Budget Debate Tackles School Funding, Incentive Programs

State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, carries literature laying out House Bill 1 as he prepares to discuss the appropriations bill on the House floor March 31, 2015.
State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, carries literature laying out House Bill 1 as he prepares to discuss the appropriations bill on the House floor March 31, 2015.

With more than 350 proposed amendments before then, the Texas House is likely to go well into the evening before getting to a final vote on the $210 billion budget. Early discussions addressed school funding and incentives programs.

Contracting Overhaul Sails Through Senate

Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, confers with Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, during a March 11, 2015, committee hearing on state contracting issues.
Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, confers with Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, during a March 11, 2015, committee hearing on state contracting issues.

Amid an ongoing scandal over how the state awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a private company, the Texas Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would overhaul the state’s contracting processes.

 

Grand Jury Recommends UT Regent's Removal

UT Regent Wallace Hall on April 28, 2014. Lawmakers admonished and censured Hall, who was waging a personal investigation into lawmaker influence in the UT-Austin admissions process.
UT Regent Wallace Hall on April 28, 2014. Lawmakers admonished and censured Hall, who was waging a personal investigation into lawmaker influence in the UT-Austin admissions process.

In an unusual, strongly worded report, a Travis County grand jury recommended this week that University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall be removed from office. 

 

Barry Smitherman Lands Job at Law Firm

Chairman Barry Smitherman of the Railroad Commission of Texas in his office, May 31, 2013.
Chairman Barry Smitherman of the Railroad Commission of Texas in his office, May 31, 2013.

Barry Smitherman, the only person to serve both on the Texas Railroad Commission and the state’s Public Utility Commission, will practice energy law at Vinson and Elkins, the international law firm announced Tuesday.

Senate Passes A-F Grading System for Schools

Then-state Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, is shown on the second-to-last day of the first-called special session during the 82nd Legislature on June 27, 2011. Taylor was elected to the Texas Senate in 2012.
Then-state Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, is shown on the second-to-last day of the first-called special session during the 82nd Legislature on June 27, 2011. Taylor was elected to the Texas Senate in 2012.

Public schools in Texas would begin receiving grades on an A-through-F scale to reflect their performance under a bill that won preliminary approval in the state Senate on Monday. The grading would begin in the 2017-18 school year.

Promise, Pitfalls in Cruz’s First Week as a Candidate

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Sen. Ted Cruz campaigns in a Barrington, N.H. manufacturing plant.
Sen. Ted Cruz campaigns in a Barrington, N.H. manufacturing plant.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s New Hampshire debut, much like the rest of his first week as a candidate, demonstrated both the promise of his presidential candidacy and the potential hurdles facing his uphill campaign.

Powdered Alcohol Ban Sent to Full House

State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, talks with colleagues on the floor during discussion on school finance Friday afternoon May 27, 2011.
State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, talks with colleagues on the floor during discussion on school finance Friday afternoon May 27, 2011.

Texas has joined a growing number of states moving quickly to outlaw powdered alcohol, a new product that health officials say could make it easier for minors to conceal and consume alcohol.