is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly for 15 years. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.
Our bracket says Pitt will win the NCAA men's basketball championship. That doesn't mean it'll happen. And if it does happen, we won't be able to claim (honestly, anyway) that we knew it was gonna happen. We'll just have guessed right. [eds. note: After this was written, Pitt lost to Villanova, failed to make the Final Four, ruined our bracket, and painfully proved our point about predicting the future.]
Gov. Rick Perry says the state should turn down $555 million in federal stimulus money tied to unemployment insurance, because the requirements are too strict, prompting some lawmakers to say they'll push to get enough support for the program to go around him.
The "county fair" section of the legislative session — the part at the beginning that's taken up with glad-handing and rattlesnake roundup demonstrations and mariachis and pre-schoolers and city and county and association "days" at the Capitol — is coming to a close.
You're really out in the weeds when you find yourself listening to arguments about reform provisions for unemployment insurance, but that's the first of what might be a series of firefights over the federal stimulus money available to the state.
The new speaker's first bit of danger is out of the way, with House members on their way home for a long weekend to mull their committee assignments and to consider the difference between what they hoped for and what they got.
The conversation in the halls is mostly about House committee assignments and who'll get what. The underlying political tension is between Democrats who think Speaker Joe Straus should reward them for making up 80 percent of the vote that put him in the corner office, and Republicans who think he needs to consolidate power within his own party in the closely divided chamber to have any chance of hanging on to the controls.
The House has its rules in place after a long day of warbling and negotiating, and the one that sticks out is the rule that lets the House depose a speaker with only 76 votes — a simple majority. The speaker no longer has the power to ignore privileged motions, including motions to "vacate the chair." And an effort to raise the bar — to require 90 votes, or 100, to unseat a speaker fell short. It's 76: If it were a rear-view mirror on the Speaker's dais, it'd have words on it: "Warning! Hostile representatives in mirror are closer than they appear."
The House elected a new speaker. The Senate started with a partisan dogfight. The comptroller filed a gloomy forecast on the state's revenue for the next two years. The Republican candidates for governor — that's an election more than a year away — revealed multi-million-dollar bank balances. Once all that had rolled out, lawmakers left for a week. The House will return next week for a day, then do rules the week after that. And the Senate is gone until January 26. Soon enough, it'll seem like they never left.
Add two more official candidates for Speaker of the House, calls for the head of House Parliamentarian and former Rep. Terry Keel, a constitutional amendment that would allow future coups in the House, and a "Solve for X" strategy and you'll be up to date on the contest for control of the Legislature's lower chamber.