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 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.
The House came in for a very short time today and then recessed for two weeks. While they were in Redistricting Committee Chair Rep. Drew Darby announced three committee hearings in the next two weeks.
Any hope of getting out of the current special session in short order has now evaporated.
State Rep. Drew Darby, chair of House’s redistricting committee, told members of the House on Monday that he has scheduled three additional redistricting hearings around the state.
Originally, the San Angelo Republican had planned on just two days worth of hearings last week in Austin.
Darby also said last week that he hoped to have a committee vote on redistricting maps by Friday. But with hearings now scheduled in Dallas on June 6, in San Antonio on June 10 and in Houston on June 12, the committee won’t be able to kick bills out for a while.
The whole House isn’t scheduled to convene again until June 17 at 10 a.m.
Darby didn’t give a reason for the new hearings, but since Texas still needs the blessing of the federal government before it can pass redistricting maps — or any other change to election law — Darby could be trying to minimize any federal interference in the process.
State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo and chair of the Senate’s redistricting committee, has scheduled hearings in Austin on Thursday and on June 12.
Soon to be posted, are additional hearings in Corpus Christi on Friday and in Houston on Saturday, his staff said.
@PhilipMartin on Twitter said the reason the House recessed instead of adjourning was:
so they recessed instead of adjourned so if items are added to the call, committees could meet
Harvey Kronberg at QR posted this, Special Session Unhappiness—Have Wheels Come Off?
Dewhurst in France, lawmakers in unanticipated field hearings, no one clear on end game
Today we heard grumbling that Lt. Governor David Dewhurst forcefully advocated for a special session on redistricting and subsequently wrote a letter to the Governor seeking a catalog of red meat Republican issues be added to the call.
He then left for Europe on Saturday for a D-Day commemoration just as the wheels were coming off the redistricting effort. If the Governor did add Dewhurst’s laundry list of items to the Call went the grumbles, the Lite Guv would have to be notified overseas.
Spokesman Travis Considine told QR, “”Lt. Governor Dewhurst has chosen to honor his father’s memory and heroics during D-Day by visiting the Normandy Museum he has helped build in remembrance of those brave men who gave their last breath in service to our country during World War II. Those in the Senate who feel that he should not honor his father or our World War II veterans have not expressed this sentiment to Lt. Governor Dewhurst.”
This hastily called special session is starting to look hastily called. It looks like our so-called leaders didn’t think this through. Oh well, what’s $2 million to our elected leaders?
A special session on redistricting that was supposed to be a quick “rubber stamp” by The Lege of the current “interim” districts and get the state out of court will likely fulfill none of those aims. On Wednesday in San Antonio there was a hearing on the upcoming court case regarding The Lege’s discriminatory maps from 2011. At that meeting it was determined that any new districts approved by The Lege will still have to go through the court.
Today’s redistricting hearing in San Antonio was largely procedural but did have the court wrestling with some key threshold issues.
Indeed, much of the hearing centered the possible legal consequences of the Texas Legislature making the interim maps permanent.
Hispanic and African-American plaintiff groups took strong issue with the State of Texas’ argument that the case would essentially begin anew.
Jose Garza, counsel for the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, told the three-judge panel that, if the Legislature were adopt the interim maps as permanent, the plaintiffs would be amending their pleadings to include claims based on those maps – and that case law supported the court’s retention of jurisdiction in those circumstances.
And they argued that because the new legislative maps would not really be new maps but rather a variant of the legislatively enacted maps that the court previously considered, the court’s work would essentially pick up where it left off when the interim maps were adopted.
At various points in the hearing, the narrowness of Gov. Perry’s special session call came into question.
Although the state’s lawyer David Mattax said that he could not say whether the call would restrict consideration of alternate maps, lawyers for plaintiff groups – and Circuit Judge Jerry Smith – suggested that it did – and plaintiff groups said that was further evidence that not only were the maps not new, but that Republican leaders had predetermined the outcome – and once again excluded meaningful input from minority groups.
This session won’t be a quickie as was originally thought and the redistricting process in Texas likely won’t end soon either.
Kuff has a few items of interest on the session so far:
- If the Lege slows things down and allows amendments, alternate maps, and public input at other hearings around the state, it’s almost certainly because the Republicans have come to realize that to do otherwise would be to repeat some of the behavior from 2011 that got them cited for discrimination. First Reading discusses how Democrats are setting them up for this (scroll down to the section that begins “Stop. Don’t. Come Back.”), and it’s clear from the questions at the Senate hearing that they’re laying down a paper trail for future litigation. We’ll see if the Republicans can avoid the trap – the Senators appear to be at least somewhat aware of the danger – or if they come under pressure to just get it done and leave all the worrying about the legal stuff to Greg Abbott.
- As Greg notes, if the floor is open for amendments, it is also possible that the Rs might want to tweak the Senate map, which is now acceptable to Sen. Wendy Davis. However, if that happens, it seems likely that they would all have to run for re-election in 2014; Sen. Royce West brought that up in his questioning. If so, that could put a damper on some Senators’ plans for the future, since at least three of them are thinking about running statewide – Hegar and Williams for Comptroller, Dan Patrick for Lite Guv. Hegar and Williams drew four year terms at the start of the session, meaning they could run for something in 2014 without putting their seat at risk if nothing changes, while Patrick drew a two year term and would have to make a choice.
