DMN has the story, Texas Gov. Rick Perry reaffirms opposition to gambling expansion.
“The Texas Legislature may find that it is something they’re interested in,” Perry said during a visit to Richardson. “I would highly recommend they don’t send it to my desk.”
Beside Perry acting arrogant and assuming he’ll still be governor in 2011, this goes to show that gambling expansion won’t happen if he’s reelected.
To be clear, gambling will not do anything to fix our immediate fiscal problems in Texas. By the time it would be implemented it would be several years before we’d start seeing any money from it. As Kuff points out.
I’m particularly dubious of the $1 billion claim for the next biennium, especially if we’re talking casino gambling. Assuming a joint resolution passes, and it gets ratified by the voters, there would still be the need for local option elections in places like Galveston where any proposed casino would be situated. By the time you get past that, it’s already May of 2012, and you haven’t even started construction yet. I suppose this could be an opening for the slot-machines-at-racetracks crowd, since those could be in place within days of the November constitutional amendment vote.
I don’t have strong feelings either way on the gambling issue, and think that even if full-blown casino gambling happens in Texas it’ll be about the same as the lottery has been. Early surge, occasional mismanagement, malfeasance and corruption. Corporations will benefit most and the state will get some nominal benefit. But nothing like the panacea that many in the pro-gambling crowd sees. It’s just another tax, although voluntary and will likely ebb and flow with the economy. And Rep. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) is right it should be looked at seriously during the interim.
But ultimately if you want to expand gambling in Texas you must elect a new governor.
As Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus writes to the members of the Texas House in the cover letter to the interim charges he laid out yesterday, “..these charges and the recommendations you develop will form the basis for major legislation we will consider next session”. The letter also made clear that some things were left out, “In the coming weeks, I intend to propose several additional items of statewide importance for the House to study.”
The interim charges include everything from efforts to manage feral hogs (which is a big problem), to whether blogs should be considered “political advertising”. All of the items from the Appropriations, Energy Resources, Environmental Regulations, Higher Education, Human Services, Natural Resources, Public Education and Redistricting Committees should be read in full.
But here are a few that caught my eye (EOW comments are in italics):
House Committee on Corrections
1. Examine implementation of the diversion pilot programs, juvenile case management system, and other policy and funding initiatives to determine whether the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and the Texas Youth Commission have adhered to legislative directive in implementing these programs, and the impact of these programs on commitments at the Texas Youth Commission.
House Committee on Elections
3. Examine the prevalence of fraud in Texas elections. Study new laws in other states regarding voter identification and recommend statutory changes necessary to ensure that only eligible voters can vote in Texas elections. (This is Voter ID. Read BOR’s take on this issue. Suffice it to say that Straus is unable to tell the right wing to give up on this.)
4. Review the Texas campaign finance law in judicial races in light of the recent United States Supreme Court decision Caperton v. Massey. (This case involves preventing a judge from hearing a case involving a person who has made campaign contributions to benefit the judge.)
House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics
2. Review the definition of “political advertising” and determine whether the definition should be expanded to include content contained in blogs and other types of Internet communications. (These links give some background on what this may be about, FTC’s New Rules for Bloggers: A Quick Guide, FTC idiocy, and The FTC & Bloggers: New Rules.)
House Committee on Land and Resource Management
2. Examine unresolved issues relating to eminent domain legislation introduced during the 81st Legislative Session. Monitor any pending litigation. (Still on the agenda even after passage of the Constitutional Amendment earlier this month.)
House Committee on Transportation
1. Monitor the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to ensure the agency is implementing recommended legislative, sunset, and Grant Thornton management audit changes.
2. Review the organization and operation of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Consider the relationship between MPOs and TxDOT regarding transportation planning and programming.
3. Study the practices and procedures used in the development of toll roads and make recommendations as necessary. (Toll roads are still on the agenda. Nothing here on the gas tax or transportation financing. Hopefully we will hear about that in the coming weeks.)
One interesting item is that there is nothing in the charges about gambling, gaming, slot machines, horse racing, and the like. The charges should be at least scanned for items of particular interest. Because as Straus wrote, they are the basis for the next legislative session in 2011. No matter who is Speaker, or who wins the statewide races next year, the effort and research put in on these issues, and those in the Senate when Lt. Gov. Dewhurst releases the charges for the Senate, are the frame which the 82nd Legislature will begin it’s work.
Texas Governor Rick Perry stated yesterday he will, eventually, call a special session.
Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday a special legislative session will be necessary to keep alive the state’s transportation and insurance regulatory departments but declined to say whether he also will include the contentious Republican-backed voter identification measure.
“We are to the point now where we can say there will be a special session. When is still a little bit up in the air,” Perry said.
Suffice it to say that we will have a special session because the recent regular session lacked leadership. For the upcoming special session to be successful, no matter when it actually convenes, there will need to be some. As Burka said, “Perry has not fared well in previous special sessions..”, so in order for him to fare well it should be very “businesslike”.
When the session actually convenes and whether Voter ID will be taken up likely depends on the timing. To have it in effect for the primary’s it would need to get the law passed soon, since Department of Justice (DOJ) pre-clearance would be needed as well. Which brings up an interesting point, who would benefit in the GOP primary from having a Voter ID system in place – Perry or Hutchison?
