The Texas Progressive Alliance dismayed but not surprised by the hard right turn of the special session as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff wants to know where are all the jobs that Rick Perry is supposedly poaching from other states.
The cruel conditions that are allowed to persist in Texas, while it’s proclaimed to be a miracle economy, is deplorable. That’s why WCNews at Eye on Williamson says The Texas Budget comes up short.
There were some fireworks at last week’s redistricting hearing in Houston, but a few of them turned out to be just sparklers. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs provides the details.
Judge Edith Jones is a piece of work. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chimse hopes that the judges reviewing the complaints against her force an impeachment.
Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker explores The Invisible Abomination – Texas and the indigent mentally ill.. Give it a read, its time more people knew about this!
Swamplot and Glasstire eulogize Houston “pop-up” sculptor Lee Littlefield.
Scott Braddock tells the tragic tale of the bill that would have helped prevent worker misclassification, a/k/a payroll fraud, had it not suffered the usual fate of well-intentioned reform bills in the Legislature.
Nonsequiteuse marvels at a recent example of trivializing violence in the media.
Better Texas reminds us that the fight to expand health care access to all of Texas will continue after the Legislature finally leaves.
BOR notes how far out of touch with public opinion on immigration reform Texas’ Senator are.
Colin Strother and Texas Leftist are firmly on board the Sebastien De La Cruz bandwagon.
Texpatriate publishes its own Best and Worst Legislators list.
Texas Vox bemoans the veto of the omnibus ethics bill.
Juanita is spitting mad at the veto of the Lilly Ledbetter bill.
Egberto Willies talks to Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the author of the Ledbetter bill, about Perry’s veto. She vows to bring the bill back next session.
It’s not the people we elect but the political system they’re are elected into that is our problem. And until that’s fixed the problems of the American people cannot and will not be fixed. That’s the takeaway fromthis must watch video or Lawrence Lessig on Bill Moyers & Company this week.
One of the best parts is when he describes his plan for what he calls a “money bomb“:
BILL MOYERS: You have been putting forward a great big idea that you think might make a significant difference in this and radically change the system. It’s called the money bomb.
LAWRENCE LESSIG: It, yeah, well, right, the money bomb is a mechanism for creating the political power that we need to force this change. The change is not such a huge change relative to what other states, even what New York is thinking about right now, just changing the way you fund elections. But the money bomb is let’s figure out how much it would cost in the next two election cycles to win enough seats in the United States Congress to guarantee we get this change.
You know, I don’t know what that number is, but we’re hiring a group to calculate that number let’s say it’s a half a billion dollars. So then let’s go around to 50 billionaires and say to them, “Okay, we want you to write, we want you to promise in Kickstarter-like way, that if we find 49 other people to write a check for that number over 50, you will write a check for that same amount.”
So whether it’s a $10 million check or a $50 million check, I don’t know what the number is going be, but commit to us that you do that. So that by the end of this we’ve got a super PAC with the power to end all super PACs.
It would be for the purpose of electing representatives and a president committed to, we’d identify the package of reform they’ve got to promise. So you go into a district and you say, “Okay fine if this congressperson is not committed to that, we’re going to take that congressperson off, take that congressperson–”
BILL MOYERS: You’re going to punish him for not supporting reform?
LAWRENCE LESSIG: Right. Now, of course, you had Jonathan Soros on your show and Jonathan Soros gave us the pilot that demonstrated how powerful this idea could be. Soros ran a little super PAC called Friends of Democracy. They targeted eight seats. They spent about $2.5 million, not a lot of money, and seven of those eight seats flipped in the way they wanted it to flip.
They made money in politics the issue and in seven of those eight seats people came out and said, “Fine, that’s right. This guy is corrupt in our view and we’re going totake him out.” Now, if you in 2014 went from eight seats to 80 seats and you won even 50 of those 80 seats on the basis of money in the politics so if you had $50 million in 2014 and you won 50 of those seats, that would terrify the United States Congress.
So when you came back in 2016 there would be a lot of people who would all of a sudden magically have become reformers in this fight and we would have a real chance to get a Congress committed to in 2017 their very first bill being the bill to enact the change that gives us a reason once again to have confidence in the system. Now, it’s a huge fight.
