The Mignon Memo

This Week in Texas: October 20, 2021

Posted October 20, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

The Third Legislative Special Session Ended Tuesday

Lawmakers Have Been in Session 227 Days in 2021

Lawmakers Adjourn Third Special Session

The Texas Legislature adjourned from its third special session early Tuesday morning after a final flurry of activity that included agreeing on a number of bills on Governor Abbott’s special session agenda.

The primary focus of the most recent 30-day special session was to redraw the state’s political maps for the next 10 years. But Gov. Greg Abbott also instructed the Legislature to pass laws on a variety of other priorities.

In all, most of Gov. Abbott’s agenda items were passed into law, passing legislation on 6 of the 10 issues on the special session to-do list.

Another special session is not expected, although Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t get his way on all of his agenda items, including a ban on vaccine mandates.

Read our end-of-session report for more.

8 Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot

On Monday, the 12-day early voting period for eight constitutional amendments to the Texas Constitution. Election day for this election is November 2.

The proposed amendments include two pandemic-inspired measures — one to preserve access to loved ones in nursing homes, and another barring state agencies or local governments from issuing orders that prohibit or limit religious gatherings.

Voters will consider the following:

  • Proposition 1 would add rodeos to the list of professional sporting events that can hold raffles to raise money for charity.
  • Proposition 2 would let counties pay for transportation needs in blighted or underdeveloped areas by taking advantage of rising property values — caused by the road projects — to pay off the transportation debt.
  • Proposition 3 would expand the freedom of worship section in the state’s Bill of Rights to prohibit governments from taking any action that “prohibits or limits religious services.” This proposition was inspired by state and local government orders that closed in-person church services and religious gatherings at the height of the pandemic last year.
  • Proposition 4 would change the eligibility requirements to serve on the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and intermediate appeals courts — clarifying that candidates must be a practicing lawyer or judge in Texas for at least 10 years under a law license that had not been revoked or suspended.
  • Proposition 5 would let the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates and takes disciplinary action against judges at all levels, accept complaints against judicial candidates as well.
  • Proposition 6 would give residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities the right to designate an “essential caregiver” who could not, under most circumstances, be prohibited from in-person visits.
  • Proposition 7 would let disability-based homestead exemptions on property taxes continue for surviving spouses who are 55 or older when their disabled spouse dies.
  • Proposition 8 would extend property tax breaks — already available to the spouse of a service member killed in action — to spouses of troops who were killed in the line of duty but not in combat.

More Retirement Announcements

Three more lawmakers announced they will not be returning to their current seats since our last update (new updates in bold below).

Here is a list of lawmakers that are retiring or not seeking re-election to the position they currently hold:

  • Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio)–The winner of the November 2 special runoff election between John Lujan and Frank Ramirez will fill this seat.
  • Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie)–Rep. Brian Harrison has filled this vacant seat and has been sworn in as the new Representative for HD 10.
  • Rep. James White (R-Hillister)–running for Texas Land Commissioner.
  • Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton)–running for U.S. Congress.
  • Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound)–running for Texas Senate seat after Sen. Jane Nelson departure.
  • Rep. John Turner (D-Dallas)–retiring.
  • Rep. Ben Leman (R-Anderson)–retiring.
  • Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)–running for Texas Attorney General.
  • Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)–retiring.
  • Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin)–running for Austin Mayor.
  • Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall)–retiring.
  • Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston)–retiring.
  • Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)–running for Texas Senate District 10.
  • Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville)–retiring.
  • Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio)–retiring.
  • Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston)–retiring.
  • Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)–retiring.
  • Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway)–running for Texas Land Commissioner.

Only in Austin…

The legendary George Strait will perform on April 29, 2022 as part of the grand opening celebration of Moody Center, Austin’s new $338 million venue opening next April on the University of Texas campus. And he’ll be joined by the equally legendary Willie Nelson, marking only the second time in their long careers that the two music icons will share a stage. 

Moody Center opens in April 2022 at the University of Texas. Exclusive VIP Packages and tickets for the ‘Strait from Moody Center’ Grand Opening Celebration Presented by Bud Light go on sale Friday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. CT. Fans can also sign up for the Moody Center newsletter between now and Monday, Oct. 18 to receive venue pre-sale access from Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. CT until Thursday, Oct. 21 at 10 p.m. CT.