- It’s not clear to me if the longer timetable for redistricting makes it more likely that Rick Perry will add to the call of the session, as Trail Blazers suggests, or less likely. Arguably, since there will be empty days between the committee hearings and the votes, Perry could add other items that could fill in the voids. Against that, the session is 30 days long, and we’ll be well past the halfway point by the time the maps are voted on at the current pace, which is almost two weeks later than originally projected. If the Rs do put more effort into taking public testimony, especially if they hold field hearings around the state, they’ll be hard pressed to do much else while redistricting is on the menu – and remember, Perry has basically said not to ask about anything else until redistricting is done – and they’d have a short horizon for anything else afterward. Not impossible, of course, and Perry can always call a second session if he wants – it’s all about what he wants, after all – it’s just not clear which way is more conducive to an expanded call for anything remotely controversial. As always, we’ll know when he wants us to know.
It looks like, at this point, that the intended purposes of this special session are already out the window, and we have Attorney General Gregg Abbott and Gov. Rick Perry to thank for this.
Yesterday was the last day of the 83rd regular session, Sine Die! While the only thing they have to get done did get done, the budget, many things did not. As Kuff points out, Wrapping up the rest of the regular session.
The things that did not get done in regulation time are redistricting, about which we know what happened; transportation funding, which just sort of quietly slipped off the radar once Perry stuck a shiv into a bill that would have raised vehicle registration fees; and all of the wingnut wish list items like abortion and gun rights and what have you. This as I’ve said before is simply a matter of what Rick Perry wants to do. There’s plenty of speculation about what Perry may do and what may or may not be good politics for him to do. All I know is we’ll know when he tells us. Rick Perry does what he thinks is best for Rick Perry, and that’s all there is to it.
The worst kept secret of the last week was that there was going to be a special session of the Texas Legislature called as soon as the regular session ended. Perry orders special session on redistricting.
In a statement announcing the special session, Perry praised the Legislature for its work to put in place a $2 billion plan for water infrastructure, cut business taxes and create a new mega university in South Texas.
“However, there is still work to be done on behalf of the citizens of Texas,” he said.
Perry placed only redistricting before lawmakers initially, but he was peppered with requests to add a list of conservative issues and could do so. Only Perry can call lawmakers into special session, and he sets the agenda.
“I expect the governor to add more topics to the call” as lawmakers make progress on redistricting, which is the subject of a Thursday hearing by a special Senate committee, said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. He has asked Perry to add issues including anti-abortion and pro-gun measures to the agenda.
Perry specifically assigned lawmakers the task of making permanent a set of interim redistricting maps drawn by a three-judge panel in San Antonio.
To get up to speed on what the redistricting issues are there’s no better place to go then to TxRedistricting and this, Texas redistricting tip sheet. And he has a press round up on redistricting too.
The Senate Select Committee on Redistricting will hold a hearing on four bills at 9 AM on Monday, which will include public testimony. The current maps were drawn by the courts and the public never had a chance to comment on them. Obviously, Perry and Abbott believe that the current membership, elected under these maps, will be quick to ratify them.
But Dem disagree. They may also be making the calculation that the longer the redistricting process takes, the less time there will be for the governor to add items to the special session. The laundry list of items the wing nuts wants taken up in a special session, at least for now, Perry won’t be add until redistricting gets done. Which is another reason for dragging the process out. That’s if you trust Rick Perry to stick by that.
There’s still questions of how the Senate will run during a special session.
The key question in redistricting is whether the 2/3rds rule will apply in the Senate; if it does, then the 12 Democrats can block intentionally discriminatory maps from coming to the floor if they stick together.
Initially, Dewhurst told reporters that the 2/3rds rule would not be in effect for a special session. During tonight’s floor discussion, Senator Kirk Watson attempted to determine if that was indeed true.
Watson asked specifically about “blocker bills,” which are meaningless, silly bills passed out of committee quickly to occupy the top spot on the calendar and thus force Senators to suspend the rules to bring up any other bills out of order, which requires 2/3rds of the Senators to vote for the suspension.
Dewhurst claimed that there would not be blocker bills and that there hadn’t for 10 years; Watson countered with actual historical examples of blocker bills in previous special sessions.
If there is no blocker bill, then there is no need for the 2/3rds rule to be used to bring a bill (such as redistricting) up for a floor vote.
Having a blocker bill is purely at the discretion of the Lt. Gov. Even if the entire Senate wanted to put one on the calendar, Dewhurst could remove it. And even if he did let a “blocker bill” come up, he could remove it later anyways.
WIthout a blocker bill, legislation is considered in the order it comes out of committee. Dewhurst indicated tonight that there will be no blocker bill. If that is the case, there will be no 2/3rds rule and a simple majority could pass a redistricting plan.
And as Burka wrote yesterday about Perry, Dewhurst, Abbott and a special session.
There is a missing person in this report, and that is Rick Perry. No one, perhaps including the governor himself, knows what he is going to do. Perry has fashioned the modern Texas Republican party and changed Texas politics forever by driving the state GOP to the far right. The betting around the Capitol is that he won’t run for a fourth term as governor, but I didn’t think he would run again in 2010. There is also the possibility that he will run for president, but he would have no chance to win. Maybe he doesn’t care; his goal may be to show that he is still a formidable politician and one who might have been a serious contender in 2012, had it not been for the limitations imposed by his back surgery.
