Week of Aug. 28 - Sept. 3, 2017

Hurricane Harvey assaults coast, then batters inland counties
AUSTIN — Hurricane Harvey slammed the middle Texas coast on Aug. 25, hammering the region from Rockport to Palacios before continuing inland as a tropical storm and causing widespread catastrophic flooding.
With wind speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour before landfall at Rockport, the National Hurricane Center in Miami gave the storm a rating of Category 4. As rains and flooding worsened, Harvey was widely reportedly to be the strongest hurricane to hit Texas since Carla in 1961.

Week of Aug. 21-27, 2017

Special session ends over impasse on property tax reform bill
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott gave legislators 20 must-pass items, but the lawmakers delivered only 12 bills to his desk during the first called session of the 85th Texas Legislature.

Week of Aug. 14-20, 2017

Abbott signs 3 bills with few likely to reach his desk in final week
AUSTIN — Three bills reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk last week, with the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature set to expire Aug. 16.  
Abbott signed all three into law on Aug. 11:
-- Senate Bill 5, increasing criminal penalties for voter fraud, by Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and sponsored in the House by Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood;

Week of Aug. 7-13, 2017

House passes bills to give retired teachers relief from rising costs
AUSTIN – The Texas House on Aug. 1 approved House Bill 20, legislation appropriating $212.7 million from the “rainy day” reserve fund to help defray rising healthcare costs for retired school employees.
Primary authors of HB 20 include: Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston; John Zerwas, R-Katy; and Donna Howard, D-Austin.

Week of July 31 - Aug. 6, 2017

House, Senate have not yet engaged in back-and-forth on key bills
AUSTIN — Not a single bill had been agreed to by the state House and Senate as of July 28, exactly 10 days into the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature.

Week of July 24-30, 2017

Senate races through agenda to get to other-than-Sunset bills
AUSTIN — The 85th Texas Legislature convened at the Capitol on July 18 for its first called session, the main purpose being for lawmakers to extend the life of certain state agencies scheduled for termination, and then to proceed to other matters.

Week of July 17-23, 2017

Abbott gives lawmakers initial marching orders for special session
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on July 10 issued a formal proclamation for the special session that begins July 18, directing the Texas Legislature to extend expiration dates for the Texas Medical Board and other state boards that regulate psychologists, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors and social workers.

Week of July 10-16, 2017

Lawmakers plan to file teacher pay legislation in special session
AUSTIN — A special session of the Texas Legislature, called by Gov. Greg Abbott, is set to begin on July 18. The agenda is big.
Before adjourning in late May, our 150 state representatives and 31 state senators did the only thing the Texas constitution requires them to do each time they meet for 140 days every two years: they passed a state budget to cover the next two years.

EARLY DELIVERY, week of July 2-8, 2017

Governor applauds lawmakers’ intentions for special session
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott, in the last 10 days of June, posted news releases pointing out specific lawmakers and their plans to file bills that fulfill his expectations for the 30-day special session, which he called to begin July 18. 

Week of June 26 - July 2, 2017

First Gulf storm of season elbows Texas
AUSTIN — State emergency responders geared up for the first time this hurricane season in response to Tropical Storm Cindy, which came ashore just east of the Texas-Louisiana border on June 22.
Two deaths were attributed to the storm — one of them an elderly man found in a sand-mired pickup truck on Texas’ Bolivar Peninsula.