Texas House Democrat Michelle Beckley announces run against Republican U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne
Beckley unveiled her plans in a video filmed inside a hotel room in the nation’s capital, where state House Democrats fled earlier this month to break quorum in protest of Republicans’ priority elections bill.
Analysis: How Gov. Greg Abbott's attack on "defunding the police" has divided Texas Democrats
Pivoting from a focus on racism and policing to an emphasis on police funding and public safety creates cross-pressures for Texans of color — particularly those who are Democrats. Pivoting from a focus on racism and policing to an emphasis on police funding and public safety creates cross-pressures for Texans of color — particularly those who are Democrats. AdHowever, casting Democrats as the party of ill-considered efforts to “defund the police” provided the governor and his party the obvious opportunity to portray the slogan as a threat to public safety. The governor’s focus on crime and public safety also gains resonance from the documented tendency of Americans to believe there is more crime than actually exists. But the governor’s shifting the frame from race to funding and public safety has additional political utility, dividing a Democratic coalition that is otherwise united.
Speaker Dade Phelan shakes up Texas House leadership with new chairs on key committees
Republican Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan shook up the chamber’s committee leadership Thursday, signaling who his top lieutenants will be during his first session overseeing the lower chamber. State Rep. Greg Bonnen, a Friendswood Republican, will now oversee the budget-planning House Appropriations Committee, replacing state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake. Dutton replaces state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the longtime chair who in 2019 helped pass massive reforms to the state’s school finance system. Hunter replaces state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford. Meanwhile, state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe, replaces state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, as chair of the House Administration Committee; state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, replaces state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, as chair of the House Calendars Committee, and state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, will serve as chair of the House State Affairs Committee, which Phelan oversaw during the 2019 session.
Analysis: A call for unity in government — in Texas, two years ago
Unity might seem like the political word of the day after its place at center stage in President Joe Biden’s inaugural address, but Texas officeholders were singing the same song two years ago. They’re not squabbling, but the tight unity of two years ago hasn’t been evident in the legislative session that started this month. It’s not that the top three state officials are going to disagree on much — just that it’s not a unified front this time. Patrick jumped into that conversation with a letter to health officials that seeks some revisions in the governor’s rollout plans. Patrick is still playing nice, complimenting Abbott’s leadership at the end of his letter to health officials, but he’s not on the same page.
Texas House elects Dade Phelan speaker as 2021 legislative session gets underway
State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, held a press conference at the capitol to declare that he had enough votes to become Speaker of the House. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)The Texas House on Tuesday elected state Rep. Dade Phelan as the next House speaker, ushering into office a new leader who will oversee a chamber facing its toughest set of legislative challenges in years against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The House voted 143-2 for Phelan, with four members not voting. The two members who voted against Phelan were GOP freshmen Bryan Slaton and Jeff Cason. Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, replaced former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who retired from office thanks to a secret recording scandal that fractured relationships in the 150-member lower chamber.
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen tests positive for coronavirus
The outgoing speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Dennis Bonnen , R-Angleton, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a post on his Facebook page Sunday. Bonnen said he tested positive this weekend and has mild symptoms. His wife, Kim Bonnen, tested positive last week and “continues to battle difficult but manageable symptoms,” he said. The first statewide elected official to publicly confirm a positive coronavirus test was Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann in May. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller tested positive earlier this month.sacurrent.com
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen tests positive for coronavirus
Dennis Bonnen, outgoing speaker of the Texas House, is experiencing mild coronavirus symptoms, he said Sunday on Facebook. His wife, Kim Bonnen, has also tested positive. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)The outgoing speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a post on his Facebook page Sunday. His wife, Kim Bonnen, tested positive last week and “continues to battle difficult but manageable symptoms,” he said. The first statewide elected official to publicly confirm a positive coronavirus test was Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann in May.
