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Home | Tag Archives: governor greg abbott

Tag Archives: governor greg abbott

Governor Greg Abbott to Speak at Donald Trump’s Campaign Event with Ted Cruz

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that he will be speaking at President Donald Trump’s campaign event with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in Houston on Monday.

Trump’s campaign announced Monday evening that the rally would take place at the NRG Arena on the first day of early voting for the November 6 election.

The competitive U.S. Senate race pits Cruz against U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso.

The rally is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

The governor announced his attendance while speaking at an event to accept the Governor’s Trophy following the University of Texas Longhorns’ recent win over the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Showdown Game.

Author: MATT ZDUN – The Texas Tribune

KTSM to Broadcast, Stream Friday’s Texas Gubernatorial Debate

KTSM TV, and their parent company Nexstar Media Group, announced Monday that they will host the only Texas gubernatorial debate between incumbent Governor Greg Abbott (R) and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D).

The broadcast/stream is set for Friday, September 28, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. MT.

The one-hour, statewide debate will air state-wide on Nexstar stations, in addition to broadcast partners, and select Telemundo stations and all radio stations in the state.

The debate will be held in Austin at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas. The debate will be moderated by Robert Hadlock of KXAN News in Austin. He will be joined by a panel of  local news anchors and journalists from across the state who will deliver questions to the candidates, including Julie Fine of KXAS NBC 5 news, Andy Cerota of KPRC 2 news, Steve Spriester of KSAT 12 news and Norma Garcia of Telemundo 39.

The questions will be focused on topical local/regional issues impacting communities across Texas and candidate-specific subjects.

Local viewers may access a live-stream of the debate online by visiting KTSM’s website.

Prospects For “Red Flag” Gun Law in Texas Plummet as Abbott Sees “Coalescence” Against It

The chances of Texas passing a so-called “red flag” law after the Santa Fe school shooting continued to drop Friday as Gov. Greg Abbott said he saw a “coalescence” against the proposal.

As part of his school safety plan released after the May 18 massacre, the Republican governor asked the Legislature to consider such a law, which would allow courts to order the seizure or surrender of guns from people are deemed an imminent threat by a judge.

But even then, Abbott’s request for lawmakers to study the proposal drew the ire of some Second Amendment hardliners in the governor’s party, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared Tuesday that he has never supported a “red flag” law and suggested it would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

Abbott, appearing Friday at an unrelated news conference in Austin, was asked if he still wanted lawmakers to consider the idea in the wake of Patrick’s comment.

“If you go back and look at what I said in my plan, I suggested what the Legislature consider — whether or not the existing protective order laws in the state of Texas were adequate or whether or not they should be amended to add emergency risk protective orders,” Abbott said. “And it seems like there’s coalescence around the notion of not supporting what’s categorized as a ‘red flag’ law. What is important is … that we work together as a legislative body towards solution to make our schools safer and to make our communities safer.”

Abbott included red flag proposals in his school and gun safety plan after the issue was raised at a roundtable discussion in the week following the massacre in Santa Fe. In his plan, Abbott encouraged the Legislature to “consider the merits of adopting a red flag law” that would allow firearms to be removed from a potentially dangerous person after legal due process. In the plan, he claimed that protective orders restricting gun possession, like red flag laws, could have prevented the mass shootings in Sutherland Springs and Parkland, Florida.

On Friday, Abbott reiterated that his request for lawmakers to consider a “red flag” law was not meant to be a personal endorsement of the proposal. “That’s correct, and also as you know, I made that clear,” Abbott told reporters, alluding to June tweet where he told a critic he does not “advocate red flag laws” in his school safety plan, “only that is something the legislature can consider.”

The tweet came during a 12-hour Texas House hearing on potential red flag legislation, after the topic, and concerns of Abbott’s approval, gained sharp criticism from conservative groups and opposition toward any such law was written in the Texas GOP’s party platform.

In the plan, Abbott also asked the Legislature to evaluate whether existing protective orders that prohibit gun possession are sufficient. Currently, courts can notify Texans under certain protective orders, like those in domestic violence cases, that they cannot own guns or ammunition, but state law gives no guidance on how to enforce the prohibition.


Abbott to Trump: Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Will Harm Texas Oil and Gas

Gov. Greg Abbott urged President Donald Trump in a letter Thursday to reconsider his tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, arguing the imported metals are vital to the growth of Texas’ economy.

In the letter, Abbott praised his fellow Republican for guiding the country to a time of increased job creation and thriving agriculture, technology and energy sectors by “modernizing our nation’s trade policies” to work in the United States’ favor. But Abbott also emphasized the necessity of foreign steel and aluminum to the continued growth of American oil and gas, which have an enormous footprint in Texas.

“Our country’s steel and aluminum workers are a vital part of the national workforce, and creating jobs in that industry must be a top priority,” said the letter. “But attempting to protect these jobs through the new tariffs could jeopardize the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Texans and other Americans employed in the oil and gas industry.”

Trump announced the steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this year, targeting some of the United States’ closest allies, such as the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The tariffs are designed to boost the domestic steel and aluminum industries, but critics have expressed worry about trade wars and other ripple effects.

