In the continuing saga of the Texas House Speaker race there hasn’t really been much new, but there are two articles that came out recently that are good reads to get caught up on where the race stands. One in the HChron, Jockeying for speaker heats up, and another longer one in the Texas Observer, Whack-A-Speaker. As Kuff highlights in his analysis of those two articles, the state of the race right now.
House Speaker Tom Craddick’s critics say they’ve got enough signed pledges against him to make his re-election all but impossible.
But Craddick’s opponents have yet to coalesce around a challenger seeking to replace him, ensuring that behind-the-scenes jockeying for one of the most coveted political offices in Texas could continue right up until the Legislature convenes Jan. 13.
No candidate for speaker can show 76 names that support them right now. While it’s debatable as to who is the front runner, Republican state Rep. Will Hartnett has his opinion and it’s not surprising he thinks it’s Tom Craddick. While that may be, his opinion that this is a problem caused by Democrats is all wrong.
“I respect Solomons, but he is naive to think that any Republican successor to Craddick would have a smoother road this next session,” Hartnett said. “The House is volatile because Democrat members detest being in the minority and vigorously strive to obstruct the agenda of the Republican majority. That tension will only lessen if there is a Republican speaker who is a puppet of the Democrat members.”
The opposition to Craddick is not partisan, said Dunnam, the Democratic leader. “We’re against Craddick because he does not allow the members, individually, to participate.”
Trying to make Craddick’s problems seem partisan may be the best bet for Hartnett and Craddick but it’s not reality. There were quite a few Republicans that came out against Craddick at the end of last session. I think all house members want someone as speaker in the 81st session that they can work with. And the Democrats have not had the power to obstruct anything in the house since becoming the minority party in the house , so that argument doesn’t hold water either. The house is not like the senate, there’s no filibuster power, it’s majority rule, and if the GOP stays togetther there’s nothing the Democrats can do.
While it’s still hard to see anyone taking the job right now from Craddick, it’s also hard to see Craddick coming back, thanks to the folks at Burnt Orange Report. But something seems to be different this year than last year, not sure what it is. Maybe it’s three more Democratic house members and being two years closer to redistricting. Maybe it’s the promises from the speaker about listening, etc.., that went by the wayside that are making members think twice about another session of disrespect. (Did anyone really expect this leopards spots to change?) Also the longer Craddick languishes without releasing a list of 76 the worse it is for him, just flapping in the breeze. Just a month and a half to go. First one to 76 wins.
In this article on the Texas GOP’s tax shift of 2005 not living up to its promise, Business tax shortfall may erase surplus, GOP state representatives Warren Chisum and Jim Keffer seem more than willing to use a wait-and-see approach to this under performing shceme.
Chisum and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, agreed with Craymer that the tax’s true yield won’t be apparent until at least the second year.
“Really, we won’t know till next cycle,” said Keffer. “It’s certainly not what some in the business community and some of the right-wingers were saying — that we’re going to be killing business” with higher-than-projected tax collections.
He said, however, that the tax should be examined to be sure it’s being applied fairly to all industries.
Will Newton of the National Federation of Independent Business/Texas, a group critical of the new tax, said it “places a greater share of the burden on the backs of small business owners. While the shortfall was expected in the first year, this is still the largest business tax increase in Texas history and its effect is already being felt in our job market.”
Chisum said it may take three years of tax collections “before you get a real good feeling of where you are.”
The Republicans think it will be one, maybe two more years before we truly know how the new tax shift is performing. Well, Democratic state Senator and Business Tax Advisory Committee member Kirk Watson disagress. He also puts their stalling in the proper perspective:
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, however, voiced concern that lawmakers have so little information now, with the legislative session looming.
“It was supposed to be money that we could count on meeting a basic promise, but yet here we are on the eve of a session and we have so little data about why it may be failing to live up to the promise that was made,” said Watson, a member of the state’s Business Tax Advisory Committee.
