The weekly kumbaya breakfast between the big three Texas lawmakers broke down today into a round-robin of recriminations that concluded with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick declaring he was tired of Governor Greg Abbott and Speaker Joe Straus “picking on me.”
The blow-up, confirmed by multiple sources, represents the boiling point of long-simmering disputes. The House has been upset that Patrick declared his inauguration marked a “New Day” in Texas and that he pushed a conservative agenda quickly through the Senate with expectations that the House would just pass his legislation. But, instead, most of the Senate’s bills on tax cuts, licensed open carry of handguns and moving the Public Integrity Unit have languished in the House without even being referred to committee by Straus.
The House instead has passed its own version of the same legislation, putting the Senate in a take-it-or-leave-it position. To pass the Senate bills now, the House would have to have an entirely new debate on controversial measures it already has approved.
So the Senate, in what looked like retaliation on Tuesday, ignored a House-approved border security bill to vote on its own measure, putting the House into a take-it-or-leave-it position on border security – a measure that House Ways and Means Chair Dennis Bonnen had crafted to win support of border Democrats.
This may be Patrick’s New Day, but Straus’ Old Guard still runs the House.
Topping off that battle, Patrick’s grassroots advisory council sent out a letter Tuesday on its own letterhead attacking the House bill on pre-kindergarten education that was passed after a bitter fight. The legislation is part of Abbott’s signature set of legislation, but the Patrick advisory board of tea party activists claimed the bill would take children out of religious pre-schools and force them into “a Godless environment.” Patrick immediately put out a statement disowning the letter as “unsolicited and expresses the individual viewpoints of Texas citizens.”
Everyone’s pointing fingers and no one appears to be leading. Sooner or later they’ll realize they can’t get anything done without each other. Until then the sniping between the semi-sane members of the GOP and the wing nuts will continue, and for those of us on the left we’ll just get the popcorn.
Certainly there’s quite a bit of bad blood between these two factions of the GOP. The same folks that bankroll the tea party candidates, and the tea party candidates themselves, are with Patrick and against Straus. And vice versa, of course. It’s on display most days on the House floor when Stickland takes the back mike to questions Speaker Joe Straus or Rep. Dennis Bonnen. It’s been on display in the media recently when Bonnen took on Lt. Gov. Patrick.
There are a couple of parts in the Trib article that make clearer what’s going on.
Before the breakfast, Patrick crossed paths at the Capitol with Geren. In the brief encounter, the Fort Worth Republican said he ribbed Patrick about the lieutenant governor’s advisory board coming out against the pre-K plan pushed by Abbott and approved by the House.
“I said, ‘That was a pretty good ambush you put on the governor the other day,’” Geren recalled late Wednesday. Patrick replied that he had no idea what Geren was talking about, according to Geren’s account.
Geren said the exchange was not a confrontation: “I would never do that. I have too much respect for the office.”
“If he got his feelings hurt,” Geren added, “then maybe his skin’s a little too thin.”
Straus’ folks are pickin’ on Patrick. But Straus is being picked on by Patrick’s people.
Also at the breakfast, Straus complained of outside groups hectoring his members with mailers and phone calls and internet posts whenever the House disagrees with the Senate, and promoting Senate legislation over House legislation. When Patrick said he had no control over those groups, Straus apparently noted that Patrick had not complained about them or tried to stop them.
And Patrick trying to deny responsibility for his wing nut advisory board is not believable. It’s a group that didn’t exist until he created it.
On Tuesday, a group of grassroots advisers organized by Patrick blasted pre-K legislation passed earlier this month by the House, calling it “Godless” and comparing it to practices in “socialistic countries.”
Patrick responded in an email Tuesday that he had not seen the letter before it went out, didn’t solicit it and was working on an education package that includes pre-K. “I look forward to working with the senators, the House and the governor in the coming weeks to create a comprehensive package that includes A-F, parent trigger, opportunity districts, online learning, school choice and a pre-K program that’s good for Texas. Together, these bills will have a positive impact on education in Texas,” he said in that written statement.
His grassroots group was unapologetic after the letter went out. Just before midnight on Tuesday, Julie McCarty, a Tea Party activist from Tarrant County, posted on Facebook about the letter: “Well, somebody had to say it because 128 of our electeds sure weren’t standing up to the governor! … This pre-K bill is bad for Texas, bad for the budget, bad for kids and bad for families.”