And that brings into question the other political calculation regarding when to call the special session. If he calls a special session soon it’s best for him if it’s over quick, and work gets done so he can finally have shown some leadership and accomplished something. Since the governor has more control in a special it’s an opportunity for Perry, and if it’s unsuccessful he will have been through his last regular session as governor.
There’s much reaction around the state. Kuff has his, with a link to this article that has reaction from Fort Worth area legislators. A couple of samples below:
Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth: If the special session is to address critical issues such as agency sunset measures, “the sooner the better,” he said. “But if this is for his right-wing ideological agenda, then he’s using state money for his campaign purposes and that’s wrong.”
Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford: “My preference would be that we just deal with the sunset issues and the $2 billion of bond funding for TxDOT. The other item I hope we can do: voter ID, to make sure we have integrity in the next election cycle.”
John Coby thinks Voter ID will be part of the call. The AAS had this article with reaction from Austin state Sen. Kirk Watson:
Perry could narrowly craft his orders for the session so that lawmakers simply pass a so-called safety net bill to keep the agencies open for two more years and authorize the transportation money. That could get lawmakers in and out of town in a week or so.
More comprehensive legislation extending the agencies and making reforms in insurance and transportation policies didn’t pass during the regular session, but Perry could put it back on the agenda. The agencies needed to be reauthorized because they had been under “sunset” review, the process by which lawmakers must periodically vote to keep agencies open. Lawmakers often use this process to make changes at agencies.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said Tuesday that lawmakers could tackle those reforms and still finish their work quickly.
Some Republicans will want legislation boosting voter identification requirements added to the special session call. At the end of the regular session, House Democrats talked for days about noncontroversial bills to keep the voter ID legislation from coming up. Perry declined to speculate about whether he would make voter ID part of the special session.
Voter ID should be kept out of the special session, Watson said.
“If he keeps his eye on the ball and limits the call so that we don’t get into distractions, I think we can get this done quickly,” Watson said.
It seems to come down to what Perry wants out of a special session. If he feels he needs to shore up his right flank even more, he’ll add Voter ID/voter suppression to the call. If he feels good about his right flank, and wants to try and bring back some of the “moderate” GOP voters that KBH is banking on, he can keep it quick, get the Sunset work done, get out with a win and everyone goes home happy. That would take leadership and it’s up to him.
Note: The Sunset work includes, the Texas Department of Transportation; the Texas Department of Insurance; the Texas Racing Commission; the Office of Public Insurance Counsel; and the State Affordable Housing Corporation.
This is an interesting take on the issues facing Texas.
Texas is getting bigger. Our state consistently ranks near the top of the fastest growing states. Our exploding population has placed enormous strains on our infrastructure, and threatens the state’s long term ability to continue to foster a growing economy and create new jobs. Transportation funding has failed to meet the demands of a growing population, leading to gridlock in many parts of the state. Additionally, dramatically rising tuition costs at Texas colleges and universities have placed a huge financial burden on many Texas families, and for some, have placed the dream of higher education out of reach. The Texas of tomorrow will be largely defined by how well we educate our children and whether we put in place a modern and adequate transportation infrastructure.
Sounds like something a bunch of liberals would write. A fair assessment of some of the problems facing our state – no mention of health care for instance. Of course our transportation system has been defunded and neglected since 1994, and tuition was deregulated in 2003. That’s the cause of these two particular problems, so what do we do about it? The solution, of course, is to bring casino gambling to Texas.
The Texas Gaming Association has a plan to address our state’s challenges. Our proposal will invest in Texas by dedicating $1 billion for college scholarships and $1 billion in new revenue for transportation projects each year.
Now there’s nothing against gambling, per se, but don’t believe the hype. If this does become legal in Texas the experience will probably be similar to what we’ve had with the lottery. An initial surge and then a drop as the novelty wears off. Not to mention the cronyism and corruption that will come along with setting up the Texas Casino Commission or whatever it will be called.
For background on the bills that have been filed and some of the recent reporting read these two posts at Off The Kuff, (here and here). There’s also an interesting read in today’s Star-Telegram about this issue, Baptists, racetracks oppose measure to allow casinos in Texas.
Although the legislation includes the racing industry’s long-sought goal of installing slot machines at horse and dog tracks, track officials oppose the bill because it would tax slot machines’ revenue at more than twice the rate of casinos’.
“As long as racetracks are treated equally with casinos, we wouldn’t have any trouble with it,” said Drew Shubeck, president and general manager of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, one of the state’s three class-one racetracks. “We wouldn’t support something [in which] we felt we were being discriminated.”
Rob Kohler, a consultant for the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, served notice that the powerful denomination is also gearing up against the bill.
“It’s not smart public policy for the state to get into,” Kohler said. “We’re going to make sure they don’t.”
We’ll see about that. If it’s too good to be true it usually is. While casino’s would likely bring in some money for the state, it’s doubtful they would ever produce the money the TGA is forecasting. If this passes it’s likely because our leaders would rather do this than outright raise taxes.