And the reason that money bomb has gotta be so big is that the closer we get and the closer that K Street realizes that we might actually have a chance of winning, they’re going to create all sorts of pushback. Because if we win lobbyists don’t go away. We need lobbyists. Lobbyists are an important part of our system. But the value of lobbying services gets cut in half, right, because they are no longer the fundraiser-lobbyist. They are just somebody, a policy wonk giving a good idea about what they want. So you know, as John Edwards used to say when we used to quote John Edwards, there’s all the difference in the world –
BILL MOYERS: The former John Edwards.
LAWRENCE LESSIG: –yeah. There’s all the difference in the world between a lawyer making an argument to a jury and a lawyer handing out $100 bills to the jurors. And our lobbying system doesn’t understand that difference.
Lessig’s plan cannot succeed without an involved populace and politicians that are accountable to the people and not just the wealthy and corporations like we have now. We’ve all let our democratic muscles atrophy, it’s long past time we started working them our again. This is a great place to start. More at Rootstrikers, Three easy asks.
Ever since taking over complete control of our state’s government the GOP has had it out for the Public Integrity Unit (PIU) that resides inside the Travis County District Attorney’s office. The Democrats, when they were in power, didn’t like it much either. Which means it probably does a good job. The PIU is known for taking on political corruption in our state – see Tom DeLay. But as Nate Blakeslee points out, Sneak Attack on Public Integrity Unit?, the PIU does much more.
The Public Integrity Unit doesn’t just do public corruption investigations—it also prosecutes insurance fraud and tax fraud, including on sales of gasoline and tobacco. In the last 4 years, the unit has recovered over $8 million in restitution. With no funding, those investigations would cease, too. In other words, Zedler wouldn’t just be screwing the men and women of the Public Integrity Unit, he’d be screwing the taxpayers of Texas–which is something that Tom Delay would not have appreciated.
They’re also looking into Gov. Perry’s cancer agency, CPRIT. Which is likely why Perry is making threats.
A number of Republican efforts have failed to dislodge her from the office, which she steadfastly has maintained that she intends to keep. As the Travis County DA, Lehmberg’s office also oversees the public integrity unit that investigates malfeasance by public officials.
The problem with Perry’s insistence that she step down or see all funding cut for the public integrity unit is that the office currently is investigating Perry appointees and their roles in awarding millions in public money to cancer research outfits — some that had ties to Perry backers — that failed to undergo the normal vetting process.
Glenn Smith, director of the Democratic group Progress Texas political action committee, filed a criminal complaint last year with the district attorney’s office over the dealings in the Cancer Prevention and Reseach Institute of Texas.
Smith said he is alarmed the the governor would veto money for the public integrity unit, seeing such a move as a gross conflict of interest.
“Killing funding for the public integrity unit obviously would end the investigation into CPRIT, which is looking at at diversions of public money to Perry cronies,” Smith said.
Rich Parsons, spokesman for the governor, said Perry is concerned at the integrity of the district attorney’s office under Lehmberg. Perry would appoint her replacement should she step down.
And Texans for Public Justice is alleging those threats may be illegal, Governor’s Threats to Travis County DA Likely Violate the Law Says TPJ Complaint.
In a complaint sent to prosecutors today, Texans for Public Justice alleges that Governor Rick Perry potentially committed several criminal offenses related to his recent threatto use his discretionary power to withhold money from the Travis County District Attorney’soffice unless DA Rosemary Lehmberg resigns. TPJ believes the governor’s actions violate the Texas Penal Code, Title 8, Offenses Against Public Administration.
“Governor Perry has no legal authority to remove the Travis Country District Attorney from her job. Threatening to take an official action against her office unless she voluntarily resigns is likely illegal,” said Craig McDonald, TPJ Director.
“The governor overstepped his authority by sticking his nose in Travis County’s business. Alegal process is currently underway. That process is alone should determine the fate of the District Attorney.
“Governor Perry’s official threats attempt to obtain two things that he can’t achieve through legal democratic means. First, to remove an elected Democrat and replace her with an appointedRepublican DA. Second, to wipe out the state’s public corruption watchdog, which is currently investigating corruption in at least one of the governor’s signature corporate subsidy programs.