He said the fact that it’s a new tax can’t be used to avoid action this session, because that means the Legislature could turn to “old practices of the past, which are to compromise already compromised programs,” such as transportation and the Children’s Health Insurance Program to bridge budget gaps.
Surely the GOP wouldn’t use the misfortune of their tax scheme coming up short to defund children’s health care and force toll roads upon us. Would they? They did it before.
The Washington Post had an article yesterday previewing transportation issues in the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama, For New Transportation Secretary, a Hard Road Ahead. The beginning of the article is all too familiar to those of us in Texas, and Central Texas, in particular.
The next transportation secretary will walk into an agency that oversees an outdated air traffic control system; congested roads, rails and skies; crumbling highways and bridges; and a financing system teetering on collapse.
Transportation experts, both parties in Congress and the current White House agree that the traditional ways of easing congestion and funding transportation are not working and that a fundamental overhaul is needed.
The use of the phrase “traditional ways” means the gas tax. The article goes through the usual rigamarole of explaining the problem with the traditional funding and moving on the the the non-tradtional funding options – toll roads, public-private partnerships (PPP’s), and congestion pricing.
As the nation’s transportation needs have grown, gas tax revenue has not kept up, largely because of two factors: Cars and trucks have become more fuel-efficient, and gas prices have soared, leading motorists to drive less.
Meanwhile, the costs of maintaining the country’s transportation network and expanding it to accommodate growth are soaring. Transportation spending at federal, state and local levels totals about $90 billion annually. But the nation needs to spend about $225 annually for 50 years to create a highway and transit system that can sustain economic growth, according to the nonpartisan National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, chartered by Congress.
The commission recommended gradually increasing the federal gas tax to 40 cents a gallon, a move that the Bush administration and many in Congress have opposed. President-elect Barack Obama has not said whether he favors raising the tax.
Other ideas to raise revenue include expanding toll roads, increasing public-private partnerships and using congestion pricing, a system in which motorists or transit passengers pay more during peak travel periods. Another idea, which is being tried in Oregon, is to charge motorists a tax based not on the gas they buy but on the number of miles they drive.
The Clinton administration experimented with some of these initiatives, but the Bush Transportation Department has embraced them, particularly toll roads and public-private partnerships.
But whether intentional, or not, one of the main arguments mentioned in the article, (we’re driving less), against raising the gas tax is also a bad sign for toll roads too. Less driving means less tolls/taxes paid on those roads. With the first Winter holiday of the year approaching we usually hear from AAA about how many more people will be taking to the highways and byway this year as opposed to last. Well not this year, Thanksgiving travel to decline slightly.
The AAA said it expects 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, down by about 600,000, or 1.4 percent, from last year. Of that number, 33 million are expected to drive, and 4.5 million will fly, according to a news release.
Americans are driving less despite falling gas prices, reflecting the deepening recession and signaling a shift in lifestyles and driving habits that could outlast the current turmoil.
Drivers logged 10.7 billion fewer miles in September than they did the same month a year earlier — a 4.4% decline, according to data issued Wednesday by the Federal Highway Administration.
The data reflect the effects of the worsening economy.
“With the unemployment rate going up, people are just not driving,” says Fred Milch, division planner for the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, in the South Atlantic region that saw the biggest year-to-year driving decline (5.7%). “They just don’t have the money to go on leisure trips and don’t have money to go shopping. … People get in the habit of not having to drive.”
Since the beginning of the year, the nation lost 1.2 million jobs — 284,000 in September alone and another 240,000 in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Gas prices peaked around $4 a gallon July 4 and had dropped 12% by the end of September. They have tumbled even more since, slipping under $2 a gallon in many states.
With Americans driving patterns changing, our much neglected infrastructure needing repair, and our economy needing just this kind of stimulus, it’s an optimal time to effect the kind of change we need to our transportation system and how we finance it. And from the WaPo article it appears the new transportation chief and President-elect Obama will have that opportunity.
