The Mignon Memo

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Posted May 1, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Saturday is election day!

This Saturday, May 4, is election day all over Texas! Voters in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and other cities will be voting for mayor and other local officials. To find out more about the elections, click here.

 

27 days and counting…

It’s crunch time! Deadlines are coming up quickly. To learn more about the behind-the-scenes of what can kill a bill, check out the latest of Texas Tribune’s “Under the Dome” documentary series here.

 

Property tax bill SB 2 clears another hurdle, passing in the House

The Senate’s property tax reform measure was debated Tuesday in the House. The bill is all but guaranteed to go to a conference committee and will not go into effect unless education reform is also passed. Both are a priority for Capitol leadership this session. Read more here.

 

Only in Austin…

2019 in Texas: Leave your horses at home, because electric scooters are all the rage in Austin!

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Posted April 24, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Senate budget conferees announced

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced his picks to work on ironing out differences between the House and Senate’s version of the state’s budget. Sens. Jane Nelson, Joan Huffman, Lois Kolkhorst, Larry Taylor and Robert Nichols, all Republicans, are the Senate conferees. This marks the first time in three decades that the lite gov has snubbed the minority party. Read more here.

 

Dueling press conferences on immigration

Senate members on both sides of the aisle held press conferences on immigration last week, about an hour apart from one another. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn joined the Republicans, while Rep. Joaquin Castro – a rumored 2020 Cornyn challenger – took part in the Democratic presser. Republicans emphasized crime and drug trafficking in their conference, while Democrats of course took a very different approach. Read more here.

 

M.J. Hegar enters 2020 Senate race, vying for Cornyn’s seat

Democratic former Air Force pilot M.J. Hegar, who narrowly lost her House race in 2018, is challenging John Cornyn in 2020. Her 2018 race highlights included viral videos that helped increase her fundraising margins. Read more here.

 

Only in Austin…

The bipartisan seersucker caucus poses for a picture in the House.

 

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Posted April 17, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Happy Easter!

The Texas Senate is suspending their regular order of business for Easter break. They’re meeting today but won’t be back in Austin until next Tuesday, April 23, while the House is in session tomorrow but taking Friday and Monday off. Happy Easter, everyone!

 

After some drama, property tax reform gets preliminary OK in the Senate

There was plenty of drama this week at the lege while both chambers looked to see what the other would do regarding property taxes. Eventually, the Senate broke the stalemate and after a lively debate passed SB 2, which would make cities and counties get approval from voters to raise 3.5% more property tax revenue than the year before. Read more here.

 

Bushes in the News

The Bush Dynasty lives on in Texas… George P. Bush was recently profiled by the Atlantic, while his cousin Pierce Bush has recently hinted that he might run for Congress in his grandfather’s old district in West Houston. U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher currently holds the seat. Read the stories here and here.

 

Only in Austin…

Rep. Zweiner’s daughter Lark has been a constant fixture at the Capitol this session. The cutie has had fun exploring the House floor.

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Posted April 10, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

National House Democrats to open Austin office

In a sign of the changing times, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is opening an office in Austin ahead of 2020. Dems are looking to flip six House seats next year. Read more about their efforts here.

 

Surprise! Constitutional carry is dead.

Wasn’t it always? Well, now it’s official. Rep. Jonathan Stickland officially pulled the hearing request for his constitutional carry bill last week after a gun rights activist showed up at lawmakers’ homes, saying that went too far. Read more here.

 

House and Senate meet about concerns with Deer Park fire; Paxton sues

After multiple chemical fires in the Houston area, AG Ken Paxton has sued the companies responsible, which is rare. Also, TCEQ came under fire in House and Senate hearings late last week after lawmakers said they were too permissive with companies that violate pollution laws. Read more here and here.

 

Only in Austin…

Did you know that Austin has its own baseball team? Well, sort of. Minor league team the Round Rock Express celebrated its opening day yesterday, playing against the Nashville Sounds.

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Posted April 3, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

School Finance Debate Today!

School finance reform will be debated today in the House – the behemoth of a bill plus 92 amendments will mean a long day on the floor. The bill includes funding for full-day pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds, changes the way property taxes are distributed, and more.

HB 1 Advanced to the Senate Last Week!

The House’s version of the state’s budget was passed in the early hours of Thursday morning. The plan – a $251 billion budget – passed unanimously from the House. Of the more than 300 amendments filed, most ended up in Article XI – essentially a wish list. The Senate Finance Committee started discussion on its plan for the budget soon afterward.

Meet the advocates

The Texas Tribune’s excellent documentary series “Under the Dome” came out with an episode focused on why advocacy matters. Check out the inspiring episode here.

Only in Austin…

The House Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism, chaired by Rep. John Cyrier, got an interesting visitor yesterday. He goes by the name “Darth Texan,” because, well, why not?

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Posted March 27, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Today is budget day!

The floor debate on the House budget occurs today, March 27. Over 300 amendments were filed – and don’t forget about the amendments to the amendments! The Representatives will begin debating at 10 am on the floor and will most likely go until about 3 o’clock in the morning – the whole Capitol will have a budget hangover on Thursday. Will you be following along with the shenanigans?