Whether Straus and the House want to admit it or not, it is a new day with Patrick as Lt. Gov. And Patrick’s group has certainly made Abbott mad. There’s still time but it’s likely this will take a special session or two to bring before these guys are ready to compromise.
Who knew that inviting a bunch of nihilistic prevaricators into your inner circle would be such an ill-advised move? No one could have seen that coming. As the Observer notes, there’s no love lost between the House (read: Joe Straus) and the Senate (Danno, of course) over the bordersurge bills, among other things. Some of this is just the way things are at this point in the session. It’s like going on a long road trip with your family – no matter how much you may love them, after enough time together without a break, tensions can get a little high. Some of it is ego and the kind of inside baseball that no one outside of the Capitol hothouse cares about. And some of it is genuine differences, not all of which will get resolved. How big a mess it becomes, and how much gets salvaged and smoothed over, remains to be seen.
There’s a new “Dirty Thirty” in Austin, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs pulls back the curtain on the so-called Texas House Democrats who voted with the Republicans to overturn municipal fracking bans. Surprise: it’s all about the money, specifically campaign contributions from oil and gas companies.
Texas Leftist noted (a few weeks back, but who’s counting) on the recent designation of Interstate 69 get I through Houston and Harris County, and the economic impact expected.
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme was extremely disappointed to hear Leticia Van de Putte use a fundamental Republican talking point to blow off non-discrimination ordinances. I want my money back from her Lieutenant governor’s race.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
I didn’t vote for Ken Paxton, and won’t vote for him in the future. Mainly because he’s a clone of Greg Abbott and only cares about suing the federal government. But the fact that he’s an admitted criminal, who hasn’t be prosecuted for his crime, just adds to the reasons not to vote for him.
Amazingly, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office insists that the state’s top law enforcer broke no laws when he solicited investment clients without being registered to do so in 2004, 2005 and 2012 for a McKinney business. What’s amazing is that Paxton admitted in a signed statement on May 2 that he violated state securities law. The Texas State Securities Board assessed him a $1,000 fee for the administrative portion of this violation. The criminal portion was never addressed — and certainly never resolved.
How do you admit to violating the law, then have your spokesman tell the news media repeatedly that no laws were broken? Here is the full text of Paxton’s admission, which is posted on Ty Clevenger’s Lawflog.com blog. Paxton’s notarized signature appears at the bottom. Under the section title CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, Paxton acknowledges three paragraphs that explicitly state, repeatedly, that he violated state law.
Nothing in this document states or implies that the criminal aspects of his violation were resolved simply because he paid the $1,000 administrative fine. State securities law is very clear that failure to properly register while soliciting investment clients and collecting commissions fees is a third-degree felony, punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and 10 years’ imprisonment. You can read the language yourself by clicking here.
There’s an important section of the law that outlines a statute of limitations: three years from the last violation. Paxton decided to abide by the law in 2013 and register properly. The statute of limitations for his 2012 violations expires this year, which means every ticking minute brings him closer to getting off without criminal punishment for what he admits was a violation of the law.
This might help explain why his good friend and former business partner, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis, appears to be in no hurry to launch a criminal investigation of Paxton. Prosecution of this case falls squarely under Willis’ jurisdiction since Paxton maintained his office and performed his securities business in Collin County at the time the violations occurred.
At the time of the violations, Paxton was an attorney and a Republican state representative. Perhaps he just goofed and simply didn’t know that he was supposed register. Those things happen. But would our now-attorney general and his friend, the Colllin County district attorney, dare to suggest that ignorance of the law is a valid excuse for breaking the law? If so, Texas could find itself at the frontier of a new breakthrough legal doctrine: the Homer Simpson D’oh legal defense to prosecution.
The best way for our attorney general to uphold the duties of his office is to stop having his spokesman deny that the law was violated or that this matter was somehow resolved. Paxton should acknowledge publicly what he did in writing: that he violated the law. The attorney general should call for a special prosecutor to handle the criminal side of his violations.
The Collin County district attorney, also being conflicted, also should defer to a special prosecutor in this case. But by stalling and talking about bringing in the Texas Rangers, Willis only adds the stink of protectionism, power and influence to these proceedings.
