September 17, 2020      5:08 PM

Updated: Most businesses can soon return to 75% operating capacity, Abbott announces

But bars will remain closed for now because of social distancing concerns, Abbott said during a Texas Capitol news conference with reporters packed into a small room when a 300-seat auditorium is available right downstairs

Editors note: This story has been updated throughout, including new comments from bar and nightclub owners – SB

In his first scheduled update on the state’s coronavirus response in more than a month, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced that because "the number of people recovering from COVID continues to skyrocket,” the vast majority of retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, museums, and libraries across Texas can go back up to 75% operating capacity on Monday. Nursing homes, meantime, will see restrictions relaxed starting now.

Three regions where hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain high are excluded from this lifting of restrictions: The Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Victoria areas.

By Scott Braddock

September 17, 2020      5:06 PM

TSAPAC unveils general election endorsements

The full list of endorsements can be downloaded here.

September 16, 2020      4:18 PM

SB: Texas Senate may grind nearly to a halt if pandemic still rages in January

Nothing is set in stone, but multiple sources confirm Lt. Gov. Patrick convened a call of committee chairs in which worst case scenarios were discussed

Over the last couple weeks, there has been significantly more chatter about how the Texas Senate will handle its business during the pandemic if it still looms large in daily life when the constitutionally mandated start of the legislative session arrives in January. Odds are that will be the case.

The Texas House, naturally, has been much more open about its deliberations on how to operate despite the fact there is no long-term hierarchy after the events of the last year. In August, House Administration released the results of a survey of members showing overwhelming support for measures like mandatory masks and temperature checks.

With the Texas Senate, as is longstanding tradition, the code is harder to crack.

By Scott Braddock

September 15, 2020      5:00 PM

Early voting at a trickle in special election to succeed Sen. Pat Fallon

Tiny numbers of voters heading to the polls in the expansive district as Shelley Luther goes negative on TV against Chairman Springer

Early voting is underway for the special election to replace Sen. Pat Fallon of Prosper but you would be forgiven for not noticing given the low turnout.

In the six-way race for Senate District 30 are five Republicans and one Democrat. Running on the Republican side are Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Chairman Drew Springer of Muenster, Denton Mayor Chris Watts, software engineer Andy Hopper, business owner Craig Carter, who ran in the 2018 primary, and activist and hair salon owner Shelley Luther. The only Democrat is International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 20 Secretary Jacob Minter.

By James Russell

September 15, 2020      4:58 PM

TSTA files first teacher grievance on enforcement of COVID-19 policies

The complaint was made against the Killeen ISD: “Our members do not feel safe…Our members are being unfairly penalized because the school district has failed to prepare accordingly for the virtual learning of all its students during the 2020-2021 school year.”

The Texas State Teachers Association has filed the first of what is likely to be many grievances against school districts in Texas accused of practicing unsafe COVID-19 policies.

The grievance against the Killeen Independent School District was filed under the section of policy related to personnel management. This is the section of code, which almost all school districts carry on their books, that allows employees to complain about work conditions, sexual harassment and lodge whistleblower complaints.

The Killeen Educators Association alleges the school district has forced teachers and paraprofessionals to work in an unsafe environment, touting procedures to protect employees but then failing to deliver on those promises.

By Kimberly Reeves

September 15, 2020      4:40 PM

Texas Supreme Court rules Green Party candidates must be added back to ballot for US Senate, Railroad Commission, and CD 21

An appeals court had previously sided with Democrats who argued the Greens should be excluded for lack of paying filing fees

September 14, 2020      5:20 PM

SB: General election campaigns ramp up with Texas House GOP embracing traditional block walking, Democrats going a different direction

Which side has more downside risk? Republicans who could offend voters by showing up in person during a pandemic or Democrats who may minimize voter contact by avoiding door knocking?

Across the state, there’s more discussion now among political professionals about whether candidates and their teams should be doing the one thing that has forever been a given for any successful bid for the Texas House: Block walking. In these local races – more akin to running for city council than to running for president – the old axiom is “if you’re walkin,’ then we’re talkin.’” In short, it has been easy to spot a losing campaign: It’s the one you can’t find on the streets.

The pandemic changes the calculus.

Just this weekend, Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Jeff Leach, R-Allen, was on social media defending his decision to embrace a field program including talking to voters at their doors. When accused of taking the coronavirus’ dangers too lightly, Chair Leach said, “We are taking all safety precautions and the vast majority of folks are gladly and eagerly opening their doors!” Leach also said it is possible to respect science and freedom simultaneously.

Striking that balance has become difficult.

After conversations with consultants, candidates, volunteers, and others familiar with how campaigns are operating one month from early voting, a fairly straightforward picture emerges.

By Scott Braddock

September 14, 2020      9:38 AM

Video: Running for Stickland House seat, Jeff Whitfield is up on TV

The Democrat's ad focuses on how he hopes Texas will emerge from the pandemic

September 14, 2020      7:48 AM

Texas Capitol veterans Jackie Uresti, Jerry Philips join Biden Texas team along with about a dozen others

Early Monday morning, Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden’s campaign announced about a dozen new additions to their Texas team, “including alumni of the Obama-Biden Administration, the Texas State Legislature, and the Texas Congressional Delegation.”

The full list is here, per the campaign:

By Scott Braddock

September 11, 2020      9:21 PM

People on the Move

A big agency hire, lobby moves, association news, new members on various boards, and more

Thursday morning after the weather had thankfully turned much cooler, I put on a fleece vest issued to me roughly 20 years ago at the radio station where I was doing news as a much younger reporter with no gray hair. I like that old fleece and somehow it looks about the same as when it was new. I paused and thought about significant things that have happened since.

That was back before my daughter was born, before 9/11 and the two wars that followed, the election of the first African American President, the legalization of gay marriage, Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Harvey, mass shootings, the current pandemic, and so many other significant events that unfolded in our state, nation, and world over the last two decades. What will happen in the next two? This year, for all its problems and in truth because of them, should prove pivotal. And now we are just about a month out from early voting.

Meantime, the business of the Texas Capitol moves forward as all of you movers and shakers share your career news here in the pages of Quorum Report. You can do that anytime by sending the scoop to ksbraddock@gmail.com. Use POTM in the subject line, please and thank you.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move.

By Scott Braddock

September 11, 2020      9:16 PM

Video: Retiring sole Republican on Travis County Commissioners Court, Gerald Daugherty, endorses Becky Bray for the office

September 11, 2020      12:46 PM

A Harris County judge sides with County Clerk Hollins, denies state request to block mail ballot request forms from being sent to about 2 million voters

Here’s the order.

September 11, 2020      9:26 AM

Virtual service for former Rep. Tony Goolsby will be today at 11am

The family of former Rep. Tony Goolsby has chosen to do a virtual, live streamed service, which you can see here at 11am..

September 10, 2020      1:24 PM

Countering Abbott, the Texas Democratic Party releases what they call the Texas First Pledge

Here it is.

September 10, 2020      12:49 PM

After a car crash, Mongtomery County Judge Mark Keough is stable and alert, per his staff

His staff posted on Facebook: Earlier this morning Judge Keough was in a car accident. He’s currently undergoing evaluation at the hospital. He is stable and alert and understandably in pain. We don’t know the circumstances of the crash at this time. The other vehicle was a deputy constable and he too is undergoing evaluation. We want to lift the Deputy Constable and his family up in prayers at this time. Please keep the Judge and the deputy in your prayers at this time.