The president has also repeatedly argued against free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he says unfairly benefits the United States’ partners at its expense.

Abbott, a vocal supporter of Trump, has also spoken in the past about NAFTA’s necessity in advancing the economy of Texas. The state’s trade with Mexico surpassed $187 billion in 2017. Abbott wrote a letter on April 4 to a top administration official arguing that elements of NAFTA were vital to Texas.

The state accounted for more than $8.3 billion in steel and aluminum imports in 2017, more than twice any other state, according to the letter. Abbott said increasing the costs of imported steel and aluminum would hinder the U.S. oil and gas industry from surpassing its competitors and that Texas oil and gas accounts for more than twice as many jobs as the national steel and aluminum industry.

Protecting steel and aluminum jobs has been a large talking point for Trump since he first announced his candidacy.

“Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world,” Trump tweeted in March. “We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!”

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author: MATTHEW CHOI – The Texas Tribune

After Santa Fe Shooting, Gov. Abbott Sees West Texas Mental Health Program as Statewide Model

A Lubbock-based program seeing success helping prevent at-risk students from committing violent acts is getting more attention after Gov. Greg Abbott touted it as a potential statewide model to reduce school shootings the day after a student allegedly shot 10 people to death at his a southeast Texas high school.

The Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral Project at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center works to identify junior high and high school students most at risk for committing violence in schools and intervene before it happens.

At Santa Fe High School on Friday, police said 17-year-old junior Dimitrios Pagourtzis, armed with his father’s legally-owned shotgun and .38 revolver, killed eight students and two teachers and wounded 10 others. Pagourtzis, who had written about his plans in his journal but otherwise showed no obvious danger signs according to Abbott, has been charged with capital murder and remains in Galveston County Jail without bond, the school district said.

Abbott alluded to Tech’s program in a Friday tweet, saying “we want to use it across the state.”

But could it identify, and stop, someone like the alleged Santa Fe shooter?

Billy Philips, executive vice president for rural and community health at Tech’s Health Sciences Center, said he “was a bit surprised” to hear Abbott mention the program, which he said has seen success but is still being refined and perfected.

Philips said the project has found students at West Texas schools possessing notes, maps, threats and other evidence that they may have been planning a mass shooting. He said the screenings have helped avert violent incidents and got students the help they needed.

“The aim of it is really to provide just one more tool to be sure that our schools are safe,” Philips said. “To make sure that our kids have the opportunity to not worry while they’re in school, to create a peace about it so they can learn and grown and share ideas … things we all did when we were in school.”

The program launched in 2014, in response to a pair of mass shootings in 2012: A theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that killed 12 people and injured 70 others and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 children and six adult staff members dead.

The Criminal Justice Division of Abbott’s office funded the program with a $565,000 grant.

Through the program, at-risk students at 10 West Texas school districts who show aggressive or harmful behavior are identified and then screened for potential psychiatric services. Parents have to consent each step of the way. Students first receive two psychiatry sessions at school — in which they use laptops to video conference with a child adolescent psychiatrist working remotely — and additional psychiatric services are provided through the center’s clinic.

Since its launch, more than 400 students have been referred to the program, with 200 getting screened for anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation — and whether they’re prone to violence or violent thoughts. Those screenings can lead to psychiatric appointments and sometimes immediate hospitalizations and arrests for planning violent incidents like shootings, according to an April 30 brief that Tech’s Health Sciences Center published about the program.

In four years, the program has had 25 students removed from school, 44 placed in alternative schools and 38 sent to a hospital.

The project also measures success through changes in grades, truancy referrals and discipline referrals. So far,  Philips said, the program has seen a 37 percent drop in referrals for students who received services.

He said the program also helps the targeted schools amid a statewide shortage of mental health professionals. Philips said before the program, students would sometimes have to wait weeks to get an appointment to see a psychiatrist. Using telemedicine, “we can get those links in moments and those moments can be critical in some situations,” he said.

Philips said the program is looking to expand into five more school districts.

“We’ve got about a third of our kids in schools these days who are troubled by some form of mental illness either directly or because they live in a home environment where someone has trouble,” Philips said. “The services need to be there for them, the people need to be there that are trained to help with mental health issues. This is one approach that we use in schools that seems to be very effective.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author: MARISSA EVANS – The Texas Tribune

Abbott Officially calls Special Session, Allowing Lawmakers to Begin Filing Bills

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a declaration for a special session of the Texas Legislature Monday, formally inviting lawmakers back to Austin to pass “sunset legislation” that will keep several key state agencies open.

The long-awaited procedural move allows lawmakers to begin filing bills for the special session set to begin on July 18.

In addition to the formal declaration, Abbott also released a draft version of 19 additional items he plans to add to the special session agenda later on. Last month, Abbott announced that lawmakers would consider 20 total legislative items during the special session.

Lawmakers’ failure to pass “sunset” legislation during this year’s 140-day regular session forced Abbott to call the special session. Absent that measure, government agencies including the Texas Medical Board, which licenses doctors across the state, will have to shut down.

