Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Immigration: The Next Five Years

Immigration: The Next Five Years

After 24 Years, Van de Putte Bids Farewell

Minutes before the Senate gaveled in on Tuesday, Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte stepped onto the floor and began making the rounds.

This time, she wasn’t counting votes or asking for support for a bill. After 24 years in the Legislature, Van de Putte was bidding an emotional farewell to her colleagues ahead of a run for San Antonio mayor.

“The Texas Senate is a place where you work hard, and you work hard to find common ground despite the political differences,” Van de Putte said with her husband, Pete, sitting beside her. “We’re family here and we’re family here forever.”

Senators from both parties took turns recognizing Van de Putte’s service.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, invoked Van de Putte's status as “everybody’s mama.”  

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said Van de Putte’s work would be felt for generations.

“As a charter member of the grandparents caucus, I want to tell you thank you, grandparent to grandparent, for what you’ve done for our grandchildren,” Nelson said.

Van de Putte was first elected to the Texas House in 1991. She moved across the Capitol in 1999, winning her Senate seat in a special election.

During her time in the Senate, Van de Putte served as chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, leading the “Texas Eleven,” a group of Senate Democrats who fled the state to Albuquerque, N.M., for 46 days in 2003 in an effort to block the passage of a redistricting bill. 

Sen. Chuy Hinojosa, D-McAllen, made reference to that trip during his remarks about Van de Putte, saying, “We’ll always have a lot of memories of the vacation we took to New Mexico.”

Van de Putte unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor last year, taking her underdog campaign to Republican strongholds in hopes of appealing to moderate Republican voters. She lost to her opponent, Dan Patrick, in a statewide Republican blowout.

On Tuesday, Van de Putte told Patrick she would “stand always as your full partner in the love for this state.”

Two weeks after losing her bid for lieutenant governor, Van de Putte announced she was stepping down from state politics to run for San Antonio mayor. She is facing a crowded field of opponents, including former state Rep. Mike Villarreal, who also resigned his post to run for San Antonio’s top city office.

On the Senate floor, a bipartisan collection of senators seemed to endorse her mayoral bid. State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, told Van de Putte “the best is yet to come” because she would soon be back in the Capitol talking about “city matters.”

“I hope and I pray that you are the next mayor of San Antonio because nothing was more rewarding to me than my service as a mayor,” said state Sen. Kevin Eltife, a Republican and the former mayor of Tyler.

Sen.-elect José Menéndez, who was on the floor on Tuesday, won the race for Van de Putte's Senate seat on Feb. 17 and is set to be sworn in on March 5.

After describing the Senate as a “sacred chamber” where she saw the “civility and the humanity” of the Legislature prevail, Van de Putte ended her farewell using a closing remark that became a kind of trademark on the campaign trail.

“Dios y Tejas,” she said. “It has been an honor to serve with you for the people of this great state.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

Monday, February 23, 2015

Washington mother speaks out after finding child on sex-trafficking website - WWMT - News, Sports, Weather, Traffic

Washington mother speaks out after finding child on sex-trafficking website - WWMT - News, Sports, Weather, Traffic

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


TEXPLAINER: What Really Happens During the 5 Months of Session?

The Texas Tribune Texas Legislative Guide Your go-to resource for the 2015 Texas legislative session

Immigration Attorneys, Feds Mull Options After Ruling

*Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a response from the Obama administration. 

Don’t panic and stay the course.

That’s what Austin-based immigration attorney Jackie Watson is telling her clients the day after a federal judge temporarily halted President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Brownsville-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Monday ruled that Texas, the first state to file suit against the White House over the plan, made its case that the policy would cause irreparable harm here. Gov. Greg Abbott, the state's former attorney general, filed the lawsuit in December.

“Having found that at least one plaintiff, Texas, stands to suffer direct damage from the implementation of [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)], this court finds that there is requisite standing necessary for pursuit of this case,” Hanen wrote.

The president’s November deferred action proposal sought to grant deportation relief and a work permit to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including a portion of the 1.6 million currently living in Texas.

The federal government originally planned to accept applications for one part of Obama's plan, an expansion of 2012’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, on Wednesday. Applications for the DAPA program were slated for May.

Both have been postponed.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that while the agency disagrees with the ruling, it must respect it and let the process play out in the courts.

“Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, Feb. 18, as originally planned,” Johnson said. “Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.” 

Watson and other supporters of the program conceded that the ruling is a setback. But they said they were confident that the White House would ultimately prevail.

“It’s a very political stunt,” Watson said of the ruling. “I am telling [clients] that I think this will probably ultimately still go through. I don’t think this will necessarily be the final word on it.”

Hanen halted the executive order in part because he said the government didn’t comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the way federal policies are crafted and how much input the public gets. 

The Obama administration has a few options: It can ask Hanen to “stay” his own order – or put it on hold – while the issue plays out before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Or it can file an immediate appeal to the higher court and ask it to toss Hanen's ruling. If that court acted fast, the government would be back on track to begin accepting applications – at least temporarily.

Either way, the 5th Circuit will likely rule on the merits of the case, something Watson said would be more complicated and time-consuming.

