Tag Archives: Abbott

Poll shows Matthew McConaughey highly favorable for governor against Gov. Abbott

While it’s not 100% sure actor Matthew McConaughey will be running for Texas governor, he seems to already be a fan favorite against current Gov. Greg Abbott.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows the actor and Texas native gaining a lot of attention.

According to the poll, 41% of voters said they would like to see him run. The other 47% said they wouldn’t.

SEE RELATED STORY: Run for Texas governor now ‘a real consideration,’ Matthew McConaughey says

Wondering what the poll says about Abbott?

Well, it depends on who you ask. Most Republicans said Abbott deserves to be reelected. Meanwhile, most Democrats and Independents say he does not deserve to be reelected.

In general, 49% said Abbott was favorable, 43% said he was unfavorable and 7% said they haven’t heard enough.

Based on this poll, it’s safe to say McConaughey and Abbott would have a fairly competitive run. That’s if McConaughey commits to a political run.

Another man to keep your eyes on is Texas GOP Chairman Allen West.

West announced Sunday he is running for governor.

“I’ve not been in elected political office for about a decade, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines and see what has happened in these United States of America and … the place that I call home,” West said in the video, which was preceded by West reading aloud the Declaration of Independence to the churchgoers gathering on July fourth.

West’s campaign launch comes about a month after he announced his resignation as state party chairman. The resignation is effective July 11, when the State Republican Executive Committee is set to meet to pick West’s successor as chair.

According to the new poll, 25% of voters said West was favorable, 10% said he was unfavorable and 65% said they haven’t heard enough.

SEE RELATED: Allen West announces he is running against Gov. Greg Abbott in Republican primary

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Author: KTRK
Read more here >>> ABC13

What latest poll shows about potential governor's race of Abbott vs. McConaughey vs. O'Rourke

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas voters weighed in recently about Gov. Greg Abbott potentially squaring off next year against actor Matthew McConaughey and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the highly-anticipated governor’s race.

The latest polling from Quinnipiac University found that voters are split on whether Abbott should get another term as governor. After polling 1,099 registered voters in Texas, the results showed 48% said he does not deserve to be re-elected, while 46% said he does. The polling period happened between June 15 and June 21.

The partisan breakdown revealed that Abbott remains in good standing with the state’s Republicans — 82% say he deserves re-election. However, 50% of independents and 88% of Democrats told pollsters Abbott does not deserve another term.

When it came to potential challengers in the Texas gubernatorial race, McConaughey fared better with voters than O’Rourke did. The poll results showed 41% of voters would like the Oscar-winning actor, whose political party affiliation remains unknown, to run, while 47% said he should stay out of the race.

The polling further showed 47% of independents would like McConaughey to run, while 44% of Democrats did. Meanwhile, 60% of Republicans said they’re against the prospect of him jumping into the political fray.

More Texans opposed the idea of O’Rourke, the well-known El Paso Democrat, running for governor next year, according to the poll. By a margin of 52-41%, voters told pollsters they would not like the former presidential candidate to get into the race.

Democrats, however, overwhelmingly supported the idea — 77% saying they’d like to see O’Rourke run. Half of the independents and 89% of the Republicans polled said they do not want him to seek the top elected office in Texas.

Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University polling analyst, said these results show why they chose to poll people about how the political landscape is shaping up in Texas.

“It’s an interesting state. Every election cycle, it gets closer to purple and away from red. It’s not a Democrat state at all, but it’s moving in that direction,” Malloy said. “McConaughey is a native son. He’s got star power, and he wrote a bestselling book that’s still top of the shelves, so that’s important. He’s a breath of fresh air. The fact that the governor’s a big supporter of Trump and possibly Trumpian policies may work against him. May work for him, as well. But something is definitely going on with Matthew McConaughey here.”

The margin of error in the polling was about three percentage points, according to Quinnipiac University.

“I think Gov. Abbott is still solid, but he might have formidable opponents,” Malloy said. “This is another reason why we polled this because this would be a gubernatorial race unlike any we’ve seen.”

Border wall

Pollsters also asked voters whether they supported Gov. Abbott’s proposal for the state to pay for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The poll found 50% of voters overall supported the border wall, and 46% opposed it.

By a margin of 89-8%, Republicans overwhelmingly expressed support for the project. Meanwhile, 46% of independents and only 14% of Democrats backed the idea, the poll found.

When it comes to Abbott’s other plan to arrest people who cross into the country illegally, the poll found a majority of Texas voters (55-38%) said it’s a good idea.