Get your tickets now!

This Week in Texas: October 13, 2021

Posted October 13, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

7 Days Left in the Third Special Legislative Session

Gov. Abbott Bans Vaccine Mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.

Any entity that fails to comply with Abbott’s rule could receive up to a $1,000 fine.

Abbott also called on the Legislature to pass a law with the same effect, promising to rescind the executive order once that happenedThe Legislature is in this year’s third special legislative session, which ends Oct. 19.

Two bills, SB 51 by Sen. Hughes (R-Mineola) and HB 155 by Rep. Oliverson (R-Cypress) have moved quickly after being filed and are scheduled for public hearings in the Senate and House chambers this week.

Comptroller Announces Key Changes to Executive Leadership Team

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today several key changes to his executive leadership team. Effective Nov. 1, Tom Currah will assume the role of Associate Deputy Comptroller (ADC) for Fiscal Matters, Korry Castillo will take over as ADC for Agency Operations and Phillip Ashley, who currently serves as ADC for Fiscal Matters, will shift focus to become ADC for Tax. 

The changes come as long-serving ADCs Karey Barton and Robert Wood plan to leave the Comptroller’s office to pursue new opportunities.

Gov. Abbott Announces Special Election

Gov. Greg Abbott announced November 2 as the date of the special election runoff to replace former state Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio).

This election will fill the last vacant seat in the 150-member House chamber after Rep. Brian Harrison won the special election for HD 10 and was sworn in on Tuesday.

The runoff for the Democratic-leaning seat in House District 118 features Democrat Frank Ramirez and Republican John Lujan. Ramirez is a former staffer for the San Antonio City Council, while Lujan briefly held House the seat in 2016.

Lujan finished first in the initial special election late last month, getting 42% of the vote to 20% for Ramirez. There were two other Democrats on the ballot and one other Republican.

Only in Austin…

The special session will be over soon they said…

With 7 days left, the clock is ticking on the current third special session. Lawmakers were tasked to address the following issues. Here’s where they stand:

  •  Redistricting
    • House maps were passed by the full House in the early hours of Wednesay and still need to be debated and voted on by the Senate.
    • Senate maps have been passed by the Senate and are waiting to be debated by the House chamber.
    • State Board of Education Maps have been passed by the Senate and are waiting to be debated by the House chamber.
    • Congressional maps have been passed by the Senate and are scheduled for a public hearing in the House on Wednesday.
  • Allocation of Federal Funds
    • Has received approval by the Senate and voted on favorably by a House committee, and now waiting to be debated by the full House chamber.
  • Prohibiting Transgender Student-Athletes in Public School Sports
    • Has been voted favorably by a House committee and has not been debated by the full House chamber. Still needs to be considered by the full Senate.
  • Banning Vaccine Mandates by Local Governments
    • Two bills in their respective chambers have been filed and are scheduled for public hearings this week.
  • Legislation relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog
    • Has received approval by the full Senate and voted on favorably by a House committee, and now waiting to be debated by the full House chamber.
  • Property Tax Relief for Texans
    • Has received approval by the full Senate and voted on favorably by a House committee, and now waiting to be debated by the full House chamber.
    • Includes $3 billion in property tax relief for homestead owners.
  • Legislation proposing a constitutional amendment to further protect the safety of the community, law enforcement, and victims, from accused criminals who may be released on bail
    • Has received approval by the full Senate and voted on favorably by a House committee, and now waiting to be debated by the full House chamber. 
  • Increasing Penalties for Illegal Voting
    • Has received a hearing in a Senate committee, but faces uphill climb in the House after House Speaker signaled it would not consider legislation relating to this issue.
  • Banning Vaccine Mandates by Any Entity
    • (Similar to a previous item on the agenda). Two bills in their respective chambers have been filed and are scheduled for public hearings this week.

This Week in Texas: October 6, 2021

Posted October 6, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

13 Days Left in the Third Special Legislative Session

Senate Cements Majority, Approves New Maps

The full Texas Senate approved a new political map (SB 4) for its own members that would cement a Republican majority in the chamber for the next decade. 

These new boundaries would give Republicans a 19-12 seat advantage over Democrats, one more than the current 18-13 split.