During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, White House officials said details on how the administration moves forward would come soon, but declined to offer specifics. 

“The Department of Justice has already determined that it will appeal,” said Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. “It’s going to determine within the next couple of days any additional steps that they might take." 

White House spokesman Josh Earnest added that Monday’s decision wasn’t the first district court-level ruling on the executive order. In December, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell threw out a similar suit filed by Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who sought to halt the policy.

“We have a pretty good track record of dealing with these kinds of rulings and ensuring we pursue a legal strategy that allows this to be implemented,” Earnest said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is reminding the public that Hanen's ruling does not shoot down 2012’s deferred action initiative. That policy grants certain undocumented immigrants a two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings.

The new policy would have expanded that to a pool of new applicants who have lived in the country since 2010. It would also have removed the current DACA age limit — 30 – and made the work permit valid for three years instead of two.

“Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012,” Johnson said.

The Hanen ruling doesn’t affect the department's immigration enforcement strategy either, Johnson added. The agency announced in November that it would shift its resources to prioritize the deportation of immigrants who have violated criminal law.

“I am also pleased that, due in large part to our investments in and prioritization of border security, apprehensions at the southern border – a large indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally — are now at the lowest levels in years,” Johnson said. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

Bullet Train Firm Reveals Dallas-Houston Route

A private company’s plan to build a high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston came further into focus Tuesday as the company announced its preferred route for the multibillion-dollar project.

Texas Central Railway said it has informed the Federal Railroad Administration that it prefers to build tracks dedicated to the project along land reserved for high-voltage electric transmission lines, a route that the company had dubbed the “Utility Corridor.”

In a news release, the company called the Utility Corridor the “superior alternative" to a second route that hewed closely to existing right-of-way owned by BNSF Railway, a national freight rail company based in Fort Worth. Texas Central officials had previously said that route would only work if the company could come to an agreement with BNSF. A request to BNSF was not immediately returned Tuesday. 

Texas Central is working with a Japanese train manufacturer and operator to debut the company's bullet train technology in Texas and cutting the travel time between Houston and Dallas to 90 minutes.  If the project moves forward, J.R. Central would sell its trains to the company and play an advisory role on the system’s operations. Texas Central officials have said they hope to begin operations by 2021 and plan to do so without U.S. subsidies.

The federal government, which must approve any new passenger rail system, is in the middle of an environmental impact study of the project, which is being paid for by Texas Central. Federal officials originally studied nine possible routes between Houston and Dallas. By October, that list had been narrowed down to the two that were believed to best minimize the impact on the environment and property owners — the utility route and the BNSF route.

Both routes traveled between Dallas and Harris counties by crossing parts of Ellis, Navarro, Freestone, Leon, Madison and Grimes Counties. The utility route also crosses into Waller and Limestone counties.

Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail Alternatives
Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail Alternatives

Since the two routes were unveiled in the fall, local officials and property owners in the rural counties along them have expressed concerns about how a bullet train line would affect their quality of life as well as local businesses and property values. 

A Texas Central official said in October the utility route would impact fewer private property owners than the BNSF line.

“What you do find around high voltage electric transmission lines is density is very low because of people’s concerns with regard to living near electromagnetic fields,” said Sean McCabe, Texas Central’s vice president of environmental and engineering.

Along with clarifying its proposed bullet train's route, Texas Central has also provided more details about what the system will look like around Houston and Dallas. On the Houston end, the company said Tuesday it is recommending that federal officials consider both the Utility corridor’s route into Houston’s city limits through some residential areas, as well as along the Interstate 10 corridor, an alternative championed by Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

“Today’s announcement indicates a clear commitment to develop the project in a way that is sensitive to the voices of our communities, and it gives me confidence that my request that the I-10 corridor be considered as a route for high-speed rail into Houston will receive a thorough review,” Parker said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Texas Central announced it had narrowed its options for a Dallas station to two, both of them just south of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center near downtown. The news pleased officials in Dallas who had been urging the company to reject station locations outside of downtown.

"Texas Central has gone to great lengths to identify corridors that will have the least impact on local communities and meet our purpose and need,” Texas Central President Robert Eckels said in a statement.

Disclosure: BNSF Railway is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

The Brief: Obama Dealt a Blow on Immigration Order Ruling

The Big Conversation

A Brownsville federal judge dropped a late-night legal bombshell Monday night, halting President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.

The Tribune's Julián Aguilar has the rundown:

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the Obama administration did not "comply with the Administrative Procedure Act." The policy seeks to give as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants — including some 1.46 million in Texas, a work permit and temporary relief from deportation.

The decision was hailed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton:

Abbott, the state's former attorney general, filed the lawsuit in December before being sworn in as governor. Texas is part of a 26-state coalition that challenged the executive action, which was announced in November ...

"President Obama abdicated his responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution when he attempted to circumvent the laws passed by Congress via executive fiat," Abbott said in a statement, "and Judge Hanen’s decision rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks."

"This decision is a victory for the rule of law in America and a crucial first step in reining in President Obama's lawlessness," current Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday night in a statement.

