Today was the first day with a calendar in the Texas House and two Democratic freshmen were already making things happen, via TexBlogs PAC, TexBlog PAC Candidates Pass Good Public Policy in Austin.
Today, your donations to TexBlog PAC showed their first return on investment in Austin, as candidates you donated to, raised money for, and helped us endorse were able to bring incredible public policies to the floor of the Texas House on its first day of official business.
Bills were introduced today that increase economic benefits for workers and businesses and create transparency for utility bills.. The bills were authored or co-authored by your TexBlog PAC endorsed candidates, and they were passed unanimously from the floor of the House.”
The following legislation passed on 2nd reading from the floor of the Texas House earlier today from the first and second candidates TexBlog PAC endorsed, State Representative Diana Maldonado and State Representative Chris Turner:
- HB 1637 (Author – Rep. Chris Turner) – Increases economic benefits by adjusting how businesses are allowed to award worker benefits. Currently, workers on alternating biweekly, full-time schedules (3-4 days a week at 10-12 hours a day) are granted fewer benefits than those working on a regular workweek schedule (the “9-5, Mon-Fri” type of job). Manufactured workers, especially, are harmed by this inconsistent practice.Rep. Turner’s bill equalizes all the benefits, helping the previously under served workers get the benefits they earned and allowing businesses to avoid layoffs in tough economic times. It is supported by business and labor groups alike.
- HB 1822 (Co-author – Rep. Diana Maldonado) – Creates transparency for utility bills. If the law went into affect, the Public Utility Commission will have the rulemaking authority to “unify language” on electric bills. The ultimate form of transparency – honesty in language – is necessary because if all utilities have to use the same words, and all the words have to mean the same thing, there will be fewer hidden costs for families.Some families have to switch utility providers to save money in the deregulated market we’ve been forced to live in; others switch by force because the utility provider goes bankrupt. This bill makes that transition more transparent, in an effort to bring some common sense to our day-to-day lives.
Finally, though we are thrilled with these candidates and the work we’ve done, there is still much more to do. These bills were not heard on the House floor until well after the midpoint of the legislative session – a snail’s pace that is the direct result of Republican Speaker Joe Strauss taking more time than anyone can remember to assign committees and get to work.
Great work by our new legislators and TexBlog PAC.
At the State Board of Education today, McLeroy on Science and the Supernatural, they continue their assault on science, The Showdown over Science in Texas. Some in the “flat earth” society are trying to entice university students, with loans/scholarships, to become science and math teachers. Apparently to teach math and science, or what’s left of it, in the future, New plan aims to lure teachers in math, science.
Texas lawmakers are looking to curb a statewide shortage of certified high school math and science teachers by creating a program that will offer millions in proposed tuition incentives to students committed to teaching those subjects in school districts with the greatest need.
The proposal comes as Texas schools are phasing in new math and science graduation requirements and facing an acute shortage of well-qualified teachers in the two fields. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin project the state will face a shortage of more than 11,000 certified math and science teachers by 2012 unless a systematic plan is adopted.
To help reduce the shortage, state Sen. Dan Patrick is proposing to create the “Texas Teach Corps Scholarship Program,” a plan that would give math and science undergraduates pursuing teaching certificates up to $5,000 a year for up to four years to offset the cost of tuition.
“What this bill does is zero in on trying to encourage some of our best and brightest in high school to pursue teaching math and science,” said Patrick, R-Houston. “This will be a difference-maker in the lives of many.”
The catch: Students must agree to teach for four consecutive years at a school designated by state officials as having a profound deficiency in certified math and science teachers. Failing to uphold the terms of the program would result in having to pay back at least a portion of the scholarship.
Last session, a similar measure passed the Senate, but provisions for the number of eligible students were trimmed in a substitute version of the bill that passed a House committee. The bill eventually died before reaching the House floor.
This session, the proposal was vetted for the first time Wednesday before the Senate Higher Education Committee. No vote was taken.
During that hearing, Patrick stressed the need to provide incentives to boost the supply of certified math and science teachers, warning members that if they didn’t take action to start graduating more students proficient in those fields, the state’s economy would suffer in the future from a lack of qualified Texans who can work high-tech jobs.
