Hurricane Harvey delivered chaos and calamity up and down the most populous parts of Texas' Gulf Coast. The state is resourceful and will be up to the task of recovery, but there could be some self-inflicted challenges impeding that recovery.
The losses from disasters are felt personally by families and communities. We have much to do after Hurricane Harvey, but we are off to a good start in helping affected Texans get the tools they need to rebuild.
As we take the long road to recovery after Hurricane Harvey, we must prioritize our financial decisions on ensuring our beloved communities are protected from future natural disasters.
Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to not call a special session of the Texas Legislature to access emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery will worsen the long-term economic effects of one of the most powerful storms to ever land on our shore.
After 29 bonus days at the Texas Capitol, lawmakers headed back to their districts without having accomplished much. That’s good news, because Gov. Greg Abbott’s 20 priorities mostly would have harmed Texans.
The Senate’s proposal to limit cities and counties from raising the funds they need to pay police officers, firefighters and paramedics is a bad idea. Senate Bill 1, as this proposal is called in this special legislative session, would also threaten local funding for health care, parks and libraries. Fund public education and the rest will take care of itself.
In 2014, I tried to go to the polls to vote. I knew the additional voting requirements of showing a photo ID would likely pummel any hopes that the disability community would have in accumulating political power. I realized I had an opportunity to shine a spotlight on how the law had disenfranchised me of my voting rights.
Inefficient school finance formulas aren’t the only factor driving up property taxes. The Legislature often forces back-door tax increases through new legislation, rules and regulations that impose added costs on counties, leaving local taxpayers to pick up the tab. Unfortunately, these unfunded mandates have become all too common.
If the Legislature actually passes bills on the 20 charges specified in the call by Gov. Greg Abbott, Texans could see a return on their investment in the special session far surpassing their wildest expectations.
Ongoing attempts by Republican leaders to circumvent municipal control of local issues are misguided and likely to undermine the construction and implementation of a long-term governing vision.
At first glance, the numbers seem to support the idea that partisanship is rampant: Of the 1,161 bills that became Texas law, a little over half had zero bipartisan support. 468 had all Republican sponsors, and 184 of them had all Democratic sponsors. But if you look between those two poles, a more nuanced story emerges.
An alliance of states was announced to follow the Paris agreement’s terms and it became clear that the states had begun to reassert themselves. California has reached an accord with Quebec. The Canadian government is in talks with Texas, Florida, and other states. They are ready to take on responsibilities abandoned many years ago.
Gov. Greg Abbott's agenda for the Texas Legislature's special election next month looks a little light, so here are a few proposals he should add to his list.
Setting limits on the time politicians can serve in a particular office will not solve all the problems with Washington’s broken culture. However, I believe it will help achieve a much-needed, positive dynamic: more courage to solve the big problems for our country rather than congressional leaders planning their careers and protecting their longevity.
Underground pipes account for 60 percent of the cost of maintaining our water systems. It is here that we need to focus our attention and our resources, because we have thousands of miles of leaking, corroded, underground iron water pipes that if not replaced in a timely fashion will trigger the next Flint disaster in an unsuspecting community.
Appointing officials to state boards and commissions is one of the most important roles of the Texas governor. Individuals appointed to positions in public agencies and on state boards should be chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not their ability to donate money. We owe it to the people of Texas to take money out of the equation, ensuring that all Texans can be equally considered for these appointments on the basis of merit alone.
Overall, while some residents of both Nevada and Texas complain that they do not have full time Legislatures, both states are remarkably efficient at concluding most of the key work in a few months at the start of an odd year of each biennium.
Sometimes I wonder if the august body of the Texas Legislature remains true to the Reagan ethos of servant leadership. Where is the humanity? Where is the compassion for the least among us? Can the blind ideology of libertarianism adequately address the pain and suffering of our fellow Texans? This session, it seems as though some members have chosen fealty to an unseen, nihilistic special interest over the lives of those who they were sent here to represent.
Lawmakers had plenty of opportunities to adopt solutions that would have improved the lives of Texans. But instead of focusing on the real challenges facing our state, they were busy crafting discriminatory responses to manufactured problems.
What questions should a Convention of States address? Should the presidential Electoral College be eliminated? Should term limits be imposed on Congress? Do we need a federal balanced budget amendment? Should health care be a constitutionally protected right?
Texas’ divestment policies, which includes some prohibitions on the investment of public funds in Iran, have both tangible and symbolic significance. This policy serves as a sign of Texas' commitment to an American foreign policy rooted in unwavering support for Israel, our strong ally in a dangerous and volatile Middle East.
