Brandon Dudley Plans to Run for House District 137
December 4, 2011

After a stunning announcement by State Representative Scott Hochberg that he would not seek re-election,  I’m starting to hear names of  several potential candidates. 

One name familiar to many voters is Brandon Dudley, Chief of Staff  and General Counsel for State Senator Rodney Ellis and a former candidate for state district criminal court judge.

 I spoke with Dudley and he confirmed that he will file to run for office as early as Monday morning. 

Why is he running? This is what he had to say:

“Representative Hochberg’s decision not to run again is a great loss  to the people of Houston and the state of  Texas,” said Dudley.  “He’s been a model public servant and will be sorely missed. I believe strongly that I can continue the legacy and provide the people of House District 137 the representation they deserve, which is why I’m planning to run. I look forward to the opportunity to earn everyone’s support in the weeks ahead, and fighting to create a better future for all Texas families for years to come.”

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson To Be Roasted & Toasted
March 3, 2011


For a Roast and Toast of

 Representative Senfronia Thompson

 Emcee – Senator Rodney Ellis 

Roasters to be announced

 Presented by:

The Mickey Leland Center at Texas Southern University

 Monday, April 11, 2011

The University of Texas Alumni Center

2110 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin

Roasters Reception 6:00 pm

Dinner 7:00 pm 

$25000 ~ $10000 ~ $5000 ~ $2500 ~ $1000

Proceeds benefit the Texas Legislative Internship Program

(More detailed sponsorship information to follow)

 For more information, contact Susan Harry at (512) 542-9744 or

The Texas Legislative Internship Program – TLIP – is a premier internship program that introduces the best and brightest young Texans to the functions of government and the value of public service.  The program, developed in 1990, is sponsored by Senator Rodney Ellis and administered by The Mickey Leland Center on World Hunger and Peace at Texas Southern University.  Since its inception, more than 400 students accepted into the TLIP program have interned with members of the Texas Legislature, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  This year, 63 interns are working in and around the state Capitol during the current legislative session. 

Democrats Respond To Governor’s State of The State
February 8, 2011

2 On The Beat received statements from State Rep. Armando Walle, State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Rep. Carol Alvarado following Governor Perry’s State of the State address:

 State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to Gov. Rick Perry’s State of the State speech:

 “Gov. Rick Perry laid out his agenda for our state in his State of the State speech today, and it appears that the Governor is living in a different state than the rest of us.  Gov. Perry continues to claim that we don’t have a budget crisis, but the fact is that Texas is facing a $28 billion budget deficit created by failed Republican policies.  The proposed state budgets aim to gut funding for public education,  higher education and our most vital state services.  These budgets will force school districts to fire thousands of teachers and result in the closure of countless schools and nursing homes.

 I am glad that Gov. Perry has finally realized that tuition at our public colleges and universities is too high — yet he now expects these institutions to freeze or lower the cost of tuition while he slashes their budgets by $2 billion.  Gov. Perry often rails against unfunded federal mandates, but he seems to have no problem with unfunded state mandates when they come from his own office.   

Gov. Perry also can’t seem to make up his mind on government’s role in health care.  He continued to rail against the federal health care reform bill today saying that the federal government has no place dictating our medical decisions.  However, just a few moments earlier, he advocated for state government to intrude on a personal medical decision with a mandatory ultrasound before an abortion. 

Gov. Perry must stop grandstanding and repeating the same disingenuous lines, over and over.  Texas was spared the multi-billion dollar budget deficit in 2009 when the federal stimulus bill bailed out our state government, but this year we must address the failed Republican policies that have landed us in this mess.”

Statement of Senator Rodney Ellis on State of the State

“Governor Perry needs to realize that the campaign is over and slogans and bumper stickers are not going to get us out of this mess. 

“Let’s look at reality:   Texas currently faces a $27 billion shortfall, and the initial budget proposals in the House and Senate slash essential services that help millions of Texans families.   According to the Comptroller, we have a $10 billion structural deficit, so just gutting programs for Texans is not the answer.  If that is the only plan, we are going to be right back here in two years dealing with another budget hole, just as in 2009 when we were bailed out by the federal government.

 “So far, this budget tells the disabled Texas child: ‘sorry, won’t help you.’ It tells grandma in the nursing home and on Medicaid: ‘too bad, move back in with your kids.’ The student who followed the rules and we’ve pushed to go to college: ‘good luck with that, but we don’t have any financial aid for you, and tuition is going up.’