Please, as sworn officers of the court and professionals duty-bound to uphold the law, stop standing in the way of justice.
Everything that’s being done looks like Paxton and his buddy Willis are trying to run out the clock on this one.
It says something about the GOP Primary process in Texas that Paxton was the best candidate they could nominate. And it says something about the state of the political process in Texas that Democrats couldn’t beat an admitted criminal. But if he’s able to get away with committing a crime without punishment it says something about all of us.
Nonsequiteuse says it is time to wear orange and head to Austin (or the internet) to rally against HB 723 as the Texas House of Representatives Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence committee considers little word with constitutional consequences for minors who need access to safe, legal abortion services.
Houston’s LyondellBasell refinery’s management turned off an advance warning system near the front gates of the plant, where striking USW workers walk the picket line. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says that if this is how they demonstrate their concerns for worker safety, it’s no wonder they won’t end a work stoppage despite the national settlement.
The knee-jerk reaction after the election in 2014 was to blame “the left” for the Democrats ineptitude in 2014. Of course in Texas “the left” really doesn’t exist in any way that’s meaningful in the current political process. But this is not about going off on a Death of the Liberal Class rant.
Why this comes to mind is because there was another “will Battleground Texas (BGTX) survive?” article recently. This one from Texas Monthly, The Future of Battleground Texas. And this is the part that stood out. It was in the section talking about how BGTX meshed, or didn’t mesh, with the Wendy Davis campaign.
Battleground and Davis also differed ideologically—which is to say that the former was to the left of the latter. That’s unsurprising, given that Brown and some of the other upper-echelon staffers were alumni of Obamaworld, while Davis had won her two state senate races in part because of the support of the Fort Worth business community. But the difference seems to owe more to inevitable opposition between the granular outlook of a field operation and the 30,000-foot view of campaign uber-strategists. Battleground’s volunteers reported up the chain that the voters they contacted responded well to progressive themes like raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid. But Davis’s senior advisers, led by J.D. Angle, were understandably reluctant to cast their candidate as anything resembling a liberal. (Of course, that’s how the Abbott campaign painted her anyway.)[Emphasis added]
If no one running for office is speaking to the issues that are important to the citizenry then there’s not reason for them to vote. Which is why they didn’t. In an election about tax cuts for the wealthy, border security and guns, no one should be surprised that the vast majority of people who showed up to vote were for those issues. And voted for Republicans.
Will BGTX survive? They will if they offer something people want. It’s not like BGTX is a far left group. Let’s be honest, health care and a decent wage are not radical left wing ideas. And Obama never would have been elected without money from corporations and Wall Street banks. But if they at least work on getting health care to the uninsured and raising wages for working Texans they may be onto something. Democratic candidates for statewide office should also be willing to run on those issues.
This discussion parallels what’s going on at the national level. What Elizabeth Warren knows, and more Democrats are starting to realize, is that the “New Democrat/DLC” corporate Democrat spin doesn’t work anymore.
The Hill notes that the NDC’s [New Democrat Coalition] policy proposal is aimed at pushing back against a progressive agenda announced last week by Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The Facebook video of Warren discussing the plan and hammering the unfairness of the current economy for hard-working Americans has received just short of 2 million views.
Warren speaks to kitchen-table issues in plain English working people understand.
My wife spoke last month with a Fox News-watching brother of a friend. He’s white, registered unaffiliated, disenchanted with both parties, and didn’t bother to vote in the 2014 mid-terms. Neither party has done anything for the working man for 40 years, he told her. Yet he liked “that woman” who’s taking on the big banks. He couldn’t name her, but thought it a miracle that she’s still alive.
He’s a conservative from North Carolina, where Third Way’s Kay Hagan — running an Obama-style field campaign, but selling herself as the “most moderate” senator — narrowly lost her U.S. Senate seat to “Typhoid Thom” Tillis.
Centrist Democrats, don’t be too proud of that political battle station you’re constructing.
The article about this latest New Democrat instance in the Hill would be funny, if they weren’t so serious.
The Democratic Party, Texas and our nation needs pushback form the left. That’s how to break the right wing fever. Issues like higher wages and health care are great movement type issues that Texans can get behind. It’s also the only way to get the kinds of changes we need to our political and governmental systems.