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January 18, 2022      5:32 PM

Todd Smith, top consultant to Sid Miller, indicted in Travis County

Indicted on charges of theft and bribery in hemp license "shakedown"

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January 18, 2022      10:36 AM

Beto raised $7.2 million in six weeks, Abbott raised $18.9 million in 6 months

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January 17, 2022      5:20 PM

PUC shifts strategy on electric reliability infractions

“Let this serve as a notice to all our stakeholders that, going forward, we’re not going to renegotiate past settlements,” Chairman Lake said. “Going forward, we’re going to look ahead.”

The Public Utility Commission has agreed to take more focused direction to address violations of electric service reliability, folding ongoing violation settlements into annual reporting.

The straightforward policy decision – made at the commission’s last meeting – was buried in the middle of the electric docket.

Both Entergy Texas and CenterPoint Energy had lingering settlements for specific past violations without a clear timeline for corrective actions.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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January 17, 2022      5:13 PM

Texas REALTORS release initial slate for 2022 primary

It can be downloaded here.

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January 17, 2022      12:26 PM

Candidate Don Huffines confirms $12M raised as QR reported two weeks ago after Braddock radio interview

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January 14, 2022      7:00 PM

People on the Move

Lobby moves, significant staffing changes, and more top the roundup this week

Texas primaries are in full swing, but is there enthusiasm down ballot?

Seems like the lobby is mostly holding fire in all these wide open seats where many of the races have no shape just yet because there are so many candidates. Most of those will have to go to runoffs before folks in Ausitn really take sides. But toward the top of the ticket, Gov. Greg Abbott and his GOP opponents are crisscrossing the state while Democrat Beto O’Rourke is largely moving his campaigning online for the moment as Omicron rages. And you gotta love that Sid Miller and James White are practically already shouting at each other in public as they face off for the GOP nomination for Ag Commissioner.

Giddyup, y’all.

Meantime, you People are Movin’. “The only thing that stays the same is everything changes,” goes the line in the old country song written by Bobby Braddock. No relation. Lobby moves, significant staffing changes, and more top the roundup this week. If you have career news the Texas Capitol community needs to know about – whether it’s your news or gossip – let me know: ksbraddock@gmail.com is the address and POTM should be in the subject line so I don’t lose track. Thank you.

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

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By Scott Braddock

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January 14, 2022      6:38 PM

Source: Rep. Eddie Lucio III notified Gov. Abbott today of resignation effective at the end of the month

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January 14, 2022      2:00 PM

Numerous GOP officeholders join Paxton in asking Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider ruling that he cannot unilaterally prosecute elections law cases

The filing is here.

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January 13, 2022      5:15 PM

Beto and mayors slam Abbott for military operations on the border, Abbott says they are playing politics

“He is not creating order. He is creating more chaos on the border," O'Rourke says; Abbott counters “It is offensive for any of these people raising the issues to politicize the issue of a military member losing their life"

Challenger Beto O’Rourke and Texas mayors criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star on the same day its legitimacy is challenged in a Travis County courtroom.

Abbott chose the Rio Grande Valley as the location to announce his re-election bid, touting his funding for local roads and higher education, as well as Texas exceptionalism. On his website, he highlights his commitment to build a border wall and sending National Guard troops to reinforce border agents in a measure known as the Operation Lone Star.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez, on a conference call with reporters arranged by O’Rourke’s campaign along with Austin Mayor Steve Adler, said Operation Lone Star was unnecessary.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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January 13, 2022      5:07 PM

Harry Bradley, former Superintendent of the Texas State Cemetery, passed away

Arrangements are pending at Weed-Corley-Fish; services are expected next week

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January 13, 2022      3:03 PM

Supreme Court blocks nationwide vaccine and testing mandate for large businesses, allows health care worker vaccine mandate to take effect

From CNN:

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden's vaccine or testing requirement aimed at large businesses, but it allowed a vaccine mandate for certain health care workers to go into effect nationwide.

