Political Points: Property Tax Problems, Beto O'Rourke's ‘funk,' Shutdown Fallout

Good morning!Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Dallas, Washington and the campaign trail.Points from Austin1. In the opening days of the 2019 legislative session, the state's three most powerful men sat shoulder to to shoulder, promising they'd win this year though others have failed for decades."School finance is the issue this session," House Speaker Dennis Bonnen proclaimed, joined by fellow Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the Senate.This will not be the year for divisive social issues, they vowed. It's the time to change the way schools are funded and ensure students and teachers are better off, they said. Some lawmakers say it will have the dual benefit of slowing skyrocketing property tax bills. And Abbott said he wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a landmark overhaul.2. Senators from North Texas will lead some of the state's most powerful Senate committees, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Friday, including three key economic panels. Here's who took the top posts.3. We're trying to make it easier, and more fun, to stay informed on what your state representatives and senators are up to. In the spirit of Schoolhouse Rock, we've started a video series about politics. The first installment is about how the state Legislature works.4. At our new site, Texas Tracker: Your Guide to the State Legislature, you'll find stories, analysis and more from the Capitol. If you're a Dallas Morning News subscriber, you can customize your feed. Sign in, click the issues you want to follow, and you'll see only posts matching those topics.Points from the trailAs would-be presidents descend on Iowa and New Hampshire, Beto O'Rourke took an unconventional tack for anyone eyeing the White House.Rather than courting voters or lining up staff and donors, he hit the road, solo, taking time to explore his roots and shake off the "funk" that set in after he fell short against Sen. Ted Cruz two months ago.But while O'Rourke ambled across the politically irrelevant heartland, rivals for the Democratic nomination were already hard at work. Kamala Harris, a first-term senator and former California attorney general, entered the race Monday.Gromer's gaugeGromer Jeffers Jr. is the political writer for The Dallas Morning News. The Howard University graduate and Chicago native has covered three presidential campaigns and written extensively about local, state and national politics. You can catch Gromer every Sunday at 8:40 a.m. on NBC 5's Lone Star Politics.The 2020 presidential race is big enough for two Texans, though some analysts have dismissed the chance of former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro. They point out that since his keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his star has slipped.Enter former El Paso congressman Beto O'Rourke, who is widely expected to buffalo Castro out of the race, even before what could be an intriguing showdown in the Texas presidential primary in March.But Castro should continue his quest for the White House, whether O'Rourke gets into the contest or not. He has advantages that could make his effort viable.Points from Washington  Continue reading...

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