Democrats argued SB 4 is not an accurate representation of growth seen in Texas in the last 10 years. SB 4 added no additional districts where people of color represent a majority of the district’s eligible voters, even as Black, Hispanic and Asian Texans drove 95% of the state’s growth according to the 2020 census data.

This map, along with the State Board of Education map, will have to be approved by the Texas House before Gov. Greg Abbott can sign them into law.

House Committee Approves New House Map

The Texas House Redistricting Committee on Tuesday voted out a revised draft to redraw the lower chamber’s districts, which will give Republicans a stronger majority in the House of the Legislature for the next decade.

The revised bill does not vary drastically from the initial version filed last week — the draft still aims to increase the GOP’s strength across the state as well as the number of districts in which white residents make up a majority of eligible voters. The latest draft changes the partisan breakdown in the chamber’s 150 districts by adding one district that would lean toward Democrats while still giving Republicans the clear advantage.

The bill will likely reach the full House floor for debate in the coming days and will need a stamp of approval from the full chamber before it can head to the Senate for consideration. The bill is likely to continue to change before the Legislature sends it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Draws Two Democratic Opponents

Democrat Mike Collier (left) has officially thrown his hat in the ring to try to unseat Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in 2022. Collier, an accountant from Houston, lost to Patrick in 2018 by 5 percentage points.

Before a potential faceoff with Patrick, he will first have to beat Matthew Dowd (right), a former George W. Bush strategist, in the Democratic primary.

Only in Austin…

Cooler weather is FAll-nally here! Get ready for another season of ringing in festive, fall activities with the Texas Pumpkin Festival in Leander, TX.

This month-long event is a staple for Austin’s fall activities! Texas Pumpkin Fest features a huge pumpkin patch and hosts various activities for the whole family. Join in on hayrides, corn maze, smashing pumpkins, and burlap bag races. Feast your senses on delicious seasonal food and to ring in October, be dazzled by magicians. There are different events throughout each week, so you will have something different each time you attend!

This Week in Texas: September 15, 2021

Posted September 15, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

President Biden Issues New Vaccine Requirements

President Joe Biden has announced that the federal government will require companies with more than 100 employees to vaccinate all employees against COVID or require all unvaccinated employees to go undergo weekly COVID tests.

The White House said the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will ensure compliance with this new vaccine requirement for the business sector.

OSHA has yet to publish information on this plan, but Governor Abbott has stated that “Texas is already working to halt this power grab” and Attorney General Ken Paxton has promised to sue the Biden Administration “very soon.

Gov. Abbott Announces Runoff Election Date

Yesterday, Governor Abbott set September 28 as the date for the special runoff election to fill the seat vacated by now-Congressman Jake Ellzey.

Brian Harrison and John Wray received the two most votes in that race and will now face off in this runoff election. Harrison finished ahead of Wray, 41% to 36%.

Another Special Election…

Five candidates have filed for the September 28 special election in Texas House District 118 to fill the seat of former state Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) after he resigned last month to take a job at San Antonio College

The candidates who filed include three Democrats and two Republicans. They are:

  • Democrat Katie Farias, a member of the Southside Independent School District Board of Managers
  • Republican John Lujan, former HD-118 representative
  • Democrat Desi Martinez, prominent trial attorney
  • Democrat Frank Ramirez, former zoning and planning director for the city of San Antonio
  • Republican Adam Salyer, the 2020 GOP nominee for the seat

Only in Austin…

Explore Austin-area museums this Saturday — for free! The 24th Annual Austin Museum Day is a free celebration of art, culture, history, music, nature, and science.

More than twenty museums in Austin will welcome visitors with special programming including guided and self-guided exhibition tours, activities, and more for visitors of all ages. Click here for more information.

This Week in Texas: September 8, 2021

Posted September 8, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

Special Session Is Over…for Now

After nearly 60 days of special sessions, three quorum breaks by House Democrats, and passing 14 out of 18 items of the Governor’s special session agenda, the Texas Legislature adjourned its second special session last week, calling it quits four days early.

Yesterday, Gov. Abbott announced the third special session will begin on September 20th. Abbott announced the agenda for lawmakers will include:

• Redrawing Political Maps
• Allocating Federal Funds
• Banning Vaccine Mandates
• Legislation Relating to the Unlawful Restraint of a Dog
• Transgender Student-Athletes in Public School Sports

Rep. Ben Leman Will Not Seek Re-election

State Rep. Ben Leman (R-Anderson) said last week he will not seek reelection to the Texas House in 2022.

