Capital Highlights

Week of Feb. 1-7, 2016

TxDOT awaits go-ahead signal for gridlock-reducing projects
AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Transportation on Jan. 27 reported that on average, Texas drivers in five of the state’s largest metropolitan areas lose about 52 hours and $1,200 annually due to traffic congestion. 
Upon approval by its oversight body, the Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT plans to improve drive times and reduce costs through what it calls an accelerated $1.3 billion effort addressing gridlock in some of the state’s most congested areas.

Week of Jan. 25-31, 2016

Governor meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 18 met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a business development tour in Israel.
Abbott said in a news release that the meeting was “to discuss Texas and Israel’s historic bond” and how he can further solidify their relationship. 
Abbott informed Netanyahu that Texas would “maintain its Iran divestiture policy” and that he would “seek new laws to strengthen Texas' prohibitions on the investment of public funds in Iran.”

Week of Jan. 18-24, 2016

Paxton files brief supporting religious non-profits
AUSTIN —- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Jan. 11 filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 20 states supporting the right of religious nonprofits to exercise religious beliefs. 

Week of Jan. 11-17, 2016

Governor proposes slate of amendments to U.S. Constitution
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 8 unveiled his “Texas Plan,” a document promoting the passage of nine constitutional amendments “to rein in the federal government and restore the balance of power between the States and the United States,” he said.
The amendments Abbott is proposing include:
- Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
- Require Congress to balance its budget;

Week of Nov. 30 - Dec. 6, 2015

15 disaster-stricken counties to receive federal aid

AUSTIN — President Barack Obama on Nov. 25 ordered federal disaster aid to supplement Texas state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of Oct. 22-31.

President Obama’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Comal, Galveston, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Liberty, Navarro, Travis, Willacy and Wilson.

Week of Nov. 23-29, 2015

Governor communicates stance on refugees to White House

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Nov. 16 wrote a letter to the White House, informing President Obama “the State of Texas will not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris.”

Week of Nov. 16-22, 2015

5th Circuit rules immigration policy unconstitutional

AUSTIN — A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 9 affirmed a Brownsville federal district judge’s Feb. 15, 2015, order forbidding the Obama administration’s implementation of DAPA, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Residents Program. 

Against the wishes of Congress, the White House sent out a memorandum in November 2014 extending the reach of the policy include to more people.

Week of Nov. 9-15, 2015

Governor conditions issuance of state grants on compliance with ICE
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas sheriffs won’t receive grant funds from his Criminal Justice Division unless they comply with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement notification and detention requests. 

Week of Nov. 2-8, 2015

Governor rails against Dallas sheriff’s detention policy
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 26 wrote to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, saying her “case-by-case immigrant detention plan will no longer be tolerated in Texas.” 
Under the sheriff’s current policy, an undocumented person who committed minor offenses is not held past their release date an extra 48 hours for federal immigration authorities. 

Week of Oct. 26 - Nov. 1, 2015

State says funding to Planned Parenthood will be cut

AUSTIN — The state Health and Human Services Commission notified Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas on Oct. 19 that state funding they have been receiving through the Medicaid program would be cut.