Of course all of this was only made possible because of the horrible decisioin that Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg made in driving drunk and her actions while under arrest. But it’s clear that Perry and the wing nuts see this as a great excuse to take power from the PIU which is one of the best checks the people of Texas have on power. And of course Perry sees it as a way to deal with a possible political problem, by appointing a loyalist to a position to make a possible problem go away. It wouldn’t be the first time, see John Bradley and the Forensic Sciences Commission.
There are petitions pending to remove Lehmberg and a recent Statesman editorial asked Perry’s move unseemly.
Lawsuits citing intoxication and official misconduct have been filed to remove Lehmberg from office. They are winding their way toward a trial date.
The governor would clearly be acting within his authority if he were to line out the integrity unit’s budget. But just because he can doesn’t mean he should. Instead, Perry should let the petitions take their legal course. Instead, the governor is threatening to neuter the Public Integrity Unit to force Lehmberg to resign, and by getting involved in this way Perry is complicating matters he should let Lehmberg and others deal with.
In a senatorial understatement to Ward, Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin said it would be “very unfortunate if the governor is going to do this.” Indeed.
We’ll be more direct than Watson: It’s unseemly politics.
While Lehmberg’s mistake was bad she plead guilty, did her time in jail, and is now in treatment. It doesn’t make up for what she did but it looks like she is trying to atone. But Perry sticking his nose into this, in a big way, might be enough to make those who saw this as a non-political issue to think twice. Clearly those in power see this as a golden opportunity to move against the PIU, which they’ve been after for a long time.
Perry will veto Integrity Unit funds unless Lehmberg resigns.
Yesterday I went through several ways The Lege came up short in creating the budget last session. Better Texas has much more in their 2013 Lege Wrap-Up, about what was and was not in the budget.
But there’s an effort afoot on the right to make the right wing budget that passed look moderate, or even librul. Via the HChron, Republicans bristle over budget criticism.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams R-The Woodlands, hit back Wednesday at The Wall Street Journal’s “Texas Goes Sacramento” editorial and Texas groups that he contended have misled the publication about growth in the budget.
This is nothing more then an effort to push the middle further to the right. Make no mistake, they passed a cruel right wing budget and we will be paying for the neglect for decades to come.
Came across this last night and It’s hard to understand why this report got as much play as it did, Texas redistricting-deal outlines emerge. Mainly because of the sourcing in the article.
A Republican lawmaker and an attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus said there was a consensus that minority groups would accept maps that create one to two more congressional districts in which Texas minorities hold sway and five to seven more seats in the state House.
Some on the committee seemed frustrated that Attorney General Greg Abbott — a driving force in the redistricting process — has not attended any court hearings or hearings by the Legislature.
“Why wouldn’t Attorney General Abbott let us know what he’s thinking?” asked state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, head of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
Abbott’s office said last week that that the attorney general believes the interim maps are constitutional. The chairman of the redistricting committee, state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, on Monday said he has no plans to call Abbott to testify.
Garza, the lawyer for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said that if the Legislature does what Perry and Abbott want, it would make a charade of the fact-finding process that’s going on now. “It would be evidence of intentional discrimination,” Garza said.
In other hearings, state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, has posed tough questions to witnesses advocating maps other than those supported by Perry and Abbott. But on Monday, he seemed more interested in what the price of peace with minority groups would be.
“We’re in 98 percent agreement,” Villalba said.
Garza said one to two additional seats in Congress and five to seven in the state House could be the basis for a deal.
“We’re not advocating maximization,” he said. “If we were talking maximization, it would be a much higher number.”
Some observers have said it’s in the interest of Republicans to make a deal with minority Democrats because if they leave map drawing to the courts, it will be done without regard to who is an incumbent.
I’m with Kuff in being skeptical of this. The article points to a deal and quotes a freshman GOP house member and the lawyer for MALC. Those are not really big players in the Texas GOP. And the plan seems very generous to Democrats. Perry and the wing nuts didn’t want a special session to give away House and Senate seats to the Democrats.
Burka’s take is much more realistic.