In freezing a lower court opinion that allowed the regulation to go into effect nationwide, the majority sent a clear message the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with protecting workplace safety, overstepped its authority in issuing such a sweeping emergency directive that would impact millions of workers. In contrast, the justices said that a separate agency could issue a rule to protect the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

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January 13, 2022      10:00 AM

In GOP primary to lead Texas Department of Agriculture, sparks fly as Chairman White presses Commissioner Miller on ethics

Miller touts Trump endorsement while slamming the Legislature on new elections law and the grid; White says Miller had a “sorry” record as a legislator and points to allegations of "bribes" accepted by Miller’s campaign team

A heated confrontation between Chairman James White, R-Hillister, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was perhaps a long time coming when things finally boiled over in their Republican primary in recent days. “Sid Miller LIED & denied that his campaign consultant has an upcoming court date in relation to the allegations that he has been taking bribes for hemp licenses,” White tweeted after the two clashed during a candidate forum inside a church late last week in Gainesville.

Chair White, retiring from the Legislature and running to lead the Texas Department of Agriculture, has unleashed a torrent of attacks on Miller, the incumbent whose top campaign consultant Todd Smith was arrested last year in connection with an alleged scheme to shake down farmers seeking hemp licenses that are, by law, not to exceed $100.

During a radio interview, Miller said there’s “nothing to see here” and maintained that Smith has not been charged with any crime.

“Your campaign consultant has not been arrested?” White asked during the candidate forum, frustrated with what he said is simply a lie from Miller.

“He has not been charged or indicted,” Miller answered matter-of-factly.

“And he has no court date?” White pressed.

“No!” Miller exclaimed, almost shouting. Then, White pounced.

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By Scott Braddock

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January 12, 2022      4:11 PM

Stekler: Dee Simpson and Wayne Slater in memory and in film

In this guest column, filmmaker Paul Stekler remembers the life and times of two players in Texas politics who made a difference

In the last few weeks, we’ve lost two friends who were cherished members in Austin’s political circles, Wayne Slater and Dee Simpson. Many of us were lucky to know them. I also got to film them in their prime, younger and full of life.

In a town of politicos, pundits, writers and reporters, Wayne Slater was a consummate professional. Longtime Dallas Morning News senior political reporter and Austin bureau chief, he was the co-author of two best-selling books about Karl Rove, the sharpest dresser in the press corps and the sharpest questioner of those in Texas government. He and I taught an LBJ School campaign politics class for a few years with Mark McKinnon and Matthew Dowd.

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By Paul Stekler

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January 11, 2022      5:44 PM

Texas Central and landowners again clash at the Supreme Court of Texas over eminent domain authority

The Texas Supreme Court made the exceedingly rare choice of re-hearing a case it declined to re-hear last summer: Deciding whether Texas Central fits the definition of a railroad and, thus, is vested with eminent domain authority for its high speed Houston-Dallas route.

This case – landowner James Fredrick Miles v Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure – is, at its simplest, a case of the chicken or the egg.

Attorneys for Miles, a Texas Farm Bureau member in Leon County, argues Texas Central does not fit the state’s definition of a railroad line or interurban electric railway simply by its choice to spend a little money to incorporate.

Attorney Jeffrey Levinger, arguing on behalf of Miles, told the Court the state has never granted eminent domain to a high-speed rail company. And Texas Central – even with amendments to the state’s transportation code – does not meet the letter of the current law.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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January 11, 2022      4:40 PM

Texas Capitol community rallies around Atlas Kravitz after devastating fire

More than $20,000 raised in two days for tireless advocate for Texas teachers

Many of you have purchased her art. Some of you have jousted with her on social media. Virtually all of you know her as a tireless advocate for Teachers in Texas.

Laura Atlas Kravitz, who lobbies for the Texas State Teachers Association and is a former staffer to Sen. Nathan Johnson, barely survived an apartment fire this past weekend that took the life of her longtime companion, Duke, her dog of about a decade.

To say it is devastating is an understatement. She lost virtually everything.

One of her friends set up an online fundraiser this weekend and it was promoted on Twitter on the #Txlege hashtag – a hashtag that so often divides us rather than brings us together. In this case, so many of you stepped up to help that the fund grew quickly to help her rebuild after this terrible accident. The fundraiser is still online here, in case you were not already aware of it and want to help as well.

Thanks so much to everyone – SB.

By Scott Braddock

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January 11, 2022      3:45 PM

Sen. Huffman appointed Chair of Finance

“We have several Senators who are able and capable of taking on this position. Any of them would do a great job. After much thought and consideration, I have decided to name Sen. Joan Huffman to the position," Lt. Gov. Patrick said

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