Legislators frittered away the Rainy Day Fund long ago. Sure, it has a cash balance — according to the books, anyway. But that cash, amounting to roughly $10 billion, is offset by debt, amounting to roughly $50 billion.
Gov. Greg Abbott wants to add a second section to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that delegates to the federal judiciary the power to interpret the constitutional role of the federal government. The notion that the U.S. Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutional meaning is what is killing our liberty.
We have legislation pending that would finally preserve Lions Municipal Golf Course, known to locals as “Muny,” and give us the ability to properly honor its history in civil rights in Texas. Once again, the University of Texas is fighting it.
Our founders were both realists and idealists. They knew the terrors of war and prepared for its eventuality. They also believed the decision to commence war, or even engage in potentially provocative and aggressive offensive military action, was too terrible and momentous to entrust to one or even a select group of elected officials.
The irony with long-term issues is they don’t need to be solved immediately, yet because they do not need to be solved immediately, those issues are rarely adequately funded in each state budget. The Texas Legacy Fund within the ESF would allow the state to better manage long-term issues, which are the greatest threat to our state’s AAA credit rating.
From enrichment to education, libraries transform how we as patrons engage in the world around us by providing access to resources and by developing programs specific to the needs of our communities. In the years ahead, the services that libraries provide will be essential as more and more cities adopt aging-in-place initiatives.
Ten percent of retail transactions are now online, and this proportion increases every year, while sales tax collection for the state of Texas has increased anemically. As our sales tax collections stagnate, lost revenue will be made up with higher taxes elsewhere, most likely through property taxes and additional cuts.
Daily fantasy sports are being played in 40 states. It's time for the state to update its statutes so Texans can enjoy these skill-based competitions without concern of breaking the law.
With emergencies underway in the state's child protective services and foster care, Texas should allow non-profits, including faith-based organizations, to reach out to families in crisis, intervening before abuse or neglect occurs.
We ask Texans to put a lot of trust in us and believe that we as legislators are acting in their best interest. But lately, we've done a sorry job of ensuring people can both trust — and verify.
Dogs may be dumb animals to some, but to many people they are family; to an older, lonely, person, a dog might be the only friend. Our legislators owe these family and friends some protection.
Despite failed efforts to scale back the Hazlewood Act last session and the Supreme Court's validation of that benefit for veterans, there are whispers around the Capitol of renewed efforts to scale it back.
State government will close its doors on Thursday, August 31. The only way those doors will open the next day is if the Legislature can pass a budget that is certified to balance by Comptroller Glenn Hegar and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. While an early start to the Labor Day weekend might sound good to students, failure is not an option.
Texas is lucky to have a large savings account in its so-called Rainy Day Fund, created to prevent or reduce sudden massive cuts to schools, health care and other services Texans need.
Many political themes we'll see over the coming months are as historic as the Capitol's pink dome: disputes between the chambers, intra-party squabbles, the waft of corruption and the race against the ever forward-marching legislative calendar.
In 2015, Democrats were less frequently able to keep legislation they opposed off of the floor or gain majority backing for legislation they supported.
The answer to Houston's pension problems is compromise.
The very survival of our republic depends on an educated, engaged, and information-savvy populace.
Legislators will be tempted to tap the Economic Stabilization Fund for many reasons, but restraint should be exercised.
It is incumbent on conservatives to uphold our principles and speak out against actions that violate our most cherished constitutional precepts — regardless of the occupant of the White House.
There can be no denying that the technology industry plays a significant role in Texas' economy, but our state Legislature and governor's office have not evolved to properly handle technology issues.
The least we can do is to ensure that our government does everything it can to provide the medical care and support services our veterans require after completing their service.
An influx of new Democrats would make the House as a whole more liberal but would simultaneously make the majority Republican delegation more conservative.
The issues championed by the Texas Nationalist Movement may seem complementary to supporters of a convention of states, but they are not. This is an internal battle, a domestic struggle, over the political and economic destiny of Texas.
As a Latina who is very proud of my heritage and of my hometown of El Paso, I learned some saddening but unsurprising things about the one of the most powerful bodies of state government in the country.
How many times have you heard the news that the tax rate is going down, only to get your bill and find that your taxes have actually skyrocketed?
All areas of government benefit from transparency. But sunlight is most necessary at that juncture where private enterprise is paid out of the public burse.