I suspect Perry is furious with Abbott about this ham-handed redistricting play, which is rapidly developing into a fiasco. It really makes one wonder whether Abbott knows what he is doing and whether he is adept at the law. The triangulation among Perry, Abbott, and Dewhurst has turned in Dewhurst’s favor; it looks as if Abbott has been isolated and Dewhurst has Perry’s back now. This reinforces my belief that Perry wants to run again, but it won’t be any picnic if he has to face Abbott in a Republican primary.
Why would Perry want to run again? The answer is simple: It’s the lifestyle, stupid. He lives the life of an Oriental potentate — even as I write, he is off in New York living a life of luxury, the best hotels in New York, the best restaurants, the kingpins of Wall Street, and don’t forget that state pension. By running again, he extends his ability to lead the Good Life for four more years, plus run for president on the taxpayers’ dime. Nice work if you can get it, and he’s got it.
Texas is ruled by one party. It’s unaccountable and arrogant and see the state government as it’s playground. None of what happens in this special session will do anything to make the lives of Texans better. But it will allow those who run our state to score political points. Especially as the Senate Redistricting Committee rubber-stamped the interim redistricting plan today.
With the opportunities our state has the budget this session could have have been so much more. But instead it comes up short of what is needed. The cruel conditions that are allowed to persist in Texas, while it’s proclaimed to be a miracle economy, is deplorable. Via CBPP, Texas Model Isn’t All That It Seems.
- Texas has the second-highest share of minimum-wage workers of any state. In 2012, 7.5 percent of Texas hourly workers were paid at or below the minimum wage, more than any other state except Idaho and well above the 4.7 percent national average.
- In part because wages are low, a large share of Texans are poor. Some 17.9 percent of Texas families live in poverty according to the most recent Census data (2010-2011 average), the seventh-highest rate in the nation and well above the national average of 15.1 percent (see graph).
- Twenty-four percent of Texans lack health insurance, well above the national average of 16.0 percent. Many Texas employers don’t providehealth insurance for their workers. Just over half of the state’s non-elderly residents have employer-provided health insurance — the fifth-worst rate among the states. And Texas’ Medicaid program fails to cover many who can’t afford health insurance, yet Governor Perry has rejected health reform’s Medicaid expansion.
- Texas invests less than most states in education, healthcare, infrastructure and other public services important to quality of life. Those services have suffered as a result. For example, the state ranks 43th among states in education spending per pupil and is tied for last in the share of its population with a high school diploma.
Texas also spends less on health care, per person, than all but four states and has fewer doctors per resident than all but eight states. In addition, Texas ranks 46th in the nation on highway spending.
Regarding this lets look at what a couple of local state representatives had to say about what went on during the legislative session.
Via Capital Tonight at YNN state Rep. Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) gave some of his thoughts on the session that was and the special session. The most interesting part was when he responded to why nothing was done on transportation. He said there is a lot of money involved with three issues – education, water, and transportation – and that, “It’s a big ask to do all three in one legislative session”.
He knows that his party doesn’t want to spend money on these kinds of things. They’d rather not do what’s needed, raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations in Texas, and instead neglect the needs of our state. As has been stated before here many times we can’t expect people who think government is the problem to use government to help people.
One of Williamson County’s other members of The Lege, Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park), recently published an Op-Ed in the Statesman, Balancing the Texas Budget.
Over the last two years the Texas economy was the best performing in the nation. The leading sector, then and now, is oil and gas, which not only created tens of thousands of new jobs, but also contributed substantially to state tax collections. The robust Texas economy assisted by low taxes, low regulation and civil lawsuit reform filled state coffers. However, this year — when more than 40 new members like myself arrived at the Capitol — we found that last session’s bills were immediately due.
He then went on to explain all the money the “robust economy” had to use to pay for what it shorted the the previous budget (last sessions bad budget estimate). Much of those “collections” he refers to went to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), aka the Rainy Day Fund (RDF), and none was allowed to be spent on transportation. Of course poverty is never mentioned.
Texas can’t succeed unless it takes care of all of it’s issues, which are more then three. Obviously there’s a better way to do things then our current system that continues to allow so many to struggle and suffer while billions of dollars just sit there. Of course putting a fourth, Medicaid expansion, on the agenda would be way too much. So they shrug that off with and ideological dodge.
