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New Rules Will Make It Easier to Track Cable Ad Buys

Also, Texas has run out of options, must pay opponents' legal bills in a long-running battle over state redistricting maps.

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The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday took a step toward making it easier to track how political advertising dollars are spent.

The federal agency adopted rules expanding to cable, radio and satellite operators a requirement to post online information on political advertising buys. With the prevalence of outside groups spending dollars independent of campaigns, these disclosures have become an important transparency tool for those tracking who is behind certain campaign ads.

Broadcast television stations were required to keep those records under a rule adopted in 2014, and those records are posted at

Small cable systems with fewer than 1,000 subscribers will be exempt from the requirement. In addition, cable systems with between 1,000 and 5,000 subscribers will have two years to comply with the rule.


Texas is stuck paying its opponents’ legal bills in a long-running battle over state redistricting maps.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up Attorney General Ken Paxton’s appeal of a lower court's decision requiring Texas to pay more than $1 million in legal fees in State of Texas v. Wendy Davis, et al. He had called that ruling unconstitutional.

The case, which dates back to 2011, is complicated, and so was the fee issue.

In 2013, a federal district court ruled that there was evidence that lawmakers intentionally discriminated when redrawing the boundaries. But the U.S. Supreme Court soon complicated the case when it struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act that had forced Texas to seek permission before making changes to election procedures.

Texas filed a motion to dismiss the lower court’s decision on its map, arguing it was moot in light of the Supreme Court ruling. The lower court agreed, but said the plaintiffs “remain free to seek attorneys fees after dismissal.”

And they did.

Instead of filing an opposition to those motions, Texas filed an “advisory” declaring it did not intend to respond unless the court requested it to do so. It argued that the Supreme Court decision alone closed the door on the question about attorneys’ fees.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit didn’t buy it.

“What little argument Texas did advance in its 'Advisory' provides an insufficient basis for overturning the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees,” that court held in August of 2015.

Paxton had wanted the Supreme Court to review that ruling.

“The district court had no authority to award attorneys’ fees under a law that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court nearly a full year prior,” Paxton said earlier this month.


Is a “sanctuary city” a government entity that doesn’t let local cops ask about immigration status? Or is it a county whose sheriff doesn’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities?

Although there is no legal definition for a sanctuary city in Texas, it’s been generally assumed by lawmakers to be a local government that doesn’t enforce immigration laws. But it’s been more narrowly defined during testimony at the state Capitol as an entity that has a policy where local peace officers can’t ask about immigration status.

That changed in November when Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez made waves for announcing her jail would honor requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold potentially deportable immigrants only on a case-by-case basis.

During a subcommittee hearing on border security last Friday, GOP lawmakers refocused on the earlier definition, leaving opponents of expanded enforcement, mainly Democrats and immigrants rights groups, bracing for another heated battle on immigration in 2017 that could expand how conservatives define the term.

“I think we are looking at two different issues now. There’s the issue of whether or not … local law enforcement is cooperating with ICE,” said state Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso. “None of the counties are failing to communicate.”

Legislation can’t be filed until later this year and won’t even be considered until 2017, unless Gov. Greg Abbott calls a special session before then, which at this point doesn't seem likely. But the tone of the discussion is already setting up a battle that leaves Texas’ GOP majority finally able pass a bill where the state is able – however limited the ability may be – to enforce immigration laws.


Here’s a quick note for those conducting correspondence with denizens of the Texas House:

Beginning on Monday, all House email addresses will end with — an update from The goal here is to simplify email addresses to make them easier to use and remember.

If you don’t update your contacts list by Monday, not to worry. Correspondence using the old domain will still be delivered even though that is no longer the primary email address.

A similar change will happen eventually for Senate email addresses.

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