“With today’s proclamation, and with bill authors already lined up for all special session items, I look forward to working with the House and Senate to finish the people’s business,” Abbott said in a statement.

During the special session, lawmakers will return to several controversial issues that deeply divided the state’s Republican leadership, including a so-called “bathroom bill” that seeks to restrict which bathrooms transgender Texans can use. In his unofficial supplemental call, Abbott described that issue as “legislation regarding the use of multi-occupancy showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and changing rooms.”

Abbott also wants legislators to take on school finance reform, school choice for special needs students and several local control measures.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott is plotting an aggressive approach to the upcoming special session of the Legislature, diverting from his above-the-fray style to try to see through an ambitious 20-item agenda. [link]
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced he was calling the Legislature back for a special session to address must-pass “sunset” legislation and 19 other measures. Here’s what Texans can expect ahead of July 18. [link]

Author: ANDY DUEHREN – The Texas Tribune

Abbott Plots Aggressive Approach to Special Session

Gov. Greg Abbott is plotting an aggressive approach to the upcoming special session of the Legislature, diverting from his above-the-fray style to try to see through an ambitious 20-item agenda.

The push came into public view Thursday, when Abbott’s office began announcing lawmakers who will take the lead on individual items — state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, and state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, intend to author legislation cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud, for example. Abbott’s office is working to line up similar pairs for all 20 items.

These are not the only preparations his office has been making for the special session, which begins July 18. Since its announcement, his staff has been privately meeting with a range of stakeholders to solicit their input and build support for the agenda.

“I think there clearly is a sense that they’re much more engaged,” said Dale Craymer, the president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, which met last week with Abbott’s staff.

People like Craymer note that it’s natural for the governor and his office to be more hands-on in the lead-up to a special session because the agenda is entirely of the governor’s making. But some also say the increased level of engagement is notable after a regular session in which Abbott faced some criticism for being absent from legislative battles.

Abbott sought to recapture the spotlight June 6 when he laid out his surprisingly lengthy special session call, asking lawmakers to take up everything from raising teachers’ pay by $1,000 to pre-empting local ordinance regulating trees on private land. He ordered legislators to first pass a series of bills that prevent some state agencies from closing.

People who have spoken to Abbott’s office in recent days say they realize the agenda is a heavy lift but are determined to get it done. Abbott’s staff, one of those people said, “are not walking into this unaware of the challenge.”

“The buzz is that they’ve called every trade association in town, they are visiting with people from across the state, visiting aggressively with folks in making sure that as much of this agenda as possible is passed during the special session in hopes that there’s not another,” said Luis Saenz, a lobbyist who used to work for Abbott’s office.

One trade organization Abbott’s office has met with is the Texas Building Owners and Managers Association, which represents commercial real estate throughout the state and has an interest in property tax reform. The group’s president, Brett Williams, said Abbott’s office walked him through all 20 items and left him with the impression that they are “trying to get the issues across the line.”

Abbott, for his part, has declined to say whether he is willing to call subsequent special sessions if lawmakers do not complete his checklist in their first 30 days. Technically, the special session is not even official yet — Abbott has not filed the proclamation that would allow lawmakers to start filing bills, and his office has not given any indication of when he may.

Regardless, Abbott’s office sees a number of sources for optimism once the special session gets underway: Without any must-pass bills — aside from the agency-saving measures — there is less potential for hostage-taking. It’s much harder for the House to get away with killing legislation in the Calendars Committee, which sets the daily agenda, when there aren’t thousands of bills flowing through it. And in general, the spotlight will be burning bright and hot on the 20 items with far fewer distractions.

Abbott’s massively funded political operation — his re-election campaign has a $34.4 million war chest and no serious opponent — will also be closely watching the special session. Sources say he and his office plan to make clear “who’s with him and who’s not” on his agenda for the special session, which will unfold with a few months until candidate filing begins for the 2018 election cycle.

What remains to be seen is whether the preparation will be enough to overcome the challenges that led to a special session in the first place: sharp differences on priorities between the House and Senate and, to a lesser extent, between the House and the governor. There have been few signs those tensions have thawed since the end of the regular session.

In a speech last week, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, jokingly compared Abbott’s special session agenda to a pile of manure while throwing cold water on multiple agenda items.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, meanwhile, has continued to present himself as Abbott’s eager partner at the top of the state government, all but pledging the Senate’s full support for the governor’s special session agenda.

“I’m glad we’re having a special session,” the lieutenant governor said in a radio interview Wednesday. “The governor and I are linked shoulder-to-shoulder on these issues.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Texas lawmakers will return to Austin in a month to take another swing at more than a dozen issues they couldn’t resolve during the regular legislative session. So what has changed? [link]
  • A review of Gov. Greg Abbott’s schedule during May provides a glimpse into the final stretch of the legislative session, where the governor tried in vain to bring together lawmakers to avoid a special session. [link]
  • Well before the current legislative standoff over public accommodations for transgender Texans, the political elements of the “bathroom bill” fight were falling into place. [link]

Author:  PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

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