Leman has represented House District 13, which spans 7 counties nestled between Houston and Austin.

In a statement, Leman said he decided to retire after his responsibilities and duties outside of elected office will require more of his time moving forward.

San Antonio Special Election Date Announced

Gov. Greg Abbott has picked September 28 as the date of the special election to replace former state Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio). Pacheco resigned effective Aug. 19 to take a job with San Antonio College.

The candidate filing deadline is Monday, and early voting starts on September 20. The race has already drawn several candidates from both parties, and Republicans are eager to make inroads in the San Antonio-area district. These are the candidates that have filed so far:

• John Lujan (R), who briefly held the seat in 2016.
• Adam Salyer (R), the 2020 GOP nominee for this seat.
• Katie Farias (D), a member of the Southside Independent School District Board of Managers.
• Frank Ramirez (D), a former legislative staffer who most recently was zoning and planning director for the city of San Antonio. Pacheco has endorsed Ramirez to fill the seat.

Texas A&M Football Rises to #5

Following a win over Kent State on Saturday, the Texas A&M Aggies rose to the No. 5 spot in the latest Associated Press Rankings. Here’s a list of how the other favorite Texas schools performed.

Texas A&M: Win over Kent State University, 41-10
UT: Win over the University of Louisiana, 38-18
Texas Tech: Win over the University of Houston, 31-21
University of Houston: Loss against Texas Tech, 31-12
Baylor: Win over Texas State University, 29-20
TCU: Win over Duquesne University, 45-3
SMU: Win over Abilene Christian University, 56-9

Only in Austin…

From New York to Singapore and now Austin, the delicious Museum of Ice Cream is calling the Domain it’s temporary home.

Guests are welcome to enjoy a Shirley Temple soft serve in the 1960s retro diner or ride on a life-size animal cookie in the Carnival Room. The experience wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a dip and slide into the world-famous sprinkle pool.

For the first time in Sprinkle Pool history, guests are invited to exclusively reserve one of the pool-side cabanas for their private events, giving them the opportunity to sip and enjoy the space all day.

The exhibition will go on until Oct. 31.

This Week in Texas: September 1, 2021

Posted September 1, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

5 Days Left in the Second Special Session of the 87th Legislature

New Texas Laws Go Into Effect Today

A total of 666 new Texas laws that were passed during the 87th Legislative Session in May go into effect today. Here are some that might affect you.

Beer and Wine Sales on Sundays–Sunday brunch just got a little saucier. House Bill 1518 lets you buy beer and wine at 10 a.m. on Sundays. You used to have to wait until noon. Liquor sales are still off-limits on Sundays.

Permitless carry: House Bill 1927 allows Texans ages 21 and older to carry handguns without training or a license as long as they are not legally prevented from doing so.

Medical marijuana expansion: People with any form of cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder now have access to low-THC cannabis for medical purposes. HB 1535 is an expansion of the Texas Compassionate Use Program, which allows people with conditions such as epilepsy and autism to access medical marijuana.

For a full list of the 666 bills effective today, click here.

Bill Changing Voting Laws Headed to Gov. Abbott

Three months after House Democrats first broke quorum to stall a previous version of a voting reform bill, the House and Senate Tuesday signed off on the final version of Senate Bill 1, which would tighten the state’s voting rules. The bill is now headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

Changes to the Texas election process in SB 1 include:
• A ban on drive-thru voting
• New regulations for early voting hours, including a ban on 24-hour voting
• A ban on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications
• New ID requirements for voting by mail
• A correction process for mail-in voting
• Enhancing poll watcher protections
• Establishing monthly citizenship checks
• Creating new rules for voter assistance

And the Special Election Winner Is…

The Special Election to fill the vacant seat in House District 10 was held yesterday.

Brian Harrison (R) and John Wray (R) will be headed to a runoff. Harrison had a big showing on Election Day after getting endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz on Saturday, finishing clearly ahead of Wray overall, 41% to 36%.

Only in Austin…

We don’t know about you, but we’re counting down the minutes until this Saturday’s first UT Football game, not to mention as much college football as we can stand starting this weekend.

