Texas

Quite the Pickle | 06-08-2018

When Anita and Jim McHaney retired in 2006, they figured they’d spend their golden years growing and selling produce from their Texas farm. This included beets and other vegetables they pickled and sold alongside the kale and collard greens popular...

IRS Warns States Against Dodging SALT Deduction | 06-01-2018

After Congress imposed a $10,000 limit on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction with the federal tax overhaul it passed last year, high-tax states like California and New York began strategizing ways for their taxpaying residents to get around the...

Politics in Brief - May 21 2018 | 05-18-2018

JUDGE ORDERS TX TO ALLOW ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION THROUGH DPS: A federal judge has ordered the state of TEXAS to allow residents to register to vote online when they renew their driver’s license through the Department of Public Safety’s...

Budgets in Brief - May 14 2018 | 05-11-2018

CA ECONOMY NOW WORLD’S 5TH LARGEST CALIFORNIA’s economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth-largest, according to data released this month by the U.S. Department of Commerce. California’s 2017...

TX State Agencies Share Personal Data Just Like Facebook | 04-20-2018

Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees about his company’s data sharing policies after revelations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly...

Half of States Use Commissions for Redistricting | 03-16-2018

Commissions, rather than legislatures, have primary responsibility for drawing state legislative and/or congressional districts in 13 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In another 12 states, commissions either assist legislators...

The Local Front - March 19 2018 | 03-16-2018

TX Court of Appeals Rules The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that most of a TEXAS law barring local municipalities from declaring themselves to be so-called sanctuary cities can stay in place while litigation seeking to overturn the law...

Governors in Brief - February 19 2018 | 02-16-2018

ABBOTT PITCHES TIGHTER TX TEACHER SCREENING : Responding to a spike in the number of Lone Star State teachers entering into relationships with students, TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has proposed creating a “do not hire” list for educators...

Budgets in Brief - February 5 2018 | 02-02-2018

TX POTENTIALLY FACING BIG MEDICAID BILL: Despite a healthy economy, TEXAS could face a $2.5 billion Medicaid shortfall in 2019. State lawmakers underfunded the program during last year’s regular session and then in a special session over the...

Land Grab Lesson for Border Wall Watchers | 12-15-2017

In the spring of 2007, long before presidential candidate Donald Trump began promising to build a wall along the border with Mexico, the federal government initiated one of the most aggressive seizures of private land in decades to build a fence to keep...

States With Most to Lose by Elimination of SALT Deduction | 12-15-2017

Taxpayers in nine high-income, high-tax states claimed more than 60 percent of the state and local tax (SALT) deductions on federal tax returns nationwide in 2014, according to the Tax Foundation. Seven of those states, which include California, where...

2018: A Year of Living Dangerously | 12-15-2017

The shadow of President Donald Trump and the Republican tax bill will hover over state governing bodies in 2018, a year of midterm elections that Tim Storey, political analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, says will be “a referendum...

Social Policy - December 11 2017 | 12-08-2017

U.S. COURT DECLINES REVIEW The U.S. Supreme Court declines to review a June decision by the TEXAS Supreme Court, which ruled that the SCOTUS’s landmark 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage does not fully address the right to marriage benefits...

TX Reduced Welfare Rolls 88 Percent in 20 Years | 12-08-2017

In 1998, a few years after Congress reformed the federal welfare system and created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, giving states billions of dollars each year to fight poverty, an average of 479,000 poor Texans were receiving...

Most States Taking Action on Cybersecurity | 12-08-2017

As of Oct. 30 at least 43 states had introduced over 240 bills and resolutions related to cybersecurity this year, according to analysis of LexisNexis State Net data by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-seven of those states have enacted...

More Familiar Issues Likely to Draw State Lawmakers’ Attention in 2018 | 12-08-2017

As SNCJ ’s Rich Ehisen reported last week, some of the issues likely to receive the most attention from state lawmakers next year are those that are already familiar, such as health care, the opioid epidemic and sexual harassment. Here are several...

How’s That Again? | 11-10-2017

Stretching the facts to fit your narrative is nothing new to politics. One could even argue it is as normal as the sun rising in the east. But few can stretch further or with a straighter face than former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. These days Perry is the...

