Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita, Falls, center, and Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, speak to Karina Davis the Senate Parliamentarian on March 16th, 2015
Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita, Falls, center, and Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, speak to Karina Davis the Senate Parliamentarian on March 16th, 2015

After Another Gun Fight, Open Carry Passes Senate

Legislation moving Texas closer to allowing open carry of handguns finally cleared the state Senate late Friday evening after the chamber was thrown into hours of tense debate over a controversial amendment limiting the power of police to stop people visibly carrying guns. 

 
State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, co-chair of the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, is shown calling an executive session on May, 12, 2014.
State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, co-chair of the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, is shown calling an executive session on May, 12, 2014.

Senate Approves State Employee Pension Funding Plan

The Texas Senate on Friday voted to beef up the state’s underfunded retirement system for state employees by adding about $440 million to the program, a plan that has received mixed reviews from state employee advocacy groups.

A gas well last fracked in March sits less than 400 feet from a home in Denton, which just became Texas' first city to ban fracking.
A gas well last fracked in March sits less than 400 feet from a home in Denton, which just became Texas' first city to ban fracking.

With HB 40 Signed, Denton Fracking Resumes

The first Texas town to ban hydraulic fracturing is poised to be fracked again. Vantage Energy plans to resume fracking operations at eight gas wells in Denton on June 1, the Colorado-based operator has told city officials.

 

Senate Approves State Employee Pension Funding Plan

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, co-chair of the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, is shown calling an executive session on May, 12, 2014.
State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, co-chair of the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, is shown calling an executive session on May, 12, 2014.

The Texas Senate on Friday voted to beef up the state’s underfunded retirement system for state employees by adding about $440 million to the program, a plan that has received mixed reviews from state employee advocacy groups.

With HB 40 Signed, Denton Fracking Resumes

A gas well last fracked in March sits less than 400 feet from a home in Denton, which just became Texas' first city to ban fracking.
A gas well last fracked in March sits less than 400 feet from a home in Denton, which just became Texas' first city to ban fracking.

The first Texas town to ban hydraulic fracturing is poised to be fracked again. Vantage Energy plans to resume fracking operations at eight gas wells in Denton on June 1, the Colorado-based operator has told city officials.

 

 

Bill That Increases Unemployment Taxes Moves Ahead

State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who replaced Sen. Tommy Williams at TTEvents Dec. 11, 2014
State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who replaced Sen. Tommy Williams at TTEvents Dec. 11, 2014

Legislation pushed by a politically connected company would increase unemployment taxes for Texas employers. Proponents say it would help outsourcing companies avoid "double taxation." Critics say it's a special interest perk. 

Union Dues Spark an End-of-Session Dispute

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, answers an audience question during TTEvents on April 30, 2015.
Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, answers an audience question during TTEvents on April 30, 2015.

An unexpected end-of-session skirmish over payroll deductions for union dues pits Republicans against Democrats, business against labor, and presents lawmakers with one of those votes that might be important in next year's elections.

Abbott: Texas Will Work to Comply With Anti-Prison Rape Law

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he has problems with a proposed state budget that includes significant business franchise taxes during a Tax Day press conference on April 15, 2015.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he has problems with a proposed state budget that includes significant business franchise taxes during a Tax Day press conference on April 15, 2015.

In a shift away from his predecessor Rick Perry, Gov. Greg Abbott has informed the U.S. justice department that Texas plans to comply as much as possible with a federal law that aims to prevent prison rape. 

 

Senate Unanimously Backs "Right to Try" Legislation

Capitol lobbyist Andrea Sloan waged a public battle with ovarian cancer, seeking federal permission to try an experimental treatment in 2013. She died Jan. 1, 2014.
Capitol lobbyist Andrea Sloan waged a public battle with ovarian cancer, seeking federal permission to try an experimental treatment in 2013. She died Jan. 1, 2014.

The Senate gave a unanimous vote of support on Friday to a measure that would allow terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs that have received preliminary approval by the FDA.

Ethics Bill Hits Dark Money, Secret Recording

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, on the House floor on May 7, 2015.
State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, on the House floor on May 7, 2015.

An ethics overhaul package, dramatically reworked, now takes aim at people who secretly record lawmakers inside the Texas Capitol. It also would require certain politically active nonprofits to disclose large donations.

In Iowa, Voters Size Up Perry's Shot at Redemption

Former Gov. Rick Perry greets Iowans Monday in Sioux Center. The stop at a Pizza Ranch came during a five-day swing through the Hawkeye State for Perry.
Former Gov. Rick Perry greets Iowans Monday in Sioux Center. The stop at a Pizza Ranch came during a five-day swing through the Hawkeye State for Perry.

Iowans got one last chance this week to size up former Gov. Rick Perry's shot at redemption before a likely June 4 presidential announcement. In nearly a dozen events across the state, Perry gave them plenty of reasons not to count him out.

Contracting Experiment Drawing Mixed Reviews

Design-build contracts allow the engineering and construction of a project to be done by a single company.
Design-build contracts allow the engineering and construction of a project to be done by a single company.

After four years of trying out a new way of awarding state contracts known as design-build, lawmakers aren't sure taxpayers get a better deal, and Texas businesses say they're being muscled out of jobs by larger, out-of-state companies. 

House, Senate Negotiators Reach Deal on Budget

Sens. Lois Kolkhorst, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Jane Nelson, Charles Schwertner, Joan Huffman and Reps. Larry Gonzales, Sarah Davis, Sylvester Turner, John Otto and Trent Ashby make up the 2015 budget conference committee.
Sens. Lois Kolkhorst, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Jane Nelson, Charles Schwertner, Joan Huffman and Reps. Larry Gonzales, Sarah Davis, Sylvester Turner, John Otto and Trent Ashby make up the 2015 budget conference committee.

Top House and Senate negotiators sealed up the final unresolved issues on a two-year budget deal on Thursday evening, including removing controversial language that would have killed a proposed Dallas-Houston bullet train.