To help fill your fall calendar, here are the game schedules for some favorite Texas schools, including UTTexas TechBaylorTCUTexas A&MSMU, and the University of Houston.  Go Team!

This Week in Texas: August 25, 2021

Posted August 25, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

12 Days Left in the Second Special Session of the 87th Legislature

Texas House Achieves Quorum

After a roughly six-week impasse, the official business of the second special session is finally underway in the Texas House.

Monday marked the most Democrats to be seen on the House floor since July when more than 50 members left the state for Washington, D.C.

With about two weeks left on the 30-day special session clock, it’s unclear what the Legislature will be able to accomplish. Member relationships are frayed. And some Democratic members are warning the quorum could be fragile.

Special Election In House District 10 Underway

Eight candidates have filed for the special election to fill the seat of former state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), who is now in Congress.

Early voting for the HD-10 special election started on Monday and the special election is on Tuesday, August 31.

The eight candidates that filed to run are:

  • Scott Goodwin (Independent) of Waxahachie, who listed his occupation as “V.P. development”.
  • Kevin Griffin (Republican), a Midlothian general manager.
  • Brian Harrison (Republican), the former Trump administration official who ran in the special election for the 6th Congressional District.
  • Susan Mellina Hayslip (Republican), a Waxahachie attorney.
  • Pierina Otiniano (Democrat), an Ennis immigration attorney.
  • Matt Savino (Libertarian), who listed his occupation as “I.T. support”.
  • Clark Wickliffe (Republican), a member of the Midlothian City Council.
  • John Wray (Republican), the former HD-10 representative who decided not to seek reelection in 2020.

The most competitive candidates so far appear to be Wray and Harrison. Wray held the seat from 2015 until 2019. Harrison was the former chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Former Bush Advisor Considers Run for Lt. Governor

Former President Bush advisor, Matthew Dowd, says he won’t run against Gov. Abbott, but is stays mum on a run against Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

In an interview with Texas Monthly, Dowd says, “I describe Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton as craven, cruel, and crook. One’s craven. One’s cruel. And one’s a crook. And they need to go. I wish they had the gumption or wish they had the strength to resign after how much they failed the state. They won’t. So I’ll do whatever I can, in any way I can, to help in that.”

Only in Austin…

Austin’s only food hall finally returns with new food options — from Wu Chow, Austin Rotisserie, and celebrity chef Richard Sandoval.

Downtown Austin food hall Fareground — which had been closed during the pandemic — is finally reopening this hall with major changes to the restaurant lineup. The 111 Congress Avenue food hall will reopen on Tuesday, September 7 with four new restaurants and a flower and retail market.

This Week in Texas: August 18, 2021

Posted August 18, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

19 Days Left in the Second Special Session of the 87th Legislature

Gov. Abbott Tests Positive for COVID

Gov. Greg Abbott tested positive Tuesday for COVID-19, according to his office.

Abbott, who is tested daily, is not experiencing any symptoms and isolating at the Governor’s Mansion, according to the statement. He is getting Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment.

Gov. Abbott is fully vaccinated. He received the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 22, 2020.

Texas Gains Most Residents of Any State

Texas saw huge growth in the past 10 years, adding nearly 4 million people, new census data shows.

The 2020 census puts the state’s population at 29,145,505 — a 16% jump from 25.1 million in 2010. Most of that growth happened in urban and suburban counties.

This marks a significant milestone ahead of this year’s redistricting, during which state lawmakers will draw new political maps divvying up seats in Congress and the state House and Senate.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Governor Abbott issued a proclamation setting Tuesday, November 2, 2021, as the special election day for 8 proposed constitutional amendments.

The included amendments range from banning the state from limiting religious services, changing eligibility requirements for judges, and allowing certain organizations to hold raffles at rodeo venues.

Only in Austin…

Waterloo Park is officially reopened, after years of reconstruction, with 11 acres of green space, food truck pavilions, and the new 5,000-seat Moody Amphitheater.

Waterloo Greenway will launch a series of free and low-cost community events in the coming months, such as Día de Los Muertos Festival and Holiday Cinema. Several other events can be found here.

