A last-ditch effort by conservatives to derail Donald Trump’s presidential nomination has suffered a crushing blow. A committee at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland rejected their push to let delegates support the candidate of their choice.Anti-Trump delegates waged a messy battle over convention rules throughout the day Thursday. Their hope was to get the rules committee to release delegates from having to vote for a candidate they oppose.Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016“Basically, it went down in flames,” says Texas Republican National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell.The 112-member panel overwhelmingly rejected the measure when it came up for a voice vote late last night. National and state GOP officials, including Dashiell, aligned with Trump backers against the insurgents. “They needed 28 [votes] to even get a minority report, and that just didn’t happen,” Dashiell says.Anti-Trump delegates in the audience included a contingent from Texas. James Dickey is a delegate from Texas Congressional District 25, stretching from Austin to Fort Worth.“I think it’s ironic that Donald Trump, who claims to be an outsider, is working hand-in-glove with the RNC [Republican National Committee] to work this process,” Dickey says. “And the people who support him, who want an outsider and want somebody who’ll shake it up, I don’t think they realize that.”It’s uncertain whether the revolt’s backers can gather enough support to force the full convention to revisit the proposal when it convenes on Monday. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: X 00:00 /01:13 Listen Share
00:00 /00:51 X Listen Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Florian Martin Mayor Annise Parker addresses the pro-HERO crowd after voters rejected the ordinance by a wide margin.At the height of the battle over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, Mayor Annise Parker subpoenaed the sermons of five pastors leading the fight to repeal the measure. Even though HERO is now history, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is determined to keep this from happening again.Patrick is listing the protection of sermons from government subpoena, or “sermon safeguard,” as one of his top priorities for the new legislative session. The bill will be filed as SB 24.“No pastor should ever be faced with – under our U.S. Constitution, certainly under the First Amendment, and certainly not in the state of Texas – to have the use of legal power going in to be scrutinizing the content of sermons,” says Dave Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastors Council. Welch was one of the five whose sermons were subpoenaed during the HERO repeal effort.Former Mayor Parker says such a bill is unnecessary, but she doesn’t see much chance of stopping its passage. “All it will do is stir up bad feelings and divisiveness,” she says, “but that is the intention, I believe.”News 88.7 reached out to Patrick several times for comment. His office did not return our calls.
00:00 /01:13 X Laura IsenseeThere was a strong campaign against Proposition 1 in HISD, against sending tax dollars from the district to the state, under the so-called “Robin Hood” program. Because Proposition 1 failed, HISD faces losing commercial property to pay off its debt to the state.In the next legislative session, the Houston Independent School District will wage a political battle worth at least $18 billion.The fight has emerged because Texas considers Houston a rich district and requires it to share money, in what’s known as “recapture” or “Robin Hood.”But this fall, voters rejected the most common way to pay that.“We have set ourselves apart with our stance and our city’s vote on recapture, and we have a heavy load to carry this session,” HISD Trustee Anna Eastman said at the board’s meeting in December.That’s because if lawmakers don’t change school finance, Texas will take $18 billion worth of commercial, non-residential property away from HISD to pay off the bill. The education commissioner will let another property-poor school district tax it instead.“Our district and the business community have a lot at stake, and it’s no joke,” said Ashlea Graves, who directs governmental relations with HISD.The district is trying to avoid that with its new legislative agenda. Graves said that they have three top priorities when it comes to school finance:A local homestead exemption: She said that school districts like HISD could get some credit in the finance formula for property that they don’t tax under the homestead exemption. This could save HISD about $60 million in recapture money.Restore transportation money: HISD loses the state’s transportation funding just like every other property-wealthy district that pays into recapture. For HISD, it’s worth $12 million.Count kids in full-day pre-kindergarten: Currently when Texas calculates the recapture bill, it doesn’t count these students as full-day. Graves said that this would reduce the bill by about $39 million.If passed, these strategies would reduce HISD’s debt by about a $100 million. But they won’t erase it entirely.“The biggest overarching problem with this is that the state needs to reduce its over-reliance on local property taxes and replace some of that money with its own general revenue,” Graves said. Listen Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:
Listen X 00:00 /01:09 Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Teen volunteers standing in line to receive lunch.As soon as I walked into the food bank I saw lines of children spiraled around the lobby.They were getting ready to eat lunch.That’s where I met Yeyri Espinosa.“They gave us watermelon, broccoli and chicken nuggets,” Espinosa says.Children like Espinosa need help getting meals when they aren’t in school.In fact, 60 percent of kids in public school qualify for food assistance programs, but only 12 percent participate.Nicole Lander works with the Houston Food Bank to solve that problem.She says they go into the community to feed children that can’t come to them.“So the Houston Food Bank works with apartment complexes, summer day camps, libraries, to provide meals at those sites, so that where those children are we are meeting them where they are at and providing the necessary nourishment that they need,” Lander says.I walked outside to meet Shonice Reed.She is the head of a summer program in Aldine.She says if it wasn’t for the food bank she couldn’t adequately feed 60 plus kids daily.“It would be very, very difficult,” Reed says. “And even if we did or were able to it would probably not be…it would be minimal.”The Houston Food Bank is serving meals at 150 sites in nine counties.