Wireless connectivity amplifies every aspect of daily life, from improving transportation and public safety to enhancing business and personal communications. Yet Austin's current wireless infrastructure is as frustratingly clogged as its streets and highways.
In an attempt to score political points and make Republicans look ineffective, Democrats in Congress have decided to gamble with the health of our country by filibustering a bill that could have helped stop the spread of the Zika virus.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are behind a bill that would make the murder of a police officer a federal crime. But while failure to “Back the Blue” is a moral issue, it should not be a legislative one.
Public employees are paid with hard-earned tax dollars, and we should expect those dollars to lead to actual work while an employee is on the public clock.
A 4 percent budget cut may not seem like much to the casual observer, but for a state that already underinvests in critical public services like education and health care, it represents potentially significant cuts to services that help Texans compete and succeed in life.
For Texas families to continue flourishing under a responsible model of no personal income tax and relatively low taxes overall, government spending must be restrained. The Texas Legislature can do this next session by passing a conservative spending limit.
Localities have the authority to regulate the vehicle-for-hire business because it was granted to them by the state, but the Legislature has shown a willingness in the past to take back that authority where it has been abused.
Austin self-identifies as forward-looking and open to the new, so you'd think its leadership would see ride-sharing services like Uber as an opportunity, not a problem.
The heady days of the Texas Legislature's superiority in state budget writing seem to have come to a close in favor of giving the governor an unprecedented amount of power over how the state spends its money.
There is much to be said for Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for a new convention to revise the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, ours is the most difficult to amend in the world, making his proposal more of a wish list than a practical program.
Texas needs to break the cycle of failure that keeps destroying children in the name of saving them.
Incentivizing, rather than mandating, drivers to get fingerprint background checks is the best way to ensure that Austin rideshare passengers have a meaningful choice for a ride home that they feel is safer.
When regulation becomes so pervasive that you can no longer tell where government stops and the private sector begins, you can't count on either to serve the public interest.
Instead of fighting in court while children suffer, the governor and the Legislature should act now.
Why do governments across Texas, at all levels, make it so difficult for those affected by policy decisions to affect those decisions?
I applaud Gov. Greg Abbott’s recently announced initiative for the states to take the lead in amending the U.S. Constitution. The truth is, we have become a nation with a powerful, centralized government, which was never our founders’ intent.
We are long overdue for a serious discussion about the adequacy of a very old Constitution drafted for a very different country and world.
Every child deserves safety, permanency and loving care, but can we expect as much from any state agency — let alone one that is stretched so thin and faces so many obstacles in its efforts to care for more than 30,000 children?
If Texas wants to retain its status as the envy of the nation in terms of opportunity and economic growth, it must not allow government to restrict the advance of the free market to the point of criminalization just to serve the narrow business interest of industry incumbents.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development's latest attempt to crack down on public housing rules by proposing a smoking ban will only add to the barriers many people face in finding secure housing.
If the federal government can claim land along the Red River as public property without due process or lawful basis, then private property can no longer be considered a right for any Texan.
Those who would remove religion completely from the public square have hijacked the phrase "separation of church and state," to the point that many believe those five words are found in the Constitution. Of course they are not, and neither is this radical doctrine of a religion-free culture.
Religion, beliefs and values are part of who we are and certainly part of what shapes our ideologies, but at what point do personal beliefs and the policies those beliefs create infringe on the rights of others?
Routinely, I hear my colleagues citing scripture to make their case, and voting by faith instead of what’s necessarily in the best interests of the people of Texas.
I get concerned when I hear lawmakers say that they can separate their personal beliefs from their work in the Legislature. And I have yet to see even one of my colleagues accomplish this feat.
Take a look at the voting records of the nine freshmen Texas state senators this year, and you'll see that seven were significantly more conservative than their predecessors.
It’s easy to say you’re conservative. Anyone can do that. It’s another thing to actually govern conservatively.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has talked about reform and a “reboot” of the General Land Office. But there's proof that the office had been a success, and morale is now actually dropping among agency employees.
We cannot and should not accept that thousands of Texans didn't vote in 2014 simply because they were confused by new rules. It's time to take action.
No matter where you live in your state, your vote should have the same weight. It's time for the Supreme Court to make that official.
It's been 50 years since the Supreme Court required states to end discriminatory redistricting practices. But that decision is under attack today in Texas in a case the court will hear this fall.
We can’t guarantee there won’t be growing pains in San Marcos. But we can assure our residents that we’re doing everything we can to plan for that growth.