It’s much less expensive and much more compassionate to provide health care to those that need it. Especially since the federal government will foot most of the bill and it’s money Texas taxpayers have already paid. Our state cannot succeed in the future without a well educated and healthy populace that can travel around efficiently. Those things can’t be done on the cheap. And it’s easy to see that the Texas budget comes up short.
[UPDATE]: Here’s state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) on a local radio show this week. He appears to be on board with using the ESF to pay for transportation, like SJR 2. He calls it “diverting future tax revenue” that would go to the RDF, but that’s using the money that would have gone into the RDF. But of course when the oil boom ends, which is inevitably will, so will that money for transportation.
Colin Strother has a very interesting read, Texas Senate In Play…No, Seriously. The no nonsense attitude and strategy, some of which reminds me of the old “run everywhere” days, is easy to like.
There is one absolute certainty in life and in politics: things change. The Texas Senate was not always 19-12 for the dark side…er…Republican side. In the 59th Legislature, Democrats held the Senate chamber 31-0. As recently as the 74th Democrats were 17-14. Like I said, things change.
There is great potential–bordering on inevitability–to pick up Senate seats. We don’t need a miracle, we need money and muscle to change the makeup of the Senate and, ultimately, turn it solidly Blue…not in 10 cycles, but possibly 2-3.
Now, if you follow Texas politics at all, you just decided that I am suffering from severe head trauma. I have gotten the same reaction from everyone…I’ve been accused of worse.
Granted, if you do it right, there is nothing easy about any campaign. There is certainly nothing easy about taking on an incumbent in a gerrymandered district. But, who in the hell said politics was meant to be easy? Personally, I’ve heard enough whining about what cannot be done and what races cannot be won to last me a lifetime. This sitting around waiting for demographics to get right or some other gimmick or miracle is precisely how Democrats could be relegated to the minority for another 20 years.
The conventional wisdom is that Democrats need a miracle to pick up any single seat, much less turn the chamber Blue. The numbers show, this reaction is based more on assumptions rather than any empirical evidence.
It is hard not to think he suffered some kind of head trauma. But most of what he’s saying, about running in these districts, is what Battleground Texas has in mind- money, voter registration, voter contact and GOTV.
These 3 districts have good bones, a good bench, and access to existing infrastructure. For a party that desperately needs to grow its market share, these look like a good place to start. (I can assure you that when the Republicans swiped SD 3 in 1994 and SD 5 in a 1997 special, their numbers didn’t look this good.) With a dash of candidate recruitment, a splash of smart staffers, and a chunk of cash, Texas Democrats can be knocking on the door of a 16-15 minority status…not in 10 cycles, but in 2-3.
The closer the margin in the Texas Senate, the more clout we have as a caucus. The more clout we have as a caucus, the greater our ability to kill bad policies, raise money, and force more seats into play. The more seats we force into play, the more seats we win. It ain’t rocket science.
Hell, if we don’t have the sand to take shots at districts with good bones, a good bench, and existing infrastructure, we need to pack it in. Period.
Winning challenge campaigns (and I have won my fair share) is about picking out a good district and fighting like all hell–not waiting for a perfect scenario or sure thing. If the Senate Caucus members put 10% of the more than $14.5 million they individually held in cash reserves on the January 2013 semiannual report towards organizing and turning out Ds in 9, 16 & 17 it might well be the largest Democratic commitment on the ground for state senate races in Texas history…and it would almost certainly yield positive results in the Senate, as well as up and down the ballot.
Yes, things change. As with most things in life, things don’t change because of a miracle. Things change because folks get their mind right, roll up their sleeves, and make change happen.
Kuff’s adds quite a bit to this conversation regarding types of candidates and issues to run on, Taking back the Texas Senate.
So what lessons can we take from this? Well, first and foremost, the best candidate is no help if he or she is unavailable or unwilling to make the race. We all agree that the future of the Texas Democratic Party is largely in the House, but we can’t expect tomorrow’s stars to risk that status on races where they’d be big underdogs. That means we need to be thinking outside the box for potential Senate candidates, and as a corollary to that it means getting involved in city, county, and school board races, where new talent can be incubated and other offices can at least some of the time be explored because there’s no filing conflict.
