Texplainer

You've got questions.
We'll get answers.

Have questions about Texas politics? You've come to the right place.

Over the years, we've learned a lot from your smart questions — like how to navigate the Senate intent calendar, why the state's criminal code still bans "homosexual conduct" and if you’re allowed to take a "ballot selfie" (spoiler alert — you're not). We've learned so much that we want to make it easier for you to ask us questions about state politics, policy and government.

Welcome to The Texas Tribune's "Texplainer" series, where we collect questions from readers like you. Check out our Texplainer archive for great stories inspired by our readers, and tell us what questions you have about Texas politics and policy by completing the brief form below. If you don’t have a question, you can always vote on which questions you think we should answer next Here’s how it works:

How to use texplainer
How to use texplainer

To get started, submit your Texplainer questions below or email them to texplainer@texastribune.org. Please note that questions may be edited for clarity or brevity.

Texplainer: What is Chubbing?

If there's one thing that politicians are good at, it's talking. And chubbing is a kind of talking that's used to stall legislation in the Texas House. While state representatives do have the power to talk something to death, this session it will be harder to do than in the past.

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Texplainer: What is UTIMCO?

The simple answer: It's the acronym for University of Texas Investment Management Company, a nonprofit company with a single client, the University of Texas System (and, to a lesser extent, the Texas A&M University System). With the universities it serves under pressure not to hike tuition rates even though fewer state dollars are flowing their way, the company's performance will be under intense scrutiny this session — and UTIMCO officials are still recovering from last session's showdown over their generous bonuses. To explain all this for us, we called in an expert: CEO Bruce Zimmerman.

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Texplainer: Is It Raining Yet?

The Texas Constitution says that money from the Rainy Day Fund can be spent to “prevent or eliminate a temporary cash deficiency in general revenue.” With the state facing a budget shortfall estimated somewhere between $15 billion and $27 billion, some say if it ain't raining now, it ain't ever going to.

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Texplainer: Why Is There a COW in the Capitol?

Legislation has to go through committees before the entire House or Senate can have a look. It's a way of dividing up the work and getting things straightened out as much as possible before they get the full treatment from the Legislature. But there's a pecking order involved. And that's when the COW gets called in.

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Texplainer: What's an Emergency Item?

Ever hear something about Texas politics or policy and wonder what it is? Or read something that made you think, "I have no idea what that means"? We're here to help. From questions about why Rick Perry is within his legal right to shoot a coyote while jogging to what the heck "chubbing" is, Texplainer will answer your burning questions. Today: "What's a Legislative emergency item?"

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