NASA/NOAA via APThis enhanced satellite image made available by the NOAA GOES Project shows Irma, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at 1:45 p.m. In the wake of Harvey, meteorologists are already looking warily at another system: Hurricane Irma, which intensified from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in just 30 hours, is steadily moving west across the Atlantic.Islands at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea made preparations Sunday for approaching Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm that could threaten the area beginning Tuesday.Hurricane watches were posted for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands.The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm could near that region late Tuesday. It said islands farther north, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, should monitor the progress of the storm.The Antigua and Barbuda weather service said Irma was expected to bring heavy rains, rough surf and high winds to islands along the northern edge of the Antilles.Long-range forecasts indicated Irma likely would curve to the northwest beginning late Monday and skirt to the north of those islands on a path that could potentially take it to the U.S. East Coast, but it was too early to make a definitive prediction.Antigua’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, urged people to take preventative measures in case the storm should hit, including cleaning drains and removing objects that could be sent airborne by high winds. Workers began pruning trees and shrubs to reduce chances for branches to tear down power and phone lines.“The passage of a hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly, but we must not panic,” Browne said in a statement.The U.S. hurricane center said Irma had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) Sunday night and some strengthening was expected over the next two days. The storm was centered about 710 miles (1,145 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands and moving west-southwest at 14 mph (22 kph).Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricard Rossello, said government agencies in the U.S. territory were prepared to deal with any emergencies caused by the storm.“We have established protocols for the safety of all,” he said at a news conference, while he also urged islanders to take precautions.In the Dominican Republic, Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo said workers there were clear away road works and also clean out blockages of sewer drains. He said President Danilo Medina would lead a meeting with emergencies agencies on Monday to discuss storm preparations. Share
Twitter via @Heidistevens13 Shrine to the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting.Volunteers donated blood at a community hall and others stocked the refrigerator and laid out loaves of bread at a food pantry as the stunned community of Sutherland Springs struggled to recover from the shooting at a Baptist church that left more than two dozen dead.Law enforcement officials reopened the intersection Thursday where the First Baptist Church sits, but black mesh material was tied to the chain-link fence surrounding it. With the church door open, a tall wooden cross could be seen at the altar.Judy and Rod Green, who married at the church 15 years ago, prepared Thursday to open the By His Grace food pantry next door for a weekly Friday morning meal service.A few blocks away, Alice Garcia, a Sutherland Springs native and the president of the unincorporated town’s community association, prepared with her husband, Oscar, the annual Veterans Day memorial on the grounds of the community hall, when the church victims with military backgrounds will receive a full military salute.“Everyone in the community is doing what they can, but honestly everyone feels so helpless,” 20-year-old Karyssa Calbert of neighboring Floresville, Texas, said at the hall.Six months pregnant, Calbert couldn’t donate blood but came to the community hall to offer moral support. “People are donating time, donating money, donating prayers, but it still feels like it’s not enough,” she said.The church will be demolished, the pastor said.LYNDA GONZALEZ / KUT NEWSMona Rodriguez holds her son J. Anthony Hernandez during a candlelight vigil held on Sunday night for the 26 people killed in a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.Pastor Frank Pomeroy told leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this week that it would be too painful to continue using First Baptist Church as a place of worship.Pomeroy discussed the state of the building with the denomination’s top executives, who traveled to the rural community in a show of support, a national Southern Baptist spokesman said.The pastor described the church as “too stark of a reminder” of the massacre, spokesman Sing Oldham said.No final decisions can be made without consulting congregants, but Pomeroy discussed turning the site into a memorial for the dead and putting up a new building on property the church owns, Oldham said.Valeria Villasenor, an assistant to the church, said