Perry’s immediate future, however, will include a decision of whether to call a special session of the Legislature. Greg Abbott wants a session on redistricting, but it is hard to see what advantage Republicans can gain. They are already facing a ruling that the interim maps represent intentional discrimination; at some point Abbott is going to have to come to grips with that finding. If, as David Dewhurst wants, the special session agenda will be a smorgasboard of uberconservative social issues, that could turn ugly for Republicans. They are on the wrong side of a lot of the social issues, especially gay marriage. The world is going in one direction, and the Texas Republican party is going in another. I think Rick Perry is smart enough to figure that a special session driven by social issues is a non-starter these days. On that point, we’ll know soon enough.
Perry had to call a special on redistricting to take the issue off the table in case he does run again, and against Abbott. Whether he needs to bring up the wing nut laundry list as well we will just have to wait and see. We should assume that the GOP House leadership, aka Straus’ team, still doesn’t want anything to do with the wing nut laundry list.
And Democrats, for their part, should just make sure to highlight how the so-called “conservatives” are again wasting taxpayer money for their own partisan political gain. None of the issues that are likely to be taken up in this special session will have any positive impact on the lives of poor, working, and middle class Texans.
From the Legislative Reference Library of Texas, What’s Next? Post-Regular Session FAQs.
As the Lege descended into chaos yesterday it was impossible not to be notice the absence of leadership that exists in our state. As the special session Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry called drew to a close, where the Governor (California dreamin’)? Again he’s off galavanting around the country. And it’s as if Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus don’t even talk anymore, as the Senate adjourned “Sine Die” without waiting for the House to get all it’s ducks-in-a-row, as is customary. The reason that custom exists is to protect against something like this, which causes “feelings” to get hurt.
The Senate has adjourned Sine Die, leaving the burden of the TSA “anti-groping” bill in the House’s lap. That leaves the House with one very unlikely option: Putting the wheels in motion to fast-track the Senate’s version of the bill.
The Senate has put the House in a “take it or leave it” position, said Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas. Branch said both the governor and House Speaker Joe Straus asked the Senate not to adjourn, and also to pass the House’s non-binding resolution in the event a full bill couldn’t get passed.
The Senate’s move was “not very respectful,” Branch said. “This is a bicameral system of government that takes two chambers to pass law… We’ve had time tonight and tomorrow to finish the peoples’ business. Apparently they were in a hurry to get out of town.”
What that did was force the hand of the GOP Texas House on one of the biggest non-issues of the special session. The issue Speaker Straus called a stunt on Friday, Texas bill on TSA pat-downs facing final showdown today.
After surviving a progression of near-death experiences, a controversial bill to ban intrusive searches by federal airport security officers faces a final showdown today, the last day of the special session.
House members will consider the bill in what is make-or-break time for Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, and Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston. The two conservative Republicans have waged a vigorous effort to push the measure into law and concede that today’s vote is their last opportunity.
Simpson can pass the bill with a simple majority of the 150-member House but he needs a four-fifths vote — 120 members — to suspend the rules and bring the measure up for consideration on the final day. He cleared one hurdle Tuesday when the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 7-1 to advance the bill to the House floor.
House Speaker Joe Straus earlier denounced the bill as a “publicity stunt” but dropped his resistance to the measure after the House gave preliminary approval to a bill substantially retooled by Simpson. The measure that will be up for a vote today is Patrick’s Senate-passed measure, which he described as “significantly stronger” than the House bill.
Watching the debate it was Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman [Updated w/Coleman's statement] that pointed out Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s mistake of making this a political issue, which it wasn’t previously, by making this statement.
With the passage of SB 29, the Texas Legislature is not only telling the TSA to change their policies ? we’re telling the Obama Administration we will not be intimidated and we will vigorously defend our Constitutional rights.”
Dewhurst’s attempt at placating the tea party, by making that partisan political statement, will likely make it impossible to get the needed Democratic support to pass the bill. Which is a non-issue because if it was passed it would not change a thing.
Now on to the legislation that had to pass yesterday to keep Gov. Perry from calling another special session. No, not TWIA, which everyone thought would be the problem, it wound up sailing through both chambers without issue. Turns out the problem was with the bill that really had to pass to balance the budget, SB 1, the bill that cuts $4 billion plus from public education.
We may never know why this actually happened, it could be the House wing-nuts were sending a message to Straus, but the initial vote on SB 1 made it look as those Straus, and his team, just assumed it would pass and didn’t even count votes before the vote was taken. Which is taught on the first day of Legislative Leadership 101 – never take a vote unless you already know the outcome. House votes down school finance and revenue raising bill.
The Texas House, in a surprise turn of events late Tuesday afternoon, tentatively voted down a must-pass bill that distributes the pain of school-funding cuts and uses accounting tricks to help balance the two-year state budget.
The 79-64 vote against the bill saw 32 House Republicans, including a few key members of Speaker Joe Straus’ leadership team, defect. They cast a “nay” vote that, unless reconsidered and reversed, could force the Legislature into another special session. The Senate adjourned for good earlier in the afternoon.
House Republicans immediately went into a caucus to try to sort out the mess.
Among the “nays” were State Affairs Committee chief Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, who complained bitterly in a floor speech that the bill cravenly caved to Gov. Rick Perry’s desire to protect the Department of Information Resources and also placed on financially strapped rural counties an unfunded mandate that they audit court fee collections. [Emphasis added]
Other Straus allies who opposed the bill were Redistricting Committee head Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton ; Ways and Means leader Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville; and Sunset Advisory Commission Vice Chairman Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton.