Favorability ratings

Here’s how the voters polled ranked the favorability of a number of people, elected officials and potential candidates:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott: 49% favorable, 43% unfavorable, 7% haven’t heard enough.
  • Matthew McConaughey: 42% favorable, 20% unfavorable, 36% haven’t heard enough.
  • Beto O’Rourke: 34% favorable, 42% unfavorable, 23% haven’t heard enough.
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton: 29% favorable, 32% unfavorable, 38% haven’t heard enough.
  • George P. Bush, Republican candidate for attorney general: 26% favorable, 27% unfavorable, 46% haven’t heard enough.
  • Allen West, former Texas GOP chairman: 25% favorable, 10% unfavorable, 65% haven’t heard enough.
  • Sid Miller, Texas agriculture commissioner: 12% favorable, 9% unfavorable, 78% haven’t heard enough.
  • Eva Guzman, Republican candidate for attorney general: 10% favorable, 8% unfavorable, 81% haven’t heard enough.
  • Lee Merritt, Democratic candidate for attorney general: 9% favorable, 5% unfavorable, 85% haven’t heard enough.
  • Don Huffines, Republican candidate for governor: 8% favorable, 8% unfavorable, 83% haven’t heard enough.
  • Joe Jaworski, Democratic candidate for attorney general: 4% favorable, 8% unfavorable, 87% haven’t heard enough.

Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Gov. Abbott signed more than 1K bills this session. Here are the 20 he vetoed.

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed 20 bills during the legislative session, marking the fewest vetoes he’s issued since he was elected Governor in 2014.

Bills can earn a veto for any reason the Governor determines. Often, the explanation relates to a conflict with existing statute, precedent on previous legislation, or unintended consequences he thinks the new bills may cause.

Of the 9,999 pieces of legislation filed between the House and Senate this session, 3,803 bills were passed by both chambers and sent to the Governor’s desk. According to Texas Legislature Online, he signed 1,034 of them and allowed 105 of them to become law without his signature.

Second Look

One of the bills he vetoed was House Bill 686, which would have allowed Texas prisoners serving lengthy sentences to have their cases reevaluated after serving half of their sentence. The bill, known as “second look” legislation, specifically applied to people convicted of first-degree and capitol felonies that were committed when they were young than 18.

“The bill, which addresses parole eligibility for juvenile offenders, admirably recognizes the potential for change and encourages rehabilitation and productiveness in the young offender population,” Abbott wrote in his veto statement. “As written though, the bill’s language conflicts with jury instructions required by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which would result in confusion and needless, disruptive litigation.”

Abbott also claimed HB 686, which was one of the few criminal justice reforms with bipartisan support this session, would “cause disparate results in parole eligibility for juvenile offenders by failing to account for all circumstances in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054.”

State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, who authored the measure, shared his thoughts on the veto Saturday night on Twitter.

“Defeated is a word. Tired is a word. Exhausted is a word. The word I choose tonight is determined. I also choose the word undeterred. We will get there. Today is not the day, but that day will come,” Moody wrote.

Abbott noted he looked forward to working with Moody to pass “meaningful reform on this important matter.”

Anti-Hazing

Among the other vetoes Abbott dealt was a bill to update the state’s hazing laws.

Senate Bill 36, would have created a higher education task force focused on mental health services and hazing. SB 36 aimed to add law enforcement officers to the list of groups that a report could be submitted relating to school-related hazing, and the offense would no longer have had to be made in writing. The bill also would have protected people reporting hazing incidents.

Abbott called the plan a “worthy effort to further clarify the anti-hazing statute,” but argued the House added an “unnecessary provision” that would “simply grow government” by creating the task force.

“It is important to ensure that students receives mental-health services, and Texas’s existing agencies and institutions can already study the issues that would be addressed by this vast new bureaucratic entity,” Abbott wrote, noting that the Senate author’s “good idea” was “undercut” by the House sponsor.

Other vetoes

Abbott also vetoed a bill to expand animal cruelty laws, calling it “micro-managing.” He also nixed a plan to toss out hypnotically-induced statements in a criminal trial, citing a late addition in the House that would have expanded the scope. Additionally, he vetoed a bill that would have added criminal trespass to the list of offenses for which law enforcement can cite and release Texans as a Class B misdemeanor, rather than arrest. He explained the bill might tempt agencies to mandate cite-and-release policies rather than allow officers to arrest.

