House Speaker Joe Straus (left) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
House Speaker Joe Straus (left) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

A Look at the Priority Bills for Straus and Patrick

The House speaker and the lieutenant governor traditionally award the lowest bill numbers to measures they view as priorities. Here's an updated breakdown of House Bills 1-20 and Senate Bills 1-20, showing where House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are placing their priorities for the 84th legislative session.

 
 

Watchdogs Question Fraser's Energy Holdings

State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, on the Senate floor on April 23, 2015.
State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, on the Senate floor on April 23, 2015.

As the Texas Legislature ponders ethics reforms to increase transparency and reduce conflicts of interests among its members, a key state lawmaker is facing new questions about whether his private business affairs are impacting his public duties.

The Brief: April 27, 2015

Texas Railroad Commission lead engineering technician for districts 1 and 2, Michael Polasek, inspects a salt water disposal injection well at a Heckman Water Resources commercial disposal facility on the LAMZA lease near Highway 80, January 22, 2012.
Texas Railroad Commission lead engineering technician for districts 1 and 2, Michael Polasek, inspects a salt water disposal injection well at a Heckman Water Resources commercial disposal facility on the LAMZA lease near Highway 80, January 22, 2012.

There was more fallout late last week from the Southern Methodist University-led research study that linked wastewater injection wells to a swarm of earthquakes near Reno and Azle in late 2013 and early 2014.

Gay Marriage Cases Give Republicans the Jitters

During the Defense of Texas Marriage Amendment Rally on Mar. 23, 2015 at the Texas Capitol, a protester raises questions of marriage sanctity noting celebrities who've been married multiple times.
During the Defense of Texas Marriage Amendment Rally on Mar. 23, 2015 at the Texas Capitol, a protester raises questions of marriage sanctity noting celebrities who've been married multiple times.

With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments in four same-sex marriage cases on Tuesday, Texas Republicans are already looking for loopholes in hopes of getting around a possible decision that effectively legalizes gay marriage. 

The Brief: April 28, 2015

Ways and Means chairman Re. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, talks over amendments to HB11 the border security bill debated on Mar. 1, 2015.
Ways and Means chairman Re. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, talks over amendments to HB11 the border security bill debated on Mar. 1, 2015.

The House is set to consider its tax relief package today as the impasse between its approach emphasizing a cut to the sales tax rate and the Senate's recipe that relies on a property tax reduction shows no sign of resolution.

Wining and Dining Disclosure Bills Advance

Sen. Kirk Watson D-Austin and Sen. Joan Huffman R-Houston, discuss language to amendment for SB #11 relating to campus carry on March 18th, 2015
Sen. Kirk Watson D-Austin and Sen. Joan Huffman R-Houston, discuss language to amendment for SB #11 relating to campus carry on March 18th, 2015

Bills designed to shed more light on wining and dining of politicians by lobbyists and contractors advanced in the Texas Legislature on Monday.

Guardianship Reform Could Offer New Freedoms

Dawn Carlton is pushing for a series of bills this legislative session to change the way court-appointed guardians are used in Texas.
Dawn Carlton is pushing for a series of bills this legislative session to change the way court-appointed guardians are used in Texas.

Dawn Carlton is intellectually disabled, but she says she manages fine on her own. The 38-year-old woman is pushing for a series of bills this legislative session to change the way court-appointed guardians are used in Texas.