 “This budget solution is an all out assault on working Texas families struggling to make ends meet. It protects tax loopholes and tax breaks that cost our state yet produce minimal results, it will eliminate over 100,000 jobs, and leave millions of Texans without essential, basic services.  It’s a cold, impersonal and sterile approach to governing, but budgets aren’t merely numbers—they have real world, sometimes life and death, implications for hundreds of thousands of Texans. 

 “A ‘balanced budget’ that places all of the burden on those who can least afford it is not an achievement.  We must ensure Texans struggling the most are given a helping hand, not a cold shoulder, and those doing well must bear more of the load.  Texas already ranks near the bottom in education resources provided to our communities, and at the top in the percentage of residents without health insurance, and this budget is an express ticket straight to the bottom; Legislators in Mississippi will be saying ‘thank God for Texas’.  

“Texans deserve a genuine, honest discussion on the budget crisis, not more rhetoric and campaign talk.”

 State Representative Carol Alvarado
Responds to the Governor’s ‘State of the State’ Speech 

“The Governor has once again made promises to Texans that he simply cannot pay for.  By ignoring the state’s structural deficit that continues to leave a gap in our budget, the Governor is simply ignoring the realities of our budget.

The Governor’s misplaced priorities are full of misdirection that fail to secure the quality of life for Texas families. His emphasis on emergency bills do little or nothing to improve our budgetary needs, and his personal funding priorities do nothing to save the jobs of the nearly 10,000 state employees that the state budget will eliminate. 

While the Governor is claiming to save lives through his emergency legislation, such as the sonogram bill, he is systematically putting the lives of more Texans in peril through a cuts-only budget.  Taking $1.57 billion out of nursing home funding puts thousands of senior citizens in danger of being homeless and cutting veteran’s services by 21 percent does little to honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms.  Despite the Governor’s claims that he will not accept any unfunded mandates being pushed onto our local governments, Medicaid cuts will represent a large cost shift to local governments throughout Texas, as these cuts will lead to higher local taxes and higher insurance premiums.”

More Reaction From Local Leaders on Alleged HPD Beating
February 6, 2011

The videotape showing several Houston police officers kicking teen burglary suspect Chad Holley continues to create  shock waves. 

The videotaped has been broadcast repeatedly as local and national media report details of  the controversial story. 

State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Rep. Garnet Coleman have released statements in response to the tape: 

Ellis Responds to Holley Tape


“The actions of the HPD officers shown in the taped beating of Chad Holley were excessive, deplorable, and cannot be tolerated. These rogue officers not only brought unnecessary physical injury to Chad Holley, but have undermined the good work of the vast majority of HPD officers. They violated the trust of the community and must be dealt with accordingly.

We entrust officers of the law with an important duty to protect and serve. With that comes a heightened responsibility to act with temperance and appropriate force in any given situation.

As a city, we need to take a serious look at our practices and review public policy to prevent such injustices from occurring in the future. It is essential that we protect the relationship between the police and the community that is integral to public safety.”

 Statement from Rep. Coleman on Release of Chad Holley Video

 I’m appalled and deeply disturbed by the actions of the officers shown in the video. The kicking and stomping of a 15-year-old boy by these officers was brutal, unwarranted and shameful. It is especially disturbing when those charged with keeping us safe so blatantly abuse their power and violate our trust. These individuals are not above the law and must be appropriately dealt with.  

I applaud Mayor Parker and Police Chief Charles McClelland for dealing swiftly and directly with the bad actors. As the Houston Chronicle editorialized, individuals who have been trusted with power should be held to a higher standard. I will work with my colleagues to push legislation that reflects that standard into law.

 Moving forward, we must not let the deplorable actions of the few bad apples ruin the relationships between good officers and our community. It is through cooperation, mutual respect, and appropriate sanctions on officers who violate the public’s trust that we can ensure that all our communities are safe and that such actions never occur again.

Sen. Ellis Ends Another Texas Legislative Internship Program
June 1, 2010


Houston, TX)// – Today 16 students will finish up their terms as participants in the Texas Legislative Internship Program (TLIP).  The students completed their internships in legislative offices; state agencies ranging from the Office of the Attorney General to the Task Force on Indigent Defense; non-profit organizations including the Innocence Project in New York; and the two highest courts in the state, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals.