Majority of Ballot Measures Win Passage | 11-10-2017

Voters in seven states considered a total of 22 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 7. Texas voters weighed seven of those measures, the highest number of the seven states. All seven measures passed, which isn’t too unusual in the Lone Star State...

Another Slow Year for Ballot Measures | 11-03-2017

On Nov. 7 voters in 7 states will consider a total of 22 statewide ballot measures, bringing the count for the year - with measures on the ballot last month in two states - to 27. That continues a downward trend in the number of measures on the ballot...

Politics in Brief - November 6 2017 | 11-03-2017

TX HOUSE SPEAKER WILL NOT SEEK REELECTION: After five terms as speaker of the TEXAS House, Rep. Joe Straus announced last month that he would not be running for re-election next year. Straus has repeatedly been criticized this year by fellow Republicans...

Many States ‘Substantially Unprepared’ For Next Recession | 10-20-2017

With over eight years having passed since the end of the Great Recession, the third longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history, the next downturn could come at any time. But many states aren’t well prepared for it, according to a report...

Higher Cost Of Disasters Could Portend Cost Shift To States | 10-20-2017

This past week, as firefighters continued to battle deadly wildfires in Northern California, officials there said this could become one of the Golden State’s worst ever fire seasons, coming on the heels of a historically wet winter and the hottest...

Hurricane Harvey Big Short-Term Blow to TX Budget: | 10-13-2017

Texas state Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R) said last week that the cost of responding to Hurricane Harvey, including dispatching first responders, repairing roads and aiding affected schools, could reach $2 billion in the current two-year budget cycle. ...

Politics In Brief - October 2 2017 | 09-29-2017

DHS CONTACTS STATES ABOUT 2016 ELECTION HACKING The Department of Homeland Security directly notified election officials in 21 states last month that they had been targeted by hackers connected to the Russian government during the 2016 election campaign...

Governors In Brief - September 18 2017 | 09-15-2017

ABBOTT ORDERS FREE REPLACEMENT GUN CARDS: TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to waive the cost of replacing licenses to carry handguns for residents who lost their cards as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Residents...

Politics In Brief - September 18 2017 | 09-15-2017

SUPREME COURT STAYS TX REMAP ORDER: The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Aug. 24 ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Western District of TEXAS that several of that state’s legislative districts had been drawn...

Audit Reveals TX Ag Agency Charged Higher Fees Than Necessary | 09-08-2017

In January of last year Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) significantly raised fees - by hundreds of dollars in many cases and more than doubling them in some - for a range of services the Department of Agriculture provides, maintaining that...

Regulation Of Self-Driving Cars Picking Up Speed In States | 09-08-2017

Early last year SNCJ reported that while the development of autonomous, or self-driving, car technologies by Google, Uber, Tesla Motors and others was “progressing rapidly,” state efforts to regulate the testing and operation of such vehicles...

Immigration - September 4 2017 | 09-01-2017

Illinois Signs SB 31 ILLINOIS Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signs SB 31 , a bill that prohibits police from searching, arresting or detaining someone solely because of immigration status, or because of so-called federal immigration detainers. The law does...

Politics In Brief - September 4 2017 | 09-01-2017

JUSTICE ALITO STAYS TX CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT REDRAW U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito temporarily stayed a lower-court ruling requiring two TEXAS congressional districts to be redrawn because they discriminated against minority voters, “pending...

Social Policy - August 21 2017 | 08-18-2017

Texas Fails To Endorse SB 6 In a special session, the TEXAS House fails to endorse SB 6 , which would have required residents to use the bathroom that matches their genetic makeup at birth. It is the second time this year the Lone Star State House...

TX Digging Multi-Billion Dollar Budget Hole | 08-18-2017

During the regular session, Texas lawmakers balanced the state’s 2018-19 budget in part through one time measures and funding shifts - including setting aside $2 billion less than required for Medicaid and deferring funding for transportation -...

Budgets In Brief - August 21 2017 | 08-18-2017

CA LAWMAKERS CONSIDERING BILLIONS IN SPENDIND PROPOSALS CALIFORNIANS could vote on billions of dollars in new spending for low-income housing, water projects and parks improvements next year if Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and state lawmakers approve several...

