Axios Houston

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✌️ Welcome to Tuesday.

⛈️ Today's weather: Slight chance of thunderstorms and a high of 87.

🌭 Sounds like: "Hot Dog" by Led Zeppelin.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Houston member Alli Westover!

Today's newsletter is 914 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: County continues fight for Uplift Harris

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee speaks at a recent press conference. Photo: Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Harris County has asked the Texas Supreme Court to allow its guaranteed income pilot program to proceed as courts decide whether it's legal.

Why it matters: The fate of the Uplift Harris program remains uncertain as the state Supreme Court weighs a legal challenge from Attorney General Ken Paxton.

  • The 18-month program, if allowed to move forward, will send $500 a month to 1,900 low-income Harris County families.

Catch up quick: Harris County commissioners approved the program in June 2023, and by February, more than 82,500 residents had applied to be considered for payments.

  • Paxton, with support from state Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), sued Harris County this month, arguing that the program violates a provision of the Texas Constitution that bans local governments from granting public money to individuals.

After a week of affirming court decisions, Paxton asked the state Supreme Court last week to weigh in on the case and stop payments from going out while the legal battle plays out.

  • Responding to Paxton, the court temporarily halted payments April 23 — the day before they were set to be disbursed.

Driving the news: Harris County asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to allow payments to resume as the case continues.

The intrigue: Harris County's response Monday echoed its previous legal arguments that the program aligns with the Texas Constitution because it serves a public purpose, namely reducing poverty, reducing unemployment, and improving the incentive and ability to work, among other things.

What they're saying: "If they grant [an injunction] to Ken Paxton, it's going to be unfortunate," Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee tells Axios. "The program will be in real peril."

The other side: After the state Supreme Court blocked payments last week, Bettencourt said on X that it was "logically better to get a [legal] ruling" before the county starts sending payments.

  • Paxton, when touting the legal victory last week, said the program was an "egregious misuse of taxpayer money."

What's next: The court had not yet ruled on Harris County's response as of Monday evening.

Between the lines

2. Cornyn flexes in McConnell succession race

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, participates in a news conference. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has raised a whopping $18.3 million this election cycle to help GOP incumbents and candidates — putting him ahead of his leadership opponent, Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has long been a formidable fundraiser as Senate GOP leader. Proving they can similarly rake in the cash is critical for both Johns vying to replace him.

  • Leadership races are insider games, and fundraising helps curry favor with colleagues.

By the numbers: Cornyn pulled in $5.6 million in just the first three months of the year for Republican candidates, a source familiar with his fundraising told Axios.

  • He has long been a top GOP fundraiser and uniquely helps fellow Republicans raise money directly to their campaigns.

Between the lines: Money matters, but it won't be the only factor in deciding who ends up taking up the mantle after McConnell.

  • For example, Thune's current spot as the No. 2-ranked Senate Republican is often cited as an advantage, and Cornyn's role in pushing a bipartisan gun bill in 2022 could hurt him, multiple sources familiar with the dynamics have told Axios.

3. Bayou Buzz

Photo illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios; Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

🛂 Fort Bend County processed more passport applications in 2023 than any other office in the region. (Houston Public Media)

👅 Mick Jagger became a Houston tourist before the Rolling Stones show at NRG Stadium over the weekend. (Chron)

❌ Due to budget cuts, Houston ISD pulled its teacher retention bonuses from its compensation plan. (KHOU)

🚏 Quote du jour

"I'd like for Metro to be a service that people choose to use versus something that they're dependent on."
— New Metropolitan Transit Authority board chair Elizabeth Gonzalez Brock on her vision for Metro during her tenure.

4. Charted: Best time to sell your Houston house

2023 Houston home sale premiums, by listing date
Data: Zillow; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Houston homes listed in late April could make more than those listed at any other time of year, per a new Zillow report.

  • But fret not if you missed that window: Homes listed in early May could earn an additional $5,200 compared with the rest of the year, and those listed in late June could earn an extra $5,500.

Why it matters: Sellers need all the cash they can get to make their next move more palatable.

The big picture: May has long been the best month to list your house in the U.S. But in 2023, sellers made the highest profits in the first two weeks of June, a Zillow study shows.

  • This shift is largely due to mortgage rates, which cooled slightly in June and brought some buyers off the sidelines.

The other side: Buyers, if you want to avoid peak pricing, consider shopping outside of the spring and summer months.

What's next: Interest rate cuts aren't expected anytime soon, but if those rates do fall in 2024, we may have a second spring market.

Out today: Inside Axios

Cover: Harmony

My co-founder, CEO and friend Jim VandeHei is out today with a new book — "Just the Good Stuff: No-BS Secrets to Success" — about lessons learned starting and running Politico and then Axios.

Why it matters: Jim offers dozens of easy to understand — and implement — ideas for dealing with the tough stuff of life and work: picking careers, dealing with bad bosses or jerks, overcoming insecurities or health scares.

Cool twist: All the net proceeds go to students who need help with vocational school or two- or four-year-college.

ğŸŽ“ It's a terrific graduation gift: Jim details how he went from a 1.491 GPA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to a success on the national stage.

  • The book also provides an inside look at the Axios culture animating this newsletter.

Order here ... bulk discount here.

5. Budget Bites: Second Slice Sandwich

It's not as small as it looks. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

👋 Jay here! I'm a sucker for hot dogs, no matter how they're dressed.

Dig in: When I saw that Second Slice Sandwich Shop had a Mexican dog ($10) on its menu during a recent visit to the East End's Ironworks, I knew I had to try it.

  • It's a bacon-wrapped beef frank topped with tomatoes, jalapenos, avocado, fried onions and cilantro, with a dash of mayonnaise and ketchup. Chips and drink are included.

My experience: From my first bite, I was hooked.

  • The crisp crunch of toppings plus the snap of the dog made each bite worth the mess that ensued.

If you go: 711 Milby St.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Khalid Adad and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

🌿 Shafaq planted basil seeds and is hoping for a plentiful pesto summer.

🥣 Jay is excited to make lohikeitto with homemade fish broth this week thanks to his partner's culinary ingenuity.