The 87th Texas Legislature has a lot on its plate, to put it mildly. In addition to the redrawing of districts, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the accompanying economic crisis, there are the usual big questions to be debated in our comparatively brief legislative session.

One of those questions is the future of voting in the state. It’s a hot potato, especially as President-Elect Joe Biden came closer than any Democrat since 1976 to carrying the state in a presidential election. …


Shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine are arriving across the U.S. and you may be wondering what are some common side effects?

There are now two vaccines currently authorized in the U.S., one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, another vaccine, developed by Moderna, just received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration and will be distributed in Texas as soon as Monday. Cities including Houston, Lufkin, Denton, Odessa, Laredo, Amarillo, and others, will receive the first doses of the Moderna vaccine going to frontline health care workers.

The vaccines will require two doses to become effective and similar to all vaccines…


A recent report by Texas’ Sunset Advisory Commission found that the “state’s current regulation of law enforcement is, by and large, toothless.” First reported in the Houston Chronicle, the report showed “Texas’ patchwork of uneven oversight has resulted in ‘a fragmented, outdated system with poor accountability, lack of statewide standards, and inadequate training.’”

The review, which was released just prior to the start of the 87th Legislative Session, also shows that while more than 600 Texas law enforcement officers were dishonorably discharged in 2019 for misconduct, more than a quarter of them were rehired.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement…


Democratic hopes couldn’t have been higher for Texas going into the 2020 election season. Just four years after Donald Trump won the state by 9 points, election wonks were teasing the state as a toss-up. Even more confident were the claims that this was going to be the year Democrats broke the Republicans’ 20-year reign in the Texas House.

Instead, Trump coasted to a six-point victory while Democrats chipped away at Republican’s House majority by just a single seat. The headlines were immediate: Texas had been a big flop for Democrats, a total disaster.

Not everyone is buying it. For…


There are at least 13 marijuana related bills pre-filed for the session, though the odds on all of them passing are long. The most sweeping of them has been filed by Senator-elect Roland Gutierrez (D-Bexar), who won his bid to move up from the House. The bill he authored, SB 140, would fully legalize the use of marijuana for all purposes in the state for people over the age of 21 while also creating a full cannabis industry.

“Texas will be facing tremendous budgetary challenges next session. My bill would create 30,000 new jobs for our state and produce $3.2…


On the heels of third-quarter losses of more than $1 billion, Southwest Airlines has announced that effective for travel beginning Dec. 1, it will resume selling all available seats on its planes. This includes the middle seats, which have been off limits for months during the pandemic, supposedly to allow for social distancing between passengers.

While all major U.S. airlines have COVID-19 safety protocols and mandatory mask-enforcement policies and rules, will resuming middle seat sales mean more risk from flying?

Is the middle seat that big a deal?

This summer, Josh Earnest, United Airlines’ chief communications officer, told CNBC that…


UPDATE: On Monday, the City of Lubbock joined El Paso and Amarillo in announcing occupancy rollbacks due to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Bars will have to close and restaurants and other businesses will be limited to 50% occupancy again.

El Paso residents are under a curfew and being urged to stay home for the next two weeks as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge out of control there.

“Today, I amended the County’s Stay Home, Work Safe Order which will now include a 10:00pm Countywide curfew. Our hospitals are now at a point where they are overwhelmed and exhausted,” El…


Since news of the latest scandal involving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his alleged bribery and misuse of office broke nearly two weeks ago, there has been rapid-fire development of details, a lot of which have been obscured by other matters dominating our attention right now such as the ongoing pandemic, the Supreme Court nomination proceedings and the start of voting for the Nov. 3 election. Here, we try to lay out the basic facts for you.

Wait, Did You Say the Latest Scandal?

Paxton won the office of attorney general in 2014 despite already being involved in a…


Texas has added more than 1.5 million new voters to the rolls since the last presidential election. More than 800,000 of those new voters registered since the November 2018 election. With the new additions, there are now more than 16.6 million Texans registered to vote in the November election. That’s a new state record.

There’s no way to know right now whether the new voters are Republicans or Democrats and whether they will turn out in November. However, in the July primary runoff election, Democrats outpaced Republicans by about 30%, setting a new Democratic record for a runoff election. …


With information still not available from the state, the Texas American Federation of Teachers has taken matters into its own hands and launched a website to track COVID-19 cases, deaths and unsafe working conditions in schools during the pandemic. The teachers union initiated the project after hearing that the state would be reporting only district-wide data and not information on individual public school campuses.

“For districts like Houston and Dallas and San Antonio and Austin, those are very large districts that cover an extremely high level of geography, what good does that do parents and family members if they don’t…

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Reform Austin provides non-profit journalism for a better Texas. Our mission is to educate Texans about what goes on behind the doors of our state Capitol.

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