The 87th Texas Legislature convenes this week, with the budget, redistricting and proposed changes to voting laws topping the agenda. Criminal justice reform and ongoing efforts to limit some actions by local governments will also draw attention. Experts from the University of Houston are available to discuss these and other topics. To schedule an interview, please contact Jeannie Kever, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sara Tubbs, email@example.com.
Jason Casellas, associate professor of political science. Casellas will be focused on legislative discussions involving the COVID-19 vaccination effort, education spending, the budget and redistricting. Casellas is bilingual.
Renée Cross, senior director and researcher at the Hobby School for Public Affairs. Cross is available to discuss issues including voting, local vs. state control, redistricting and efforts to improve access to the internet, an issue that came into stark relief with the sudden shift to at-home schooling and work at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johanna Luttrell, assistant director, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School of Public Affairs and author of “White People and Black Lives Matter: Ignorance, Empathy, and Justice.” As the Legislature considers police and criminal justice reform, Luttrell can address racial inequities and other social justice concerns inherent to the topic.
Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science and author of “Inside Texas Politics: Power, Policy and Personality of the Lone Star State.” He’ll be watching the budget, including whether the state continues the commitment to public education made in 2019, along with criminal justice reform, attempts to limit local control and how the state’s top leadership – the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House – works together.
Sandra Guerra Thompson, director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the UH Law Center and deputy monitor for the federal consent decree governing the overhaul of the Harris County misdemeanor bail system. Thompson is available to discuss police and criminal justice reform efforts.
Kirk P. Watson, founding dean of the Hobby School for Public Affairs and former state senator. Watson can address the debate over the budget, issues that will come up during redistricting and expected efforts to change the state’s voting laws.