The Mignon Memo

This Week in Austin: September 30th, 2020

Posted September 30, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Straight-ticket voting – What you need to know

Straight-ticket voting was set to end this year in Texas, but on Friday, a federal judge ordered the state to reinstate the practice. A federal appeals court on Monday put a temporary hold on a lower court’s ruling last week, again casting into uncertainty whether Texas voters will have the option in the Nov. 3rd election.

Senate District 30 Special Election results

Republicans Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed earlier this year after refusing to close her business due to coronavirus restrictions, and Drew Springer, the state representative from Muenster, are advancing to a runoff in the special election to replace state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, according to unofficial election returns. Each was getting about 32% of the vote late Tuesday in the six-way special election, with all polling locations reporting. The runoff has yet to be scheduled.

Calling all election guide junkies!

Alright, y’all. It’s time to start the countdown (if you haven’t already). We have five weeks until Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, and two weeks until Oct. 13th, the start of Texas’ early voting period. If you are anything like us, a crisp new election guide puts a big smile on our faces! We will be adding this Houston Chronicle Voter Guide to our favorites tab. Check it out!

Because sometimes we just need a good laugh…

We hope everyone is taking care of themselves. Relax your shoulders. Unclench your jaw. There, that’s better. Dentists are seeing more cracked teeth, and they say it’s due to pandemic stress. Let’s keep those pearly whites healthy, shall we?

This Week in Austin: September 23rd, 2020

Posted September 23, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Your Texas COVID Update

Restaurants, retail stores and office buildings can now operate at 75% capacity, Governor Abbott announced last Thursday. The Governor also announced that hospitals will be allowed to offer elective procedures again and nursing homes can reopen for visitations under certain standards. Ready to hit the gym? Gyms can now open at 75% capacity as well!

Texas shatters voter registration records

Texas has now surpassed 16.6 million voters, according to the latest numbers announced Tuesday by Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs. Let’s not stop now! We still have two more weeks to add more registered voters! The last day to register to vote is October 5th. Not sure if you are registered? Find out here!

When it rains it pours

We are thinking about our friends in Southeast Texas during these recent storms. The Houston Chronicle has created a Texas Flood Map and Tracker giving you real-time flood updates including road closures and high-water areas. Y’all stay safe out there!

Only in Austin… but now VIRTUAL!

This year’s Texas Book Festival holds some serious star power and talent! A few of this year’s special guests include Matthew McConaughey, David Chang, Kevin Kwan, Sigrid Nunez, Isabel Wilkerson, and more. Get excited for two weeks of virtual fun happening from October 31st – November 15th. Check out the full lineup here!

This Week in Austin: September 16th, 2020

Posted September 16, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

What do we want? BROADBAND! When do we want it? NOW!

On Friday last week, a bipartisan group of 88 state lawmakers asked Governor Abbott to develop a plan to expand broadband access in Texas. COVID-19 has highlighted the urgency of access to broadband across the state and the lawmakers say the need cannot wait until the 2021 legislative session.

Your 2020 November ballot

It’s the final countdown! The November 3rd general election is right around the corner. Are you ready? Early voting in Texas is October 13th-30th. Here are all the candidates who will be on the ballot and how to find your ballot based on where you live.

H-Town update

On Friday, State District Judge R.K. Sandill rejected AG Paxton’s request to halt Harris County’s mail ballot plan. 2.4 million registered voters could be receiving mail ballot applications soon. AG Paxton appealed the decision Friday afternoon. Mail ballots have become the focus of fierce debate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the pink dome

Conversations are well under way about how the 87th Legislative Session will be conducted starting in January 2021 during the current pandemic. We could be seeing temperature checks upon entry to the Capitol, required face masks, and limited cafeteria grub (no more ice cream sundae Thursdays?!).

We are staying as busy as ever here in Austin, ZOOM-ZOOMing away while legislators are hosting receptions and fundraisers virtually. We are ready for anything in 2021!

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Posted September 9, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Will Texas Bars and Restaurants Begin to Further Re-Open Soon?

Gov. Abbott hints at further reopening Texas by stating that since his “last orders in July, COVID numbers have declined—most importantly hospitalizations”. Abbott tweeted last Monday night that he hopes “to provide updates next week about next steps”.

It’s Worth the Money to be an AGGIE!

Money Magazine set out to answer the question of whether or not a college degree is really worth the cost. In their article  “These Are the 25 Best Colleges for Your Money Right Now”  Texas A&M University was ranked #11 out of the top 25 best colleges for your money nationally, also making Texas A&M the top pick in Texas.