But obtaining new, well-qualified math and science teachers is only part of the equation for solving the shortage problem, experts say. The other: Retaining already certified math and science teachers who can leave the profession for more lucrative jobs in the private sector.
“That’s one big negative in terms of making a dent in the teacher shortages,” said Holly Eaton, director of professional development and advocacy for the 50,000 member Texas Classroom Teachers Association, which is supporting the bill.
In a recent study, researchers at UT found the most acute teacher shortages across the state are in secondary math and science, and that up to 35 percent of all instructors assigned to teach those subjects are already teaching outside their field. To fully address that issue, state officials need to adopt a comprehensive plan that goes beyond tuition incentives, said Ed Fuller of the Department of Educational Administration at UT and principal author of the study.
“This is certainly one piece of a larger strategy to address the issue,” he said. “What I’m disappointed in is that I don’t see any other bills that address some of the other issues that need to be addressed for us to solve the problem.”
What other issues, like actually letting science teachers teach science? Apparently folks like “Texas Rush” haven’t taken into consideration that maybe Texas is having trouble attracting science teachears because science is under assault in Texas. Which is not exactly an ideal environment for a science teacher.
GOP state Senator Steve Ogden, who represents District 5 which includes Williamson County, inserted a Surprise stem cell rider [that] could derail budget, today.
Steve Ogden may have lost support of Senate Democrats for SB 1 with his surprise rider prohibiting state funds to be used in stem cell research, or as the rider states: ”in conjunction with or to support research that involves the destruction of a human embryo.”
The rider was added Monday with little debate, on a 6-5 vote, with several members absent from the committee.
Judith Zaffirini tells us that “there are some members so upset there has been discussion of blocking the appropriations bill if this rider remains in it.” Zaffirini believes that such an important statement of public policy deserves a full hearing so the Legislature could hear from scientists whose research would be impacted
The AAS had this to day, Stem-cell research advocates see Senate budget language as a threat.
The Ogden provision says, “no funds appropriated under this act shall be used in conjunction with or to support research which involves the destruction of a human embryo.”
Ogden said he does not know of any such research that is now being paid for with state funds.
“I would expect that because of the changes that have recently been made at the federal level, that institutions in the State of Texas may be considering trying to get those funds,” Ogden said. “So we wanted to say that none of the monies in this state appropriations bill can be used for that purpose. It was basically to make a statement where the bill has always been silent.”
Ogden said the intention of the budget provision is not to bar all facilities receiving state funds from conducting embryonic stem-cell research, even though some fear it will do just that. He said he has authored separate legislation that would enact such a ban, and he plans to bring it up in the Finance Committee for a vote.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said he will fight the Ogden provision, saying it would “effectively bar some of Texas’ top researchers from the state’s universities and laboratories, where most of this work in the state is currently taking place.”
“It drives away some of our best and brightest people even as we struggle to attract more like them,” Watson said. “And it would all but guarantee that cures for our stricken neighbors and loved ones won’t be discovered in Texas — if they’re discovered at all.”
That it could possibly torpedo the cancer research so many fought for last session makes this even worse. Add this to the upcoming science curriculum debate at the State Board of Education and we might as well put a no scientists allowed sign at the border. Thanks Sen. Ogden. Evan Smith, Editor in Chief of Texas Monthly, has this to say about Ogden’s little “budget” trick, Shame on Steve Ogden.
Here’s what we should do. We should force Ogden to advocate for this out in the open. He can have an up or down vote on it and it alone. If the votes are there, he’ll pass it. If not, he’ll drop it. No secret riders. No chickenshit games. Okay?
This is surprising from Ogden who often times seems to be one of the less ideological in the Texas GOP. If this is such a good idea, and the votes are there, why wouldn’t Ogden want to debate this out in the open? It would likely shine more light on the positions of the Texas GOP they’d rather the voters not see.
[UPDATE]: AAS has it’s article in for Wednesday up, Senate proposal could limit embryonic stem cell research. In it Ogden appears to be walking this back, and it looks to be headed for a showdown vote.
The Finance Committee is expected to vote on the budget next week, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. House budget negotiators would also have to sign on before the language made it into the final state budget.