The excuse given was that a right wing think tank had concerns about the bill, and then those concerns were allayed during a GOP caucus meeting, after which a re-vote of the bill was taken and it passed, GOP caucus enacts school cuts.
The special legislative session nearly collapsed into disarray Tuesday when the Senate went home early and the House initially killed a must-pass school finance bill.
But after first rejecting legislation imposing a $4 billion cut on public schools, House Republican leaders immediately called a caucus meeting and persuaded 16 colleagues to change their votes, salvaging the final hours of the special session, which ends today.
After voting against the bill, Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, asked for another vote, explaining to his colleagues that misunderstandings over the bill had been cleared up.
“Our understanding of the bill has changed,” King explained.
House Democratic leader Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, joked that a few of her GOP colleagues suffered broken kneecaps after a 79-64 vote against the must-pass Senate Bill 1 miraculously turned into an 80-57 vote for it.
Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, said he initially voted against SB 1 because “we did not fix the school formula funding.
“I have been hearing from my school districts and decided I wanted to call attention to that fact,” he said. “I asked the Speaker if he would appoint an interim committee to study school formula funding and he said yes. So I said I’ll change my vote. If we get to draw attention to the problem and elevate awareness, I think I’ve accomplished my goal.”
Other members said they also took into account concerns raised by the conservative Eagle Forum, which urged a “no” vote on SB 1 because they feared it included language that would broaden charter schools’ access to public school construction dollars.
In particular, they voiced concern about Harmony charter schools because they were founded by a Turkish-Muslim group. They changed their vote after the Texas House General Investigating Committee agreed to look into the issue, lawmakers said.
Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, said she voted against the bill because it failed to fix inequities in school funding.
“Cy-Fair is one of my larger school districts and I’ve been telling them for the last three sessions that I’ve been here that we were going to address the inequities in school funding,” she said. “This bill doesn’t do it.”
The Texas Eagle Forum is an off-shoot of the wing-nut ’60′s movement conservative Phyllis Schlafly, that apparently holds more power over GOP members of the Texas House then Speaker Straus does.
It’s clear from these decisions that whether it’s Perry, Dewhurst, of Straus their biggest concern is a fringe vocal minority that show up to vote on a regular basis in the GOP primaries – protection for their next election. They care more about them then they do about the majority of Texans and their families. This is what happens when fools rule.
Kuff posts on yesterday’s action at the Lege, Fiscal and health care bills pass. The worst part being that again the Texas GOP showed their willingness to defund public education.
One provision that didn’t make in the final version of SB 2 was an amendment from Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, that called for $2 billion from the rainy day fund for schools if the fund brings in more than expected.“A choice was made when we had money in the bank to say: ‘No, we’re not going to appropriate any more here to our schools’,” Howard said. “We’re going to leave billions in the bank when we’re asking our schools to cut.”
Ogden said the Howard amendment had promise with some modifications, but the House members wanted it gone.
“They were for it and then they were against it,” Ogden said.
Yes, after they were reminded by the people who hate public education that they need to hate it, too. That’s the choice they made, and the voters need to be reminded about it every day between now and next November.
Regarding the health care bill there are significant issues, Texas health care bill with Medicare, abortion provisions goes to Rick Perry.
[Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound,] said the measures would help tackle “unsustainable growth in our health and human services budget.” The Senate approved the bill 22-8 and the House 96-48.
Democrats objected to GOP leaders’ decision to attach to the bill two separate measures sought by conservative activists wanting to curb federal power. Under a “health care compact” proposal and a “global waiver” plan for Medicaid, state officials could seek freedom to use federal health dollars under Medicaid to nudge the needy into private health insurance with taxpayer subsidies.
The proposed interstate compact, if approved by Congress, could let Texas also take over the management of elderly residents’ federal Medicare benefits, though Zerwas played down that possibility.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said the state budget assumes Texas will be freed from Medicaid rules on eligibility and benefits and will save $700 million over the next two years. He called that folly, given state officials’ hostility toward President Barack Obama’s administration.
Zerwas did not argue, saying that “these are some tense times.”
The bill also would deny $34 million to Planned Parenthood from family planning grants, curb abortions at public hospitals and promote use of adult stem cells from the patient’s own body in new medical treatments. Abortion opponents were thrilled, while women’s health advocates warned that family planning cuts would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.
Kuff has more on the state of this legislation.
A lot of what was in this bill was in similar legislation from the regular session. As it happens, on the same day this happened, the state of Indiana got swatted down by a federal judge for trying to legislatively de-fund Planned Parenthood. I don’t know enough about what either state has done to know how comparable the two situations are, but earlier this month Texas got some pushback from the feds over this, so there’s clearly some parallel. I feel confident there will be litigation here as well. The Trib has more on the legislation, and Jason Stanford has a righteous rant on what it does.
As a reminder of how fruitless it is for any Democrat to attempt to work with the Texas GOP, here’s a cautionary tale from state Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, A senator needs a dicho.
“Just today, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst called on House Republicans to exercise their majority strength and push sanctuary cities through the process. But the House Republican leadership is looking to justify their futility, and one small piece of that would come via the removal of a Senate Hispanic’s amendment.
“I voted to increase funding for border security in S.B. 2. I represent a border district with more skin in border security than, say, a state representative from Tarrant County. For me and my constituents, border security is more than political theater and food for my political base. For us, border security is a daily reality, and the policy implications a necessity for continued investment in our economy, our communities, and our families.
