Even while the national presidential campaigns blaze in the foreground, Texas state politics is capturing national attention. Dramatic federal court decisions on voter ID and redistricting made headlines last week, and two major Texas politicians spoke at their respective parties’ national conventions, reaffirming Texas’ role as a national political influencer.
Just as the November elections are heating up, The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism organization, brought its second annual Texas Tribune Festival to The University of Texas at Austin campus. Spread over three days, the event featured a full weekend of debate, discussion and dialogue featuring some of the biggest names in the world of politics and public policy, including chairs of major committees in the Texas House and Senate.
Among the university faculty invited to participate as presenters and moderators, four LBJ School faculty members, including two research center directors, were asked to help shape the dialogue of several policy panels, including:
- Michele Deitch, Senior Lecturer, moderated “The Future of Juvenile Justice”
- Sherri Greenberg, Director of the LBJ School’s Center for Politics and Governance (CPG), Senior Lecturer and former Texas State Representative, moderated “An 83rd Legislative Session Preview.” CPG was also a sponsor of the event.
- Carolyn Heinrich, Director of the LBJ School’s Center for Health and Social Policy, participated as a panelist for “Standardized Testing and Accountability: The Great Debate”
- Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, LBJ School Adjunct Professor and CPG Fellow, moderated “Voter ID: The Great Debate”
CPG also hosted "A Conversation with Four of the State's Leading School Superintendents", the unofficial opening of the Festival on Friday.
The official opening session on Friday, Sept. 21, with Gov. Rick Perry, was followed by Saturday’s full day of programming drawn from six topic tracks. The topics included health and human services, law and order, public and higher education, energy and the environment, and race and immigration.
To bring the state political discussions full circle with the national dialogue, Sunday’s closing session will feature journalists from Politico, Washington Week, Sirius XM and The New Yorker to discuss the presidential election.