she and others were trying to figure out a temporary solution “to have our doors open for our congregation,” whether by cleaning up and painting the church’s interior or holding services in a different building.Charlene Uhl, mother of 16-year-old Haley Krueger, who died in the attack, agreed that the church should come down.There should still be a church “but not here,” she said Thursday.Jeannie Brown, visiting from Indiana, stopped at the site with her daughter, who used to live in Sutherland Springs but left decades ago for San Antonio.Asked whether the church should be destroyed, Brown said: “Yes. Who would want to go back in there? But then if it is destroyed, does that mean he (the gunman) won?”Other sites of mass shootings have been torn down, including Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012. A new school was built elsewhere.A one-room Amish schoolhouse near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was torn down in 2006, 10 days after an assailant took children hostage and shot and killed five girls ages 6 to 13.The previous site of the school is now a pasture. A nearly identical schoolhouse with a security fence was erected nearby and named New Hope School.The father of the Texas church gunman broke the family’s silence and said his relatives are grieving.Michael Kelley spoke to ABC News on Wednesday from his home in New Braunfels, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of Sutherland Springs.He said he does not want the “media circus” surrounding the attack by Devin Patrick Kelley to destroy “our lives, our grandchildren’s lives.”The gunman shot and killed 25 people at the church. Authorities have put the official toll at 26, because one of the victims was pregnant.Eleven people injured in the attack remained in hospitals Thursday. Share
Stuart Seeger/FlickrTexas State Capitol, Austin TXThe 86th Texas Legislature opens today in Austin, and lawmakers have just 140 working days to tackle some of the state’s most pressing problems. Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker-Presumptive Dennis Bonnen have yet to identify any “must pass” legislation. But there are at least four topics that will take up a lot of oxygen before the regular session ends on May 27:State budget: Passing a budget is the Legislature’s one constitutionally-mandated job. Like most states, Texas has a balanced budget requirement, which means by law, it can only spend what it collects in taxes and fees. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar estimates that will come to $119.1 billion over the next two-year budget cycle, which is an 8.1 percent increase compared to the cycle that ends August 31. Lawmakers have to decide how to divide up that money in order to cover healthcare, education, public safety, and a host of other responsibilities.School finance reform: Texas’ public school finance system requires property-wealthy school districts to share revenue with the state, which then reallocates the money to property-poor school districts. The system is known as “recapture” or “Robin Hood.” It’s a growing problem for some districts, including the Houston Independent School District, which are classed as wealthy but include many poor neighborhoods. At the same time, the state’s portion of funding for public education has been declining for years, forcing school districts to make up the balance through property taxes. Both Democrats and many Republican lawmakers are determined to overhaul the system this year, after failing to do so in 2017.Property tax reform: Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick made this issue a cornerstone of their reelection campaigns last year, both men arguing that rising property values are causing homeowners’ tax bills to skyrocket. Abbott wants to limit any increase in property taxes to 2.5 percent a year. Anything above that would have to be approved by two-thirds of the voters. Texas counties, cities, and school districts rely on property taxes as their sole source of revenue. Many, notably Harris County under former Judge Ed Emmett, staunchly opposed such revenue caps in past legislative sessions.Harvey relief/flood control: In the wake of Harvey, Congress allocated tens of billions of dollars to Texas for disaster relief, flood control infrastructure, and flood mitigation. Federal law requires local governments to come up with some of the money in order to unlock the rest. Houston, Harris County, and local governments along the Gulf Coast have been ponying up matching funds. Many of their lawmakers are demanding the state tap the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund, better known as the “Rainy Day Fund,” to help as well.Lieutenant Governor Patrick has reserved the first 30 Senate bill numbers for priority legislation yet to be released. The first 20 House bill numbers are also reserved for the same reason. And Governor Abbott is likely to identify a number of “emergency items” for the Legislature when he delivers his State of the State address in a few weeks.Note: You can find a list of all currently filed Texas House bills here, and a list of all currently filed Texas Senate bills here. Share