“This provision must be removed from the budget, and there will be opportunities to do so in coming months,” said Watson, who is not a member of the Finance Committee.
Meanwhile, Ogden said he plans to ask the finance panel to consider his proposal to ban embryonic stem cell research in facilities owned or run by the state.
“It’s going to be hard to pass,” Ogden said, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.”
As President Barack Obama’s first budget heads to the committee process we again need to remember where we are, how we got here, and what’s at stake. We shouldn’t lose focus, as this post from OutFuture points out, Time To Deliver.
In the introduction to his budget proposal, Obama focused on sometehing that’s been missed or ignored in the past two weeks. Much has been said and written about the public anger over the AIG bonuses, but less attention has been paid to the deep roots of that anger.
We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. Our economy is in a deep recession that threatens to be deeper and longer than any since the Great Depression. More than three and a half million jobs were lost over the past 13 months, more jobs than at any time since World War II. In addition, another 8.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing employment has hit a 60-year low. Our capital markets are virtually frozen, making it difficult for businesses to grow and for families to borrow money to afford a home, car, or college education for their kids. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage payments. Trillions of dollars of wealth have been wiped out, leaving many workers with little or nothing as they approach retirement. And millions of Americans are unsure about the future—if their job will be there tomorrow, if their children will be able to go to college, and if their grandchildren will be able to realize the full promise of America.
This crisis is neither the result of a normal turn of the business cycle nor an accident of history. We arrived at this point as a result of an era of profound irresponsibility that engulfed both private and public institutions from some of our largest companies’ executive suites to the seats of power in Washington, D.C. For decades, too many on Wall Street threw caution to the wind, chased profits with blind optimism and little regard for serious risks—and with even less regard for the public good. Lenders made loans without concern for whether borrowers could repay them. Inadequately informed of the risks and overwhelmed by fine print, many borrowers took on debt they could not really afford. And those in authority turned a blind eye to this risk-taking; they forgot that markets work best when there is transparency and accountability and when the rules of the road are both fair and vigorously enforced. For years, a lack of transparency created a situation in which serious economic dangers were visible to all too few.
Obama in his message also goes on to point out what must be done to get us out of this crisis.
This irresponsibility precipitated the interlocking housing and financial crises that triggered this recession. But the roots of the problems we face run deeper. Government has failed to fully confront the deep, systemic problems that year after year have only become a larger and larger drag on our economy. From the rising costs of health care to the state of our schools, from the need to revolutionize how we power our economy to our crumbling infrastructure, policymakers in Washington have chosen temporary fixes over lasting solutions.
In other words we must invest in the future by investing in what has been neglected these last 30 years. But in order to deliver we must “make him do it“. Not just Obama but several in his own party who already want to go back to the failed policies of the last 30 years. The make-him-do-it dynamic, is not that we have to force Obama, or the Democrats in Congress, to do anything they don’t want to do. It’s about giving them political cover to do it. Making them understand that a large majority of Americans “got their backs” and they won’t pay a political price for supporting the change the majority of Americans voted for in November.
We have to make Democrats like Evan Bayh and others, understand that if Americans didn’t want health care, better education, infrastructure spending, etc.., they would have voted for more of the same, or worse, in 2008. They didn’t, they voted for change. Any Democrat who is thinking they need to counter President Obama’s budget needs to remember that he won in 2008 on a platform counter to the last 30 years. His budget for the first time in a long, long time puts the interests of average Americans ahead of corporate interests, and addresses the neglect.
Democrats should be the focus since as this post points out, GOP support is not needed for the budget .
Republicans can’t kill this budget, only Democrats can. The Budget Resolution operates under special rules—it is NOT subject to filibuster. So the budget can easily pass both the House and Senate without a single Republican vote.