“The brand of Republicanism promoted by the Texas House leadership has and will continue to alienate a Hispanic community that is pro-family, pro-education (and soon-to-be majority in the public education system), and proud Americans. We are veterans, teachers, soldiers, university system chancellors, star athletes, mayors, mothers and sons, deserving of equal protection under the law.
“The truth of an issue is best appreciated in the context of the response it provokes. Sanctuary cities profiles Hispanics based on appearance – skin color, dress, and other perceived ‘un-American qualities.’ The response from House Republican leaders? ‘Block the Hispanic Senator’s local amendment – that will show him.’
“Show us it does. Their true nature.”
The TexasTrib has the list of what’s done, and to do, in the next two days, The Final Push: A Special Session Update. It looks like most of the GOP’s energy will be spent trying to satisfy the base, by voting on non-issues like the s-called “sanctuary cities” legislation, without damaging their party too much in 2012 by actually passing the legislation. Even though the damage may already be done, Hispanics notice when they are being bashed.
Led by the legislative actions of Arizona state officials, Gov. Rick Perry has taken the lead in enacting similar imprudent laws here in Texas.
Specifically, he and the Texas legislature are pushing bills that are negatively aimed at Hispanic citizens. Three dubious bills are as follows: (l) Voter ID Bill, (the 21st Century equivalent to the Poll Tax); (2) Redistricting Bill, (an old trick to gerrymander voting districts to diminish the Hispanic vote); and (3) Sanctuary Cities Bill, (an offensive mandate to intimidate and question the citizenship of loyal Texas citizens that look Mexican and/or speak Spanish).
To be sure, laws are necessary in society and are meant to keep citizens safe and secure. However, oftentimes they have been used in U.S. history to terrorize citizens, not to protect them. For example, Jim Crow laws were officially enacted in the U.S. to deny equal rights to Black citizens. Those abhorrent laws remained on the books from the end of the Civil War to 1965.
Likewise, the three bills named above are reminiscent of similar anti-Hispanic laws in our state’s past. They echo the negative Jim Crow-type mindset of post-1836 that subjected Spanish Mexican Texans to despicable discriminatory practices imposed by the Anglo Saxon majority. Officially, that state-supported bigotry lasted for over 120 years.
If that’s how they feel and, as was alluded to in Sen. Hinojosa’s remarks above, that the attack on public education is being seen as an attack on Hispanics, as they head to a majority in the public school system, then there is certainly a civil rights and social justice message that Democrats must use in 2012 to win back legislative and Congressional seats. Because nothing is going to change until Texas elects different people.
There will only be 3 days left, as of Monday, in the first called special session of the 82nd Legislature. In the words of Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, “time is getting skinny”, Republican no-shows preventing Texas House from getting quorum.
When Republicans grabbed a supermajority in the Texas House, the joke was that Democrats wouldn’t even have to show up for the GOP to pass bills.
But now Republicans are skipping out on the special session called by Gov. Rick Perry.
The calendars for Monday are filling up with some of the bills that “need” to get passed. Conspicuously absent is the so-called sanctuary cities bill, that has suddenly sparked infighting inside the Texas GOP. It could turn into an all out battle before Wednesday. John Coby shows some of what it what’s going on, Wingnuts call for boycott and ICE raids of Bob Perry Homes.
Wingnuts are so full of hot air. They talk big, but do nothing. Case in point, Bob Perry’s meddling into their sanctuary bill, which most probably will kill it. Reading through the comments of the story by the Houston Chronicle, wingnuts across the globe, or across North Houston, are calling for a boycott of Perry Homes and a raid by the INS (Now called ICE).
Oh where oh where are the Minute Men when we need them? You have to wonder why they haven’t thought of setting up surveillance at the work site for new homes being constructed by Bob Perry Homes. If Perry is depending upon this illegal workforce, it would be easy to document and catch them.
Now that the GOP didn’t mind stirring-up all this anti-immigrant tea party fervor in 2010. But they’re going to find it extremely hard, if not impossible, to tamp it down. But all this fighting over non-issues does have an unfortunate side effect. The Texas media much prefers these kind of non-issues to serious polkcy, and like a moth to a flame, has had it’s focus taken off the real tragedy that is taking place – the defunding of public education in Texas. This is what we should be dicusssing, as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro showed earlier in the week, Castro shows ‘em how.
It’s almost old news by now, but I’m still thinking about what happened when Gov. Rick Perry deigned to make an appearance yesterday at the annual gathering of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in San Antonio.
Two things stood out, including how Perry was so easily rattled by the tepid response he got from the luncheon crowd of about 500 elected officials from around the country. The Alamo was only a block away from the Grand Hyatt ballroom, but unlike Travis and company, the governor wasn’t beseiged. His audience was polite — NALEO President Sylvia Garcia had reminded them earlier of the group’s nonpartisan tradition — but, still, the loudest sound during his boiler-plate remarks was the clink of silverware. Unlike his rabble-rousing remarks last Saturday in New Orleans before the Republican Leadership Conference — an animated, ebullient Perry riffing; the crowd chanting “Run, Rick, Run!” — he spoke barely 10 minutes in San Antonio before scurrying out the door.
As an old teacher, I began to get those uncomfortable feelings during the governor’s halting performance of those moments in the classroom when the lecture isn’t working and you start searching as you speak for some way, any way, to make a connection with your listeners. Perry couldn’t find it. Garcia, the former Harris County commissioner, said afterward she was surprised the governor even showed up.
