Ben Philpott

Ben Philpott covers politics and policy for KUT 90.5 FM. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and twice by the Houston Press Club as Radio Journalist of the Year. Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

Recently a new poll that found the majority of Texas Republicans, even Tea Party Republicans, think Attorney General Ken Paxton should resign. Paxton was indicted earlier this month on three felony counts. But if he does resign, what happens next? KUT's Ben Philpott reports. 

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For the first time since 2010, none of Texas is in drought condition.  But that doesn’t mean water worries don’t still plague many parts of the state as KUT's Ben Philpott reports.

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After years of failed attempts, the Texas Legislature has passed a bill that will allow Texans with a concealed carry permit to bring their handgun onto public college campuses. KUT’s Ben Philpott reports.

Legislative Look Ahead

May 26, 2015

There's just one week in the current Texas legislative session. KUT's Ben Philpott has this guide to what's coming up as lawmakers rush to complete their work. 

Republicans in Washington and Texas are set to fight President Obama on his expected executive order on immigration. But how will the order affect life in the Lone Star State?

The biggest change would obviously be for the people who qualify for work permits the president is expected to announce tonight. Co-Director of the UT Law School Immigration Clinic Barbara Hines says not only will those people no longer live in fear of deportation, it should also improve their financial situation.

It's that time of the biennium.

The 84th Texas Legislature is just a few short months away, and state lawmakers are already filing their bills for the first Rick Perry-less session this side of the millennium. So far, the bills include legislative pet projects like texting and driving bans, open carry initiatives and tax cuts. Other proposals target tougher statewide issues like transportation funding and state budgeting.

You can find a roundup of issues that state lawmakers are considering below.

It's known as the most powerful office in Texas government. And for the first time in 12 years, this Election Day, Texans will choose a new Lieutenant Governor to run the Texas Senate.

Republican nominee state Senator Dan Patrick defeated the incumbent David Dewhurst in a rough GOP primary, where the candidate who won the title as the 'most conservative' won the voters' favor.

Patrick has taken up the mantle of Tea Party crusader in the Texas Legislature. If elected, he has promised to do things that the most conservative activists have wanted to see for years. He's pushing for the elimination of a Senate rule that requires a bill to have support of two-thirds of senators before it can come up for vote.

Texas is a Red state. All things being equal, if two candidates have equal access to money and equal get out the vote efforts, the Republican is going to be favored and might even win by double digits.

The 2014 race for Texas Attorney General is setting up to be a pure representation of that Republican advantage.

The GOP nominee, State Senator Ken Paxton, has refused to speak to the press, has made almost no public campaign appearances. He has admitted to violating state securities law, and hasn't released a campaign ad since his GOP primary. And yet, recent polls have him 20 points ahead of Democrat Sam Houston.

Early voting for the November election starts today. And to arm you with information before you head to the polls, KUT's Nathan Bernier and political reporter Ben Philpott have been highlighting the candidates in a few key state-wide races, and letting you know just what the offices they're running for can and can't do.

Nathan: So, I guess we've saved the best for last: let's talk about the governor's race and have a quick rundown of the governor's powers, as well.

Ben: The Texas governor is traditionally considered to be a weak office. And there's a reason for that. When Texans were writing up their constitution after the civil war, the LBJ school's Sherri Greenberg says they were eager to limit any and all powers of any so-called carpetbaggers from reconstruction.

"So when Texans wrote the Texas constitution, this very populist document, with as much power as possible vested in the people and at the lowest, most local, level of government," Greenberg said.

Of course, it wasn't just Texas. Decentralizing government power was a broader trend across the country in the 1800’s. And that action in Texas left us with what's considered a weak governor.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry took a beating during his 2012 presidential campaign for what many Tea Party activists considered a soft stance on immigration.

But as Gov. Perry has battled President Obama over the increase of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, his poll numbers for a possible 2016 run are on the rise.