$1.7M for George Strait, six-figure bonuses: Months later, a lawsuit forced Texas to release details on inaugural spending
The result is the most detailed and complete account of inaugural spending in decades. Few records document inaugural committee spending in the state, and those that exist are inconsistent about how expenditures are categorized year to year. The inaugural committee was lucrative for other Abbott aides — like Snyder, his 2018 campaign director and the second-highest paid staffer. Five days after that, a process server tried to deliver the lawsuit to Bugg, the chair of the inaugural committee. Aleshire said there’s no reason why the Texas Inaugural Committee should be walled off from scrutiny.sacurrent.com
Despite staggering pandemic losses, Texas budget forecast better than expected, state comptroller says
Despite “historic declines,” state lawmakers will have more money to work with in the upcoming legislative session than Comptroller Glenn Hegar expected over the summer, he said Monday. But Hegar did not outline specifics as state coffers continue to suffer from the economic recession spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. Sales tax revenues, by far the largest part of the state budget, fell by 4.8% in the second half of the 2020 fiscal year compared to the same stretch last year, Hegar said. Greg Abbott and lawmakers projecting the state’s current two-year budget to be roughly $11.5 billion less than originally estimated. As of Monday, though, Capitol leaders have not said what the upcoming session will look like in the time of coronavirus.
Analysis: Texas Republicans and Allen West, their nettlesome party animal
Allen West is chair of the Republican Party of Texas. Their mutual toothache’s name is Allen West, and he is the chair of the Republican Party of Texas. It is utterly absurd and demonstrably idiotic that any Republican would join with Democrats to lead our Republican majority (83-67) Texas State House,” West wrote. They hold all of the statewide elected offices, along with majorities in the Texas Senate and Texas House. The state Capitol, for all its problems, is still a place where political party isn’t always the first order of business.
Texas governor backs GOP Rep. Dade Phelan for House speaker
AUSTIN, Texas – Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday threw his support behind a Texas House speaker candidate who Texas' GOP chairman called a “political traitor" for aligning with Democrats. Republican state Rep. Dade Phelan has claimed he has overwhelming support to become the new speaker when the Texas Legislature reconvenes in January. Abbott called Phelan is a “strong conservative” and praised his role in authoring and passing disaster relief legislation following Hurricane Harvey. His support came a day after Texas GOP Chairman Allen West claimed the party would “not support, nor accept” Phelan.
Trent Ashby and Chris Paddie become first two Republicans to file for Texas House speaker
State Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, and state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall. Credit: Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneTwo Republicans declared their candidacies for speaker of the Texas House on Thursday, becoming the first from their party to enter the race. State Reps. Trent Ashby of Lufkin and Chris Paddie of Marshall join two Democrats in seeking the gavel: Senfronia Thompson of Houston and Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio. Candidates are vying to replace Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who will retire after serving one term thanks to a political scandal last year. Thompson, the longest-serving woman and Black person in the history of the Texas Legislature, filed Friday to run for the gavel.
Trey Martinez Fischer becomes second Democrat to announce run for speaker of the Texas House
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, is the second Democrat to announce a bid for speaker of the Texas House. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas TribuneState Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer on Monday announced he is running for Texas House speaker, becoming the second Democrat in the lower chamber to launch a bid for the gavel. Martinez Fischer, from San Antonio, joins state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest-serving woman and Black person in the history of the Texas Legislature, in the race. In a statement, Martinez Fischer said the “number one job of the Speaker is to protect the House and its members.”“Members know that I have been a defender of the House rules and wielded them to protect the institution and the people we serve,” Martinez Fischer said. “My vision for the Texas House is an independent body that will work respectfully in a bi-partisan manner with the best minds at the table.
Analysis: Democrats or Republicans could win the Texas House this year. But what if they tie?
If the Democrats picked up eight seats instead of nine, the Texas House would have 75 members from each party. Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives have an eight-seat advantage over the Democrats. In the 2008 elections, one Texas House race was so close it took a few days to sort out who won. The 2008 election results were mostly in, and voters had chosen 75 Republicans and 74 Democrats to represent them in the Texas House. A 75-75 tie would start a very interesting negotiation over control of the Texas House.