Conservatives in Washington and Texas have it right: Eliminating the Export-Import Bank and most of Texas’ economic development programs will promote liberty and boost the economy.
Bringing Facebook to Fort Worth will create jobs, boost tax revenue and drive billions of dollars in capital investment. And it wouldn't have been possible without reasonable state and local incentives.
It seems as if everyone in Fort Worth — and Texas — is thrilled about Facebook coming to town. I wish I could celebrate with them.
With religious liberty and freedom of conscience under assault, Gov. Greg Abbott must call a special session to end government marriage licensing. Only then will we be free from the tyrannical grip of politically correct insanity.
In the contentious fight over ethics at the state Capitol this year, Texans' First Amendment rights managed to emerge unscathed. For at least another two years, Texans’ right to speak their mind is secure.
We call on Gov. Greg Abbott to stand for traditional marriage by calling the Texas Legislature back into session to pass a bill defending the state against judicial supremacy.
Not everything went our way, but the 84th Texas Legislature shows what conservatives can accomplish when they set clear goals and stay on top of them.
Hard work and leadership prevented my worst nightmares about the 2015 session from coming true, but lawmakers still failed to deliver the policy solutions that Texans need.
This session was supposed to be big for ethics. Instead, lawmakers chose to protect themselves from public scrutiny and accountability. What happened?
In the aftermath of every natural disaster in our state, we see everyday Texans rapidly come to the rescue of neighbors and help the newly homeless. We need our state government to do the same.
Thousands of hours of work spent on recommending crucial changes to the state's health agencies are now in jeopardy. Lawmakers can't let that go to waste.
A proposal to impose stricter revenue caps on counties may sound fiscally conservative, but it would only serve to erode local control.
With Texas homeowners being gouged more and more every year, we in the state Senate believe enough is enough. That's why we've taken action.
The Legislature can’t stop thunderstorms from hitting Texas, but it can do something about the lawsuit storm that now follows them.
Texas already has some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. Now, industry lobbyists are backing an outrageous piece of legislation that would punish customers even more.
When it comes to basic government services, state lawmakers have met Texans’ needs — and then some. Now it’s time to let taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
The alcohol industry is of no specific concern to me, but I know a bad law when I see it. The Legislature has no business suppressing anyone's right to compete in the free market.
The 13-year-old leading the charge to change Confederate Heroes Day is right: The Civil War was complicated and tragic for Texas in ways that the holiday doesn't remotely recognize.
Texas needs a 21st century voter registration system that’s secure, efficient and inclusive. That should include online voter registration.
Friends, family and former associates have demanded to know why I, a protégé of the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice, would go to bat for a cause they consider racist. My answer is simple.
I moved to Texas for its freedom and entrepreneurial spirit. So why is the state shackling Tesla with draconian restrictions that limit consumer choice?
Supporters of proposed "religious freedom" bills in Texas say the measures only serve to strengthen existing law. But there's a big difference between their proposals and what's on the books right now.
How Texas lawmakers will cut taxes has emerged as the defining fight of this year's legislative session, highlighting the tension between the state's political culture and its rapid economic growth.
The furor that followed the recent passage of Indiana and Arkansas' religious freedom acts shouldn't deter Texas from moving forward with a measure of its own.
We're two grassroots leaders from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but on this we can agree: Texas can and must improve its fiscal transparency.
There's plenty to like about the Texas House's proposed state budget for the next two years. It's conservative and leaves room for tax relief while recognizing the needs of our rapidly growing state.
Texans welcome innovative, cutting edge-businesses. But they also know it's unfair, and bad business, to change the rules in the middle of the game for the benefit of a single player.
It's easy to tune out what's happening at the state Capitol if you live outside of Austin. But all Texans should listen up, because more tax breaks will mean less revenue for our growing cities and counties.
Local control is an important governing principle, but so is liberty. When the two are in conflict, liberty should always prevail.
It's time for Texas lawmakers to plug the growing hole in the state's retirement pension fund. The future of the state's middle class may depend on it.
It's long past time for state lawmakers to update Texas' antiquated liquor-sale laws, which serve little purpose other than to constrain competition and favor entrenched interests.
Given the potential for big economic benefits, Texas lawmakers would be wise to use every available dollar this year to fully repeal the state's business tax, also known as the margins tax.
How can our state call the Confederate flag offensive while honoring the people who fought under it with their own state holiday? Let's make it a holiday for all Texans.
The men and women who work the most dangerous jobs in Texas deserve real protections and a true shot at economic opportunity. It's time for lawmakers to take action.