The new secretary also will have to quickly craft a proposal for Congress to reauthorize the nation’s five-year transportation spending plan, which expires in September. The law gives $286 billion to transportation projects. Most observers say reauthorizing the same amount will not be enough, considering the country’s needs. Last year, for example, the Federal Highway Administration declared 72,000 bridges, or 12 percent nationwide, to be structurally deficient.
During the campaign, Obama proposed creating a national infrastructure bank, an independent bank that would disburse $60 billion over 10 years and determine the level of federal investment based on factors such as location, project type, regional and national significance, and environmental benefits. The idea is to make more rational decisions about spending, removing some of the politics. Critics say $60 billion doesn’t come close to addressing needs.
Yesterday QR went so far as to speculate that the next stimulus package could bail out TxDOT and Gov. Perry for all their miscues:
There’s a bit of irony in the idea that incoming Democratic President-Elect Barack Obama’s impending economic stimulus package might be substantial enough to rescue the Texas Department of Transportation from its growing funding woes.
Obama has put no price tag on his economic stimulus package – only saying it would focus on infrastructure – but some Democrats have pegged the price as high as $700 billion, a number substantial enough to restore confidence in the economy. In turn, Texas has about $5 billion in road projects ready to go to contract, according to agency officials.
To the larger question of how we will fund these projects in the future, it should be obvious that for now the gas tax – at the federal and state levels – should be increased and indexed to inflation. There has been no other worthwhile alternative conceived yet. While a mileage fee could be a possibility in the future, it’s not there yet. While it’s true the gas tax may not be as robust as it once was with Americans driving less, Americans driving less does nothing to make toll roads a more viable option, even with PPP’s being taken into consideration. Because with Americans driving less, it will make corporate toll roads less profitable. As the roads are driven less, the tolls would be increased, causing the roads to be driven less, and so on, and so on.
What we should be trying to do is find the least expensive, and broad-based way, to tax drivers, all across the country, for building new roads and maintaining our currents ones. Our highways are still one of our most needed economic development projects in our country. All of that must be done while not neglecting air travel, as well as trying to put in place more mass transit to lessen the need for more roads. And individually we should be looking at changing our own travel patterns.
Our President-elect is asking us to do something we haven’t’ been asked to do in quite some time by our president, Obama’s Call for Sacrifice.
“If we are going to make the investments we need,” Obama told reporters at a press conference Tuesday in Chicago, “we also have to be willing to shed the spending that we don’t need.”
If the message sounds strange coming from the White House — that’s because it isn’t. But Obama acknowledges that he has had to step boldly into the public arena during the transition. He is trying to fill the vacuum created by a White House that has grown all but irrelevant in the face of public distrust and the dire financial crisis.
Obama’s call for sacrifice marks a stark departure from the White House message over the last eight years.
Walk or ride, to a place you used to drive. But also if infrastructure spending is what we need, for jobs and renewed economic success, then other things will have to wait. This all comes full circle to our local transportation issues and how they should be financed in the future. All the toll plans need to be seriously rethought, and alternatives to toll roads be given a fair hearing.
P.S. As if on cue, while finalizing this post state Senators John Carona (R-Dallas) and Kirk Watson (D-Austin) have an Op-Ed in today’s AAS on transportation funding, Time is now to fix transportation. It sounds promising but many of these options, unfortunately, aren’t likely with our current governor and Speaker of the House.
Over the past eight years, Texas has been led by a dim-witted and fiercely partisan enemy of the environment, beholden to the petrochemical energy that for decades has used the Earth’s atmosphere as a sewer for dumping their toxins. No state emits more carbon dioxide. Texas is head and shoulders the leading producer of greenhouse gasses. Carbon dioxide is at the unprecedented level of 385 ppm, and Texas is a major contributor.
It’s bad enough that Texans were foolish enough to elect this piece of furniture twice to serve as our governor, but at least a piece of furniture has the good sense to remain silent. According to the AAS, Gubner clueless is now taking up the case for the rich polluters who see an end to their free reign as Democrat Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of office in Washington D.C.