And as Kuff points out GOP support isn’t likely to begin with:
The first step in the process is the House Budget Committee, on which Texas Rep. and Vice Presidential contender Chet Edwards sits. My main hope here is that every Democrat on that committee, especially those who wear the “moderate” or “centrist” labels (whether they are self-defined or media-bestowed), has learned something about the Republicans from the stimulus debate. In particular, what I hope they’ve learned is that the Republicans don’t have any actual interest in passing a good budget. They’re in full-on opposition mode, bound and determined to say “No!” more often than Audrey does these days, and at the end of the day unless the budget eliminates spending and taxes altogether, they’re going to vote against it, most likely in unanimous fashion as they did with the stimulus package despite President Obama’s much-touted efforts to reach out to them. That’s perfectly logical as a political strategy, and everybody should be able to see this coming a mile away, but I fear that it won’t stop the “moderates” from trying to placate them to some degree, in the inevitably vain hope that they can buy some crossover support. I’m sorry, but that just ain’t gonna happen. We’ve seen their dance moves before: Scream about anything that can be turned into a sound bite in order to press for its removal, vote against the final bill regardless of how successful they are in altering it to their liking, then claim credit for any benefit it brings to their district while simultaneously slamming it for being wasteful. It’s as predictable as a slasher movie, yet the temptation to open that door anyway persists.
Not to mention Williamson County’s representative in Congress, who is making some inaccurate statements, Ignorance or dishonesty, Take your pick.
So, let’s get this straight: We’ve had a GOP congress for 12 of the last 14 years, and a GOP presidency for the past 8 years, leading up to this economic meltdown. And the Federal Reserve had been led, until just three years ago, by conservative free-marketeer Alan Greenspan (who recently admitted that his deregulatory ideology turned out to be flawed).
Yet John Carter wants you to believe that conservative deregulatory dogma and the GOP had nothing to do with where we are right now. According to Carter, it’s all the Democrats’ fault.
There are only two possibilities here: either Carter is utterly ignorant of the history and economics of the situation, or he is being dishonest about things.
Not exactly what we want in a Representative, is it?
President Obama will be taking heat from many different angles, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone, it goes with the job. As President Obama stated at the end of his message, it won’t happen overnight, but change will come.
Our problems are rooted in past mistakes, not our capacity for future greatness. We should never forget that our workers are more innovative and industrious than any on earth. Our universities are still the envy of the world. We are still home
to the most brilliant minds, the most creative entrepreneurs,
and the most advanced technology and innovation that history has ever known. And we are still the Nation that has overcome great fears and improbable odds. It will take time, but we can bring change to America. We can rebuild that lost trust and confidence. We can restore opportunity and prosperity. And we can bring about a new sense of responsibility among Americans from every walk of life and from every corner of the country.
Peruse the budget on you own here.
Via the DMN, Some question Perry’s transfer of funds to Texas A&M.
Gov. Rick Perry’s office used $50 million intended to lure new businesses to Texas to fund a new research facility at his alma mater.
Texas A&M University’s National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing will help researchers advance production processes for new vaccines and drug therapies. But some lawmakers are voicing concerns with the way Perry’s office funded it – moving $50 million from the state’s deal-closing fund into an account used for new technology programs.
The expenditure is the largest ever for the technology fund, which rarely gives universities grants of more than a few million dollars.
The grant was awarded in January but announced Monday.
Lawmakers plan to discuss the transfer, but they probably wouldn’t be able to stop it. They may consider tighter restrictions on the use of such money in the future.
“They [governor's officials] say they had the authority to make the transfer, and we’re looking into that,” said Rep. Jim Pitts, the Waxahachie Republican who chairs the House’s budget-writing committee. “That money was supposed to be closing deals. It may be that we need to hold them more accountable.”
Can’t wait to hear what the former UT cheerleader has to say about what this former A&M cheerleader has done, likely more of her usual weak-kneed criticism.
Todd Hill did an interesting and wide ranging interview with Democrat Tom Scheiffer who is testing the waters to run for Governor of Texas, BOR Exclusive: Meet Tom Schieffer. Discussed were many of the topics facing Texas today: Public and higher education, Voter ID, transportation, energy and deregualtion, and unemployment insurance, (he would have taken the $555 million). He also discussed his relationship with former President George W. Bush (again), his previous experience getting the Ballpark in Arlington built, and his strategy to win in November 2010. Below we will post a few excerpts, but it’s highly recommended to read the whole thing.
