Dan Patrick

State of Texas

AUSTIN — A broad coalition of Texas Tea Party groups has mounted a scathing criticism of the state’s GOP lawmakers, including its top two Republicans, arguing they failed to ensure that the Legislature kept key conservative promises.

In an open letter Thursday, signed by 28 grassroots leaders and published on the website representing the Texas Tea Party coalition of groups, they worried that, with the June 1 end of session looming, many of their top priorities didn't have enough time left to pass.

It stated: “Frankly, we don’t care how hard or how long they have to work to get the job done, either. Too many evenings, Fridays, and weekends have gone by with no committee meetings and no floor action for us to accept the tired and politically convenient excuse ‘we ran out of time.’”

Ryan E. Poppe

A standoff between the Texas House and Senate could be nearing the end, as both sides seemed to agree to some leeway on their plans to cut taxes in 2015. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed that he was working with the two sides to help reach some kind of compromise.

It’s been quite a bit of back and forth for the competing House and Senate plans over the past two months. Part of the Senate’s original plan called for cutting a portion of the state’s property taxes, something the House didn’t initially agree with. In the House, the Senate had taken issue with their plan to cut a portion of the state’s sales tax.  
 
And when those talks hit a stalemate, Gov. Abbott stepped in to help facilitate an agreement.
 

Dan Patrick via YouTube

AUSTIN — Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens has never been shy about buttonholing elected officials, but it’s seldom been easier since Texas’ new lieutenant governor set up regular conference calls for select business leaders and donors to advise him on issues before the Legislature.

In Texas, where the wall between big money and government is like the low cattle fencing that pens the state’s ranchland, new Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s new invitation-only calls have provided an especially direct connection between the state’s business elite and the Legislature’s agenda.

“Why wouldn’t I want to learn from and communicate with the job creators? Why would we want to pass legislation that might impact our economy in a negative way?” said Patrick, who schedules bills for action, explaining the calls.

Flickr user Fibonacci Blue / cc

AUSTIN — The national debate over religious objection laws roiled again Thursday in Texas, after Republican lawmakers abruptly pushed a new proposal on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing historic arguments over gay marriage.

Even advocates for same-sex couples say the bill, aimed at allowing clergy members to refuse officiating marriages that violate their beliefs, largely duplicates protections that already exist.

However, the legislation drew attention because of its timing — weeks after filing deadlines had passed in the Texas Senate and on the same day the landmark gay marriage case was heard in Washington.

Ryan E. Poppe

AUSTIN — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott met with the Honduran president last week in his first visit with a Central American leader since he took office and promised to stanch the flow of immigrants coming across the border.

It was a break from friction Abbott is confronting closer to home in the Capitol.

With six weeks left in a legislative session that began with Abbott giving largely non-contentious marching orders like ethics reforms and tax cuts — and leaving hot-button issues like gay rights and abortion aside — a standoff between the GOP in the House and Senate has put some of his agenda in gridlock.

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