Texas’ Infrastructure Best In Nation In 2017 | 08-18-2017

Texas has the best infrastructure in the country, according to CNBC’s 2017 “America’s Top States for Business” rankings . With only 1.7 percent of its bridges deemed “structurally deficient” but a 25.6 minute average...

TX Turning Purple? | 08-11-2017

Since 2000, millions of new residents have poured into Texas, expanding the population of Austin’s Travis County by 350,000, swelling San Antonio’s Bexar County by 500,000 and making three suburbs of those two cities among the fastest-growing...

Social Policy - August 14 2017 | 08-11-2017

Texas Approves HB 214 The TEXAS House approves HB 214 , which requires women to pay an additional insurance premium if they want their health plan to cover abortions performed outside of medical emergencies. The bill, which does not contain exceptions...

Self-Driving Cars Could Be Costly for Cities | 08-11-2017

Not long from now, fleets of self-driving cars could be transporting passengers all over America’s cities. The resulting reduction in the need for privately owned vehicles poses a significant problem for those cities’ governments. “Municipalities...

Budgets In Brief - August 14 2017 | 08-11-2017

LOTTERY REVENUES DOWN IN NM Lottery proceeds for the 2017 fiscal year in NEW MEXICO were down $8.5 million, or about 18 percent, from last fiscal year. The decline is believed to be due in part to a reduction in prize payouts resulting from legislative...

States Attend To Issue Of Medical ‘Balance Billing’ | 08-11-2017

The practice among out-of-network healthcare providers of billing patients when the patients’ insurance carriers don’t cover the full cost of the providers’ services - known as “balance billing” - isn’t the healthcare...

Budgets In Brief - August 7 2017 | 08-04-2017

NEW JERSEY EMPLOYEES TO GET BACK PAY State workers in NEW JERSEY will get back pay for time off they had to take during the state’s government shutdown last month. Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed legislation this week authorizing retroactive pay...

Politics In Brief - July 24 2017 | 07-21-2017

RAIMONDO SIGNS RI VOTER REGISTRATION BILL RHODE ISLAND Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed legislation last week making the Ocean State the 9 th to allow automatic voter registration. The legislation will automatically register anyone doing business with...

DOJ Seeks End To Legal Proceedings On TX Voter ID Law | 07-14-2017

This month the U.S. Justice Department petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to take no further action against the voter ID law passed in that state in 2011 - SB 14, which has faced numerous legal challenges - because the...

States Over-Riding Local Riding Rules | 07-14-2017

The gig business is becoming really big business. And as the number of people using ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft has mushroomed in the last couple of years - with no sign of leveling off - local governments around the country have sought to regulate...

Social Policy - July 10 2017 | 07-07-2017

Social Policy In Texas The TEXAS Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have no right to spousal benefits in the Lone Star State. The court unanimously determined that while a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling clearly legalized same-sex marriage, that...

States Address Cybersecurity, Election Reform And Other Issues | 07-07-2017

Despite the unusual amount of uncertainty heading into this year’s state legislative sessions, a few of the issues we predicted last December might receive particular attention from lawmakers, such as cybersecurity and transportation funding, have...

Education - June 19 2017 | 06-16-2017

Florida Signs SB 436 FLORIDA Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs SB 436 , a measure to ensure that students are able to express their religious views in class assignments, on their clothing or jewelry or by praying during the school day (ORLANDO SENTINEL). ...

Budgets In Brief - June 19 2017 | 06-16-2017

IL Gov Calls Special Budget Session ILLINOIS Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has called a special session to try to end the state’s unprecedented budget impasse that has already drug on for two years and will enter its third on July 1. The special session...

Potpourri - June 12 2017 | 06-09-2017

Rhode Island Approves SB 555 The RHODE ISLAND Senate approves SB 555 , which would require parents to take an online driving course ahead of their children obtaining a driver’s license. It moves to the House, which passed a similar bill last...

TX Election Reform Bill Pleases Both Republicans And Democrats | 06-09-2017

When it comes to the issue of election reform, the Texas Legislature, dominated by Republicans, leans far more in the direction of tightening voter identification and other requirements to prevent fraud than toward expanding voter access. But this month...

Politics In Brief - June 12 2017 | 06-09-2017

Russian Election Cyberattacks Broader Than Indicated U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of VIRGINIA , the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Russian cyberattacks on U.S. election systems were broader and impacted more states than indicated...