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R.G.’s Roundup: Governor Greg Abbott Edition

As the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott turned suing the Obama Administration into an art form. He doggedly investigated mail in voter fraud in an effort to prove vote fraud was widespread. He defended Republican-drawn redistricting plans for the Legislature and Congress against Democratic claims that they violated minority voting rights. He had a reputation for reading every major lawsuit that came out of his agency. Whether you agreed with Abbott’s policies or not, there was a widespread consensus that he ran a pretty good law firm. As we pass the halfway point of Abbott’s second legislative session as governor, the conventional wisdom among legislators and lobbyists is that Abbott and his staff have been pretty ineffective in dealings with the Legislature. First, in Abbott’s…View Original Post

The post R.G.’s Roundup: Governor Greg Abbott Edition appeared first on Texas Monthly.


Travis County Led the Nation in Refusing Immigration Detainers

President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security seemed to be a public relations gift for Governor Greg Abbott. The governor has called for a statewide ban on so-called sanctuary cities that fail to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and a DHS report released on Monday—the first of ongoing weekly reports—highlighted jurisdictions across the country that refused to honor immigration detainers. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of the agency reported that Travis County led the nation in the number of immigration detention requests declined by a local law enforcement agency. But then Abbott jumped to the conclusion that all 142 of the Travis County unauthorized immigrants had been released onto the streets, when, in fact, the report does not claim the inmates were freed. Citing the…View Original Post

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Frisco ISD Fights Back on Ken Paxton’s Claims About Muslim Prayer Room

Religion and politics seem inescapably intertwined this year. In the latest case, Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Frisco ISD that it might be violating the separation of church and state by having a prayer room for Muslim students at a high school. Frisco fought back on Friday with a warning to Paxton: In the current political atmosphere, he might be endangering the district’s faculty, staff, and students—implying the possibility of anti-Muslim violence. Unmoved, Paxton went on “Fox and Friends” Monday to claim his office had not heard back from Frisco. The Frisco controversy began with a student news story at the Liberty High School broadcast site Wingspan (a nod to Rocky, the school’s red hawk mascot). According to Wingspan, room C112 is used as a prayer room during lunches. Students…View Original Post

The post Frisco ISD Fights Back on Ken Paxton’s Claims About Muslim Prayer Room appeared first on Texas Monthly.


Closing the Partisan Divide One Rest Stop at a Time

John Smithee apparently doesn’t listen to political consultants.

If he did, the second-longest-serving Republican in the Texas House would hear panicked versions of a political proverb he’s long understood: There’s no context in politics— when you’re explaining, you’re losing.

And in an 85th Legislature that is hotter than hell’s hinges, fueled by partisan provocation and ideological indignation, Smithee’s legislation honoring an old friend– a Democrat who passed away last August– requires explanation. House Bill 1691 reads: “Relating to the designation of certain rest areas on Interstate Highway 27 in Hale County as the Nelda Laney Safety Stops. Author: Smithee.”

Nelda Laney was a forceful Texas figure, a force who grew over her 53 years of marriage to Pete Laney, a five-term speaker of the House and 17-term state representative. Readers who Google “First Lady of West Texas” will find too many accomplishments to list here.

Smithee explains the bill, and does so with ease, as though another context from another time guides the dutiful Amarilloan today.

“Nelda made great contributions to our area and to the state. She was so very gracious to me, to my family and my daughters when Pete was speaker, as she was to all members and their spouses,” he says.

Nelda Laney

There are 80 safety stops across the state, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The Hale County stops, located directly across the interstate from one another, are roughly eight miles south of the Laney homestead near Hale Center. Smithee cites Nelda as instrumental in bringing one of the first of the federally funded stops to her home county in 2004. “The rest stops are highly visible. People would see her name,” he adds.

First sworn in as one of 55 G.O.P. House members in 1985, Smithee, 65, has been a Republican “as long as I can remember.” And it’s his commitment to the party, long and at times difficult, that makes the explanation of HB 1691 about more than a bipartisan effort to re-name remote rest stops.

The Republicanism of the Panhandle, where Smithee’s tough people inhabit old Comancheria in counties mostly named after Texas revolutionary heroes, is a legend west of I-35. For many West Texans, most of whom have only been Republicans for a little over two decades, the Panhandle has, indeed, been Republican as long as they can remember.

Old timers recall origins in November 1964, when as many...

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R.G.’s Roundup: Uncertainty in the Trump Era for Big Bend and Border Business on Fury Road

First Draft, Special Archives, Texas General Land Office Republic of Texas Constitution Adopted The constitutional convention of the Republic of Texas adjourned on March 17, 1836, after ratifying a Constitution “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves.” However, the document also legalized slavery in Texas and declared that Africans, people of African descent, and Indians were not citizens. It additionally stated in Article V, Section 1: “Ministers of the gospel being, by their profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their functions, therefore, no minister of the gospel or priest of any denomination whatever shall be eligible to the office of the Executive of the Republic, nor to a seat of either branch of…View Original Post

The post R.G.’s Roundup: Uncertainty in the Trump Era for Big Bend and Border Business on Fury Road appeared first on Texas Monthly.


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