Trey Martinez Fischer becomes second Democrat to announce run for speaker of the Texas House
click to enlarge Facebook / Trey Martinez FischerState Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer speaks during a San Antonio City Council meeting. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer on Monday announced he is running for Texas House speaker, becoming the second Democrat in the lower chamber to launch a bid for the gavel. Martinez Fischer would be the first Latino to hold the position, if elected. Martinez Fischer, chair of the House Business and Industry Committee, was first elected to the lower chamber in 2000. “The Texas House operates on trust," he said in his statement.sacurrent.com
Democratic state Rep. Senfronia Thompson files to run for speaker of the Texas House
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, speaks on the opening day of the 86th session of the Texas Legislature. Credit: Bob Daemmrich for the Texas TribuneState Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest-serving woman and Black person in the history of the Texas Legislature, filed Friday to run for speaker of the Texas House, making her the first to enter what’s been a quiet race so far to replace retiring Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton. Thompson, a Houston Democrat, has filed ahead of a November general election in which Democrats are confident they will regain control of the House for the first time in nearly two decades. If elected, she would be the first woman to serve as speaker. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's ratings fell during the pandemic, UT/TT Poll finds
The top lines are not bad: 47% of Texas registered voters approve of the governor’s overall job performance, while 40% do not — a 7-percentage-point spread. In April, it was 24 points — when the governor had just started reacting to the pandemic and had favorable ratings from 56% of voters and unfavorable ratings from 32%. In April, at the beginning of the state government’s response to the pandemic, 56% of Texas voters approved of Abbott’s action and 29% disapproved. “It’s only three polls, but it’s hard to look at these numbers and say the pandemic has been good for Greg Abbott’s job approval. Independents were consistent in their nonattachment, with 27% saying the Democratic Party is welcoming, 41% saying it’s not and 32% offering no opinion.
Analysis: Greg Abbott’s latest retreat comes at the expense of Texas voters
Greg Abbott is making it more difficult to vote by closing ballot drop-off locations. Under Abbott’s new order, counties like Harris, with 12 drop-off locations, and Travis, with four, can each have just one location. “We must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state,” Abbott said Thursday in the news release revealing his latest order. If people like that ran elections — or wrote election law — voting would be safe, secure and easy. They’d be telling us they trust the voters, the process and the results — as they’ve done in elections past.sacurrent.com
Officials detail response plan after deadly amoeba found in Texas water supply
TEXAS – Texas Gov. Abbott, with other state and local officials, spoke from Lake Jackson, where the naegleria fowleri microbe was found. Officials have determined the amoeba was only found in Lake Jackson water, but the process to fix it will take 60 days. Officials will increase the amount of chlorine in the water system to kill all remnants of the virus. Crews will also thoroughly inspect the water system to see if unfiltered water is making its way into the water system.
Race for Texas House majority has kept the contest for speaker quiet
That’s quite the departure from the last speaker’s race two years ago, when seven candidates were already in the running by the first week of September. The speaker’s race is a numbers game, a contest to see which member can put together 76 votes in support of their candidacy. Of course, members could break ranks and file their candidacy for speaker with the Texas Ethics Commission before November. Howard has also suggested that she hopes Thompson is the first Black woman speaker of the Texas House. Democrats are expected to meet in Austin the day after Election Day to discuss the speaker’s race and other session-related issues.
Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss reopening Texas, give update on COVID-19 at noon
Greg Abbott is expected to deliver an update to the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday. A news conference is slated to begin at noon at the Texas State Capitol, and it will be livestreamed in this article. The governor’s latest public update comes a day after Texas health officials reported more than 3,400 new COVID-19 cases and 135 new deaths on Wednesday. The state’s dashboard states the COVID-19 positivity rate fell below 10% on Sept. 1. San Antonio has reported 50,284 total COVID-19 cases and 1,022 total deaths.
Texas officials walk back $15 million proposed cuts to women’s and children's health services
A women’s health clinic in Texas. Credit: Stephen Spillman for The Texas TribuneNeed to stay updated on coronavirus news in Texas? Texas’ Republican leadership asked the health commission to come up with cuts worth about $133 million in state funds. But in the initial plan, officials also suggested direct cuts to women's health and other programs, worth about 11% of the total reductions. A proposed cut of $3.8 million from women’s health programs would have left fewer Texans receiving birth control or cancer screenings, a budget document obtained by The Texas Tribune said.
