Columns/Opinions

Thu
28
Feb

Caucus names legislative priorities for public education

AUSTIN — The Texas House Democratic Caucus on Feb. 21 announced its “Texas Kids First” education-funding package that would include all-day prekindergarten, teacher raises and retirement and property tax reform.

“We hope to work with our colleagues to incorporate some of these ideas into their bills,” said Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, caucus chair.

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Thu
28
Feb

Fishing and Hunting Southeast Texas

Fishing and Hunting Southeast Texas

Thu
28
Feb

North Texans Die In Post-Civil War Feud

Texas History

The country doctor answered a knock at his front door on Feb. 27, 1867 to find a hired killer holding a cocked pistol. One squeeze of the trigger later, a simmering North Texas feud claimed its first victim.

When Bob Lee rode home to Hunt County in the summer of 1865, all he wanted to do was to spend the rest of his days in peace with friends and family. But the war was far from over for the Confederate cavalry captain.

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Fri
22
Feb

Fishing and Hunting Southeast Texas

Fishing and Hunting Southeast Texas

Fri
22
Feb

Senate panel focuses on funding of public education

AUSTIN — When Texas legislatures meet every two years, lawmakers’ singular, must-do assignment is to produce a state budget.

Toward that goal, the Senate Finance Committee held meetings on Feb. 11, 12 and 13 to work on Article III of Senate Bill 1. That article focuses on the public and higher education parts of the state budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The meetings, replete with acronym-spattered expert testimony from the Texas Education Agency, the Teacher Retirement System and others, dealt with funding areas within public education. Lumped together, public education funding almost certainly will require more than half of the state’s general revenue. The ballpark estimate of total general revenue is $112 billion.

 

 

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Thu
14
Feb

Governor gives lawmakers list of emergency items to tackle

Vidorian file photo

Macy, Madison, Mallory, Maryn and Merideth Chilton took overall honors in the talent competition at the Pirates Escapades.

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott named as his emergency priorities education reform, teacher pay, school safety, property tax reform, mental health services and disaster response in his Feb. 5 “State of the State” address to a joint session of the Texas Legislature.

The House and Senate may schedule committee hearings on bills related to items on the governor’s priority list before the 60th day of the legislative session, which hits on March 8. Consideration of all other legislation must wait until after that date, except for House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2 — the state budget — which is already in the works.

Abbott gave lawmakers something to cheer about when he said, “When you combine our legislative accomplishments with our record-breaking prosperity, you have elevated Texas to rarified status and I am proud to tell you that the state of Texas has never been better.”

 

 

Thu
14
Feb

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

After four weeks of hearing from every agency in the State, the Senate Finance Committee has finished the first step towards finalizing the state’s budget. We will now move into workgroups to work out the details.

Here are five things happening at your Capitol this week:

1. Rural Broadband

Beyond using it to shop online or watch Netflix, high speed internet has become an essential for everyday life and for businesses; from sales and ordering supplies, to logistics, medical recording, training and educational materials. There are large areas of rural Texas that do not have access to high speed internet or even cell phone coverage, many of them within Senate District 3.

Thu
07
Feb

Senate committee starts work on property tax reform

AUSTIN — Voters would have the power to prevent their local governmental bodies from increasing property taxes by more than 2.5 percent per year under legislation introduced in the Texas Senate and House on Jan. 31.

Senate Bill 2 and identical House Bill 2, both 116 pages in length, propose to amend the current law, in which local taxing authorities may increase taxes up to 8 percent each year before a rollback election would be required. Cries for relief are widespread, given the leeway current law affords and the fact that county appraisal districts may increase the value of property at the same time.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said, “People desperately need property tax reform, our businesses need property tax reform, and we have set out, on this date, early in session, with a major piece of legislation. We are setting the tone for the rest of the session on this issue,” Patrick added.

 

 

Thu
07
Feb

Five things happening at your capitol this week

My Five Cents…

By Senator Robert Nichols

We have made it through the first month of session. This week, Texas Association of Counties held their legislative day, and we were able to welcome Judges and County Commissioners from Senate District 3 to the Capitol.

Here are five things happening at your Capitol this week:

1. State of the State

Each session, the Governor addresses a joint session of the Texas Senate and House to give the State of the State. In this he provides an overview of how the State is doing, as well as to list his emergency items for session. These emergency items are important, as it enables the Legislature to begin working on these issues and pass legislation during the first 60 days of session. We are constitutionally restrained from passing any other legislation until after this deadline.

Thu
31
Jan

Senate Finance panel starts work on state budget

AUSTIN • Jane Nelson, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on Jan. 22 said she would follow an aggressive agenda to deliver a budget ready for floor debate by the end of February.

“There are a lot of things this committee and the full Senate will decide to add, subtract, change, before we actually recommend out of this committee a budget,” she said. At the top of the list are school finance and property tax relief.

Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has chaired the powerful committee for three consecutive sessions. On Jan. 15, Nelson filed Senate Bill 1, a base budget for the 2020-2021 biennium, and scheduled daily meetings for the panel to consider the particulars that go into a document that typically exceeds 1,000 pages in length.

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