First an interesting thing learned from the interview was that Shcieffer and his wife went on sort of a “walk about” around Texas after getting back to the state from Australia.
So you have commented that you have traveled around the state before making a decision to explore a run for governor. Where did you go? Who did you talk with? What were they telling you about Texas politics today?
I didn’t really go around for political purposes. I was coming back from Japan and wanted to see Texas again. When I was Ambassador to Australia, people who retired would drive around the perimeter of Australia. So Susanne and I thought that would be fun to do in Texas once we came back from Tokyo. We planned it a long time ago and we thought it would be a nice break from the high security, highly structured lifestyle I had in Tokyo. So we just wanted to get in the car and drive till we got tired, check into a motel without reservations, and that’s how it got started. It was 4208.3 miles and we literally drove around the perimeter of Texas and I think it was one of the most fun things we’ve ever done.
On how Texas has a crisis in leadership and the far right ruling our state’s politics:
I think the thing I realized when I talked to people was that they really feel there is a crisis in leadership in this state and that what has happened is that Texas politics has evolved over the last eight years into a debate on how it will play in the Republican Primary. The Republican primary is still a very narrow primary— it doesn’t have a lot of people voting in it. I think what the statewide candidates in particular have worried about, and House candidates too, is how their actions are going to be perceived in the Republican primary. As a result of that I think they come back with these hard Right answers so often. I think that our politics and the challenges that we face are much more difficult than the simplistic answers that are being offered.
On how he can win:
Ok, I’m a student, a hard working Texan, and activist in the Democratic Party, give me three reasons why Todd Hill should vote for Tom Schieffer in a Democratic Primary?
I can win. And winning the governor’s office is a game changer in Texas politics. I think that my politics and my profile can bring people back to the Democratic Party that hasn’t voted there in a while. I think I can raise money in places that other Democrats can’t. When you look at the last election and you analyze where Obama lost and won, he carried four out of the five largest urban areas, but he didn’t carry Tarrant County. Well I’m from Tarrant County, and the neighborhood education that I got and my brother got make us hometown boys made good. I think it gives me credibility to get votes here in Tarrant County that no other Democrat can get. In the next five largest counties – which are suburban counties compared to the big five – Obama did substantially better than Kerry did in the last election. He particularly did well with higher-educated, higher income voters in those suburban areas. I think that is a natural constituency for the kind of emphasis on education and general policies that I’m advocating. In the thirty counties that had a Hispanic majority Obama beat McCain 2 to1. I think I can do that well or better. In the last 214 counties he lost badly and while he won the Hispanic counties 2 to 1, he lost the rural counties 3 and 4 to 1. I think I can do substantially better than that.
He speaks to the need for a well-educated workforce.
So basically in your conversations with people you’re hearing, and through your background and experience you are seeing, that education is an area that needs focus, and that your campaign is centering on?
Absolutely. It’s a two-pronged thing. It is education and the effect that the lack of education will have in a global economy. A lot of times Governor Perry will talk about creating a “good business climate.” I believe in creating a good business climate. I have more business experience than Senator Hutchison and Governor Perry combined. I know what it is to borrow money and pay it back, I know what it is to create jobs and to meet payroll.
Your experience is obviously something you are bringing to this exploration for governor…
Yes, but let me say this about the business climate: it’s not one-sided. The second side of the same coin is our educational system. It is a global, knowledge based economy. If we don’t have a workforce that is capable of doing the jobs being created today then no business is going to want to move here. They are going to have to have educated citizens to do the work. If we don’t have that it doesn’t matter how low the business taxes are – they aren’t going to come here because they aren’t going to find anyone here to do the work. No one is speaking to that. I believe the more people I talk with the more people I believe are willing to listen to a political dialogue that is different. There is a constituency for the kind of candidacy I would have.
And says good answers to questions about transportation.
I believe in public-private-partnerships, but the public part of it has to be negotiated from the standpoint of what is best for the public. If there is no benefit to the public then there should be no partnership.