Texas' Budget Could Take Massive Hit as Coronavirus Crisis Continues Unfolding, Lawmakers Learn
In October , Hegar estimated that the state budget would have a nearly $3 billion balance for the fiscal 2020-21 biennium. Those two situations created a double whammy by slowing two key revenues that fuel the states budget and economy: sales taxes and oil and gas production. Experts have said the economic damage will largely depend on how long the public health crisis lasts. He also said that the Economic Stabilization Fund could be used "at the appropriate time," which he said would happen when state leaders "know the full extent of the challenge we're dealing with. "Before the stabilization fund could be used, Abbott would need to summon state lawmakers back to Austin for a special session before the Legislature reconvenes in January 2021.sacurrent.com
Analysis: Almost nothing in Texas government has unanimous consent
Nothing happens in the state Capitol, or in your county courthouse or your city hall, that has unanimous support. The taxpayer-funded lobbyist fight is about which elected officials — state or local — decide what to do with the public’s money from local taxes. Elected state officials didn’t make this stuff up. If you want your city to increase services or hire more people, it might require more property taxes. State officials don’t see it that way.
EXPLAINER: Texas speaker Bonnen controversy, fallout after leaked recording
Though he will not seek re-election in 2020, Bonnen of Angleton, Texas, will serve the rest of his first term as House speaker. Looking ahead to 2020, the Republican Party of Texas must unite and work together to retain a majority in the Texas House, Abbott said in a statement. The Texas Republican Caucus condemned Bonnens remarks in a statement released on Friday. Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement that Bonnens decision not to seek re-election was a victory for transparency and accountability. Texans are tired of politicians, like Republican Speaker Bonnen, who use backroom deals, cover-ups and outright lies to pursue power over everything, Hinojosa said.
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Wont Seek Reelection After Recording Scandal
First-term Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Tuesday announced he will not seek reelection to the lower chamber in 2020 marking an end to the Angleton Republicans months-long political fallout that has roiled the lower chamber he oversees. At that meeting, Sullivan alleged, Bonnen and State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) suggested Empower Texans go after a list of 10 House Republicans and told Sullivan his group could have media access to the lower chamber in 2021. By Tuesday morning, over 30 House Republicans had either called for the speakers resignation or had pulled support for the speaker. Bonnens decision not to seek reelection means his seat in House District 25 will be open for the first time in over two decades. One Republican, emergency room nurse Rhonda Seth, was already running for the seat before Tuesday, aiming to take out Bonnen.therivardreport.com
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen won't seek reelection after recording scandal
First-term Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Tuesday announced he will not seek reelection to the lower chamber in 2020 marking an end to the Angleton Republican's months-long political fallout that has roiled the lower chamber he oversees. At that meeting, Sullivan alleged, Bonnen and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, suggested Empower Texans go after a list of 10 House Republicans and told Sullivan his group could have media access to the lower chamber in 2021. By Tuesday morning, over 30 House Republicans had either called for the speakers resignation or had pulled support for the speaker. Bonnen's decision not to seek reelection means his seat in House District 25 will be open for the first time in over two decades. One Republican, emergency room nurse Rhonda Seth, was already running for the seat before Tuesday, aiming to take out Bonnen.
Recording Transcript Shows Speaker Bonnen To Be Both Hypocrite and Political Dunce
The hypocritical perfidy came in Bonnens sordid request that Sullivan use Empower Texans his deep-pocketed, dark-money political action committee to fund primary challengers to 10 moderate Republican House members. The tactical stupidity is demonstrated by Bonnens belief that he could trust Sullivan not to weaponize anything he said to him. Sullivan started the session with some acerbic remarks but by the end was virtually singing Kumbaya with Bonnen and his sidekick, Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock). Then Sullivan announced that he had secretly recorded the meeting and invited the 10 to come listen to it. In addition, during the meeting Sullivan worried about a bill pushed by what Burrows described as the governors office and others who swore it was the best thing since sliced bread two years ago.therivardreport.com
Top Texas House Republicans say they can no longer support Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Some of the most powerful Texas House Republicans said Monday they no longer support GOP Speaker Dennis Bonnen, marking the biggest blow yet to his political future amid the fallout from a secret recording released last week by a hardline conservative activist. All five members were closely aligned with Bonnen this year during his first session as speaker. That audio confirmed that Bonnen, among other things, offered Sullivan's organization media access to the House and suggested the group, Empower Texans, politically target 10 House Republicans in the 2020 primaries. "The House Republican Caucus issued an official statement condemning the conduct of Speaker Bonnen and Representative Burrows that we helped draft and fully support," Monday's joint statement from the five members read. Read related Tribune coverage TribCast: The Tale of the TapeHouse Speaker Dennis Bonnen says, "No laws were broken."