Federal caps on greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions would suffocate Texas’ economy, Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday as the state tries to fend off such limits.
As Texas suffocates the world with its carbon dioxide, Perry has staked out an early position on the side of those who profit from fouling Earth’s one and only atmosphere.
The caps are a threat that could “run this nation’s strongest economy right off the tracks and into the ditch,” Perry said at a news conference.
Does the economy here seem all that great to you? The last time I checked, businesses were failing, retirement savings were wiped out, uninsured children with common ailments are crowding our emergency rooms and college students put their dreams on hold because they can’t afford our unregulated tuition increases. It looks like the Republicans in charge have done a pretty good job leaving the rest of us in a ditch while they took big polluters’ campaign contributions.
“The idea that just because there’s been an administrative change and some would say the inevitability of these types of regulations does not change our attitude or change our effort to bring some reality and truth to the issues here,” Perry said.
Who is suggesting that Texas Republicans, who for fourteen years have been free to engage in the largest transfer of wealth to the rich in our lifetimes, casting a blind eye towards big polluters belching filth into the environment, would go along quietly when an inevitable change of power occurs in Washington? Was there even one person who thought these criminals would hesitate for a moment?
Washington could learn from Texas, which leads the nation in wind power, said Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Public Utility Commission and an author of the report.
Washington, Mr. Smitherman, is currently populated by George W. Bush and his appointees. You know, the guy from Texas? Until Obama takes office in 56 days, it remains very friendly to the state that seems to lead the nation in wingnuttery. Washington would do well to start paying a little more attention to the other states besides Texas, if you ask me. We’ve had our chance at bat, and we’ve blown it. Now it is time to face the music and stop dragging the United States down with our dirty coal plants, refineries and chemical plants.
The state has long resisted regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, arguing that they would unfairly burden the state’s businesses, ratchet up energy costs and wrap Texans in red tape.
I do not know how to make this any more clear. The businesses impacted by air quality standards are air polluters. They must comply with additional regulation because they have shown an unwillingness to regulate themselves. The profit these companies have reaped during the past 14 years is a direct result of dumping their pollution and pocketing the profit. It is a false profit, reaped in willful ignorance. The polluters take the money and leave their messes for someone else to clean up.
“Reductions in CO2 will likely be achieved by reducing coal-produced electricity, resulting in less fuel diversity, higher reliance on natural gas, decreased electric reliability, and higher prices for consumers,” the report says.
Texans are paying some of the highest electric rates in the nation right now. TXU and all the other massive political contributors to Republican campaigns are ripping off consumers and polluting the environment with their dirty coal plants. We’re supposed to believe their paid spokesmen in public office? Could they really be so arrogant and foolish to think we can’t tell when we’re being lied to?
Perry has questioned the link between human activities and global warming.
Again, it would have been so much better if we had a real piece of furniture instead of this loser as our governor. Who voted for this guy anyway? Oh yeah, 39 percent did. Would someone representing the other 61 percent of Texas please shut this guy up?
Texas Republicans are going extinct. We can only hope there’s still a world fit to live in when they’re finally out of power.
Katherine Haenschen at BOR is doing a series post-election called Texas By The Numbers. The first installment was called Where The Democrats Are, here’s an excerpt:
In 2004, Democrats carried only 5 counties: Webb, El Paso, Travis, Hildalgo, Jefferson. This year, that number is up to 9, with the notable inclusion of three huge (literally) urban counties: Bexar, Dallas, Harris. We also added Cameron, expanding the Democratic strength of South Texas and its predominantly-Hispanic electorate.
We’re doing well where the people actually live: we now hold 9 of the 20 most populous counties. These are all either urban counties, or counties in South Texas where the Latino population is growing sharply.
The Democratic resurgence in Texas, thus far, is coming from the most populous counties and South Texas. Williamson County is one of the most populous counties in Texas and in today’s installment, Turning Bluer, Faster, we find out Williamson is turning bluer. (Click the link to see the numbers but Williamson had the third highest percentage gain form 2004 to 2008).