The Texas Tribune is Hosting Their Virtual Tribune Festival

Speakers coming up in the next week include Andrew Yang, Gloria Steinem, Glenn Hegar, Jennifer Palmieri, Jay Hartzell, Dan Huberty, Larry Taylor, Giovanni Capriglione, Mary González, and more. With many more speakers that you will not want to miss, featured all month long.

This is a great source to get informed on everything Texas and on the climate of the upcoming 87th Texas Legislature – with handfuls of informed speakers holding discussions every week of September.

Here is the full Tribune Fest Lineup: https://festival.texastribune.org/schedule

This Week in Austin: September 2nd, 2020

Posted September 2, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Rapid-fire Special Election

Six candidates have filed to compete in the Senate District 30 Special Election on September 29th. In addition to Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and Shelley Luther, the other Republican candidates include Denton Mayor Chris Watts, Craig Carter, a small business owner who ran for the Republican nomination for Senate District 30 in 2018, and Andy Hopper, a Decatur software engineer who is a member of the Texas State Guard. Jacob Minter, a Collin County electrician and recording secretary, is running as the sole Democrat.

Cheers to that!

You may have noticed that your favorite local watering hole re-opened its doors over the weekend. Here’s why!

Texas sues Harris County

 

Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Harris County on Monday after it refused to drop plans to send applications for mail-in ballots for the November election to more than 2 million registered voters.

Best. News. Ever.

 

We think everyone needs a little good news! We thought we weren’t going to get our Fletcher’s corny dog this year – but September 25-October 18, Big Tex will be opening his doors for the Fair Food Drive-Thru. Tickets go on sale today!

This Week in Austin: August 26, 2020

Posted August 26, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Texans thought we were done with elections until November – we were wrong. Another special election has been set, this time for Texas Senate District 30

The Tuesday, September 29 special election will determine who will fill Senator Pat Fallon’s recently vacated seat in the Texas Senate. Candidates must file their applications with the Secretary of State by 5 pm this Friday, August 28th. Early voting for the special election begins Monday, September 14th.

Three candidates are expected to run including State Representative Drew Springer of Muenster, Denton Mayor Chris Watts, and Dallas hair salon owner Shelly Luther.

​New Texas Women’s Health Caucus Website Launch

The Texas Women’s Health Caucus recently launched their new caucus website, https://www.txwomenshealth.com/.

State Representative Donna Howard serves as Chairwoman for the Texas Women’s Health Caucus, an official bipartisan caucus of the Texas House of Representatives with 38 members. The TWHC seeks to promote women’s health care and access and to educate legislators on women’s health care issues including the need and cost-saving benefits of these services​.

Only in Austin…

Austin: “We’re not just for weird people anymore”

Read this fun article on moving to Austin.

This Week in Texas: August 19, 2020

Posted August 19, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

State Representatives filled out a House Member Survey to state their preferences for conducting business during the pandemic.

House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren thanked members of the Texas House for their “thoughtful input” on the member survey concerning how the Texas House ought to conduct business during the coronavirus pandemic which was distributed to all House members. The survey results will help guide the House policies for conducting business this year and the during the upcoming 87th Texas Legislative Session.

Over 80% of the Texas House members support checking temperatures and mask requirements upon entering the Capitol building. Over 60% “oppose permitting outside groups to reserve and use public spaces like committee rooms, the legislative conference center and member’s extension lounge.”

You can read the full survey HERE.

Texas Football: A&M 50% capacity, UT Austin 25% capacity, Texas Tech 25% capacity, Baylor 25% capacity.

Texas A&M will kick off their 2020 football season on September 26th with a home game at Kyle Field in College Station vs, Vanderbilt.

The SEC released the remainder of the 2020 schedule Monday night on the SEC Network.

The complete schedule has now been posted.

Two Dallas Lawmakers spoke at the virtual Democratic National Convention Tuesday evening.

State Rep. Victoria Neave and U.S. Rep Colin Allred were among 17 speakers chosen for the keynote address on Tuesday night.

Although no Texans have scored a solo speaking slot in this year’s virtual Democratic National Convention, these two Dallas lawmakers landed a slot as keynote speakers.

Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner departs.

Texas Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan notified Gov. Abbott that he will resign in September after three years of serving as the head of the TDI.

Only in Austin…

Austin’s own “Minister of Culture” Matthew McConaughey hosted an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci via Instagram Live last week.

You can watch the live interview in full on Instagram @officiallymcconaughey

McConaughey and Dr. Fauci begin their discussion with a round of “myth-busters”. McConaughey is comparable to a football coach on game day as the two discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, emphasizing the necessity to unite across political party lines to defeat the “common enemy”.