The second lasting impression was the performance of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who preceded Perry onstage. I’ve heard the young mayor speak before, and he’s never all that scintillating, but yesterday, in his own low-key way, he was as forceful and effective as any Texas Democrat I’ve heard in years. Without mentioning the governor by name, he reminded his audience in his own 10-minute remarks that Perry had given his blessing to a legislative session whose priority was “easily the most anti-Latino agenda pursued in a generation, without shame.”
Scorning the massive cuts in public education, higher education and health care the legislature engineered this session, labeling them the antithesis of a state’s need to invest in its future, Castro showed his beleaguered fellow Democrats how they might begin to fight back in their long slog toward political relevance.
At 36 and in his second term as mayor, Castro has a future, I would venture to say. Meanwhile, the state’s longest-serving governor needs to sharpen his skills before less-than-friendly audiences if he truly has notions of striding onto the national stage. He wouldn’t want the subtext of “Run, Rick, Run” to be “back home to Texas.” [Emphasis added]
It’s crunch time this week and Joe Straus is so desperate that he sent out a memo on Friday imploring members of the Hosue to show up this week.
I intend for the House to complete all outstanding issues by Sine Die on Wednesday, June 29th. Therefore, I strongly encourage each of you to be here for the final days of this special session so that we can finish the important business of the House.
For all intents and purposes the Texas GOP could have wrapped this session up in much less than 30 days. The leadership has, instead, decided to pussyfoot around and allow Gov. Perry to add many less than special non-issues to the agenda that may, in the long run, come back to hurt him and his party. Now that would certainly make Wendy Davis’ filibuster worth it.
The not so “special” session lumbered on today with each chamber gaveling-in for milli-minutes. Mostly because the House, for the second time this week, was unable to make the quorum (100 members) needed to conduct business. Keep in mind that there are 101 Republicans in the House, so even if every Democrats was absent – which wasn’t the case – the GOP alone could still make quorum.
In the wake of this situation the “leader” of the House, GOP Speaker Joe Straus, vented his frustration over Gov. Rick Perry’s latest attention grabbing non-issue, Speaker calls anti-agressive pat-down bill a “stunt”.
House Speaker Joe Straus said a the so-called anti-groping bill, which was scheduled for debate today, amounted to an ill-advised stunt that would embarrass the State of Texas.
“The bill — without some serious revisions — appears to me to be nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt. Unenforceable. Ill-advised. Misdirected to uniform security personnel. And not where it appropriately should be aimed, which is in Washington, to the bosses of these people,” Straus said. “I have some other thoughts on how to send a message without actually harming commercial aviation in Texas and without making the Texas Legislature a laughing stock.”
The speaker said a resolution is in the works to address the issue of aggressive pat-downs.
The bill — and other eligible pieces of legislation — were not debated today because too few members showed up to the Capitol.
Straus may finally be tiring of Perry and the wing nuts attacking him and making a mockery of the House over “nuttty” issues like this one.
Speaking of “nutty” issues, the “bidness” community, and in particular GOP sugar daddy Bob Perry, is starting to speak out against the so-called “sanctuary cities” legislation, Top business leaders try to derail Texas ‘sanctuary cities’ bill.
On Thursday, Austin superlobbyist Neal “Buddy” Jones Jr. of HillCo Partners, which represents Perry Homes and HEB, urged committee members not to pass the bill.
“Just want to tell you that Charles Butt and Bob Perry have asked me to call every member of State Affairs and ask them not to pass the sanctuary city bill,” Jones wrote in an email to Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. House Democrats released the email to The Dallas Morning News.
“They think it is very bad for Texas,” Jones said, encouraging Gallego, an opponent of the bill, to inform his committee colleagues “that these two giants of Texas business are concerned that this is taking Texas in the wrong direction.”
Asked to elaborate on Perry’s and Butt’s concerns about the bill, Jones declined.
House bill sponsor Rep. Burt Solomons of Carrollton said grassroots Republicans favor the measure, which he said merely would outlaw official interference with immigration law enforcement.
“You shouldn’t get to pick and choose which federal laws you abide by,” he said. “These big businessmen all of a sudden think we shouldn’t have any type of sanctuary city legislation. Well, where were they for six months?”
Gov. Rick Perry added the bill to the special session’s agenda, and Bob Perry — no relation — has been his biggest political contributor for many years. Bob Perry, owner of Perry Homes, and Butt, chairman and chief executive of HEB Grocery Co. LP, were ranked by Texans for Public Justice as No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, among givers to legislative candidates in the 2008 cycle.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone as Solomons called out Perry during the regular session too – likely part of an ongoing feud. None of the work is done as the session nears the end. And many of our elected officials seem to be focused on other things, Special session nearly over, work hardly done.
Legislative leaders hope the session’s leisurely pace will pick up today. The 30-day session ends Wednesday; the House and Senate remain far apart on the restructuring of the state’s windstorm insurance program, and movement has been slow on a measure to ban so-called sanctuary cities.