Participants in the TLIP Class of 2010 include:

Susan Akinyemi, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Amy Benya, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Jacob Barber, recent graduate of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Pache Barcliffe, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Justin Campbell, Junior at Arizona State University; Corwyn Davis, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Collette Gadson, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Greg Hardmon; recent graduate of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Justin Hayes, recent graduate of the University of Houston Law Center; Kirk Johnson, graduate of Sam Houston State University; Jose Martinez, graduating senior at the University of Houston; Eddrea McKnight, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Natalie Nguyen, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Christina Sanders, graduate of Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs; Austin Shell, 2L at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law; and Philip Stringer; graduate of Auburn University.

“My experience working at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has been extremely enlightening,” said Kirk Johnson.  “Working with an advocacy organization and the wonderful staff here has been a great joy in addition to the important work that comes out of this organization. I would encourage all of my peers to strive to be a part of such a prestigious program.”

“Having the opportunity to intern at the Supreme Court presented me with complex challenges and subsequently taught me how to think and react in an environment outside the walls of a classroom and beyond the boundaries of a desk,” said Corwyn Davis.

Added Christina Sanders, “My TLIP experience has been absolutely amazing.  The things I’ve learned and people I’ve met have helped me chart an exciting future career path.” 

Sponsored by Senator Ellis and administered by the Mickey Leland Center on World Hunger and Peace at Texas Southern University, TLIP began in 1990. Since its inception, TLIP has grown to be the largest legislative internship program in the state, with almost 400 participants over the past 19 years. TLIP provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students attending Texas colleges and universities to serve as interns in the Texas Legislature, in various state agencies, in local government and with non-profit organizations. Many TLIPers have continued with careers in public service. Notably, two former TLIPers are now serving in the Texas House of Representatives: Rep. Ana Hernandez and Rep. Armando Walle.  Another former TLIPer, Ron Reynolds, is the current Democratic Nominee for Texas State House District 27.

“TLIP is one of the programs I am most proud of because it equips students with the tools they need in order to be the future leaders of this state and nation,” said Senator Ellis.  “This class received many challenging assignments in their respective offices and handled them all with excellence.  They represented the program well and continued the legacy left by those who came before them.”

Senator Ellis Mixes Politics With Wildlife
April 30, 2010

It wasn’t your typical political fundraiser. 

The setting was the Houston Zoo at Herman Park Tuesday night. State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) celebrated his 56th birthday and raised money for his next campaign for reelection.

The  creative event attracted  big donors and elected officials, but they were outnumbered by  parents and their young children, who seemed more interested in the Zoo attractions than talking about politics.

For a minimum  $100 dollar contribution (children were free) guests were treated to bags of  popcorn, cotton candy and access to the Zoo’s attractions .

2 On The Beat stopped by for a few minutes to see how this mix of politics and wildlife would work.

I arrived near the end of the evening, just in  time to see Senator Ellis performing with one of  the Zoo’s playful Sea Lions. (dancing, jumping) The sea-lion clearly won, but at the end of the competition, he swam across the pool and kissed Senator Ellis on the cheek.

Senator Ellis, who was first elected to the state senate in 1990, will face republican Michael Mauldin in the November general election.

Support Sen. Ellis and Rep. Alvarado As They Bike Across Texas
March 3, 2010


Join the Family and Friends of Senator Rodney Ellis &

State Representative Carol Alvarado

for a Send Off Reception as they


benefiting the Rise Schools  

Wednesday, March 3rd

5:30PM to 7:00PM

Haven Restaurant

2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX, 77098

Please RSVP at 713.649.6563

For more information on the Rise Across Texas Bike Challenge

or to make a donation, please visit

Senator Rodney Ellis Honored
February 24, 2010


Sen. Rodney Ellis to Be Honored

By National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Washington, DC­ (Feb. 23, 2010) – Sen. Rodney Ellis (Houston) will be honored with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ prestigious Champion of Justice Legislative Award, the association’s national office announced today.  The award will be presented to Sen. Ellis in Austin, TX, at the Texas Indigent Defense Summit at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Champion of Justice Awards are bestowed upon those individuals who – through legislative, journalistic or humanitarian pursuits – have staunchly preserved or defended the constitutional rights of American citizens and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime.  Sen. Ellis is being recognized for two decades of tireless work to improve the criminal justice system and provide adequate legal representation to poor persons charged with crimes in Texas state courts.