These are huge gains in important areas. Each of these counties increased their Democratic percentage by over a quarter in only four years. This suggests that these counties are ripe for continued large gains, and two of them–Williamson and Bell–look ready to flip blue in the next two cycles, if the right factors emerge. It’s great to see Williamson on there. The WilCo coordinated campaign did an excellent job this cycle and elected Diana Maldonado to the TX House. Brian Ruiz also stepped up to offer voters a choice over Jack [sic] Carter. Most importantly, precinct conventions gave Williamson Democrats a chance to realize they weren’t alone, and reinvigorate local organizing.
But there’s something else interesting here: Democrats are making huge gains along I-35 and in the suburban counties north of Austin and Dallas. These are areas in which populations are growing rapidly in Texas. This bodes well for the future–more people voting increasingly Democratic helps get the work done even faster.
I’d also like to note our gains in Bell County, home to Temple and Fort Hood. It’s definitely worth a precinct-by-precinct analysis to see exactly where in the county we’re making gains. I remember registering voters at BatFest this summer in Austin, and talking to several servicemen and women based out of Fort Hood who were excited to vote Democratic.
Finally, again we see drastic, dramatic gains in South Texas-Cameron, Hildalgo, and Webb. And this is without huge increases in turnout. Imagine if we could organize and boost turnout to average levels across the state! Just think about it!
Thanks Katherine, we’ll be looking out for future installments.
On Sunday Paul Burka posted on whey he thinks tuition deregulation, or dereg, could be “the problem for Tom Craddick” in the upcoming speaker’s race. The way Craddick rammed dereg through the Texas House in 2003 – along with his unwillingness to change on the issue despite the GOP’s shrinking ranks in the house – is a microcosm of his management style and how he rules the Texas House.
The speaker twisted Republicans’ arms to get the votes. Almost six years later, tuition and fees at Texas’s public university have risen by an average of 50%, according to Robert Garrett’s story in the Morning News today.
Republican consultant Todd Smith told Garrett that among rank-and-file GOP lawmakers, “[T]here’s growing consternation over ‘runaway tuition.’” Smith had eight clients in this election cycle and all had to deal with the issue. “It’s now being felt by the Republican base and is touching middle-class families the hardest,” Smith told the Morning News. “It’s going to be hard to ignore their unhappiness.”
Burka goes on to show Craddick’s tone-deafness, through the words of his spokeswoman, on this issue and how he has put his GOP brethren in the House in an all too “familiar bind”.
This is a familiar bind for Republican House members during the Craddick regime. Craddick asks them to vote against the interests of their constituents to support a policy he wants—in this case, Republican families in Harris and Dallas counties, a core constituency for affordable college education—and the issue comes back to haunt them at election time. The Democrats are not going to let the Republicans get out of this session without forcing a vote on this issue. Will Craddick allow members to rein in future tuition increases? Or will he continue to let tuition rise and get more Republican members defeated at the polls?
The part in bold doesn’t make sense. It’s obvious the way the paragraph is written that Burka is assuming that Craddick is back as Speaker. How in the world are the Democrats going to force a vote on this, or any issue, if Craddick is back as Speaker? With Craddick and his pro-dereg lackeys still running the House the Democrats won’t be allowed to force anything. This is one of the main arguments for taking the gavel from Craddick – letting members vote their districts/constituencies. That sentence just seems out of place, since Craddick will just let the “free market” work.
In response to Burka’s argument on dereg, state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) weighed in with his opinion in an e-mail to Burka, Shapleigh: “In my view you miss the point.” (Maybe he felt compelled to respond since Burka in his post on Jim Mattox passing away called Shapleigh, “The politician who bears the most resemblance to Mattox today..”). Here’s some of what he had to say in his e-mail:
For years now, Grover Norquist has been the ideological father of the Bush-Perry-Craddick school of governance. His ideology—‘shrink government so small that we can then drown it in a bathtub’—has run Texas since Bush was first elected Governor.
