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June 3, 2020      5:15 PM

Sen. Cornyn approval at 37 percent in Quinnipiac poll

He’s at 37 - 36 percent job approval rating, compared to 41 - 34 percent in September of 2019; the poll also shows Trump and Biden in a tight race in the state

Sen. John Cornyn has a split 37 to 36 percent job approval rating in a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday afternoon. That’s down from 41 to 34 percent in September of 2019, per the pollsters. The poll released today also shows President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a tight race

Also, six in ten Texas voters say the state should allow expansion of mail-in ballots as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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June 3, 2020      4:55 PM

Abbott announces Phase 3 of lifting restrictions on movement and commerce

Nearly all businesses allowed to operate now at 50 percent capacity

The latest executive order is right here.

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June 2, 2020      11:22 PM

A COVID-19 case confirmed at the Capitol in the last 24 hours, per Administration

Details are limited at this time. Members and staff are asked to avoid the building Wednesday while everything is disinfected

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June 2, 2020      10:02 PM

Texas Capitol community comes together to protect the building, care for DPS stationed inside, Chair Geren says

House Administration Chairman Geren says members of the House and Senate, staffers, lobby of all stripes including TLR, TTLA, AT&T and others have asked how they can help

The pictures on social media of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers stationed at the Capitol building have inspired folks from throughout the community to come together and figure out ways to help them keep the building safe during a difficult time, House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren told QR tonight.

There are now 500 officers both standing watch at the building and basically living there at least through the end of the week, Geren said. He didn’t have specific guidance on how long they would be stationed there but he didn’t imagine the deployment lasting beyond next Monday.

The surge of force, of course, came after some vandals last weekend took advantage of the protests of the death of native Houstonian George Floyd.

With the help of members, staffers, and lobbyists representing companies like AT&T and Spectrum and groups like Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the Texas Trial Lawyers Associationhow’s that for diverse? – Chair Geren said meals, showers, and more have been provided for the officers. “It’s a total community effort, members and lobby and everybody, taking care of a very precious building,” Geren said.

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By Scott Braddock

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June 2, 2020      1:27 PM

Gov. Abbott says Texas will not request US military assistance in dealing with protests

That's after President Trump yesterday said he would send the military into states that he decides aren't sufficiently securing cities

The message out of Gov. Greg Abbott’s news conference today in DFW was that out-of-state protestors – those he says intend to vandalize and loot – are not welcome in Texas and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Abbott, at the beginning of his message, emphasized that native Houstonian George Floyd’s recent death was a horrific act of police brutality. While he suggested “our work will not end” to correct the wrong, Abbott was broad in what the legislature may nor may not consider next session.

Mayor Eric Johnson of Dallas, who is black, said no one who goes into public service thinking the city they represent is perfect. The Dallas community is expressing legitimate concerns – and fear – that must be addressed, he said.

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June 2, 2020      11:08 AM

Biggest drop in a decade: Sales taxes in May were down 13.2% compared to one year ago, Comptroller Hegar says

Hegar said “The steepest decline was in collections from oil and gas mining, as energy companies cut well drilling and completion spending following the crash in oil prices."

Posting some of the worst numbers since the 1980s, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Monday announced that the state saw the biggest year over year drop in sales taxes in a decade. Overall, sales taxes were down 13.2 percent in May compared to the previous May – the largest drop since January of 2010.

Just to give you an idea: Oil production taxes saw the worst drop since 1988, hotels saw the worst drop since 1982, and alcohol taxes went down the most they have since 1980.

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June 2, 2020      11:03 AM

Video: Rep. Eddie Rodriguez up on TV in SD14 special election

Ad called "this is our family" highlights key votes and initiatives during Rep. Rodriguez's career in the Texas House

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June 1, 2020      4:59 PM

Quorum Radio Report: Protests, violence, and another statewide disaster declaration

QR Editor Scott Braddock and KFYO Radio Host Chad Hasty break down the news of the weekend including the protests for George Floyd and more

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June 1, 2020      3:06 PM

An experiment in firing up the base, Texas Democrats kick off first-ever online state convention

As Democrats watch their leaders this week online to try to stay safe from COVID-19, Texas Republicans forge ahead with plans to gather in person in Houston next month

Acknowledging it is an event unlike anything done before while arguing it’s necessary to keep people safe during a global pandemic, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa on Monday started the first-ever online convention of the state’s minority party. That’s even as the Republican Party of Texas forges ahead with plans to hold its biennial convention in-person next month in Houston.

“Our convention is so much more than a rally every two years. It is so much more than intraparty politics,” Hinojosa said. Instead, he said it is a chance for Democrats to get together as a family to map out a vision for the future.

“This election is about justice, equality and hope,” Chairman Hinojosa said in his opening remarks streamed on the party’s website.

