The Mignon Memo

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…

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Posted February 19, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Runoffs keep coming.

Yesterday, Governor Abbott set March 5th as the date for the special election runoff in HD 145 (Houston) between Democrats Christina Morales and Melissa Noriega. Another runoff is also necessary for HD 125 in San Antonio. Last night Republican Fred Rangel and Democrat Ray Lopez were the top two vote earners, putting them in a runoff situation. To read more…

Senate property tax proposal on the move.

Monday the Senate Committee on Property Tax voted SB 2 by Chairman Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) out of committee. A major amendment adopted in committee was the ability for smaller taxing entities to opt in to the 2.5% cap on tax rate increases. At the time of writing, SB 2 has not been scheduled for debate on the Senate Floor. To read more…

Rep. Art Fierro sworn in.

Tuesday, Democrat Art Fierro was sworn in as the newest Texas House member, joining the El Paso delegation. Fierro represents House District 79, formerly represented by Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso). To read more…

Only in Austin…

 Meet Tucker Tanner, our office mascot and occasional intern.

 

 

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Posted February 19, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Special Election results. 

Last night, Art Fierro (D-El Paso) won a three-way race to fill the seat for House District 79 vacated by Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) with 53% of the vote. In House District 145, vacated by now Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), Democrats Christina Morales and Melissa Noriega head to a runoff. To read more…

Paredes to step down.

Commissioner Raymund Paredes has announced that he will step down from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board effective August 31, 2019. He has served since 2004. Paredes says he will stay involved in higher education policy. To read more…

Another Cornyn campaign hire.

Steve Munisteri, former Texas GOP chairman, will begin February 9th as senior advisor to U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s re-election campaign. He will leave his current roles as deputy assistant to the President and deputy director for the Office of Public Liaison at the White House to return to work with the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) and county party chairs.  To read more…

Only in Austin…

This weekend, Cirque Italia, a traveling Italian water circus, is setting up in the parking lot of Barton Creek Mall. Inside its blue and white circus-style tent, there is a stage complete with aerialists, contortionists, Bellagio-style fountains, and a wheel of death! To read more…

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Posted January 25, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

Committees are out!

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen have both announced committee appointments in their respective chambers. House assignments can be found here, and Senate assignments can be found here.  To read more…

Cornyn campaign gearing up for 2020.

Senator John Cornyn has hired John Jackson to lead his 2020 re-election campaign. Jackson most recently managed Governor Abbott’s successful bid for re-election. Prior to Abbott’s campaign, Jackson worked for the Republican National Committee as the Texas Victory director. To read more…

Opioid awareness campaign.

Yesterday Attorney General Ken Paxton launched a new website, Texas’ Dose of Reality, to provide information on the risks of prescription painkillers. This is a joint project with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).  To read more…

Only in Austin…

Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum is the creation of Chef Ling Qi Wu, the former dim sum chef of another Austin hot spot—Wu Chow. Chef Ling prides herself in using healthy, locally sourced ingredients in making authentic Chinese cuisine. Originally from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China, she now calls Austin home, and we are so glad she does! The Dim Sum Brunch is a must do.  To read more…

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Posted January 16, 2019 in The Mignon Memo

2019 Texas Inauguration.

Yesterday, Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick took the oath of office for their second terms. In their speeches, property tax and public education funding were highlighted. Oh, and Chuck Norris’ attendance too.  To read more…

New Chief Medical Officer for HHSC.

Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst, a San Antonio pediatrician, has been appointed chief medical officer for the Medicaid and CHIP programs at the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). He will begin his new role at HHSC at the end of February. To read more…

House and Senate Budgets are out.

Dueling budget proposals from both chambers have been published, focusing on public school funding and property tax reform. Neither chamber fully funded Medicaid leaving projected cost growth unfunded. These budget proposals are just a starting point for what the final details of the biennial budget will look like. To read more…

Only in Austin…

After 31 years, Eastside Café will close at the end of January. Chef Sam Hellman-Mass, owner of Suerte, has bought the property and will continue to use the location as a restaurant commited to local sourcing. We will keep you posted on what pops up at this treasured Austin spot. To read more…