This holiday season, teachers and students will officially have permission to wish each other “Merry Christmas” — or the traditional greeting of their choice — in Texas public schools.
Flanked by high school cheerleaders who recently fought a legal battle to carry banners with Bible verses on them at athletic events, Gov. Rick Perry ceremonially signed legislation Thursday clarifying that school districts can acknowledge traditional winter celebrations.
“The holidays are coming early this year,” for students of all faiths “who want to freely express the simplest of appropriate greetings during holy days,” said Perry Read more…
Impassioned testimony and heated exchanges between senators marked the first hearing on abortion measures of the special session.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday afternoon took up Senate Bill 5, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require that surgical abortions be administered in ambulatory surgical centers, make doctors who perform abortions have admitting procedures at nearby hospitals, and require doctors who administer abortion-inducing drugs to do so in person.
During the 83rd legislative session, lawmakers worked together with such collegiality and bipartisanship that some observers began calling it the “Kumbaya Session.”
Gov. Rick Perry has ensured no one will affix that label to the current special session — and maybe to a second one, if it comes to that.
The state’s longest-serving governor called the current 30-day session at the end of last month for the redrawing of the political boundaries. The redistricting process already is dragging out longer than proponents said it would, and it has led to predictable sparring between the two major parties. Read more…
For higher education followers, one of the great lingering mysteries of the 83rd session is the fate of a special committee that was formed to look into governance issues at the University of Texas System.
Shortly after midnight on February 19, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who earlier that day had given a teary defense of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers on the Senate floor, sent a scathing text to UT System Regent Alex Cranberg.
“You have disappointed me,” he wrote, under the impression, which he later walked back, that regents had been spreading anonymous rumors about Powers. “I tried to help you. Based on what I heard this evening, you and [fellow regent Wallace Hall] are about to have the wood applied to you.”
The following day, Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, renewed the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency — the presumed venue for that spanking. Read more…
Leo Linbeck Jr., the Houston construction magnate who co-founded Texans for Lawsuit Reform to transform the state’s tort laws, died Saturday morning, according to his son, Leo Linbeck III. Born in Dallas in August 1934, he was 78.
Linbeck was one of several Houston businessmen who started TLR in the mid-1990s to limit the scope and profitability of civil lawsuits in the state and the U.S. The group became a major force in Texas politics at the same time, generally but not exclusively favoring Republican candidates for statewide and legislative offices and, more recently, branching into other issues like public education. In 2011, Linbeck described TLR’s inception in a speech uploaded to the group’s website. Read more…