This Week in Texas: November 9, 2011

Posted November 10, 2011 in The Mignon Memo

The results are in from yesterday’s election. As expected, voter turnout was low, with just over five percent of the state’s registered voters participating in Tuesday’s constitutional amendment election. Texas voters approved seven of the 10 proposed changes to the Texas Constitution, rejecting Propositions 4, 7 and 8, which would have instituted new bonding authority for counties, a recreation district in El Paso and tax breaks for landowners who conserve water. In the special election for House District 14, voters sent Republicans Bob Yancy and John Raney to a runoff to fill former Rep. Fred Brown’s seat. Yancy had 36 percent of the vote to Raney’s 28 percent. In Houston, Mayor Annise Parker won reelection and in New Braunfels, voters approved a ban on disposable containers on the city’s rivers. Tubers beware!

The filing period for March’s party primary elections in Texas has been shortened to the period between November 28th and December 15th, as ruled by a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio last Friday. The delay allows judges time to review proposals for interim boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts. Meanwhile, a federal court in Washington D.C. ordered a trial on the state’s new redistricting plan for the state House, state Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. In an order denying the State of Texas’s motion for summary judgment, the federal court indicated that it would hear from lawyers representing the state as well as opposing counsel from the U.S. Department of Justice as it considers the issue of pre-clearance of the maps. The redistricting process is never simple.

Two veteran members of the Texas State Board of Education announced they will not seek reelection to their seats. Republican Bob Craig of Lubbock and Democrat Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi will end their service on the Board next year.

Rep. Joe Driver (R-Garland) has been charged with abuse of official capacity, a third-degree felony.
According to court documents, Driver used campaign money to pay for travel expenses from September 2005 to August 2010. The Travis County District Attorney’s Office in Austin said he then requested reimbursements from the state for the same travel. Driver has repaid his campaign nearly $50,000 from his personal account.
Driver previously announced that he would not seek reelection and would retire when his terms ends in 2013.

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp announced the appointment of two new vice chancellors following approval by the Board of Regents during its regular meeting last week. Guy K. Diedrich was named vice chancellor for federal and state relations and Dr. Frank B. Ashley III was named vice chancellor of recruitment and diversity. Dr. Stanton C. Calvert, current vice chancellor for governmental relations for the A&M System, was granted the title of vice chancellor emeritus. He will begin serving as a special advisor to the chancellor.

Don’t be alarmed this afternoon. The noise you hear is the very first simultaneous nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, the system the federal government uses to report crucial information during a national emergency. This test is different than the ones you have seen and ignored over the years so news outlets are making sure the public knows about the test that will be broadcast by radio, television, and cable stations. This test will occur today, Wednesday, Nov. 9th, at 1 pm CST or 2pm EST.