Texas may soon have a process to remove local prosecutors who won’t pursue abortion, election cases
The bill would allow for the removal of prosecutors who adopt any policy to not pursue certain crimes, including some low-level theft and drug charges. The Senate’s version will need to be reconciled with the House, which had carved out some exemptions.
“We just want parity”: Military groups call on lawmakers to give Operation Lone Star troops death benefits
Law enforcement officers who serve on Operation Lone Star get a $500,000 death benefit for their survivors if they die on duty. But National Guard troops on the same mission don’t get a dime from the state for their families if they die.
Texas bill requiring 10-year prison sentences for gun felonies faces opposition from criminal justice and firearm advocates
Under Senate Bill 23, all felonies involving a gun would incur a mandatory 10-year prison sentence. It’s meant to curb crime, despite the lack of correlation between harsher sentences and crime rates.
Lawmakers could use $5 billion of a record surplus for raises, flood prevention and border operations
Budget proposals would boost state spending for the current budget cycle for projects ranging from mental health hospitals to state pay raises. This would leave $27 billion in surplus for next two years.
Texas universities propose two-year tuition freeze in exchange for nearly $1 billion in additional state funding
The leaders of the state’s six biggest university systems are seeking the money to fund instruction, university operations and employee health insurance and to cover a free tuition program for veterans and their children.
After a Texas National Guard member died, his family got no financial payment. Lawmakers want to change that.
In April, Bishop Evans drowned after jumping into the Rio Grande to save two migrants being swept away by the current. His family members will receive no financial payment, but they would if he worked for DPS or was under federal deployment.
Federal judges won’t halt Texas primary in state Senate district being challenged for alleged discrimination
The redrawn state Senate District 10 splits Black and Hispanic voters in Tarrant County. A full trial on whether GOP lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color is expected later this year.
Republicans say Texas’ new political maps are “race blind.” To some voters of color, that translates as political invisibility.
With partisan fervor, Republicans drew new maps for Congress and the Legislature that dilute the power of voters of color. Now the lawsuits begin, as groups that feel marginalized battle for representation in the halls of power.
Texas Senate approves congressional map that draws no new Black or Hispanic districts even as people of color fueled population growth
Texas gained two new seats in Congress based on population growth fueled by people of color. But the Senate’s proposal provides no new majority-Black or majority-Hispanic districts to reflect that growth.
Senate approves map cementing GOP dominance in upper chamber, dividing up Tarrant county’s voters of color
Democrats criticized Republicans for “targeting” a North Texas district that had been trending Democratic and for not drawing any new districts where people of color would represent a majority of eligible voters.
A year after George Floyd’s murder, only a few of Texas lawmakers’ police reform measures appear likely to become law
Narrowly targeted pieces of Texas’ George Floyd Act — like restricting chokeholds and requiring officers to provide first aid — are expected to pass. But the Act itself and many other related reforms have failed to progress during the legislative session that ends Monday.
Texas House OKs Senate bill to require voter approval before cutting law enforcement funds — but only for large counties
The Senate bill originally applied to all local Texas jurisdictions, but was changed in a House committee. A House bill that is in the Senate would financially punish the state’s larger cities if they cut police funds.
Priority bills imperiled as end-of-session tensions rise between Texas House and Senate
House lawmakers expressed frustration on Thursday that some of their priority legislation had not moved in the upper chamber, including a package of health care and criminal justice reform bills pushed by House Speaker Dade Phelan.
Texas Senate approves bail bill that would keep more people in jail if they can’t post cash bonds
The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved the chamber’s priority bail legislation that aims to keep more people accused or previously convicted of violent crimes in jail before trial unless they can post cash bonds.
The Texas Senate has approved a new statewide appeals court. Critics contend it's another attempt to limit Democrats' power.
Voters would have to approve police budget cuts under bill approved by Texas Senate
Harris County got rid of cash bail for many people accused of minor crimes. GOP lawmakers want to walk that back.
AdBettencourt and Huffman have criticized Harris County judges for releasing most people on no-cost personal recognizance, or PR, bonds. “Other policy initiatives — not renewed reliance on cash bail — will be required to halt the increase in violence,” a memo to county commissioners said. Critics of bail reform efforts and the bail bonds industry — which is dependent on cash bail systems — have often pointed to less people showing up to court as an argument against bail reform efforts. “People want to come to court and the vast majority of people do,” said Harris County Criminal Court Judge Franklin Bynum. The Harris County court monitor report said homeless people were twice as likely to be arrested while out on bond than other defendants.
‘Let’s talk Texas’: State Senate redistricting committee looking for public input in virtual regional hearings
SAN ANTONIO – Every 10 years the Texas Legislature is tasked with redistricting, the redrawing of district maps for the state’s congressional, legislative and State Board of Education boundaries. Redistricting is based on new census data each decade, but this year that census data has been delayed. As Texas lawmakers await the data, which will determine size of districts and potentially add a handful of new congressional seats for the state, the Texas Senate Redistricting Committee has announced they will begin regional hearings to get public input. “The pandemic has presented new challenges for all of us, but it will not prevent the Senate Redistricting Committee from soliciting input from Texans about their local communities--especially about local and regional considerations related to redistricting,” said Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, who chairs the committee. The committee is encouraging all Texans to make their voices heard in one of a dozen hearings.
Despite committee’s recommendation, ending Texas’ partisan judicial elections looks unlikely
The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 15, 2020. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneTexas looks unlikely to change its controversial partisan election system for judges — even after a commission studying the issue recommended ending the practice. And in Republican primaries, judicial candidates with Hispanic-sounding surnames have often fared poorly, owing, experts say, to a largely white electorate. Those who favor partisan judicial elections have pointed out that they may work better in rural counties, where voters are electing fewer judges and it’s easier to learn their qualifications. Aside from the bias of partisanship, one of the chief concerns about the state’s partisan judicial selection system is the influence — perceived or actual — of donors who bankroll judges’ campaigns. Huffman, a powerful figure in the Texas Senate, said earlier this month she had already begun drafting a constitutional amendment that would increase judicial qualifications.
Analysis: When mapmaking Texas politicians are smiling and quiet, pay attention
This one is about redistricting — how the state draws its political maps — and it fits the pattern. Political maps are the foundation of who does and doesn’t have a voice in a democracy. Asked whether a Republican House and Senate, with a Republican governor, can be expected to draw maps that favor Republicans, neither lawmaker agreed. Sure enough, they draw maps that increase their chances of success — not only in elections, but in the government decisions that follow. Republicans draw Republican maps.