“To those Texans who have lost hope, we see you and we’re never going to stop fighting for you,” Hinojosa said, pointing to those who face new struggles because of record unemployment in the midst of a recession, a pandemic, and now riots in cities from coast to coast.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 29, 2020      3:24 PM

People on the Move

Staffer moves, lobby gigs, promotions, honors, and more

What do you even say?

There have been some tough conversations over the last 48 hours. And questions: “Is this what it was like when they rioted in LA?” “Are they going to get away with this?” “Minneapolis was a tinderbox waiting to explode, wasn’t it?” Will this ever stop?” What happens next?”

George Floyd was a Texan. He was described as a “gentle giant” by friends in Houston. He’s now the focal point of the strife playing out on our televisions and in our communities. Pundits are paid to talk but maybe it is a good time for white folks to do more listening than speaking.

I was reminded of my former reporter Emily Deprang’s incredible coverage from several years ago called “The Horror Every Day: Police Brutality In Houston Goes Unpunished,” which was written for the Texas Observer. If you didn’t read it at the time, you might want to check it out this weekend.

Emily moved on from the Observer and then on from Quorum Report after breaking the story of severe cuts in services to disabled children. Doesn’t seem like that long ago and it moved the needle, like so many of you do in your various positions. It’s the people we meet along the way that make all the difference around here. Many of you are moving from one thing to the next. Starting a new challenge can always be nerve-wracking even when there isn’t so much upheaval in the world. So, thanks for always sharing what’s happening with the Texas Capitol community no matter what. It brings us closer together even at a time when we’re still mostly apart.

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

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By Scott Braddock

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May 29, 2020      12:55 PM

Chair Dutton and the Texas Legislative Black Caucus on the death of George Floyd: NOTHING HAS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER

"As the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King stated so eloquently: “We can’t overcome darkness with darkness. Only light will do that.” However, the reality for Black people in this country is that no matter how much light has been illuminated upon the disdainful, hateful and too often murderous conduct of too many police officers - NOTHING HAS CHANGED - FOR THE BETTER."

Here is the full statement from the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

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May 29, 2020      10:41 AM

Dr. Hotze, Reps. Zedler, Biedermann, and others ask Texas Supreme Court to overturn gubernatorial emergency powers during pandemic

Here’s the filing. Hat tip to Chuck Lindell at the Statesman.

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May 28, 2020      5:09 PM

Telework expected to be key component in agency reopening plans

Given that agencies are being asked to slash budgets, telework might seem attractive and current lease space plans could be upended

Reopening state agency offices in Texas is likely to roll out slowly in the coming weeks and continue to include a major telework component, although nothing formal was outlined during discussions at this past week’s Texas Facilities Commission meeting.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s series of Open Texas executive orders – specifically, his order of May 18 – would have allowed state offices to open at 25 percent capacity as long as they maintain policies for social distancing and handwashing as well as guidance for elevators and sanitizing within the office buildings.

An informal survey of state agencies – and the perusal of some parking lots – would indicate almost no one has taken Abbott up on his order.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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May 28, 2020      5:07 PM

Former Texas Capitol staffer accused in shooting spree deemed competent to stand trial in Travis County

The flash from the Statesman this afternoon:

A former Texas Capitol staffer accused of killing of his neighbor and going on a 2018 shooting rampage in South Austin has been found to be competent to stand trial, according to the Travis County district attorney’s office.

The competency finding will allow litigation to resume on Charles Curry’s charges. He was found incompetent to stand trial in September. Although a judge ordered Curry be sent to a state psychiatric hospital in Vernon, a spot never became available, and he was treated at the Travis County Correctional Complex. Prosecutors and Curry’s attorney are scheduled Tuesday to discuss the competency report.

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May 28, 2020      3:58 PM

Siding with Gov. Abbott in fight over freezing property values, Texas REALTORS launch new education initiative

Abbott and Patrick now argue the exemption for the 3.5 percent caps on cities and counties was only intended for hurricanes; the language creating the exemption doesn’t say that

As another round of debate heats up on what to do about potentially rising property tax bills – even after leadership boasted of “winning the super bowl” on the issue last session – the powerful Texas REALTORS┬« on Thursday backed Gov. Greg Abbott on the argument that freezing property values at 2019 levels "will not guarantee lower property tax bills."