Texans must feel confident that their tax dollars are being used wisely and fairly. As the state's chief financial officer, I'm committed to transparency and trustworthiness in the contracting and purchasing process.
Straight-ticket voting allows citizens to skip spending the time and energy needed to become educated voters. Let's join 39 other states in the U.S. and get rid of it.
Pregnancy discrimination in Texas is not only real but often perfectly legal under state law. It's time to put an end to that.
We all want a Texas budget that reduces wasteful spending. But neither chamber's initial proposal makes sufficient investments to help hard-working Texans or their families.
As the head of a foster care program for children in the state's care, I've struggled to find any evidence of true family values in Texas' lawmakers budget proposals this year.
Local laws in Texas banning texting while driving are good, but this patchwork of ordinances confuses drivers and jeopardizes safety. To save more lives, we must take action at the statewide level.
Citizens United has unleashed a tide of big money into our election system, threatening to drown out the voices of ordinary Texans. Fortunately, there's something we can do about it.
Texans shouldn't let the debate over contracting in state government overshadow the vital work of companies like 21CT, whose oversight of state programs has served Texas taxpayers well.
We owe it to Texans to ensure that state programs are run with the highest degree of transparency. That's why I'm deeply disappointed by allegations of contracting abuse at our health and human services agencies.
Swapping property taxes with a reformed sales tax would boost the state's economy and increase opportunity for all Texans. Here's how it'd work.
Texas is once again fighting with the Obama administration over health care policy. Obamacare? Think again. This time, it’s state officials who are pushing for more regulation of health care.
Some ideologues are calling for an artificially low state spending limit that would tie the hands of legislators. We should give our leaders the freedom to make smart decisions about our state's real needs.
While those in control of the state Capitol rail against property taxes, they also quietly take advantage of them. It's time to give Texans an honest accounting and a real tax break.
The First Amendment was written specifically to protect us from political speech police, and it will prevail over any of the Texas Ethics Commission's forays into unconstitutional rule-making.
I commend my colleagues on the Texas Ethics Commission for upholding the state's disclosure laws without fear or favor.
Texas’ job-luring incentive program is good for Texas and its citizens. Let’s look closely at the facts before we throw the baby out with the bathwater.
In today’s polarized society, it’s often hard to find areas of consensus. But thanks to the city of Houston's outlandish subpoenas of pastors' sermons, we’ve found something that we can all agree on.
We're committed to limiting the size and reach of government. That's why we'd oppose a vote early next year to bust the state's spending cap.
Now that both gubernatorial candidates have pulled out the wheelchairs, let's get past the imagery and discuss real disability issues in Texas.
Austin will soon be home to one of the first new Irish consulates in the U.S. in decades. Here's why.
If we can marshal local, state and federal resources to prevent the outbreak of a deadly virus in Texas, why can't we respond to other long-term crises like health coverage and education?
Texas Child Protective Services is reluctant to admit it's underfunded, given the scrutiny the agency faces when its shortcomings are revealed. But that's no excuse for shortchanging vulnerable children.
Some say Texas doesn't need to spend any more of its own money on attracting out-of-state businesses. I disagree. We can't stand by and wait for other states to one-up us.
There’s little doubt that Texas' ongoing redistricting fight — which went to trial in San Antonio last week — will make law in a number of key ways. But it also has much bigger implications for voting rights advocates across the nation.
The state will likely have billions of dollars in excess tax revenue in its coffers next year. Instead of using that money to make government bigger, however, legislators must limit state spending growth. Here's how.
As a Libertarian, I think citizens do best when government does what it needs to do and nothing more. If elected Texas comptroller, that's the approach I'd take to reforming the state's property tax system.
Our state isn't providing taxpayers with the tools they need to evaluate some of the costliest and most controversial economic development programs in the country.
Mandating workers' compensation insurance in Texas hasn’t been the answer for more than 100 years, and it’s not the answer now.
It has pained me to see firsthand how my home state treats low-wage workers like disposable commodities. Texas can do better, and one way is by requiring vital worker protections.
While no system is perfect, there’s no debating the fact that Texas has one of the most effective and efficient workers' compensation systems in the country.
Republicans in the Legislature have cut spending and balanced the budget, but that's not the story being spun by Tim Dunn and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Unnecessary complexity keeps Texans — and even lawmakers — from understanding what's in the state budget. Here's a look at Texas' true budget history over the past decade.
Decades after I sat in a Head Start classroom, I’m reminded how far we have to go in helping poor kids in Texas.