His other vetoes included SB 1109, requiring public schools to provide instruction on child abuse prevention, as well as information about family violence and dating violence.

“These are important subjects and I respect the Senate author’s good intentions, but the bill fails to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction,” Abbott stated.

Abbott also canned the effort to voluntarily create habitats for bees, birds and other pollinators in and near solar energy sites. He said “voluntary laws are not needed to drive public behavior.”

The Governor has line-item veto power in the budget, which is the only piece of legislation in which he can yield that power. He signed the entire budget, but vetoed Article 10, which funds the Legislature, as retribution for Democrats walking out on the second-to-last day of session, which caused the elections overhaul bill not to pass.

Abbott vetoed 58 bills in the 86th regular session, and vetoed 50 bills in the 85th regular session. He vetoed 42 pieces of legislation in his first session as Governor, the 84th regular session, in 2015.

The entire list of vetoed bills is available on the Texas Legislature Online website.

Author: Wes Rapaport
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Gov. Abbott vetoes funding for Texas Legislature and its staff as punishment for Democrats’ walkout on elections bill

Texas Politics

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference where he signed two energy related bills, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) — Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday followed through on a threat to veto a section of the state budget that funds the Texas Legislature, its staffers and legislative agencies.

The governor’s move targeting lawmaker pay comes after House Democrats walked out in the final days of the regular legislative session, breaking quorum, to block passage of Senate Bill 7, Abbott’s priority elections bill that would have overhauled voting rights in the state. The move also killed bail legislation that Abbott had earmarked as a priority.

In a statement, Abbott said that “funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”

“I therefore object to and disapprove of these appropriations,” the governor said.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner of Grand Prairie called the move by Abbott an “abuse of power” and said the caucus “is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back.”

“Texas has a governor, not a dictator,” Turner said in a statement. “The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that [Abbott] is simply out of control.”

Since Abbott issued his threat earlier this month, other lawmakers and political leaders have raised concerns over how the move could impact staffers and legislative agencies that are funded by Article X, which is the section of the budget he vetoed, such as the Legislative Reference Library and the Legislative Budget Board.

“I’m just concerned how it impacts them because they weren’t the ones who decided that we were going to break quorum, it wasn’t their decision, right?,” said House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, in an interview earlier this month.

Questions have also been raised about the constitutionality of the move, which according to the Legislative Reference Library is unprecedented.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who heads the Senate, had expressed support for Abbott’s proposed veto, saying the move could force Democrats to come back for a special session.

The biennial budget at hand covers the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1. If lawmakers are back in Austin for a special session before then, they could pass a supplemental budget to restore that funding.

Lawmakers are paid $ 600 a month in addition to a per diem of $ 221 every day the Legislature is in session, during both regular and special sessions.

The Legislature is expected to convene for at least two special sessions, Abbott has said in interviews. One, set for September or October, will focus on the redrawing of the state’s political maps and the doling out of $ 16 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. Before that, the governor has said he will call lawmakers back to work on the elections and bail bills as well as a number of other issues he has not yet announced.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Author: Cassandra Pollock, Texas Tribune
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Gov. Greg Abbott downplays electric grid concerns as Texans are told to conserve

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday downplayed concerns about the reliability of the Texas electric grid while millions continue to be told to conserve energy because of unexpected outages and demand.

“Everyone who has been trying to make a big deal about the power grid over the past two days, I have found were the same people who called me a neanderthal when I opened Texas 100%,” Abbott said during a press conference on his plan to build a wall along Texas’ southern border with Mexico. “They were hoping that there would be a power failure.”

While the request from ERCOT that Texans reduce their energy consumption during peak times — 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. — through Friday caused many to see flashbacks of February’s extreme winter storm, Abbott said the announcement was the first example that communication has improved since then.

He added that reforms made by the state legislature to the electric grid – like requiring electricity providers to prepare for extreme weather – will take time to implement.

“I can tell you for a fact, as we’re sitting here today, the energy grid in Texas is better today than it’s ever been,” Abbott said.

This image shows the inside of ERCOT’s control room located in Taylor, TX. The control room operators monitor energy levels inside Texas’ power grid around the clock. (Courtesy: ERCOT)

ERCOT briefed members of the Texas House Wednesday morning about the issues facing the grid this week. The unexpected failure of thermal generation plants, less wind power generation than projected, and higher demand for power led to the call for conservation, according to state Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat, who was on the call.

Howard said the state legislature took important steps to improving the electric grid in the legislative session that concluded last month but said lawmakers have yet to address fluctuating market prices and the need to weatherize natural gas providers.