 

Speaker’s Reunion Day is coming up next Friday, April 5th!

Speaker’s Reunion Day, a tradition in the House since at least 1943, is set to occur next Friday, April 5th. Speaker’s Reunion Day is a traditional celebration where former House members gather for barbecue and to be recognized on the floor to share stories of sessions past. Read more about the tradition here.

 

Date set for House to hear HB 3, school finance bill

School finance reform, which is designated an emergency agenda item by Gov. Abbott, is advancing in both chambers. The House’s school finance reform measure, HB 3, is expected to be heard next week, April 3rd, while the Senate unveiled its bill earlier this month.

 

Only in Austin…

Rep. Donna Howard and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen share a laugh as he presents commemorative gavels to all the chairs and vice-chairs of House committees.

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Posted March 13, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Bill filing deadline has us like…

Friday, March 8, was the 60th day of session, which means it was the last day for legislators to file their bills. House members filed 4,627 bills, while the Senate has 2,447 up for consideration, a 9% increase from 2017. While some bills are sillier than others (I’m looking at you, HCR 122!), we’ve surely got our work cut out for us.

The UT community mourns Bill Powers

Bill Powers, who was UT’s President from 2006 – 2015, passed away on Sunday at the age of 72. Powers, who wasn’t afraid to clash with state leaders such as Gov. Rick Perry in defense of “the soul of the university,” brought plenty of change to the university during his tenure and was a popular campus figure. To read more about Powers’ life, click here.

San Antonio special election: Results

Democrat Ray Lopez (right), a former San Antonio city councilman, has won the House district 125 seat in San Antonio. He will be joining the House committees on Defense & Veterans’ Affairs and Juvenile Justice & Family Issues.

 

Only in Austin…

March 8 kicked off this year’s SXSW Festival, which is a conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences. This year, many hopefuls for the 2020 presidential nomination are in attendance, including Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren. Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (pictured with Bill Nye the Science Guy) was also in attendance.

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Posted March 6, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

HB 3: House Proposes School Finance Reform Bill

The House’s school finance reform bill, HB 3, was filed by Rep. Dan Huberty on Tuesday. The bill would send more state money to public schools and lower school property tax rates. It would also help districts fund free full-day pre-K for certain students and send more money to school districts with higher concentrations of disadvantaged students. Read more on the bill here.

 

Do you agree with your fellow Texans?

The Texas Tribune and the University of Texas polled a group of Texas voters on property tax reform, the quality of our public education, and more. Read the results here.

 

Special Election Results For HD-145

The results are in for the special election to decide Texas HD-145 in Houston! Democrat Christina Morales will be replacing Carol Alvarado, who was elected to the Texas Senate in November. Read more about the race here.

 

Only in Austin – When Life Gives You Lemons

8-year-old Branson Burton testified last week in support of HB 234, which would make it easier for kids to operate lemonade stands. “This bill would support me and other kids to have the chance to start their own lemonade business without having to….pay for city permits and being worried about getting in trouble with the health department,” he testified. See Branson in action here.

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Posted February 27, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Will Texas (finally) get rid of Daylight Savings?

Legislators in both chambers have filed bills to end daylight savings time in Texas. The practice, which began in 1918, has been a hotly debated issue for decades in Texas. You either love the extra sunlight, or you hate losing sleep over it. Which side are you on? Read more here.

Abbott Sets Special Election On March 12 for San Antonio House Seat

The special election runoff will take place March 12 for House District 125’s seat. Republican Fred Rangel and Democrat Ray Lopez are vying for the seat in the traditionally blue district. San Antonio State Rep. Justin Rodriguez gave up his seat in January when he became a Bexar County commissioner. For more, click here.

Hate Red Light Cameras?

So do at least 100 members of the Texas House. Legislation to ban them statewide has garnered more coauthors than any other piece of legislation in the House so far this session. HB 1631 has 102 joint and coauthors. Read more about the bill here.

Only in Austin – 6-year-old Abigail Named Honorary Texas Ranger

After hearing about the bravery of Abigail Arias, a 6-year-old from Freeport who is battling a rare cancer called Wilms tumor, the House decided to do something special for her. She was honored with a special ceremony yesterday declaring her a Texas Ranger, and given an official badge and cowboy hat. See more here.

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Posted February 20, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Preemption: the paid sick leave version.

Governor Abbott has thrown his support behind legislation filed by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) that would prevent cities and counties from adopting local paid sick leave ordinances. San Antonio and Austin have adopted ordinances that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave for employees. To read more…

Clock on redistricting order is ticking.

Last year, a federal court in San Antonio ruled that House District 90 must be redrawn before the 2020 election. The court also gave the Legislature a 45-day deadline once session convened. Tomorrow is the 45-day mark, and no proposal has been filed yet. Redistricting maps move through the legislative process just like bills. To read more…

Property Tax Primer.

Property Tax reform is front and center this session. Here is a handy primer on how your property tax is currently calculated. To read more…

Only in Austin…

You never know who you will spot in the gallery of the Texas House. This week El Paso’s mascot, Amigo Man, brightened up the House. To read more…