GOVERNMENT: Legislature

Republican candidates incumbent Byron Cook, left, and Thomas McNutt, right, run in the 2016 election for Texas House District 8.
Republican candidates incumbent Byron Cook, left, and Thomas McNutt, right, run in the 2016 election for Texas House District 8.

Bongs and Fruitcakes Infuse Central Texas Republican House Race

Fourteen years after first being elected to the Texas House, state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, faces what some consider his toughest primary battle to date. Thomas McNutt is trying to unseat the incumbent using wedge issues such as immigration and Cook's support for House Speaker Joe Straus

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Interactive: Bill Tracker for the 83rd Session

Analysis: Legislators Seeking a More Efficient Approach to Jail Policies

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, is shown during a Sept. 22, 2015, committee hearing.
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, is shown during a Sept. 22, 2015, committee hearing.

The “lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key” crowd has given way to another wave — across party lines, by the way — that’s trying to rework everything from whom police take to jail to who remains there overnight.

Ellis on Senate Ballot, But Wants Commissioner's Seat

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, on the Senate floor, May 28, 2015. Ellis will remain on the ballot for reelection in Senate District 13, while also seeking to become county commissioner Harris County's precinct 1.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, on the Senate floor, May 28, 2015. Ellis will remain on the ballot for reelection in Senate District 13, while also seeking to become county commissioner Harris County's precinct 1.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, will remain on the primary ballot for re-election in Senate District 13, despite his plan to seek the Harris County Commissioner's seat left open when Commissioner El Franco Lee died on January 3. 

Analysis: The Death of Taxes on Illegal Drugs

Sample tax stamps for controlled substances and "marihuana" available for sale until last year from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Sample tax stamps for controlled substances and "marihuana" available for sale until last year from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Until the most recent legislative session, the state had a tax on illegal drugs, adding tax evasion to the list of things that could put buyers and sellers into jail. Those drugs remain illegal, but the transactions are now tax-free.