Less than a week before ERCOT would issue its conservation warning, Abbott announced that “everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”

“We have much more to do and just about anybody else who’s been involved with this will say that,” Howard said.

Terry Hillis, a retired Leander man, typically stays out of politics – he’s locked in on ERCOT developments.

“For anyone to stand up and say, ‘well, we really don’t have a problem,’ it’s crazy! Of course we have a problem,” he said.

Author: John Engel
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Austin Mayor Adler: Gov. Abbott 'doesn't seem to care' about 'unreliable' ERCOT power grid

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler directed a strong message at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday — after ERCOT, the commission that directs 90% of the state’s power, released a conservation alert.

On Monday, ERCOT, or the Electric Reliability Commission of Texas, drew national contempt for urging Texans to conserve energy due to many forced generation outages just months after millions were left without power for days during February’s historic winter storm. The incident is widely acknowledged as a colossal failure on the part of ERCOT. It’s faced ferocious scrutiny since.

Now, Adler is calling on Abbott to do something about it.

“It’s Day Two of conservation warnings from @GregAbbott_TX delicate power infrastructure,” Adler tweeted Tuesday morning. “It’s still technically spring and Texas is experiencing late-summer temperatures, power plants offline, and the governor is tweeting about a border wall that he can’t fund.”

Adler poked at the governor’s Tuesday announcement that he’d solicit individual donations to fund construction on the Texas-Mexico border wall. The mayor called Abbott’s priorities in question, saying the governor would likely care more about keeping the power reliable if it affected Texas business.

“Maybe when a corporation tells the governor that an unreliable power grid is bad for business, he’ll finally listen,” tweeted Adler. “He doesn’t seem to care about whether it’s bad for people.”

Last week, Abbott signed two bills into law that will change the number of ERCOT board members, give state leaders more say in new appointments, and will also require power providers on the ERCOT grid to weatherize equipment and communicate further about outages. Abbott said these changes adequately addressed the grid’s issues, saying: “Bottom line is that everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Abbott has not addressed the alert via Twitter or through an official statement. Adler’s comments refer to one of Abbott’s tweets about Texas business: “Texas ranked #1 again,” the governor tweeted in response to a state award for attracting development projects. “…Thanks to all the job creators in Texas.”

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Gov. Abbott says he’ll share plans next week for Texas

share plans next week for Texas

DEL RIO, Texas (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’ll share plans next week for the state to build a wall along the Mexico border, but he offered no other specifics about how the project would proceed.

This particular announcement drew a standing ovation and cheers Thursday evening from the crowd gathered at Abbott’s border security summit in Del Rio. He also discussed several other initiatives he said would “secure the border and restore order.”

Abbott held up a stack of papers and told the crowd Texas lawmakers allocated $ 1 billion in the latest budget to fund border security efforts. He also announced the formation of a new governor’s task force on border and homeland security, which he said will meet every two weeks to come up with “every solution to make your border safer.”

That task force, Abbott explained, would include members of his office, the attorney general’s office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the state commissions on law enforcement and jail standards.

Abbott invited local landowners like John Paul Schuster to the summit as well. He said he encounters migrants on his ranch in Kinney County, 25 miles from the border, almost daily in recent weeks.

“The other day at the house was a gentleman, he was by himself. He was dirty. He had been traveling through the brush,” Schuster explained. “As he approaches the house, there he is got a long sleeve hoodie on jeans and a backpack. Okay, good guy or bad guy? What’s in that backpack?”

“You only got just five or six seconds to make that decision. Good guy. Bad guy. Yeah. Are they gonna stop and talk to me? Are they gonna keep coming at me?” Schuster said, adding he and his wife carry a gun almost all of the time, even at home at the dinner table.

“I don’t want to have to kill somebody, and I don’t want to,” Schuster said, tearing up.

Ahead of the governor’s summit, he said the government needed to come up with a better plan to help.

“I don’t ask a lot of the government, I work hard, we work hard, pay our taxes, that’s justifiable. But we need help,” Schuster said.

Following the summit, Schuster said he was hopeful Abbott’s new proposals would help.

The summit also included county sheriffs, police chiefs, county judges and mayors to talk about how the state is trying to secure the U.S./Mexico border, a press release from Abbott’s office said. It also focused on “collaborative strategies between state government, local city and county officials, law enforcement, and landowners to secure our border communities and ensure a safer future for all Texans.”

