 14 years of legislative experience and I think that is going to bode well in the Senate having spent so much time on issues that Texas is facing right now," Kolkhorst said. "That learning curve is something I'm not going to have. It was a faith journey to make the decision when I would have been in the Top 25 for seniority in the House."
San Antonio Express-News - Despite all of the turnover in state government in 2014, the Texas Legislature will reconvene in January with a familiar balance of power. Democrats, resigned to a perennial minority, remain outnumbered by Republicans by a 2-1 margin.
The majority is seen as most conservative in recent memory, a reality that Democrats say may augur a tougher 140 days than usual for them.
...Nonetheless, lawmakers from both parties are quick to note a large part of their work in Austin is not as politically divisive as the legislation that often makes headlines.
“It’s going to be a very conservative Senate, but this is Texas, it’s not Washington, and we have to get things done,” said state Sen. Joan Huffman of Houston, who chairs the Senate Republican Caucus.
The Texas Tribune - When Texas lawmakers come back to Austin in January, there will be a new governor who touts public schools as a top priority, and plenty of money in the state bank account. But that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly as the 84th Legislature navigates public education policy.
Here are five things to watch when the legislative session gets underway:
Education Committee Shuffling: Whomever Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick appoints to fill his spot leading the Senate Education Committee — Larry Taylor, Kelly Hancock and Donna Campbell are possible contenders — will wield considerable control over which education bills do and don’t get hearings.
Austin American-Statesman - A recovering economy and the oil and gas boom of recent years – and all the additional state revenue it has generated – bolstered campaign promises last year for sweeping tax cuts for homeowners facing skyrocketing property levies and also for businesses that often help finance those bids for elected office.
...lawmakers probably will have to pursue “small ball” tax cuts rather than “grand slam home runs,” said state Sen.-elect Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston who is closely aligned with Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick. Both called for property tax cuts during their campaigns.
“Realistically, the small balls are much more probable than the big block busters, at this point,” said Bettencourt, a tax consultant and former Harris County tax assessor-collector, noting that oil dipped below $50 a barrel on Monday for the first time since 2009.
Ft. Worth Star Telegram - State lawmakers hope to send a clear message to the federal government this year: Don’t mess with Texas. Already, more than a dozen bills have been filed to push back against what their sponsors say is a continued federal overreach.
Touching on issues from guns to the 10th Amendment, state lawmakers are calling on the federal government to do everything from repaying the costs Texas incurred for dealing with people illegally in the country to abolishing the income tax system.
“It has always been very important to me, not only to make a statement to Congress, but to keep the issue of affirming our state rights before the Legislature and the public,” said Creighton, who has unsuccessfully proposed this measure in other sessions. “It’s difficult when the feds act outside their constitutional authority.”