February 19, 2018 •

Texas Special Election Set for House District 13

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on February 16 that a special election will take place for House District 13 on May 5 to replace state Rep. Leighton Schubert. Schubert resigned on February 4 to do legal work for Blinn College. […]

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on February 16 that a special election will take place for House District 13 on May 5 to replace state Rep. Leighton Schubert.

Schubert resigned on February 4 to do legal work for Blinn College.

Early voting for this election will begin on April 23.

Pictured: Former Rep. Leighton Schubert

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January 26, 2018 •

Austin Lobbyists Agree to Disclose Compensation

Lobbyists in Austin have agreed to cooperate with the city and disclose how much clients pay them. Taking a lead from state and federal filing requirements, Austin began requiring lobbyists to report what they are paid last year. Seventeen lobbyists […]

Lobbyists in Austin have agreed to cooperate with the city and disclose how much clients pay them. Taking a lead from state and federal filing requirements, Austin began requiring lobbyists to report what they are paid last year.

Seventeen lobbyists registered with the city, all lawyers, asserted attorney-client privilege prohibited them from the disclosure. The city’s Ethics Review Commission was scheduled to hear ethics complaints filed against the group, but all 17 amended their reports to add the missing information.

A lobbyist who originally refused to disclose his compensation said the City Clerk accepted the form without the information and there is even space provided for an explanation as to why the compensation information was not disclosed.

Austin’s actions this week have set an example for enforcing the reporting requirements moving forward.

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November 8, 2017 •

Texans Approve Ballot Measure to Loosen Lending Regulations

On Tuesday, Texans voted to loosen some home lending regulations in place since the foreclosure crisis. By a two-thirds margin, the ballot measure expanding who can make a home equity loan and allowing homeowners to convert home equity loans into […]

On Tuesday, Texans voted to loosen some home lending regulations in place since the foreclosure crisis.

By a two-thirds margin, the ballot measure expanding who can make a home equity loan and allowing homeowners to convert home equity loans into conventional mortgage loans was approved.

The measure was widely opposed by fair housing advocates and supported by lenders and the real estate industry. This is the second time in the last five years Texans have voted in favor of more relaxed lending laws.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.05 billion bond package focused on repairing the city’s infrastructure and recreational amenities.

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October 20, 2017 •

Austin to Consider Procurement Overhaul

The Austin Financial Services Department is proposing drastic changes to the city’s anti-lobbying and procurement ordinance. The proposed changes shorten the no contact period during a bid solicitation and allow the purchasing officer to consider mitigating factors when determining if a […]

The Austin Financial Services Department is proposing drastic changes to the city’s anti-lobbying and procurement ordinance.

The proposed changes shorten the no contact period during a bid solicitation and allow the purchasing officer to consider mitigating factors when determining if a violation has occurred. The recommendations also abbreviate, clarify, and consolidate what communications and representations are permitted and prohibited during the solicitation process.

Comments and suggestions for additional proposed changes are still being accepted.

This comes after city council voted to suspend the anti-lobbying and procurement ordinance for individuals seeking waste management contracts after they struggled to find and agree upon suitable contractors.

City Council met this week to discuss the proposed changes and postponed taking action until November 9, 2017.

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September 21, 2017 •

San Antonio Ethics and Campaign Finance Revisions Move to Council for Approval

Recommendations by the city’s Ethics Review Board are on their way to be reviewed by the full City Council after the Council’s Governance Committee, chaired by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, reviewed the proposed changes Wednesday. Mayor Nirenberg stated the recommendations are […]

Recommendations by the city’s Ethics Review Board are on their way to be reviewed by the full City Council after the Council’s Governance Committee, chaired by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, reviewed the proposed changes Wednesday.

Mayor Nirenberg stated the recommendations are a good launching pad for more comprehensive ethics reforms in the future.

The campaign finance and ethics code recommendations include changes to the process of handling and identifying ethics violations, and tighter rules regarding campaign contributions from contractors and sub-contractors seeking city contracts as well as zoning applicants and their lobbyists.

City Council is expected to review the reform package in the coming months.

Photo of San Antonio City Hall by RYAN LOYD / TPR NEWS

 

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September 15, 2017 •

San Antonio Finalizes Campaign Finance Proposals

After review and finalization, a package of campaign finance code revisions is going to the City Council Governance Committee for approval. Proposed revisions include language creating a blackout period for owners or top executives of primary bidders on city contracts […]

After review and finalization, a package of campaign finance code revisions is going to the City Council Governance Committee for approval.

Proposed revisions include language creating a blackout period for owners or top executives of primary bidders on city contracts making contributions to a council campaign within a certain time frame when the contract is out to bid.

Some members of the Ethics Board fear tighter campaign finance laws will decrease political activity and lead to political problems and controversy while others are happy to see steps taken towards transparency.

The committee will meet Sept. 20 to review the proposed changes completed by the City’s Ethics Review Board this week.

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August 16, 2017 •

Texas Special Session Adjourns Sine Die

The Texas Legislature ended its special legislative session abruptly Tuesday night without a resolution on Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priority of property tax reform. The House adjourned earlier in the day leaving the Senate to accept their version of the […]

The Texas Legislature ended its special legislative session abruptly Tuesday night without a resolution on Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priority of property tax reform.

The House adjourned earlier in the day leaving the Senate to accept their version of the property tax reform bill or not pass one. The Senate did not accept the House version and the session ended without fanfare.

Some Senators are calling for Gov. Abbott to call a second special session solely for the issue.