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Won't Seek Reelection After Recording Scandal
click to enlarge Twitter / Dennis BonnenDennis Bonnen addresses the Texas House during the start of the 2019 Legislative Session. The district in southeast Texas is solidly Republican.With Bonnen's exit, members will be jockeying among one another to become the next speaker. In July before Sullivan's allegations surfaced, Bonnen announced he had infused a new political action committee with $3 million to support House Republicans running for reelection. ""Texans are tired of politicians, like Republican Speaker Bonnen, who use backroom deals, cover-ups and outright lies to pursue power over everything," said state party chair Gilberto Hinojosa in a statement. "Now more than ever, it is clear that only the election of Texas Democrats will return of ethics and good governance to our great state.sacurrent.com
San Antonio State Rep. Steve Allison: Bonnen Has Lost Confidence and Trust Needed to Lead
State Rep. Steve Allison, one of 10 moderate Republicans on a target list discussed during a meeting between House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan, released a statement Monday blasting Bonnen, saying he will no longer support him as House Speaker. Speaker Bonnen and Representative Burrows have lost the confidence and trust required of a member in such a position, Allison wrote. Not that you need our permission.Last Friday, the House Republican Caucus met and issued a statement condemning the actions of Bonnen and Burrows. After several hours of discussion this past Friday, the House Republican Caucus finally issued a statement condemning the actions and comments of Speaker Bonnen and Representative Burrows, Allison wrote. Democrat Celina Montoya will again challenge Allison for the House District 121 seat.therivardreport.com
Dennis Bonnen Is No Joe Straus
Since then, Straus has been quite visible in San Antonio, especially since he generously agreed to co-chair the Early Matters San Antonio initiative with Peter J. Holt, CEO of Holt Caterpillar and chairman of the San Antonio Spurs. Straus will be on a panel about building more statewide bipartisanship, Friday, Nov. 8 at San Antonio CityFest. Scott Ball / Rivard ReportThats why Dennis Bonnen is no Joe Straus. The list included freshman Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) who succeeded Straus in his north San Antonio district. I dont really know who he is, but I do know that Dennis Bonnen is no Joe Straus, and never will be.therivardreport.com
Local Officials: Bonnens Punitive Approach Toward Cities, Counties Sows Distrust
Many Texas city leaders are fuming over comments Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) made in a recently leaked conversation that made clear his plans to thwart the efforts of cities and counties through State preemption. Local officials and others responded Wednesday to Bonnens statements saying the speakers cavalier attitude toward cities, many of which have elected centrist or left-leaning city officials, defies the needs of Texas residents. Composed of 1,160 Texas cities, the organization advocates on behalf of cities and city officials. He called on State legislators and local elected officials to communicate honestly and show mutual respect. However, that wont change how the City deals with the Texas Legislature, Nirenberg said.therivardreport.com
The Texas House Speaker Was Accused of Plotting Against Fellow Republicans. Heres What We Know
click to enlarge Facebook / Dennis BonnenDennis Bonnen (center) has been accused of working against other Republicans in the Texas Legislature. Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen met with hardline conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan in his office earlier this summer, after the legislative session. Sullivan says during their meeting, Bonnen walked out and Burrows gave him a list of 10 GOP House members to target during the 2020 primary elections. Although he didnt directly address the allegation of a 10-member list, Bonnen again denied Sullivans account last Friday evening. After accounts from House Republicans who heard Sullivan's alleged recording of the meeting, Bonnen's future as the Republican House speaker could also be in peril.sacurrent.com