Legislators signaled their fatigue this week when the House adjourned because of a lack of a quorum, meaning more than one-third of the members were absent. One legislator, GOP Rep. Larry Taylor of Friendswood, admitted to reporters that he was on a long-scheduled family vacation in the Bahamas instead of working at the Capitol.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry has spent a number of days out of the state since the special session began May 31. A possible presidential candidate, Perry went to Los Angeles, New York, North Carolina and New Orleans last week. On Wednesday, he threatened to call another special session if legislators can’t resolve the windstorm issue.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, said Perry and the leaders of the House and Senate have been distracted by issues such as an attempt to ban intrusive searches at airports, which Perry added to lawmakers’ agenda on Monday. “It’s a lack of leadership,” Martinez Fischer said. “Nobody wants to be in special session. They have the power to call it; they have the power to end it. If we’re only looking at one or two issues, let’s focus on those issues.”
As Perry prances all over the country, getting unpaid media for all his “non-campaign” campaign stops, it is starting to wear on the rest of his party’s elected officials, who are stuck in Austin doing nothing – literally.
Yesterday Perry showed up at the NALEO conference in San Antonio and got a reception he’s not used to, Presidential Candidate Perry Bombs at National Latino Conference.
Perry’s speech in San Antonio was one of his first in front of a crowd that wasn’t predisposed to loving him. There were no rah-rah Tea Partiers to cheer for Perry as they did during the last governor’s race—not even his celebrity friends Chuck Norris or Ted Nugent were on the sidelines to swoop in and save the day. Nope. This time it was a packed banquet room full of Latino elected officials from across the nation. In short, it was Perry dipping his toe into the national electoral pool of voters. Boy, did he get an icy reception.
Think watching the class president royally bomb during a high-school talent show.
During the 13-minute keynote speech all you could hear was silverware clattering on dishes as people tucked into their breaded chicken grimly chewing with their backs turned to Perry on the stage. Perry ran through his material about fiscal conservatism and low taxes. He touched on familiar themes about Texas being “the job creation capitol of the world.” And he exhorted members of the audience from other states to “come and live in Texas.”
Perry avoided talk about immigration or his controversial decision to push the banning of so called “sanctuary cities” by adding it to the call for the current special session. A vote is scheduled on the legislation in a House committee this Monday. Hispanics say the legislation that allows law enforcement to ask for citizenship status will promote racial profiling and unfairly single out communities of color for harrasment.
The grim silence was finally interrupted by light applause when Perry acknowledged at the end of his speech the growing Latino population. “It’s no stretch to suggest that the future of Texas is tied to its Hispanic population,” he said. Then Perry touted his appointments of “the best and brightest in leadership” in the Hispanic community ticking off the names of Secretary of State Hope Andrade, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and “my favorite” he chuckled “The head of the TABC Jose Cuevas. That is the right man for the job.” (In case you’re missing something, the governor apparently thinks that Jose Cuevas sounds like the popular tequila brand Jose Cuervo.)
He’s going to have problems with the Hispanic community for, among other things, adding the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill to the special session agenda, since he is the one that sets that agenda. And many in Texas are starting to recognize the hypocrisy of Perry and the Texas GOP’s agenda, Latinos’ freedom, dignity on the line with sanctuary cities bill.
My arguments fell on the deaf ears of 19 of my Senate colleagues — many of whom support a state law cracking down on the TSA.
It is hard to understand their disconnect on these two issues. They are willing to side with the traveling public, despite the real threat of violence in the skies, yet they are unwilling to protect Latino citizens from the very same kind of degradation, just so we can have a sanctuary cities law that accomplishes nothing.
During the Senate debate, the bill’s sponsor was repeatedly asked to name a single sanctuary city in Texas. He could not, because there are none.
So far the best results of Perry’s media exposure is that the national media, unlike the state media, is starting to show how bad Perry’s economic record, and rhetoric, really are, Perry’s Texas miracle is a mirage.
But, as long we’re being honest, we ought to acknowledge that there is another, not often talked about, dimension to the Texas Economic Miracle.
Or is it a mirage? Texas is a still a largely poor state, with weak infrastructure and a largely uneducated work force. Under Perry, the state budget deficit has surged to more than $25 billion, and the unemployment rate is higher than it has been in decades: about 8%.
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, recently gave me a primer on “Tex-onomics.”
“That jobs thing is a sleight of hand,” Castro said. “More than half of those new jobs have been filed by non-Texans. So it’s people moving here to take those jobs. It underscores this bipolar state that we live in. You have a population in Texas that is generally lower educated, poor, isn’t covered by health insurance … all of these things … so you can recruit these companies to come here from out of state but your own people, often times, aren’t qualified to fill these jobs.”
The way that Castro sees it, this is all about long-term investment and conflicting priorities.
“We’re not creating a system that educates them well and prepares them,” he said. “We underinvest in these things, which is what Perry is doing in public education and higher education. We can create the jobs, and that’s great. But our own people who have gone through Texas schools and Texas universities aren’t the ones filling them.”
Is this the record that Republicans think is Rick Perry’s strong suit? Does Perry really want to do for the rest of the country what he’s done for Texas? And, if so, can the country afford it?
That and the Rainy Day Fund has been spent, Perry’s Rainy Day Fund? Used Up, Say Some Republicans.
A special session that’s been short on work, full of non-issues, and potential candidacies, shouldn’t get Texans to take their eyes off of what is really important. The GOP is defunding what most Texans see as the most important issue facing our state – education. So make your voice heard. The GOP sees that as a better alternative then creating a fairer and more stable tax system in Texas.
The lazy way the Texas GOP is acting this special session tells Texans they see it as a joke. They will finish off the budget and what they deem necessary and the heck with the rest of it. From here it just seems like a nuisance to them on the way to their next campaign.