Two, it means seek out candidates that can best exploit the weaknesses of the incumbents. In the case of SD09, Sen. Kelly Hancock is a slash-and-burn teabagger, and I’m sure his House record will show plenty of anti-education votes, and surely more than a few anti-women votes. A female candidate with an education background, perhaps a school board member, would be high on my list. Sen. Joan Huffman is coming off a session where she carried a lot of water for the prosecution lobby, and got was responsible for an emotional outburst by the brother of Tim Cole, the man who died in prison after being convicted of a crime for which he was later exonerated. Here, a person of color with a background in criminal justice reform and/or innocence advocacy would be ideal. Do such people exist? Very likely. Is anyone talking to them about their future in politics? Very likely not.
And three, keep focus on the stuff we’re already working on, or at least that we say we’re working on. Register those unregistered folks, and engage them in a manner that will get them to the polls. Remind our Presidential year voters that we need them in other years, too. Figure out why Texas Democrats aren’t doing as well with female voters – specifically, Anglo female voters – as Democrats elsewhere. I’m thinking Wendy Davis and her campaign team might have some insights of value there. As Colin says, this isn’t rocket science. I’ve given Battleground Texas plenty of goals already, but taking back at least one Senate seat this decade needs to be on that list. The targets may not be easy, but they are there. We just have to make sure we take our best shots at them.
It’s a great conversation to have. And it’s not “pie in the sky” to be looking at something like this. If Battleground Texas is going to make a dent, this would be a great place to start. And it could pay dividends all over the ballot, in state house and Congressional races in particular.
With the likelihood of nothing being resolved regarding redistricting, whether a bill passes or not, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has decided to open the special session up to other issues. He started yesterday with transportation, Perry adds transportation funding to special session.
In his directive, Perry asked the Legislature to consider the “funding of transportation infrastructure projects” during the 30-day session, which began late last month.
“Texas’ growing economy and population demand that we take action to address the growing pressure on the transportation network across the state,” Perry said in a statement. “As we enjoy the benefits of a booming economy, we have to build and maintain the roads to ensure we sustain both our economic success and our quality of life.”
“I’m excited about the opportunity that’s before us on this,” Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said in a statement. “Transportation funding was the one bit of unfinished business coming out of the regular session that we really need to take care of.”
The plan appears to be putting another constitutional amendment on the November ballot, like they did with water. SJR 2 which will:
S.J.R. 2 proposes a constitutional amendment which will dedicate 50 percent of all oil and gas severance taxes currently transferred to the Economic Stabilization Fund to the state highway fund. S.J.R. 2 also allows the state highway fund to repay principal and interest on bonds issued under Section 49-p of the Texas Constitution.
Approval of this constitutional amendment will give TxDOT a predictable revenue stream which they can use to implement the state’s long-range transportation plan.
As proposed, S.J.R. 2 proposes a constitutional amendment to provide for the transfer of certain general revenue to the state highway fund and the economic stabilization fund and to authorize the payment from the state highway fund of the principal and interest on certain highway improvement bonds.
Today he opened it up to more issues.
- Legislation relating to the regualtion of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities.
- Legislation relating to establishing a mandatory sentence of life with parole for a capital felony committed by a 17-year-old offender.
An SJR will need two-thirds votes in both chambers to pass. Adding abortion to the call may be enough to blow up the entire session, unless Straus finally relents on the House side. Either way it isn’t just redistricting anymore. And it will give members of The Lege, not on either redistricting committee, something to do.
Follow up on NSA spying, The NSA Black Hole: 5 Basic Things We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Snooping. And meet the whistleblower, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’ – video.
Special Interests Paid Lobbyists Up to $328 Million in 2013 Session.
By late May 2013, 1,663 Texas lobbyists reported that 2,820 clients took out 8,172 paid lobby contracts worth a grand total of from $155 million to $328 million. The precise value of these contracts is unknown because Texas lobbyists report values in ranges (e.g. $100,000 to $149,999). 2013 lobby spending fell short of the $359 million maximum spent at the same point in the 2011 session.
Democratic organization opens Bexar County office.
A group that aims to turn the Lone Star State into a stronghold for the Democratic Party opened a headquarters in Bexar County on Sunday.