Along with Abbott, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Military Department Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris and Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw spoke at the Del Rio Civic Center.

The summit came after Abbott made comments to FOX News’ Sean Hannity that he wants to arrest “everybody coming across the border.” Two law enforcement members that confirmed the summit last week to our news partners at Border Report are hoping the summit “sheds light” on Abbott’s comments.

Abbott said Thursday he’ll sign another disaster declaration next week to create this plan.

“What this will do, it will focus on making arrests,” Abbott said. “The Department of Public Safety will work with local officials to arrest anyone who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing against them. We will be arresting a lot more people in the future, so more jail space will be required.”

Abbott made disaster declarations in 34 border counties due to the influx of migrants trying to cross the border. In response, migrant advocates in the Rio Grande Valley issued their own counter-declaration, saying Abbott’s move was “a transparent attempt to distract from his failed leadership,” and unfairly mischaracterized the border communities. It pressed for more support for those communities, not more law enforcement.

Migrant advocates criticize Abbott’s approach, pointing to other Republican state leaders who have tried ramping up enforcement during surges in the past.

“This isn’t a new tactic, necessarily. And Texas governors in the past have also tried to sending National Guard troops or Department of Public Safety officers to the border. We’ve seen little, if any effect of that. Most of the changes in migration flows at the U.S.-Mexico border come either from changes in U.S. federal policy or changes in the degree to which Mexican immigration authorities are enforcing immigration laws in the interior of that country,” Jessica Bolter with the Migration Policy Institute explained.

While Abbott largely pointed the finger at the Biden administration for the current crisis, Bolter explained that’s not the only factor weighing on migrants flocking to our border.

“Their plans to migrate depend much more on the conditions that they’re experiencing in their home, in their home countries, and then what they’re hearing about, whether that’s from smugglers or from others in their social networks, about who’s being able to cross the border at the moment,” Bolter said.

Kate Huddleston, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement Abbott’s plan is “unlawful” and threatens to harm families at the border, creating trauma for young kids.

“Abbott is also undermining the right to seek asylum by jailing those fleeing danger and punishing them for seeking refuge in the U.S. Additionally, Abbott’s proposed border wall will harm border communities and the environment,” Huddleston’s statement reads. “In this plan, Abbott is yet again scapegoating immigrants in an effort to distract from his own failures in governing and managing actual crises in Texas — like the historic winter storm that led to the deaths of more than 150 Texans  — with cruel results.”

Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Gov. Greg Abbott: Texas businesses will be forbidden from requiring proof of vaccination

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas is now open 100% — without any restrictions or limitations or requirements on businesses.

In a Monday tweet, Abbott — who has fiercely pushed for opening businesses during the pandemic — said he would sign legislation prohibiting businesses in the state from requiring COVID-19 vaccine “passports” or any other information.

Abbott said back in April that he wouldn’t allow government-mandated proof of vaccination cards in order to travel.

“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” he said in a video posted online. “We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”

Abbott has recently been the subject of nationwide attention, due to other bills he’s signed into law this legislative session: namely one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas “heartbeat” bill, prohibits abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat — which can be as early as six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.

‘Vaccine passports’

While the concept of a “vaccine passport” may be new to most Americans, such documents already exist.

The “passport” to prove yellow fever vaccination is technically called a certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP), according to Frommers. It’s been around since 1959 and is commonly referred to as a “Carte Jaune,” or “Yellow Card.”

The certificate is required to be shown at border crossings, especially when travelers are coming from places where yellow fever is common.

Travelers out of South America, Africa, India and Asia all likely have to show their ICVPs, Frommers says.

Arguments in favor of “vaccine passports” include ensuring travel safety and helping encourage travel to skittish customers. Arguments against include violations of privacy and of personal freedom.

Some countries are already requiring such documentation, including Israel, which requires a “green passport” — to verify that someone has been vaccinated and/or recovered from COVID-19.

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Exclusive one-on-one interview with Gov. Greg Abbott about failed voting bill

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — In an exclusive interview with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, he told ABC13’s Melanie Lawson that his team is sorting through thousands of bills that are waiting for his signature.

The first question had to do with his decision to call a special session. It came in the wake of a walkout by Democrat lawmakers in the final hours of the regular session. By leaving, they kept the Republican majority from a quorum or without enough members to pass laws for stricter voting.

SEE ALSO: Texas’ GOP leadership already at odds over plans for special legislative session

“What do you say to critics who say this makes voting much harder for minority and older voters, and even the disabled?”