Now, in agency after agency, tax cuts for the wealthy, incompetent leadership and irresponsible governance have created enormous challenges that will take Texans years to correct.
There’s much more in the post from Shapleigh, including a full Op-Ed on the subject. Here’s an excerpt:
In agency after agency, Texans now face the same issue presented by tuition deregulation—not enough money to take care of basic needs and not enough courage and leadership to fund those needs in an effective way.
Let’s do a quick tour: TXDOT is $86b in the hole. Craddick’s school finance plan has districts on the verge of Chapter 11. TCEQ is run by Baker Botts. At CPS, ½ the investigators quit every six months due to America’s lowest child investigator pay and highest investigator case loads; agency directors pay $4m fines to the feds rather than fund basic levels of investigators for kids.
At HHS, more Texans sit on some waiting lists than actually get served. Hawkins has paid a billion for the basic software program to [implement--added by pb] HB 2292, and it still doesn’t work. Perry’s mansion burned down because cameras quit working and DPS cut staff.
We are last in dropouts, first in air pollution; 48th in average SAT’s and 45th in home ownership. We are last in Texans who have health insurance. Seven Texas MSA’s rank among America’s top ten in volume of subprime second mortgages.
While Shapleigh is spot on about the neglect Texans have suffered in the recent past, Burka’s response to Shapliegh’s letter brings up some good points.
I think everyone understands that Texas is a low-tax, low-services state. I don’t think it is fair or accurate to ascribe this state of affairs to the last 14 years. Democrats governed Texas much as Republicans are now doing. They didn’t pay much attention to environmental issues. They didn’t rein in lenders; in fact, they lifted restrictions on usury. The special interests almost always get their way. That was true when the Democrats were in charge and it is true when the Republicans are in charge. At least the lobby had to fight for what they could get when the Democrats ran the state. Now the leadership just lavishes them with goodies. The one thing Democrats did do differently than Republicans was raise taxes when the going got tough. They raised the gasoline tax and the sales tax and the franchise tax, and the world did not come to an end, and the economy did just fine.
In other words Texas was never ruled by a “liberal” Democratic Party. And we all know school finance has been an issue for a loooooong time. Even when Texas government was all Democrats there still were two wings of the party, and the “conservative”/business wing held sway much of the time. That is, until the 60′s when the GOP began to make inroads in Texas. And as the conservative Democrats peeled off and became Republicans it often made Texas Democrats move to the center in an attempt to draw them back in.
Most Texans probably don’t know, or care, who is speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. But the speaker is one of the three most powerful positions in state government — along with the lieutenant governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, and the governor.
Traditionally under the House’s rules, the speaker gets to appoint committees, their chairmen, designate which four members will join him on the Legislative Budget Board, and largely dictate the House’s agenda.
Members who supported the speaker often are rewarded with committee chairmanships or vice chairmanships, or perhaps a seat on the Appropriations Committee.
Members who supported someone else can see their policy and political agendas stymied, often for years. Losing speaker candidates and their supporters often have to find something else to do because their career in the House can be severely hampered.
The speaker can also decide which policies will be advanced, and even which lobbyists will be listened to — and which will not. That’s one reason why many lobbyists tend to support an incumbent speaker; they won’t believe the king can be knocked off until they see the body.
Used to be that a speaker was elected for one or two two-year terms, and then went on to something else. But that seemed to end when Texas went to four-year terms for statewide elective offices in 1974.
The speaker elected in 1975 was the late Billy Clayton, a Democrat from Springlake. Clayton wanted to run for a statewide elective office after two terms, like agriculture commissioner. But there was no vacancy, so he stayed on as speaker for another two terms, or eight years.
His successor Gib Lewis, another conservative Democrat from Fort Worth, kept the job for 10 years. Lewis’s successor, Democrat Pete Laney of Hale Center, also served 10 years. He would have stayed longer, but Tom Craddick, R-Midland, had built up enough of a Republican majority through Republican-controlled redistricting that the House flipped to the Republicans in the 2002 elections, and Craddick unseated Laney in 2003.
