GOVERNMENT: Legislature

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.

Van de Putte Calls For Higher Minimum Wage

During a Spanish-language townhall on Univision, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, advocated for raising the minimum wage in Texas. She appeared alone at the event, still pushing to expand the number of debates with her Republican opponent, state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston. Only one is scheduled.

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Interactive: Bill Tracker for the 83rd Session

Series: Bypassed by the Miracle

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.

Check out Bypassed by the Miracle, our seven-part series on the people and communities that have missed out on Texas' economic success or are finding that it comes at a price. 

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.

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.

Swelling School Districts Find a Costly Way to Grow Within State Debt Limits

Leander ISD's Whitestone Elementary School, shown on Aug. 21, 2014, has six portable classrooms to help with increased student enrollment.  District officials say If the district couldn't use capital appreciation bonds to borrow money, it would have to put more students in portables.
Leander ISD's Whitestone Elementary School, shown on Aug. 21, 2014, has six portable classrooms to help with increased student enrollment. District officials say If the district couldn't use capital appreciation bonds to borrow money, it would have to put more students in portables.

Leander and other fast-growing school districts have relied heavily on a controversial financing tool called capital appreciation bonds to borrow money to expand even as they bump up against state limits on school district debt. 

Judge: Texas School Finance System 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.
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.

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. 

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.