I don’t on the face of it say that toll roads are a bad thing, but toll roads ought to be a last resort and not a first choice. If you can’t get the road built any other way than you build it with a toll road. We did that right here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area…
With I-30 between Dallas and Fort Worth…
The point of the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike was to build a road between Dallas and Fort Worth, you issue bonds, and when the bonds are paid off it becomes a freeway. The thing that bothers me about these deals that have been put together lately is that they are not only talking about building toll roads they are talking about denying access to free roads in the future. We are making commitments that the state won’t do this and won’t do that if the private company will just build a toll road, but the person driving has no choice but to take the toll road.
I get back to the fact that toll roads should not be the first choice. They should be the last choice. Toll roads in effect can be a case of double taxation. You get taxed on the gasoline side of it and you get taxed for use of the road.
He’s also against the Voter ID legislation.
Mr. Schieffer, do you feel we have a widespread voter fraud issue in Texas?
No. I think that Republicans have spent all this money trying to uncover voter fraud and they haven’t. I worry that the Voter ID Bill that has been proposed in Austin is really just a sham to try and discourage people from voting. That’s not what we ought to be about. We ought to try and get people to vote and encourage people to vote. People say, well, you have to show ID when you board an airplane, you have to show ID when you cash a check, but there are a lot of people in Texas who don’t fly, and there are a lot of people in Texas who don’t have checking accounts. They have a right to vote. That is what democracy is all about. You don’t want to keep those people away. You don’t want when they come to the polling place for them to feel like they shouldn’t be there. We need to encourage people to be there. We need to encourage people to vote. We need to have campaigns that discuss things and let them decide the outcome. But let’s not have one side or the other put their thumb on the scale in order to predict the outcome based on discouraging people from voting.
While Shcieffer is not going to make the “yella dawg’s” jump up and down, his candidacy would definitely offer Democrats some advantages in 2010. His strategy would appear to be holding onto Obama’s support from 2008, and adding to it with more support from Tarrant County and rural voters. There’s still a long way to go and he hasn’t even announced his candidacy yet, but Shcieffer makes an case worth listening to and taking serious.
As Austin continues to annex more areas of Williamson County, there’s even more reason for Williamson County residents to pay attention to what’s happening with Austin city politics. The race for mayor, which has six candidates, has the potential for sparks with Lee Leffingwell, Brewster McCracken & Carol (4n3p) Keeton Strayhorn, who stick out the most in the crowded field. As far as the city council races the race in Place 1 seems to be getting the most attention so far.
Austin Mayor and City Council
Mayor: David Buttros, Josiah James Ingalls, Lee Leffingwell, Brewster McCracken, Carole Keeton Strayhorn (BOR links on Austin Mayor’s race).
Place 1: Perla Cavazos v. Chris Riley (BOR link)
Place 2: Mike Martinez v. Jose Quintero (BOR link).
Place 5: Bill Spelman (BOR link).
Place 6: Sheryl Cole v. Samuel Osemene (BOR link).
Check out the AAS blog “City Beat” for their latest on the Mayor’s Race and Council Elections in Austin.
The “Builder Protection Agency”, aka the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) will get’s it’s day in front of the House Business & Industry Committee today, House committee to discuss future of construction commission. Of course the TRCC is the brainchild of wealthy home builders in Texas, Bob Perry and David Weekley, for example.
After numerous consumer complaints that the TRCC is little more than an industry lapdog, the agency now is under sunset review, fighting for its continued existence.
Legislation up for a hearing before the House Business and Industry Committee would keep the agency open for another four years but would make it more responsive to consumer complaints, sponsors say.
But if Perry’s money is a factor, consider this:
Ten of the 11 members on the panel have received a collective $324,500 from Perry during their legislative careers. Leading the pack are Reps. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, $115,000; Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, $91,500; Kirk England, D-Grand Prairie, $47,500; and Wayne Christian, R-Center, $31,500.
You can read EOW’s earlier reporting about the TRCC and it’s local connection, Builder protection agency “hits home” in Williamson County.