Some county judges, Republicans and Democrats alike, have asked Abbott to use his disaster powers to offer tax relief through rolling back values to 2019 levels. But the pushback from Austin has been swift.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 28, 2020      3:25 PM

Lt. Gov. Patrick apparently unhappy with $295 million contact tracing contract Gov. Abbott has been defending

We're told that during a tele-townhall with grassroots activists, Patrick said he and senators were not consulted, added that contracts should not be awarded that way

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday told grassroots conservative activists that he is not pleased with the way a contact tracing contract was awarded and said it should not be handled in the way it was, according to folks who were on his afternoon tele-townhall. We were not on the call, respecting the fact that it was intended for Republican voters and activists

Apparently, Patrick did not go as far as Rep. James White, R-Hillister, who told the Houston Chronicle that Gov. Greg Abbott should call a special session so that there can be legislative oversight. However, Patrick is said to have told activists that if something like this had been contemplated during a legislative session it could have been reviewed by lawmakers which would be appropriate.

Developing…

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May 28, 2020      10:30 AM

Democratic group led by former AG Holder endorses nearly 30 Texas House candidates, will invest more than $100,000

In response to announced efforts by Republicans to take back seats won by freshman Democrats, Chair Israel said “I’m glad they’re paying attention.”

One day after national Republicans led in part by Karl Rove and former Speaker Joe Straus announced their intention to win 6 back of the Texas House seats won by freshman Democrats in 2018, the national Democratic group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder announced some details about their efforts to help win back the majority in the chamber this fall.

Holder’s group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, endorsed 67 candidates running for office in the Texas House and the North Carolina Legislature.

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By Scott Braddock

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May 27, 2020      7:13 PM

Updated: National GOP group unveils plan to take back at least 6 Texas House seats won by Democrats last cycle

Joe Straus, Karl Rove part of the effort to also defend GOP Supreme Court Justices; Democrats say Republicans will really be on defense all through 2020 in Texas

Editor’s note: This story is updated to include comment from the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee – SB

The Republican State Leadership Committee, where former Speaker Joe Straus was recently added to the board, on Wednesday unveiled what the group called in a press release an “offensive” strategy to try to win back six Texas House seats held by Democrats now but won by President Donald Trump in 2016. The announcement also put an emphasis on defending GOP members of the Texas Supreme Court, four of whom are on the ballot this fall.

Democrats were quick to argue that Republicans can say they’re going on offense all they want, but the 2018 election cycle proved the majority party is “going to be on the defense in 2020.”

“Texas state House seats like districts 65, 132, and 135 represent just a few targets for Republicans to win key flips and hold their legislative majorities to protect Texans from liberal gerrymandering after the next Census,” the group said.

Just so you don’t have to look them up, here are the six seats held by freshman Texas House Democrats in districts won by President Trump in ’16:

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By Scott Braddock

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May 27, 2020      7:11 PM

Commissioner Miller says TDA will cut budget by 10%, instead of 5% sought by Abbott

“This is going to be a tough year for Texas families,” Miller said, “and state government needs to tighten its belt along with everyone else. While TDA is already a lean, efficient agency that pays its own way, I’ve directed my staff to cut 10% without affecting our farmers and ranchers or our rural communities.”

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May 27, 2020      6:53 PM

Former Rep. Sam Johnson passed away

Gov. Abbott said "Sam Johnson was a fearless patriot and an American hero, and we are incredibly proud and fortunate to have called him a fellow Texan. Congressman Johnson dedicated his life to our nation and the state of Texas"

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May 27, 2020      5:34 PM

Texas Supreme Court sides with the state, says lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify as a reason to get a mail ballot

Here is the order.

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May 27, 2020      2:55 PM

Citing economic consequences, bipartisan group of Texas House members begins push for statewide nondiscrimination law

Davis of Harris, Hunter, Gonzalez of Dallas, Anchia, and others unveil protections for LGBTQ Texans

Roughly three years after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s push to regulate the use of public restrooms in Texas stalled, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced their support for legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people statewide.

Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chairman Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, County Affairs Chairman Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, and Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, joined Representatives Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, and Jessica Gonzalez, D-Dallas, in introducing the proposal.

“As a lifelong Texan, I know Texans don’t support discrimination. We need our laws to reflect our values,” said Gonzalez, who’s also vice chair of the House LGBTQ Caucus. She plans to file the bill on this.

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By James Russell

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May 27, 2020      7:06 AM

Video: Starting today, CPPP will be known as Every Texan

"At Every Texan, we believe that social justice requires public policy”

The folks at the Center for Public Policy Priorities are rebranding to better fit their mission, they tell us this morning. Starting today the group will be known as Every Texan. Check out the launch video below.

"At Every Texan, we believe that social justice requires public policy," said CEO Ann Beeson. "The pandemic is showing us starkly how public policy can determine who survives and thrives. It's time to rewrite the rules and build a more just and equitable Texas for people of all backgrounds."

Here is the full announcement about it.

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May 27, 2020      6:56 AM

Michelle Fraga and Burt Keller add their names to the GOP candidates for Harris County Clerk

As previously reporter, former County Clerk Stan Stanart is also testing the waters. Harris County Republicans are set to choose a nominee in August

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