Battleground Texas, an organization founded earlier this year to make Democrats within the state more competitive for statewide and national office, hosted an open house in its new location at 3000 West Interstate 10, which it will share with the Bexar County Democratic Party.
Oscar Silva, senior organizer for Battleground Texas, told a group of about 30 volunteers that the organization will focus on registering voters, calling potential voters and gathering data.
“Why are we emphasizing this so much? Because we know that when the electorate is expanded, Democrats win,” he said.
Pauken on Perry: Sound bites, not sound policy.
Pauken said Perry’s office “wanted me to essentially repudiate my own position,” and that he refused, having made up his mind when he left a stint as a military intelligence officer in Vietnam in 1969 that he would salute only the folks he felt like saluting.
He said the difference in opinion was one of the things that led him to believe the current administration practices “government by sound bite, not sound policies.”
Perry showcased his decision as one of the ways he has stood up against Washington meddling as he faced a GOP primary challenge from then U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, whom he handily defeated.
With his idea, Pauken said, the state either could have received the money without strings or had a beauty of a 10th Amendment lawsuit against the Obama Administration.
“That’s when I came to the conclusion that these folks weren’t serious about advancing our conservative principles in an effective way,” said Pauken, who continued to serve as Workforce Commission chairman until 2012.
In tea party era, it’s tough to maintain party discipline.
In the House, 29 of the chamber’s 150 members voted against the final conference committee report on the budget. Only one was a Democrat, House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Abel Herrero of Robstown. He was among four Straus-appointed committee chairmen who voted nay.
The others were GOP Reps. Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville, head of tax-writing Ways and Means; Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, who leads Public Health; and John Smithee of Amarillo, the Insurance Committee’s long-time chief. Hilderbran wants to run for comptroller. Most people believe Kolkhorst, who this year courted both tea party-backed House freshmen and Gov. Rick Perry, is ambitious and hatching some big career move.
Who wielded the most influence in Austin? Not who you’d expect.
This year, neither Gov. Rick Perry nor Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst left the biggest mark on the Legislature’s regular session. The most important figure was House Speaker Joe Straus. His influence was both positive and negative — you couldn’t miss it.
County pushes stronger election-judge training.
Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis on Tuesday called for the formation of a committee – consisting of five Republicans, five Democrats and election administration officials – that will draft standards and procedures regarding mandatory training for election judges.
Training is currently available, but who takes what level of course and other issues have been sources of contention. What the problem is depends upon whom one asks.
The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks that we should have tried to get redistricting done right the first time instead of waiting till now to involve the public as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff gave an updated look at the state of the 2013 elections in Houston.
Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains that Texas Ranks 51 in Voter Turnout. Another dubious achievement for Governor Oops…Check it out.
Which news item was false but with a ring of truth, and which was true but everyone wishes was false? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports… you decide.
Stace at Dos Centavos is a proponent of using Mexican American culture as a means of capturing that demographic’s vote. He provides a follow-up to a recent KHOU report by Vicente Arenas on the resurgence of Tejano music. It’s a good opportunity for non-Tejano fans to learn a little cultural history about the music genre whose live concerts still attract thousands of eligible voters.
WCNews at Eye on Williamson tells why The Lege Putting some money back into public education is unlikely to end school finance case.
Judge Edith Jones has the racist, Republican vibe down pat. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why she hasn’t been impeached yet.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Texas Clean Air Matters advocates for stronger ozone standards, for a healthier Texas.
Greg Wythe liveblogs the Senate redistricting hearing from Houston.
Texas Redistricting explains what “candidate of choice” means.
The Texas Green Report gives Austin the advantage over San Antonio on green building codes…for now.
Texas Vox preps us for the way climate change will affect our summers.
Colin Strother points out that campus carry is a conundrum for cops.
BOR cannot believe that a Texas jury acquitted a man for killing an escort that wouldn’t have sex with him.
Texpatriate offers its list of Best and Worst legislators.
Texas Leftist makes the connection between the war on drugs and racial profiling.
A hearty “Welcome Back” to blogging to John Coby, who tells us about the trouble (sorry, “twouble”) with TWIA.
And finally, Lemon Sweetie asked Sir Patrick Stewart a question about his work fighting against domestic violence while at Comicpalooza in Houston, and got an amazing answer. Be sure to watch the video as well.
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