As speakers were sticking around longer, they and others were also realizing that as the state’s budget has grown enormously, so has the speaker’s power. Today the position is probably more powerful in making things happen, or not happen, than any statewide elective office save lieutenant governor. And when a speaker is an incumbent for two or three terms, newcomers to the House often tend to back him, because there’s no viable alternative.
That’s a little background about why the efforts to dump Craddick from the job he’s held for almost six years take on such importance.
The speaker has gone from a stepping-stone to higher power, to a position of enormous power that is coveted and held for many legislative sessions. That is why for the agenda in Texas to change the Speaker, who has so much power over the agenda in the House, must change.
State Rep. Joe Straus, (R-San Antonio), and others in the Texas GOP now want to abolish straight ticket voting in Texas elections. A rule the that wasn’t an issue when his party used it to take over the state, but now that it’s being used by the Democrats to turn the tables, it’s suddenly become a rule that “unfairly influences the outcome of elections”. The DMN has the story, Straight-ticket voting on the rise in Texas.
State Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has introduced a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would end straight-ticket voting, a practice he says unfairly influences the outcome of elections.
“There are people on both tickets who you know don’t belong in public office,” Mr. Straus said. “That should offend open-minded people from both parties. I can’t imagine an argument against this.”
Opponents of Mr. Straus’ bill question his motives.
“It wasn’t an issue when Republicans were winning elections,” said state Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas. “It’s worked, and it’s worked for years. Look at the high voter turnout in these elections. People are engaged in the process.”
Care to name names of those who “we” know don’t belong in office Rep. Straus? Expect more of this, as Phil Gramm would say, “whining” by Texas Republicans. Because as the numbers continue to shift more in the Democrats favor in Texas, this type of thing will become more prevalent, as the rules continue looking like they’re against Republican candidates.
It’s Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance‘s Weekly Blog Round-Up. This is your pre-Thanksgiving edition, so enjoy it while you bake your pumpkin pies, stuff your turkey, or whatever your holiday traditions are.
In today’s AAS article regarding Thursday’s Hutto City Council vote unanimously passing a resolution regarding the Williamson County landfill, Hutto asks to take Waste Management off landfill expansion request, we find out a couple of things. First the ruling from earlier in the year that allowed Waste Management, Inc.’s name to remain on the contract is not a “final ruling”.
Opposition groups are concerned that the county could lose control of the height of the landfill. They fear that trash could start coming from outside the county and that there would be no buffer zone around the landfill. They also say a contract approved in 2003 heavily favors Waste Management.
“By calling them operator, you’re giving them a level of control over the landfill,” Jeff Maurice , chairman of the landfill committee for the Hutto Citizens Group, said. “Our goal on this issue is to ensure that it’s the county that continues to have sole and unfettered control of its own asset without any possibility of interference by a private corporation.”
Steve Jacobs , Central Texas landfills manager with Waste Management, said the state environmental commission requested Waste Management’s name be on the permit.
“If the TCEQ comes back and says within the rules they have, the permit needs to have Waste Management’s name on it or not is not a problem with us,” Jacobs said. “All we’re trying to do is comply with the rules.”
Administrative law judges with the State Office of Administrative Hearings in February said state statutes require Waste Management’s name be on the permit, though that was not a final ruling.
The other is that the article makes a point that the Williamson County Commissioners are against the corporations name remaining on the contract. Here’s what Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison had to say.
County Commissioner Ron Morrison , whose precinct includes Hutto, said he wants Waste Management’s name off the permit, too.
“The Hutto City Council is getting on the record in supporting that; they’re supporting what I’ve emphasized myself,” Morrison said.
While speaking out and “emphasizing” is all well and good, Morrison’s constituents need more than that now. When is Ron Morrison, specifically, but the entire commissioners court as well going to start taking the actions necessary to get the corporatoins name off the contract? The time for talk is over.