Abbott responded by saying that there’s been a lot of “confusion and uncertainty” about the proposed voting bill, and that it actually allows for “more hours to vote.” He went on to say, “if Senate Bill 7 or the election integrity forum bill passes, there will be more hours, not fewer in comparison to current Texas law. But Melanie, also know this, the hours that are allowed in the state of Texas are far more than so many other states – let’s just compare it to the president’s home state of Delaware, where they have zero days of early voting, we have more than 100 hours more of early voting than what they have in Delaware.”

He added, “people should not say that Texas is being discriminatory by the abundant hours that we provide for early voting.”

The governor did make one concession about continuing the practice in Black churches of taking their members to early voting on Sundays, saying, “last night, I agreed that one modification to the way the bill was drafted, would be to increase the voting time period on that one Sunday for early voting, and I think you will see that in the final product.”

I asked him about his plans to call two special sessions this year, including one in the fall to address redistricting and federal funding on COVID-19.

When asked on whether he still plans to withhold pay to Democrat lawmakers who walked out and whether that will hurt legislative staffers more than lawmakers, he wouldn’t give us a definitive date.

“Those are decisions that will be made in the coming days,” he said. “(I) would ensure that lawmakers do have the ability to restore payment for the legislative branch of government.”

What’s happening with the state’s power grid and what can be done to prevent another crisis like we had in February, when so many Texans were left without power and dozens lost their lives?

Lt Governor Dan Patrick has said he wants to use part of the special session to work on helping to fix the grid system, and to assist power customers to deal with exorbitant bills. But Abbott said the issue was “addressed very substantially during the regular session,” and claims that “the Texas power grid is far better today than it’s ever been in the history of the state.”

SEE ALSO: Will lawmakers really change the Texas grid?

“(I’ve) added accountability for ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, in charge of the grid, as well as additional accountability for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC),” Abbott said. “Second, we impose what’s called weatherization, which includes winterization in the wintertime and summerization in the summertime, to make sure that all of the entities involved in transmitting and processing power in the state will be weatherized so that they wouldn’t shut down in a winter storm like what we had this last time.”

Abbott said that “during the winter storm, downtown Houston lights remained on, as well as the hospitals remained on. However, because of the shutdown, they actually shut down power generating facilities in the state of Texas, and because they were not protected from the grid shutdown, that actually prolonged the shutdown. That will not be permitted and no power generating facilities will be shut down in the future.”

Finally, he said, “we have enforcement mechanisms in place to enforce penalties for those who do not comply, and I can tell you today, we have more power generating capacity than ever before.”

When asked about whether this would help customers with their bills and not just aid the power companies to upgrade, he said, “so part of what was done during the session absolutely will help power customers and reduce their bills. Is there more that we can do? Yes there is, and am I in favor of doing more, yes I am.”

Follow Melanie Lawson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Melanie Lawson

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Gov. Abbott signs into law one of nation's most restrictive abortion bills

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott, surrounded by members of the Texas Legislature, signed into law Wednesday morning one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

The signing of Senate Bill 8, or the Texas heartbeat bill, ensures Texas will be at the center of the new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade. It’s supposed to take effect in September.

The law prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and while the bill doesn’t specify a timeframe, fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. In many instances, women don’t even know they are pregnant at that time. It also allows anyone to sue a doctor who performs or assists in an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The bill makes an exception in cases of medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

Abbott signed the law to loud cheers from the bill’s 91 sponsors. Abbott called the bill bipartisan, but 90 of those co-sponsors are Republicans with the lone Democrat being Sen. Eddie Lucio. Lucio and Rep. Ryan Guillen were the only two Democrats to vote for the bill.

“Millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said. “In Texas, we work to save those lives.”

The bill passed through the Texas Senate 18-12 with one senator abstaining. It passed on third vote in the Texas House 83-64 with two Democrats abstaining. Every Republican lawmaker voted for the bill.

Abortion advocates call the bill one of the most extreme restrictions nationwide. Diana Gomez, the advocacy manager for Progress Texas, said it’s unconstitutional.

“Let me be clear: Abortion is health care and it is still legal in Texas,” Gomez said. “This six-week abortion ban is unconstitutional and others like it have been struck down by federal courts across the nation.

“Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land and regardless of whatever bill Gov. Abbott signs, no law will stop abortions from happening. It’s unfortunate that anti-abortion politicians were more focused on restricting access to essential medical care this session than providing COVID relief and tackling our failed power grid.”

Author: Billy Gates
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin