Despite unprecedented momentum, Texas rejects marijuana legislative reform

AUSTIN — Marijuana reform advocates say there was unprecedented, bipartisan support for their efforts in this year’s legislative session, but it still wasn’t enough to change state law.

House Bill 2107, authored by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, would have given safe access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions under strict conditions listed in the bill. Although it earned 77 Democratic and Republican co-authors after its committee hearing, the bill never made it to the House floor for a vote.

“We are going to see a lot more families leave the state of Texas over the next 18 months with children who have neurological disorders. They will move to other states where they can get treatment,” said Rep. Jason Isaac, a Republican from Dripping Springs and one of the co-authors.

Continue reading → Despite unprecedented momentum, Texas rejects marijuana legislative reform

All bills targeting the Texas Dream Act died, but DACA students feel like they didn’t dodge the bullet

AUSTIN — Sixteen years ago, Texas became the first state to allow undocumented students to pay lower, in-state tuition for higher education.

Republicans who have long opposed the measure failed again this legislative session to repeal it, but they passed a measure that inspires even more/just as much concern: the high-profile sanctuary cities ban known as Senate Bill 4, which undocumented students fear will make them targets for deportation.

The new law includes a provision that allows local law officers to question the immigration status of people who are lawfully detained.

“Instead of trying to repeal the Dream Act, you saw an effort to make the environment on campus less hospitable to students with the inclusion of campus police in SB 4,” said Mia Ibarra, policy analyst for the think tank Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Continue reading → All bills targeting the Texas Dream Act died, but DACA students feel like they didn’t dodge the bullet

6 Indiana counties used voter registration company targeted by Russian cyberattacks

For the 2016 election, six Indiana counties used a voter registration software company that news reports say was the focus of cyberattacks by a Russian intelligence unit.

State and local election officials say there is no indication that election or voter data was compromised.

VR Systems was hacked by Russian intelligence, according to reports in The New York Times and other media. Jurisdictions in eight states, including six counties in Indiana, used VR Systems in the 2016 election.

Continue reading → 6 Indiana counties used voter registration company targeted by Russian cyberattacks

Nasty confrontation breaks out between tea party Republican and Latino Democrats at Capitol

AUSTIN — On the final day of a legislative session a marked with bitter strife, a tea-party Republican got into an altercation with Latino Democrats after calling immigration officials on people protesting the recently passed sanctuary cities ban.

The dustup on the House floor escalated with the Republican saying he would “put a bullet” into the head of Democratic Rep. Poncho Nevárez of Eagle Pass, said Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, who claimed to have heard the remark.

In an interview with reporters, Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi of Irving denied the comment, but later posted on Facebook that he would “shoot him (Nevárez) in self defense.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who later spoke to immigration advocates at a rally outside the capitol, said that Rinaldi racially profiled every protester in the gallery by calling U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement just because “he saw a bunch of people that are a shade darker.”

“This is a clear example of how SB 4 will eventually encourage more incidents like the one earlier today (Monday),” he said.

Continue reading → Nasty confrontation breaks out between tea party Republican and Latino Democrats at Capitol

House annexation bill would affect S.A.’s relationship with military bases

AUSTIN — A bill that would limit cities’ ability to annex unincorporated areas by giving residents a chance to vote on the issue was approved by the Texas House, angering city officials across the state.

SB 715, authored by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, could allow unincorporated subdivisions to veto city annexation plans and freeze the boundaries of Texas cities. The bill is on its way to the Senate, which can concur with added amendments from the House or create a conference committee to reach a compromise on the bill.

“The reason this country was founded was because people wanted the right to vote,” state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the bill’s House sponsor, said. “Do we represent our mayors and city councils, or do we represent our constituents? People that we represent have the right to decide what city they live in.”

The bill was debated on the House floor Sunday night and received final approval with a 100-35 vote Monday morning.

Continue reading → House annexation bill would affect S.A.’s relationship with military bases