Austin Report

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There is a pitched battle still being waged in Austin over the future of Texas education, but it is not a partisan fight per se. It is among competing factions of Republicans in the Legislature, with Democrats relegated largely to the sidelines by GOP majorities in both houses. This is especially true in the Senate where many committee and floor votes are strictly party-line affairs. 

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Things got interesting last week at the State Capitol. Some Republican lawmakers seek to deliver on the anti-immigration fervor they believe motivates the Tea Party elements in their base.

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Ted Cruz

The announcement that freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was seeking the GOP presidential nomination was notable for a number of reasons beyond the fact he was the first declared candidate. With several candidates with Texas ties expected to enter the race, the drama will only heighten between now and the Texas primary to be held 11 months from now on March 1, 2016.

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The conventional wisdom used to be that cultural trends in the United States emerged on the west or east coasts and spread across the country. In the digital age, social media has consigned that notion to the dustbin of history, with full immersion now taking days or even hours, not weeks or months. 

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The South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) is underway in Austin through March 22.

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Three groups involved in legislative efforts to drastically limit abortion rights to the extent that the Roe v. Wade decision will allow are back on the battle lines in Austin this week, but their opponent is not Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

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Weather was an issue last week, with snow falling in every state except Hawaii and Florida. A sharp increase in black bear attacks had Floridians on the alert. Closer to home, hundreds of local citizens battled rain and dense fog to travel to Austin for the biannual Golden Triangle Days at the state capital where they talked, listened and even made a little merry with lawmakers, government officials and their respective staffs.

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Tradition. It is not just the name of the opening number in the Broadway musical where the fiddler on the roof extols tradition as a way for people to keep their balance; it is also a way we keep a firm grip on the past while moving inexorably into the future.

Word hit Austin last week illustrating that contradiction at one of the state’s leading universities: Texas A&M.

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Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his first “State of the State” speech to lawmakers crowded into the House chamber on Tuesday, Feb. 17. That traditional address early in the Legislative session is where Texas governors detail their agenda for those who must pass it into law – or not.

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Some bad ideas never seem to go away, especially in the Texas Legislature. That is certainly the case with the voucher movement to divert taxpayer dollars to private or religious schools. It is a tough sell to a majority of legislators – and the citizens they represent – at a time when public education funding in this state is on the chopping block in every session.

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