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January 25, 2021      1:13 PM

Abbott to deliver State of the State on Feb 1 at 7pm

It will be broadcast on Nextstar stations around the state

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January 25, 2021      1:02 PM

Supreme Court wipes out lower court rulings in Texas abortion battle

Via Pete Williams at NBC News:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to advocates of abortion rights, wiping lower court rulings off the books that had upheld a Texas order banning nearly all abortions in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbot ordered a halt to nonessential medical procedures in late March of last year to conserve hospital resources and personal protective equipment. Attorney General Ken Paxton then said the order applied to "any type of abortions," including medical abortions that do not involve surgery. A federal judge in Texas declared the order too broad and lifted the ban. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans put it back in place. In public health emergencies, the appeals court said, a state can restrict constitutional rights including, "one's right to peaceably assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one's home. The right to abortion is no exception."

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January 25, 2021      8:50 AM

Including shelter and services, Texas Capitol veteran Steve Bresnen lays out specific plan for homelessness challenges in Austin

The city risks losing the ability to plot its own course if local officials fail to act quickly, Bresnen argues

Amid growing tension between state government and the City of Austin over the city’s homelessness policy – and following an admission from Mayor Steve Adler that current policy is not working – Texas Capitol veteran Steve Bresnen on Monday released a detailed proposal for immediate solutions aimed at setting the table for a new long-term policy.

The plan, billed as Part 1 of a broader proposal, outlines specifics including an immediately available shelter for those struggling with homelessness and ways to offer services currently unavailable to those camping along roadways, trails, and other public spaces.

The city risks losing the ability to plot its own course if local officials fail to act quickly, Bresnen argued.

“Unless the City of Austin sends the message that it can act NOW to responsibly change course, it is clear that the Governor expects the Texas Legislature to take actions that will have long-term negative effects on Austin's autonomy,” Bresnen wrote. “In addition, despite much talk and huge appropriations of money, the Council's actions are not helping to protect homeless people and are making them mere pawns in a community dispute that is not serving the homeless or the City well.”

Bresnen’s full proposal can be downloaded here.

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January 23, 2021      7:16 PM

Updated: In five way race to succeed Senator Springer, David Spiller leads runoff

Spiller faces Craig Carter in runoff to be determined by Gov. Greg Abbott

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January 22, 2021      1:01 PM

People on the Move

Key staff moves, lobby hires, and a new trade group

It is a little slow out there, but there is activity. The House and Senate offered up budget proposals that are strikingly similar this week. As one former veteran legislator said, “that’s bad,” meaning there may not be much chance for a real debate between the two chambers about the priorities of the state.

“What’s the point of a conference committee?” asked one veteran observer. It may be that leadership has already largely ironed out any big differences to cut down on facetime for negotiations during a pandemic. Where does this end up? We’ll all find out together.

Meantime, there are a few notable career moves to let you know about. The Texas Capitol community is always interested, so let everyone know by sending the news to ksbraddock@gmail.com. Please use POTM in the subject line. Thanks much.

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

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

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January 21, 2021      4:42 PM

Texas House and Senate leaders propose strikingly similar budgets

Looking at all articles, all funds, almost every article of the state budget is proposed to be cut, minus K12 education

State budget proposals out of the Texas House and Texas Senate on Thursday looked strikingly similar in many ways and both contained the same question mark: an unexplained extra $7 billion in the column under available general revenue.

Both budgets – one released by Finance Chair Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and the other by Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont – start with general revenue levels set at $119.7 billion, which Phelan points out is a 3 percent decrease when the numbers are adjusted for inflation and population.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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January 21, 2021      3:37 PM

Texas House leadership expects to convene the body Tuesday and Wednesday then leave until the next Tuesday, Feb 2

"We will convene on Tuesday, January 26 at 1 PM and plan to convene on Wednesday, January 27 at 10 AM. It is our intention to adjourn until the following Tuesday, February 2." - the Office of the Speaker

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January 21, 2021      2:44 PM

From policing to taxes and homelessness, local governments in the political crosshairs again this session

State intervention into local government – from all indications -- continues to be a top legislative priority for the Republican-led Texas Legislature this session.

Gov. Greg Abbott touched on it this morning in Austin during a roundtable about law enforcement, where he said the state will move to make it "fiscally impossible" for cities to "defund police." Over the last few days, Abbott once again took the City of Austin to task for allowing the homeless to camp along streets.

“If Austin doesn't reinstate the ban on homeless camping the state will do it for them,” Abbott tweeted on Wednesday. “Contrary to what Austin leaders think no one has a right to urinate & defecate wherever they want,” he said. “Homelessness promoted by Austin has also endangered public safety.”

And last week at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Policy Orientation, Abbott blasted local governments and of course found a friendly audience.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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January 21, 2021      12:00 PM

Updated: Texas Democratic Party top staff Manny Garcia and Cliff Walker announce their exits

Meantime, Hannah Roe Beck is appointed Interim Executive Director and Luke Warford is appointed Chief Strategy Officer

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January 21, 2021      11:59 AM

Texas House base budget filed

Speaker Phelan said it “prioritizes the needs of Texans during this consequential moment in our state's history and advances the Legislature's commitment to the historic public education and school finance and property tax reforms passed last session.”

The Texas House base budget summary is here. Full text here.

More coverage to come…

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January 21, 2021      10:28 AM

Chair Nelson files Texas Senate base budget

"SB 1 funds essential services, keeps up with growth and meets our obligations to vulnerable citizens...We have many tools available to balance this budget, which will require us to re-establish our priorities, stretch every dollar and find more efficient ways to deliver services," Chair Nelson said

Here’s what Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson’s office is saying about the base budget.

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January 20, 2021      1:58 PM

Judge orders MQ Sullivan of Empower Texans to pay $10,000 fine in case of illegal lobbying

The fine, originally levied after a 2014 Ethics Commission formal hearing, has been tied up in the courts for years

A state district court judge in Austin has ordered Empower Texans spokesman Michael Quinn Sullivan to pay $10,000 in fines after dismissing a suit he filed against the Texas Ethics Commission.

This is the case dealing with Sullivan's illegal lobbying at the Texas Capitol, without registering as required by law, back in 2010 and 2011.

As Quorum Report readers who have followed this will recall, this case led to a rare public formal hearing of the TEC in which Sullivan refused to testify, citing his First Amendment right not to speak. After that hearing in 2014, the commission fined the maximum $10,000 for the violations.

Sullivan sued and it has been tied up in the courts ever since.

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By Scott Braddock

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January 20, 2021      12:33 PM

Paxton was not on the pardon list

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January 19, 2021      3:42 PM

Success in scramble to succeed Sen. Springer in the Texas House could rely on shifting population

Cooke County dominates House District 68 in population, but Jack County turnout could be key factor

In the lightning-fast race for the open seat in the Texas House recently vacated by Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, the five Republicans and one Democrat running have likely put as many miles on their cars as dollars they have raised. Election day is this coming Saturday, January 23.

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By James Russell

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