The day-long summit will gather over 200 attorneys and state and national policy experts to discuss the progress and challenges Texas faces in adhering to the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel. Sen. Ellis organized the conference with support and participation from NACDL, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Constitution Project. A two-day national indigent defense summit was held last week in Washington, DC.

Sen. Ellis is the author of the Texas Fair Defense Act, which requires that appointment of counsel be made promptly, from a list of qualified attorneys, not just “warm bodies.” Alternatively, the Fair Defense Act also allows a county or groups of counties to create a public defender office if they so choose. If a county does not choose a plan on its own, the default attorney selection method (a “rotation system”) comes into play – to avoid the charges made in the past of favoritism by judges in some courts, the judge must appoint an attorney from among the first five names appearing on a rotating public appointment list of attorneys qualified for the level of offense charged. The law adopted statewide attorney qualification standards for handling death penalty cases, including minimum capital trial experience requirements.

            The Fair Defense Act clarifies and strengthens attorneys’ ability to obtain reimbursement for reasonable and necessary expenses for investigation and experts. It also established a statewide agency, the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, to develop further minimum quality standards for indigent defense across the state, assist and monitor counties in meeting the law’s objectives, bring accountability to indigent defense practices in Texas, and administer state grants to counties.

Rodney Ellis was elected to the Texas Senate in 1990. During his tenure, Senator Ellis has earned praise as a leader on economic development, education, civil rights, responsible environmental policy, tax cuts for the middle class, criminal justice, and workforce development issues.

Before his election to the Texas Senate, Senator Ellis served three terms as a member of the Houston City Council and as chief of staff to the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Ellis also studied at Xavier University of New Orleans and the London School of Economics.

# # #

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing.  A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL’s 11,000-plus direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling more than 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system. 


Fighting For New Leadership In HISD
October 21, 2009

On Wednesday, I caught up briefly with State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) at an early voting location in Sunnyside.  He was shaking hands and talking to people about what he believes is an urgent need for new leadership in the Houston Independent School District. 

Senator Ellis is supporting his former aide, Adrian Collins who is challenging school board president Larry  Marshall for the district 9 seat.

HISD Adrian Collins 002

Marshall has served on the board for twelve years, but critics say he hasn’t done enough to improve the schools or the academic performance of  children in his district.

HISD Adrian Collins 001

Collins is a husband and a parent who says he is concerned about the lack of  leadership in HISD.  He also recently received the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle, which had this to say about him:

For HISD Trustee in District IX, we believe that Adrian Collins is the best choice. District IX is home to several of HISD’s most troubled schools. Incumbent Larry Marshall has served for more than a decade, but we believe that, for the sake of the district’s students, it’s time for change.

After more than 11 years as an aide in the Texas Legislature — including stints assisting Rep. Scott Hochberg and Sen. Rodney Ellis — Collins most recently served as a member of President Barack Obama’s advance team. “This district’s infrastructure is crumbling,” he says. “I traveled with the president in the Third World. And some of the schools I saw there were better than what we have here behind barbed-wire fences. That has to change.”

Senator Ellis, who says he sends his  three children to public schools, says he wants to see to see a change. He says he’s also disappointed that after passage of the $800-Million bond proposal in 2007, more hasn’t been done to improve schools in the district.

Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission
August 18, 2009


State Representative Ellen Cohen (D-Houston) joined other lawmakers in Austin this week to witness Governor Rick Perry sign SB 482 which establishes the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.

(The following is taken from a news release sent by Rep. Cohen’s office)

The legislation, authored by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Senator Florence Shapiro and sponsored in the House by Rep. Warren Chisum and Rep. Ellen Cohen, sought to ensure broader and deeper understanding regarding the Holocaust and other genocides of the 20th century.  The Commission’s 18 members will be required to meet quarterly and provide advice and assistance to the public and various public and private primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education on the implementation of courses and programs.

Speaking to the small gathering in Austin, which included Holocaust survivor, Holocaust Museum Board member and Houston area resident Chaja Verveer, Rep. Cohen offered the folowing statement:

“‘Never forget and never again.’ These words are uttered and passed from one generation of Jews to another after the horrors of the Holocaust where 6 million Jews and others were murdered and maimed. ‘Never again.’ And yet it happened again in Darfur, Cambodia, Rwanda and in places we are only now beginning to hear about.

“And to paraphrase Edmund Burke, ‘the only way for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.’