About half of the session’s 20-item agenda was accomplished, including the passage of several sunset bills.

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July 28, 2017 •

Texas Special Session in Full Swing

The Texas Legislature convened a special legislative session July 18, 2017. Property tax was a topic Gov. Greg Abbott immediately put on the agenda for the session. House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 1 both, among other things, require a […]

The Texas Legislature convened a special legislative session July 18, 2017. Property tax was a topic Gov. Greg Abbott immediately put on the agenda for the session.

House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 1 both, among other things, require a special election be called if any municipality plans to increase property taxes on land and buildings by more than 4 or 5 percent. Senate Bill 1 was passed by the Senate this week.

City and county leaders have stated such automatic election requirements would limit their budget for basic services and force them to hold costly elections.

The special session can run for up to 30 days.

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July 19, 2017 •

Texas Special Session Convenes

The Texas Legislature convened a special session Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Gov. Greg Abbott selected 20 bills for the agenda to be discussed by lawmakers during the session. The priority for the session is sunset legislation to allow select state […]

The Texas Legislature convened a special session Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Gov. Greg Abbott selected 20 bills for the agenda to be discussed by lawmakers during the session.

The priority for the session is sunset legislation to allow select state agencies to continue operating.

Among the other subjects on the agenda are bathroom privacy, property tax, and multiple education issues.

The special session comes a week after Gov. Abbott announced his bid for a second term.

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June 7, 2017 •

Texas Governor Calls July Special Session

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session of the Texas Legislature on Tuesday in an effort to push through a bill package necessary to keep some state agencies from closing. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick intentionally kept the legislation, known as […]

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session of the Texas Legislature on Tuesday in an effort to push through a bill package necessary to keep some state agencies from closing.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick intentionally kept the legislation, known as a sunset bill, from passing in order to force a special session to discuss other items that did not pass during the regular session of the Legislature.

Gov. Abbott announced a 20-item agenda for the session but stated no other legislation would be looked at until the sunset bill is passed in full. Some other items listed on the agenda include school finance reform and mail-in ballot fraud.

The special session is scheduled to convene July 18, 2017.

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May 31, 2017 •

Texas Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

Texas adjourned the 85th legislative session sine die Monday May 29, 2017. Just hours before the House adjourned, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would be making a decision later this week about whether to call the Legislature back into a […]

Texas adjourned the 85th legislative session sine die Monday May 29, 2017.

Just hours before the House adjourned, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would be making a decision later this week about whether to call the Legislature back into a special legislative session this summer, largely because lawmakers failed to pass a bill to keep the Texas Medical Board and related agencies open.

A special session could be avoided if the governor uses an executive order to extend the life of agencies involved in health and safety issues.

The Texas Legislature is not scheduled to convene until the 2019 regular session.

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April 26, 2017 •

Austin Lobbying Ordinance Effective June 1

Effective June 1, 2017, Ordinance No. 20160922-005 repealing and replacing Chapter 4-8 of the Austin City Code relating to lobbying will go into effect. Among other things, the ordinance establishes new registration requirements, changes the method of reporting, and requires […]

Austin, Texas at nightEffective June 1, 2017, Ordinance No. 20160922-005 repealing and replacing Chapter 4-8 of the Austin City Code relating to lobbying will go into effect. Among other things, the ordinance establishes new registration requirements, changes the method of reporting, and requires lobbyist compensation to be reported.

Additionally, the registration threshold will no longer hinge solely on an expenditure or compensation amount, but will also include time compensated for lobbying as a registration trigger. In a memorandum released this week, the City Clerk announced the office will create new lobbyist registration and reporting forms to be available on the its website by June 1. Existing and outdated forms will not be accepted moving forward.

Photo of the Austin skyline by Argash on Wikimedia Commons.

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March 23, 2017 •

Dallas City Council Approves Ethics Overhaul

On Wednesday, Dallas City Council voted unanimously to overhaul the city’s ethics laws after months of work to tighten rules on lobbying and reduce political influence in City Hall. Among other things, the new ethics rules bar successful campaign managers […]

flag_of_dallas_county_texasOn Wednesday, Dallas City Council voted unanimously to overhaul the city’s ethics laws after months of work to tighten rules on lobbying and reduce political influence in City Hall.

Among other things, the new ethics rules bar successful campaign managers from lobbying city officials for one year after a campaign, require association leaders as well as attorneys and law firms representing clients to register as lobbyists, lower the gift disclosure threshold from $500 to $250, and broaden the scope of those covered by the law to include city board and commission appointees.

The ordinance will take effect July 1, 2017.

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March 10, 2017 •

New Austin Campaign Finance Ordinance Under Consideration

After a 2016 federal court decision blocked Austin’s blackout period restricting candidate fundraising to only during the six months preceding an election, campaign finance regulation supporters in Austin’s Ethics Review Commission are pushing a new ordinance to limit the contribution […]

Austin, Texas at nightAfter a 2016 federal court decision blocked Austin’s blackout period restricting candidate fundraising to only during the six months preceding an election, campaign finance regulation supporters in Austin’s Ethics Review Commission are pushing a new ordinance to limit the contribution period and withstand the same type of legal challenges.

As the city appeals the 2016 ruling, candidates can raise money year-round.

The proposed ordinance, created by Council Member Leslie Pool, allows candidates to raise money for a full year before an election and to continue fundraising for a for up to six months after the election to pay off campaign debts.

The drafted ordinance is under review until the Commission meets again in April and aiming for action by the City Council by June.

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