 

This Week in Texas: August 12, 2020

Posted August 12, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Opening Texas schools could be 2020’s top election issue.

Public education employs a large number of Texans and is largely funded by property taxes. In addition to health and education, many factors will affect the reopening of Texas schools, including transportation, food and janitorial services, policing, and more.

“Safely getting Texas students back to school — virtually or actually — could be the best evidence between now and the election that official responses to the pandemic are working.”

Texas Universities have begun to brace for a financial hit due to many unforeseen challenges throughout 2020.

In May Gov. Greg Abbott asked state agencies to cut costs by 5% after a blow to the state budget which came with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas universities are facing budgetary crises related to shutting down campuses and moving instruction to online and hybrid models. To tighten their belts and produce budget cuts, universities are enforcing hiring freezes, furloughs, and layoffs, as well as eliminating new job openings. Some programs and sports may also be eliminated.

The pandemic raises this question: Should the Texas Legislature meet for 140 days?

Traditionally, the Texas Legislature meets every odd year for 140 days. The pandemic raises the question of whether or not the 87th Texas Legislature should meet for the entire 140 days in 2021.

State Senator Pat Fallon has been chosen as the nominee for the recently opened congressional contest for Congressional District 4.

 An election will need to be held to replace Senator Fallon’s Senate District 30 seat, which encompasses areas such as Denton, Wichita Falls, Stephenville, and McKinney.

This Week in Texas: August 5, 2020

Posted August 5, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

While we have all been getting our food and beverages to go, the Texas State Capitol building has remained closed to the public since spring break due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Discussions around how to conduct interim committee business as well as how to conduct business during the upcoming 87th Texas Legislative Session beginning January 2021 are underway.

 

Early voting for the November 3rd election will begin on October 13th.

Gov. Abbott has extended the early voting period for the November election by six days. Early voting will now begin Oct. 13 instead of Oct. 19 and will continue until Oct. 30.

 

Tesla is coming to Austin

Tesla is going to build a new Giga factory in Del Valle, just outside of Austin. Welcome to Austin, Tesla!

 

Only in Austin…

There was an ALLIGATOR spotting in Austin?! We don’t see many alligators here in Austin, but don’t worry…

An alligator can be a great way to measure social distancing. Here’s a Texas twist on social distancing brought to you by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:

We hope you and your loved ones are remaining safe & healthy. Remember to use caution and stay three armadillos apart!

 

This Week in Texas: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Posted June 24, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

Only in Austin…

Governor Greg Abbott Urges Texans to Wear Masks

Calling the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases “unacceptable,” Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday urged Texans to wear masks in public. The governor reiterated established voluntary practices to protect against the virus including staying home when possible, using hand sanitizer, keeping six feet of distance from others and wearing a mask when social distancing is not feasible.

Emphasizing that the last option would be to close down the state again, Gov. Abbott said Texas’ strategy to address the rising numbers is to step up enforcement of places where large crowds gather, such as bars, surge testing in possible hotspots and ensure hospitals continue to have capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Texas Schools Will Reopen This Fall

“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said last week. “But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses.” Draft documents posted on the Texas Education Agency website Tuesday show the state is planning few mandatory coronavirus prevention measures when public schools reopen in fall, but recommends staff and students wear masks, hand sanitize regularly and stay six feet away from each other.

In higher education news, many Texas universities are shelving SAT and ACT requirements as the coronavirus pandemic has heavily affected the admissions process. The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Texas Tech University, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University and St. Edward’s University have all temporarily scrapped their testing requirements through 2021; Texas A&M University will announce a decision regarding exam requirements in the coming weeks.

To-Go Alcohol Sales Could Be Made Permanent in Texas

In mid-March, Governor Greg Abbott signed a waiver allowing to-go alcohol sales in Texas in an effort to support struggling restaurants that had to close their dining areas during the coronavirus shutdown. On Saturday, the governor tweeted his support for making those sales permanent. State Representative Tan Parker replied with a pledge to file a bill in the legislative session that convenes in January to extend to-go alcohol sales past the coronavirus pandemic, and include bulk retail food items in the measure.

The Texas Restaurant Association recently proposed expanding the current waiver, which has been extended indefinitely, to also allow mixed drinks with liquor to be prepared, resealed and sold, as a way to boost sales that have leveled out in recent weeks. The proposal included safety recommendations, including ways to seal the drink and rules for where customers can keep alcohol.

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The Memo will take a break during the month of July. Have a wonderful July 4th holiday, keep washing your hands and know that we will share Capitol news with you as soon as it develops.

Stay safe!