End-of-session dinners are commonplace for legislative committees at the end of the session, and they can be lavish affairs. One this week, feting members of the powerful House Calendars Committee, cost more than $22,000 and included 85 bottles of wine for about 140 people.Full Story
With a conflict disclosure system rife with holes, virtually toothless ethics laws often left to the interpretation of the lawmakers they are supposed to regulate, and a Legislature historically unwilling to make itself more transparent, Texans know exceedingly little about who or what influences the people elected to represent them. And they have no way to differentiate between lawmakers motivated ...
From protecting endangered lizards to changing industry standards on fracking, energy and environmental groups have many competing interests in Texas. Use this interactive to track campaign contributions by some of the most influential such groups and donors.Full Story
UPDATED: Facing a laundry list of record votes, lawmakers tacked on several amendments to an Ethics Commission reform bill on Monday that would strengthen the disclosure rules that govern them and their contributors.
The constitutional provision of a part-time Legislature whose members have full-time jobs back home blurs the line between public responsibilities and personal ambition — as the story of a certain powerful state senator illustrates.Full Story
It's easier, it seems, for lawmakers to regulate others than to regulate themselves. Ethics and transparency legislation has had a bumpy ride in the current legislative session.Full Story
State lawmakers' personal financial statements for the 2012 calendar year were due April 30, but several lawmakers filed for extensions. As for the 115 lawmakers who did file, the Tribune has you covered. Use our Ethics Explorer to see what lawmakers disclosed in their most recent filings.Full Story
In this session's ethics battles, watchdogs say there’s more contradiction than conviction.Full Story
Lawmakers are talking seriously about a 21.5 percent pay raise for state district judges, which would increase the pensions of those same lawmakers by that same amount.Full Story
M. Smith on a shock awaiting the state’s fifth- and eighth-graders, E. Smith’s interview with two of Washington’s Gang of Eight, Dehn and Rocha on legislative inquiries into the explosion and fire in West, Ramshaw on state leaders’ apparent disinterest in transparency, KUT’s Philpott explains points of order, Murphy and Ramshaw on the current status of ethics bills, Hamilton finds that not all college degrees are equal, Galbraith on the budget and the shale boom, Batheja on the Legislature’s do-over votes, Aguilar on a Texas application for more border drones: The best of our best for the week of April 29-May 3, 2012.
With just four weeks remaining in the legislative session, there has been little to no pressure from the top — including key committee chairs — to pass measures that would force greater transparency upon Texas’ elected officials.
State lawmakers have talked a big game this year on transparency and ethics, but with less than a month to go in the 83rd legislative session, the bills they’ve filed haven’t made much progress. Use our interactive to see where they stand.Full Story
Giving up 20 weeks of every other year to serve in the Texas Legislature is a lot easier if you don't have to worry about the paycheck you're missing at home. It is easier, in other words, if you're rich.Full Story
The oil industry vigorously opposed efforts to list the threatened dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species. But three oil company lobbyists were given day-to-day oversight of the effort to save the reptile.Full Story
Politically active nonprofits, which are playing an increasingly important role in state elections, would no longer be able to hide the identity of their major donors under a bill making its way through the Texas Legislature.
Lawmakers started the legislative session talking about changes they would like to make in the state's ethics laws. Now — and it is not the first time — they're sending some of the most delicate items back for more study.Full Story
Lawmakers spend thousands of dollars from their campaign accounts to supplement the salaries of their staffs. It’s a legal and long-standing practice, but some ethics experts say it presents the potential for conflict.Full Story
Ahead of the 83rd legislative session, the state’s 10 leading health care associations gave more than $4.6 million to Texas candidates. This interactive shows how much — and to whom — health care associations donated in 2011 and 2012.Full Story
Lawmakers, like professional athletes, want to play fair and also want to win. That's why it's hard to get them to write their own rules.
Many lawmakers are quick to name the sacrifices they make to serve. But life in the Lege is not half bad. The perks associated with the job — from exotic trips to luxury gifts — can dramatically augment their lifestyles.Full Story
Friendliness toward the drilling industry is typical in Texas, where many lawmakers receive campaign contributions from oil and gas groups or have investments in drilling companies.Full Story