Those on the other side of the issue weren't giving up quite yet Monday night.

David Leopold, a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association ... had said that such a decision from Hanen wasn't necessarily the death knell for the executive action.

"He’s not the last word," Leopold said. "That is going to come from a much higher court whether it's the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court."

The upshot? There's still a few more chapters ready to be written in this story.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m.

•    Gov. Greg Abbott gives his State of the State address at 11 a.m. to a joint session of the Legislature. We will livestream the speech.

•    House Appropriations subcommittees meet at 7:30 a.m. — Article III (E1.030) Article II (JHR 120), Articles VI, VII and VIII (E1.026) — and at 8 a.m. — Articles I, IV and V (E2.030); the House Government Transparency & Operation meets at 2 p.m. to discuss state contracting and procurement (E1.014); panels on Homeland Security & Public Safety (E2.014), Public Health (E2.012), Ways & Means (E2.010), Culture, Recreation & Tourism (E1.010), Urban Affairs (E2.028) and Public Education (E2.036) hold organizational hearings throughout the day and take invited testimony.

•    Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. to continue reviewing budget items on higher education entities (E1.036)

•    Runoffs are being held in the special elections to fill vacancies in Senate District 26, House District 13, House District 17 and House District 123.

•    The Texas Association of Business' two-day annual conference begins today. The day's keynote address will be delivered by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

•    Southern Methodist University holds a daylong symposium on the presidency and the press in the digital age. Guests include New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker and Random House Executive Editor Jon Meacham. SMU student journalists will be live-blogging and live-tweeting the confab for those unable to attend in person.

Trib Must-Reads

Four Legislative Seats Up for Grabs in Runoff Elections, by Ryan McCrimmon

Abbott Expected to Renew Push for Ethics Reform, by Jay Root

Private Dallas College Plans to Put Students to Work, by Bobby Blanchard

Watson Wants More Disclosure of Wining and Dining, by Jay Root


Spotlight on Abbott for State of the State, San Antonio Express-News

Mayors to lawmakers: Don't mess with taxes, Houston Chronicle

UT Chancellor Bill McRaven asks for advice on admissions, Austin American-Statesman

State agency head defends embattled contract, Austin American-Statesman

Jury hears Routh’s bizarre confession to Texas Ranger, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Ivy Taylor running for mayor of San Antonio, joining a crowded field, San Antonio Express-News

75 percent of Texas police chiefs responding to survey oppose open carry, The Dallas Morning News

In historic move, woman named to lead A&M Corps of Cadets, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“The first 60 days is like two-a-days for legislators.”

— State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, comparing the start of legislative session to the start of football training camp, a comparison that no doubt is familiar to many a Texan

Today in TribTalk

The myth of "conservative" Medicaid expansion, by Arlene Wohlgemuth

News From Home

Use our Texas Legislative Guide to stay updated on the issues that lawmakers are debating this legislative session. This week, our featured section is Immigration & Border Security.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro on Feb. 19 at The Austin Club

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

Monday, February 16, 2015

LiveSafe: Mobile App to Report Animal Cruelty | Animal Legal Defense Fund

LiveSafe: Mobile App to Report Animal Cruelty | Animal Legal Defense Fund



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Adult Wednesday Addams: Planned Parenthood [Ep 6]

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dalea Lugo Political Blogger :: (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElements...

Dalea Lugo Political Blogger :: (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElements...: Post by The Huffington Post .

Smitten - Simon's Cat (A Valentine's Special)

Butterflies - Simon's Cat (A Valentine's Special!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Houston Rockets "Clutch The Bear" ties the knot - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Houston Rockets "Clutch The Bear" ties the knot - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Go Red For Women® Red Dress Collection™

Go Red For Women® Red Dress Collection™

End the backroom cronyism!

End the backroom cronyism!

What Really Happens When You're Infected With Measles The Huffington Post | By Anna Almendrala Email Posted: 02/05/2015 8:14 am EST Updated: 02/05/2015 8:59 am EST

Friday, February 6, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Texas Tech’s Midnight Matador Passes Away -

Texas Tech’s Midnight Matador Passes Away -

Roque Planas Become a fan Email Teaching Hip Hop Illegally Promotes Ethnic Solidarity, Arizona Official Says Posted: 01/05/2015 6:40 pm EST Updated: 01/05/2015 8:59 pm EST

Arizona Tried To Keep KRS-One Out Of Classrooms, So He Went There Himself The Huffington Post | By Roque Planas Email

Mark Zuckerberg Stresses Friendship on Facebook’s 11th Birthday | SocialTimes

Mark Zuckerberg Stresses Friendship on Facebook’s 11th Birthday | SocialTimes



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kristen Stewart is Interested in Joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Kristen Stewart is Interested in Joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe

For Harper Lee fans, great excitement for the book that came before ‘Mockingbird’

For Harper Lee fans, great excitement for the book that came before ‘Mockingbird’

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Miss Amazonas 2015 Shocking Coronation - Brazil

White Chicks (Full Movie)

Featured Post

Political Trip Fundraiser