Week of April 10-16, 2017

Next step: House, Senate must work toward agreement on state budget
AUSTIN — After more than 15 hours of floor debate, the Texas House of Representatives on April 7 approved a balanced, $218 billion, state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019.
During the debate, state representatives proposed some 378 amendments to the House version of Senate Bill 1, although many were tabled or withdrawn.

Week of April 3-9, 2017

Governor welcomes Justice Department’s sanctuary cities announcement
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on March 27 praised an announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice will withhold and take back federal funds from cities that do not comply with federal immigration laws and enforcement directives.

Week of March 27 - April 2, 2017

Senate panel OKs budget for upcoming two-year period
AUSTIN — A state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019 cleared the first in a series of hurdles when the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved committee substitute Senate Bill 1 on March 22.
The legislation next moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Week of March 20-26, 2017

State budget progresses toward vote by full Senate 
AUSTIN — The Senate Finance Committee, at work on the 2018-2019 state budget since January, on March 16 approved workgroup recommendations in preparation for a final vote. 
Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said she expects her panel to vote on the state budget, Senate Bill 1, this week, March 20-24. After the committee votes, the next step for the budget is consideration by the full Senate.

Week of March 13-19, 2017

Federal court panel rules against Texas redistricting plan
AUSTIN — Three of Texas’ 36 congressional districts are unconstitutional because of racial or political gerrymandering, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled on March 10.
The judges ruled 2-1 that the districts’ boundaries, drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 and 2013, violate the U.S. Constitution.

Week of March 6-12, 2017

House, Senate approve bills to protect children in foster system
AUSTIN — Both houses of the Texas Legislature last week passed bills to improve the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's call for emergency action to improve child protection programs.
Tasked with protecting children, elders and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect and exploitation, the DFPS, part of the Texas Health and Human Commission, has attracted attention in recent years for inadequate funding and staffing to meet obligations. 

Week of Feb. 27 - March 5, 2017

Federal judge sides with plaintiffs in Planned Parenthood case
AUSTIN — Texans who rely on Planned Parenthood as a medical care provider won’t have to seek those services elsewhere, pending an upcoming trial.
In the lawsuit titled Planned Parenthood et al. v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin on Feb. 21 granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the Texas Department of Health and Human Services from eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in the state’s 2017-18 budget. 

Week of Feb. 20-26, 2017

Paxton files brief in support of president’s immigration order 
AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a legal brief supporting President Trump’s executive order for an immigration crackdown.
In his Feb. 15 brief with a San Francisco federal appeals court, Paxton defends President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Week of Feb. 13-19, 2017

Legislation banning sanctuary city policies clears hurdle
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 8 praised the Texas Senate’s approval of legislation to ban sanctuary cities, an item on his priority list for the current legislative session.
Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, passed after 16 hours of floor debate on a 20-10 party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats in opposition.

Week of Feb. 6-12, 2017

Governor raises four issues to emergency status
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his second biennial “State of the State” address to a joint session of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 31. 
In exercising his prerogative as governor, Abbott presented a short list of emergency items for lawmakers to enact during the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature: 
- Improvements to Child Protective Services;
- A ban on sanctuary cities;
- Ethics reforms; and 
- Approve a resolution calling for a convention of states.