[UPDATE]: It appears they did something this week but it wasn’t good or “fiscally conservative”. Kuff has the (bad) news, GOP finally kills Howard amendment.
See here and here for the background. There needs to be quotation marks around “fiscal conservatives” in that penultimate paragraph. There are many words that can describe this, but there’s nothing conservative about failing to invest in one’s future. At least the Republicans have made it as clear as they can where their priorities aren’t.
Today is Day 24 , of a possible 30, in the first-called Special Session of the 82nd Legislature. GOP bosses Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have seen fit to give the Senate and House the day off. Probably no big deal since Texas House Republican Caucus leader has been in the Bahamas, not at the Capitol.
Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said he has “been absent this week due to a family gathering that was scheduled months ago, well in advance of the special session being called.”
The special session is scheduled to run through Wednesday.
“This gathering has great personal significance for my family and I could not cancel our plans,” Taylor said in a statement.
So glad Texas still holds to the myth of the citizen legislature. citizen legislators that can afford “family gatherings” to the Bahamas!? Must be nice.
While Taylor’s been away freshman state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry asking him to “jump”, and Perry responded by asking, “how high”? (It’s likely only for show to keep the tea party quiet).
When Gov. Rick Perry added the so-called anti-groping bill to the special session, he found an issue that fell in line with the anti-Washington rhetoric he has delivered all across the country in recent weeks.
And now that House Bill 41 — by Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview — is primed for debate and carries the blessing of Texas’ increasingly visible governor, it has prompted a variety of discussions, pro and con.
Daniel Rodriguez of the University of Texas School of Law also said the supremacy clause could apply. There are some areas in which states have so much discretion that the federal government cannot enact laws that are superior to them, but interstate transportation is not one of those areas, he said.
Also, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has written a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the state Senate, saying that specific language can be added to the bill to help ward off a constitutional fight. The letter suggests specifying that an offense occurs only if the search were “constitutionally unreasonable.”
Rodriguez said the letter illustrates that a state law would be “really only symbolic.”
“In the unlikely event that a TSA officer violates a person’s constitutional rights — presumably on the grounds that this is an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — that person would in all likelihood have a federal action against that officer in any event,” he said.
This is so bad that even GOP U.S. Sen. John Cornyn believes it’s a ruse.
Harvey Kronberg at QR is reporting that some GOP House members are getting tired of hanging around in Austin only to be used as props for Perry’s potential run for the White House.
The only must pass bills of the session are SB1, SB2 and TWIA. Negotiations on the first two are moving forward and will likely produce conference committee reports at the end of the week. The Senate passed its bill this afternoon and the conference begins in earnest.
Maybe its just the frustration with hurry up and wait.
But with Perry’s eleventh hour addition of the groping bill to the call, more and more Republicans feel insulted and are privately complaining that they are tired of being used as props for the Governor’s national campaign. The groping bill is up on Friday and some are talking about simply not showing up although there are two other public schools related bills on the calendar that have already been postponed several times.
Kronberg goes on to state that the House GOP is divided into four camps regarding the so-called “sanctuary cites” bill – Libertarians, those afraid of a Hispanic backlash, those who think it is not good government, and those who remain passionate in support of it despite the consequences. He also reports that some in the House GOP are talking payback against Perry. They don’t wan to play ball with Perry regarding his travel records.
And the Senate cancelled it’s hearing, scheduled for today, on the TSA groping bill.
There is also another internal GOP battle that has broken out over abortion, Texas House Republicans fighting over abortion language.
Texas House Republicans are fighting among themselves over language referring to abortions that is contained in a major healthcare reform bill — a clash that has delayed the measure and could even derail it as a special session runs short on time.
At issue is the bill’s language about abortions in cases of fetal abnormality. As approved by the House, the bill would ban state funding for hospital districts that finance abortions except when the life or overall health of the mother is at risk. A conference committee reconciling that version with one passed by the Senate added a second exception, for cases when a fetus has a severe abnormality.
The bill’s author, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, said the bill’s current language leaves determination of fetal abnormalities to doctors.
The House reconvenes Friday, but the Senate could vote to pass the conference committee version of the bill before then — meaning that the House couldn’t make further changes without throwing the measure out and starting from scratch. The special legislative session is scheduled to end Wednesday.
“Our back could be up against the wall,” Zerwas said. “I’m a little concerned that we’re running out of time here.”
Zerwas said “a fairly sizable” group of Republicans has sided with Hughes, though a formal count was not taken during the caucus meeting.
“They’re willing to tank this whole bill because of this difference of opinion on this language, and it is totally irresponsible in my opinion,” he said. “This is happening when what could really be historic legislation in terms of its pro-life amendments has a chance to pass.”
Democrats opposed the bill during the regular session and still oppose it, said Jessica Farrar of Houston, leader of the House Democratic Caucus.
“You’ve got a Republican supermajority. They’re in a tug of war with themselves,” Farrar said, though she would not discuss whether her colleagues may attempt stalling tactics to tie up the healthcare bill as the end of the session looms.
Time is running out and here are a couple of reports on where we stand at this point in the special session:
The Last Seven Days: A Special Session Update.
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Says Monday is Decision Day on Key Bills—Have Your Say Now.
Special session becoming unfocused grab bag.
There are still many issues left to finish and Perry is again threatening another special session over TWIA – so much for the Wendy Davis blame game.
Veteran Texas politico Paul Burka is calling this “the worst legislature that the Capitol has seen in forty years“, and it’s likely to continue that way.
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