GOVERNMENT: Legislature

Analysis: On child protection, the money might be the hardest part

Women "walk the track" on a stretch of Bissonnet Street in Houston. Pimps gather nearby in fast food and strip mall parking lots as potential johns circle and standard traffic passes through.
Women "walk the track" on a stretch of Bissonnet Street in Houston. Pimps gather nearby in fast food and strip mall parking lots as potential johns circle and standard traffic passes through.

The safety net for Texas children has some big holes in it, and most lawmakers want that fixed. But it's going to cost money — a harder sell in a conservative Texas Legislature.

Texas attorney general on funding for sex-trafficking victims: "We'll take what we can get"

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called sex trafficking "one of the most heinous crimes facing our society" at a recent press conference. Estimates suggest there are 79,000 child victims of sex trafficking in Texas.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called sex trafficking "one of the most heinous crimes facing our society" at a recent press conference. Estimates suggest there are 79,000 child victims of sex trafficking in Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said more should be done to help sex-trafficking victims and protect vulnerable children in Texas — but that it's not up to him to fund those efforts.  

Texas' rural roots and urban future are on a high-speed collision course

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John Stoneham walks in a field with his cows at his ranch on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in Grimes County. The roughly 1,000-acre ranch is in the proposed path of a high speed rail line. If the rail is built, Stoneham could lose about 50 acres of land in the middle of his property, limiting his access to grazing pastures.
John Stoneham walks in a field with his cows at his ranch on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in Grimes County. The roughly 1,000-acre ranch is in the proposed path of a high speed rail line. If the rail is built, Stoneham could lose about 50 acres of land in the middle of his property, limiting his access to grazing pastures.

A private firm's proposed Houston-Dallas bullet train would connect two of America's biggest metropolitan areas. But the 240-mile line would require a lot of country land that many Texans don't want to give up. 

"Come and take it": Eminent domain dispute at heart of bullet train battles

Texans Against High Speed Rail Chairman Ben Leman, who is also Grimes County judge, stands for a portrait in the Grimes County Courthouse in Anderson on Feb. 21, 2017.
Texans Against High Speed Rail Chairman Ben Leman, who is also Grimes County judge, stands for a portrait in the Grimes County Courthouse in Anderson on Feb. 21, 2017.

In both courthouses and at the Capitol, opponents of a private company’s plans to build a Dallas-Houston bullet train have zeroed on in the firm's claim that it has the authority to take land by condemnation if necessary.

Senate panel takes step toward repealing college financial aid law

Senate Higher Education Committee chair Kel Seliger listens to a witness during a hearing April 26, 2016 on higher education tuition rates at the Texas Capitol.
Senate Higher Education Committee chair Kel Seliger listens to a witness during a hearing April 26, 2016 on higher education tuition rates at the Texas Capitol.

The Texas Senate Education Committee took an early step in the Senate's efforts to eliminate a rule that forces universities to set aside a portion of tuition revenue to fund scholarships for the needy. 

Analysis: Sex trafficking series shows Texas vexed by long-term challenges

People who care for sex-trafficking victims have a common refrain: It's not if they'll run away, but when.
People who care for sex-trafficking victims have a common refrain: It's not if they'll run away, but when.

State officials have done a lot of work to stop sex trafficking in Texas, but the results revealed by the Tribune's Sold Out series are demoralizing. The state's own safety net is part of the pipeline for victims of trafficking.

Here’s how the “bathroom bills” in North Carolina and Texas measure up

An accessible unisex bathroom at The University of Texas at Austin.
An accessible unisex bathroom at The University of Texas at Austin.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst maintain the so-called "bathroom bill" is significantly different from a similar law passed in North Carolina. But how exactly does the original wording of Senate Bill 6 stack up against North Carolina’s House Bill 2? 

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