Cypress Creek Mirror - Nearly 150 senior adults had the opportunity to help influence policy during a trip to the state capitol organized by Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle’s Senior Adult Program and Fun4Seniors.
Precinct 4 residents were joined by seniors from all over Texas who converged on the front steps of the state capitol for Senior Day Feb. 17, a statewide event arranged by the Texas Senior Advocacy Coalition, which works to develop and promote public policy supporting senior adults.
Kicking off the event was Attorney General Ken Paxton who delivered the keynote address. Following the speech, seniors had the opportunity to voice their concerns and meet representatives including Patricia Harless, Dan Huberty, Dwayne Bohac, Gary Elkins and Senfronia Thompson.
KXAN Austin - In an ever changing state, Texas authorities need to stay up to date on everything from drones to human trafficking. This session, House Speaker Joe Straus created the Select Committee on Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement. In the proclamation, Straus requested the committee focus on a broad range of topics that include: body camera, drone surveillance, border security, human trafficking, active shooters, and the ongoing mental health crisis.
Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, was chosen as chair and Rep. Dawnna Duke, D-Austin, is vice-chair.
“The committee shall investigate and review the training and professional needs of law enforcement in the state of Texas, including the award and sufficiency of law enforcement training grants, methods of training, and types of training-including training in emerging or changing threats such as human trafficking, mental health crisis and confrontation, organized crime, and critical incident shooting,” Straus said in his proclamation.
Dallas Morning News - Texas Republicans are moving to stamp out Democratic challenges to their policies, particularly in the legal realm. Some GOP leaders want to strip heavily Democratic Travis County of an anti-corruption unit that has pursued high-profile Republicans such as Tom DeLay and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Gov. Greg Abbott and freshman Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas seek to rein in big-city local governments that they say are imposing “nanny state” rules. And two GOP lawmakers have introduced measures that would deny Travis County judges their usual first crack at deciding multibillion-dollar lawsuits over school finance and politically fraught battles over redistricting.
...Rep. Mike Schofield, a GOP freshman from Houston who introduced the House version of the bill, said the Democratic judges in Travis County have outsize influence. “At the district court level is where you frame the issues” that set bounds for later rulings by the Supreme Court, he said.
Houston Chronicle - The popular state purchasing program used for a $110 million no-bid contract now engulfed in scandal is likely to be revamped in the next few months, officials said this week.
At least two different bills to add safeguards to the Cooperative Contracts program are in the works, lawmakers said, and those in charge of the program are not expected to oppose reform.
...State Rep. Gary Elkins said this week he was thinking about introducing a bill that would require state agencies to consider three pre-approved vendors before making a purchase through the program. That already is encouraged, but not required.
The Friendswood Journal - The Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI) announced the unanimous election of Senator Larry Taylor (R – Friendswood) as the new President of the Research Institute’s Board of Directors.
"It is an honor to accept the role of TCCRI President for the 2015-2016 term," Taylor said. "Like many other conservative legislators, I trust the valuable support TCCRI provides to help enact meaningful reform in Austin and I look forward to the opportunity to lead as we continue to be a part of moving this state forward."
Austin American-Statesman - Texas Senate budget writers appeared to reach bipartisan agreement Monday that the state needs an official definition for ‘border security’ so they and law enforcement can measure the effectiveness of a prolonged and state-bankrolled enforcement effort at the Texas-Mexico boundary.
The consensus came after Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee – joined by one Republican – jumped on the lack of detail in the upper chamber’s proposed budget about how exactly to spend the $815 million the two-year spending plan allocates for border security efforts.
...“There have to be performance measures,” said state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler.
“Christmas polls well in my house,” he continued, but “every dollar needs to be accounted for.”
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, agreed with Eltife: “We do need to define what border security is.”
Houston Business Journal - Sen. Brandon Creighton is still waiting for his phone call from Robert Eckels on details of a high-speed bullet train route between Houston and Dallas.
Eckels is the former Harris County judge and president of Texas Central Railway Co., the entity that is pushing the train initiative. Creighton is the new senator for a district that stretches from Magnolia to Beaumont. Creighton, R-Conroe, is definitely on the right side of the political aisle, but he's also an attorney and real estate developer who recognizes growth is coming, and coming quickly, to Montgomery County.
The Texas Tribune - Senate budget writers on Wednesday lit into Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, a former senator himself, in a hearing that concluded with another call for him to resign.
State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, is now the third lawmaker and first Republican to call on Janek to step down, reported the Houston Chronicle's Brian Rosenthal. All this has happened after a series of controversies developed over the past several months over procurement procedures at the agency as well as reimbursement of tuition for some agency staff. Rosenthal writes:
Huffman, who in 2008 replaced Janek in the Senate when she beat a candidate supported by a political group he funded, said she respects him and previously had held off on calling for him to step down, but decided after seeing how he carried himself during the hearing that it was in the best interest of the state for him to move on.
KXAN Austin - A bill filed Monday in the Texas Senate could make it easier for terminally ill patients to get access to potentially life-saving medication. The Andrea Sloan Right to Try Act would eliminate the 30-day waiting period at the Food and Drug Administration after a pharmaceutical company voluntarily gives an otherwise terminally-ill patient access to a safe but experimental medication.
...The Texas legislation, authored by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, would not require drug companies to provide an experimental drug and it does not remove the FDA from the compassionate use process. It allows insurance companies to cover the cost of the treatment, but does not require them to do so.
Texas House Republican Caucus - Today, House Republican Caucus Chairman Tan Parker announced the appointment of two positions critical for providing top quality member services during the legislative session. Representative Ron Simmons was named the Chairman of the Caucus Policy Committee and Representative Jim Murphy was named the Caucus Floor Leader.