GOVERNMENT: Legislature

District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin is shown in his courtroom on Feb. 4, 2013, before he ruled that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.
District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin is shown in his courtroom on Feb. 4, 2013, before he ruled that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.

Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional

Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state's school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor. 

Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.
Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.

Critics Say Bond Elections Lack True Transparency

Texas voters approve billions of dollars in new local debt each year. A growing group of critics argues that voters wouldn't be so agreeable if they were more clearly informed of the debt that's already owed in their name.

Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.

Education Commissioner: "The System Needs to Catch Up"

UPDATED: Asked why the state had delayed a transition away from lower passing standards on state exams, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams told state lawmakers Tuesday that classroom instruction had failed to meet the rigor demanded by the new tests. 

Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, speaks during a campaign swing in Austin on June 4.
Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, speaks during a campaign swing in Austin on June 4.

Van de Putte Calls for Expanded Medicaid Coverage

Hoping to overcome Republican opposition to expanding Medicaid, Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said Friday she would seek a Texas-specific plan to cover poor, uninsured adults if elected lieutenant governor in November.

Critics Say Bond Elections Lack True Transparency

Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.
Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.

Texas voters approve billions of dollars in new local debt each year. A growing group of critics argues that voters wouldn't be so agreeable if they were more clearly informed of the debt that's already owed in their name.

Education Commissioner: "The System Needs to Catch Up"

Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.

UPDATED: Asked why the state had delayed a transition away from lower passing standards on state exams, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams told state lawmakers Tuesday that classroom instruction had failed to meet the rigor demanded by the new tests. 

Van de Putte Calls for Expanded Medicaid Coverage

Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, speaks during a campaign swing in Austin on June 4.
Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, speaks during a campaign swing in Austin on June 4.

Hoping to overcome Republican opposition to expanding Medicaid, Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said Friday she would seek a Texas-specific plan to cover poor, uninsured adults if elected lieutenant governor in November.

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Interactive: Bill Tracker for the 83rd Session

Lt. Gov. Race Could Be Good for Business

State Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, speaks at the Texas Business Roundtable candidate forum on Jan. 14th, 2014, and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic nominee, addresses delegates at the 2014 Texas Democratic Convention on June 27, 2014.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, speaks at the Texas Business Roundtable candidate forum on Jan. 14th, 2014, and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic nominee, addresses delegates at the 2014 Texas Democratic Convention on June 27, 2014.

State Sens. Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte have taken to promoting their business credentials while campaigning to become the state's lieutenant governor in a race that influential groups say should be good for business.

Opening Statements Made in Trial Over Abortion Regulation

A hallway at the Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin. The organization announced the clinic was shutting down Thursday, July 31.
A hallway at the Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin. The organization announced the clinic was shutting down Thursday, July 31.

UPDATED: Attorneys made their opening arguments Monday in a U.S. district court trial over a provision that requires abortion facilities to meet the same regulations as ambulatory surgical centers. 

Villalba Urges GOP to Woo Hispanics

Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, takes questions from reporters after filing the Protection of Texas Children Act on Feb. 6, 2013.
Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, takes questions from reporters after filing the Protection of Texas Children Act on Feb. 6, 2013.

State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, urged the GOP to focus on appealing to Hispanic voters, emphasizing that the “ultimate survivability of the Republican Party” is at stake, in an Austin speech Thursday.

Senators Debate Funding, Merits of National Guard Deployment

Sen. Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound, is shown listening to testimony during a Health and Human Services committee hearing on Feb. 19, 2013. Nelson was named chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee in July 2014.
Sen. Jane Nelson R-Flower Mound, is shown listening to testimony during a Health and Human Services committee hearing on Feb. 19, 2013. Nelson was named chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee in July 2014.

At a state Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday, senators debated the merits and tactical strategies of Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to send Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Analysis: Timing of Mayoral Speculation Not on Van de Putte's Side

Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte speaks at the Democratic state convention in Dallas, Texas on June 27, 2014.
Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte speaks at the Democratic state convention in Dallas, Texas on June 27, 2014.

Last week, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, shot down speculation she was considering a run for San Antonio mayor. The rumors could hurt her prospects on multiple fronts. 

Van de Putte Calls for Reducing High-Stakes Testing

State Sen. and Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte at the Democratic state convention on June 27, 2014.
State Sen. and Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte at the Democratic state convention on June 27, 2014.

Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, calls for reducing high-stakes testing in a new plan for Texas schools. The campaign of her Republican opponent, Dan Patrick, said the plan would do nothing to help turn around underperforming schools.