Happening Around Texas…

Big Boy No. 4014, a Union Pacific steam locomotive built in the 1940s to conquer mountains while carrying equipment in support of World War II, is embarking on a 10-state tour that began on Monday.

This is the first time Big Boy has gone on tour since its post-restoration debut in 2019 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion. The tour includes whistle-stops in more than 90 communities.

This Week in Texas: August 11, 2021

Posted August 11, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

26 Days Left in the Second Special Session of the 87th Legislature

Second Special Session “Starts”…

Can we really say it started if there is no quorum in the House?

The first special session ended last Friday without any legislation making it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature. Since round two kicked off on Saturday, the House has been unable to have a quorum to conduct any business, as dozens of Democrats have remained absent from the chamber.

Yesterday, the House members present voted to authorize law enforcement to track down Democrats absent from the chamber and bring them back to the state Capitol, and Speaker Phelan signed 52 civil arrest warrants for missing Democrats. The Senate meanwhile has moved quickly to pass all the bills on Gov. Abbott’s special session agenda.

Funding for Legislature and Staff is Extended

Late last week, Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, and House Appropriations Chair Dr. Greg Bonnen announced an additional month of funding for the Legislature, meaning 2,100 legislative employees will continue to be paid through Sept. 30.

The move comes two months after Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the portion of the state budget that funds the legislative branch—often referred to as Article X of the state budget. On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court denied a request from several Democratic House members and state employees asking the justices to overturn Gov. Abbott’s veto of legislative funding.

Rep. Leo Pacheco Plans to  Resign

Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) announced that he will resign from his position in the state legislature and begin teaching full-time at San Antonio College.

“Teaching is my passion so I will not be passing up this wonderful opportunity. I will be resigning my position as State Representative due to current state law that will not allow me to serve in both positions concurrently,” Pacheco wrote in a social media post. Pacheco was first elected in 2018 after defeating then-Rep. Tomas Uresti in a Democratic primary challenge.

Only in Austin…

Former state Sen. Kirk Watson says he’s considering running for mayor of Austin during the November 2022 election. Watson, a Democrat, was Austin’s mayor from 1997 to 2001.

“I’m considering it seriously. That includes talking to people, doing some research, and considering what I want to be doing right now,” Watson said. State Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), whose term expires at the end of 2022, also expressed interest in running for mayor on Monday and has made phone calls to supporters.

This Week in Texas: August 4, 2021

Posted August 4, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

3 Days Left in the First Called Special Session of the 87th Legislature

Time Running Out On Special Session

As lawmakers head into the last week of the special legislative session, enough House Democrats to prevent a quorum are still in the nation’s capital.

Gov. Abbott has promised to keep calling lawmakers back until the priority elections bill has reached his desk. But the standoff over that bill is no closer to a resolution, as Republicans believe they have already compromised enough, while Democrats are distrustful of their GOP colleagues. Stay tuned for the presumed start of the next special session next week…

Senate Panel Explores Future of College Sports

Texas lawmakers sought to explore their legislative oversight over future athletic decisions made by the University of Texas and other universities.

The Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas, which Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick created last week for lawmakers to study the athletic and economic impact to Texas schools and communities by the Longhorns’ decision to find a new home in the SEC, met at the Texas Capitol on Monday. University of Texas at Austin President Jay Hartzell publicly defended the school’s decision to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference along with the University of Oklahoma in 2025 and denied Texas lawmakers’ claims that the school violated Big 12 bylaws in doing so.

Former Rep. John Wray Seeks Return to Austin

After voters of Texas U.S. House District 6 chose Texas House Rep. Jake Ellzey last week as their next representative in Congress, former Rep. John Wray announced his intention to run for his old seat. “I took time off to spend more time with my family and our Ellis County community, but with Jake [Ellzey] heading to Congress, I can’t stay on the sidelines,” Wray said on social media in announcing his candidacy. “We need a strong, experienced legislator who knows what they are doing and can hit the ground running.”

Only in Austin…

Badge holders call it “a comedy lover’s dream” for a reason. Moontower Comedy Festival returns next month.

Moontower Comedy Festival this year will feature a diverse and hilarious mix of over 100 comics from around the world who will take over 10 venues across downtown Austin for four days of stand-up shows, podcasts, parties, and special events. Moontower Comedy Festival badges are on sale now and available for purchase at