From the fiscal not here’s what HB 2295 will do:
The bill would require TRCC to maintain a homeowner recovery fund to reimburse agrieved persons who suffer actual damages from a builder’s act in violation of the Texas Residential Construction Commission Act. The bill would establish in statute the office of ombudsman within TRCC to assist the commission, builders, and homeowners in the inspection and dispute resolution process. The bill would require TRCC to produce a homeowner information pamphlet that provides basic information about TRCC and make the pamphlet available in a hard-copy format and on the commission’s Internet website. TRCC would be required to provide the pamphlet to a homeowner after the registration of a home under an applicable remodeling contract. The bill would repeal statute establishing the Star Builder Program.
I’m not sure that will fix much of what’s wrong with the TRCC. There are several bills out there and this isn’t likely to make things better than just abolishing the TRCC.
With the arrival of Spring, a legislative session in Austin, municipal campaigns revving up around the state and Texas’ primaries less than a year away, the blogs of the Texas Progressive Alliance continue to bring you insights from our members around the state. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve been reporting.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is now saying that the recession has landed full-force in Texas. Spared from the worst job losses during the first six months of the current recession, Texas is now shedding jobs at an alarming pace. Wcnews at Eye On Williamson looks at the trends, and offers a sobering assessment of the hard line, let ‘em crash, mentality of Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas GOP.
Off the Kuff points to a bill by State Rep. Dwayne Bohac to demonstrate that the push for voter ID really is about vote suppression.
If Republicans really cared about election integrity, then why do we still have non-auditable electronic voting machines? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know.
BossKitty at TruthHugger sees an opportunity to get a degree in the dark arts If Texas HB2800 Passes, I Want A Masters Degree In VooDoo
In a post that took some work and came out well, Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about what Google searches miss. Also, Neil read the bird sermon of St. Francis to a dancing duck chicken.
John Coby at Bay Area Houston says Why Ethics Reform is Needed in Texas.
The Texas Cloverleaf looks at a few local Twits in the GOP. Twittering Republicans, that is.
Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw tells us that in Hutchinson’s world “It’s All About Me”. So she is going to run for governor, keep her Senate seat and give the people of Texas absentee represenation. Whatever makes her happy, heaven forbid she should put her constituents first.
WhosPlayin examined HB 4441, an attempt by Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles to solve some problems related to pipelines.
Nytexan at BlueBloggin is stunned that Obama Taps CitiGroup Economist For Treasury Spot. So, how does Washington’s logic work? They offer a job, at the Treasury Department, to Lewis Alexander of CitiGroup. The Global Marketing Division, that Alexander heads up, was just fined $2 million by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) for trade-reporting violations, including publishing flawed quotations. Let me know how that works out for you!
Xanthippas at Three Wise Men has some thoughts on the goals of American foreign policy, and is wondering if the war in Afghanistan is winnable, at least as we appear to be defining victory.
Molly Ivins warned us years ago about AIG, “too big to fail”, and Phil Gramm. So says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
McBlogger takes a look at the valuations being placed on the evil CDO’s. Lots of laughs, of course, follow.
Link via Kuff, “What’s Medicaid?” That was the question asked by the GOP Chair of the House Committee on Human Services on Thursday. Maybe in the future there should be a pre-test to be a committee chair.
Three hours into the hearing, Elkins asked: “What’s Medicaid?”
The Houston Republican continued: “I know I hear it — I really don’t know what it is. I know that’s a big shock to everybody here in the audience, OK.”
He could have kept quiet. He could have asked an aide. He could have Googled it. Instead, he asked the question into the microphone in the middle of a public hearing.
Medicaid, for the record, is the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people and people with disabilities.
And Muse tells us GOP lawmakers area saying, “We Need More Regulation”.
Words you wouldn’t think you’d hear from deregulation happy Republicans. You know, the same ones who loathe government intrusion into your lives and hate higher fees and taxes.
But there it is.
“A lot of the problems that are going on in our country now appear to have been related to lax regulation . . . ,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan.
Indeed. Tell me about it. Regulate the electricity industry. Please. Regulate the insurance industry. I beg you to do that.
Mostly, both sides of the aisle seem terribly alarmed about regulation of banks and investment advisors. But, I don’t know. The Chron article seems to be saying that there will be more regulation over a lot of industries. And, that working people will pay higher fees (that’s sort of like a tax, folks) to the State to compensate for the additional oversight.
Here’s the rest of what Sen. Ogden said and some more from the article:
“And so one of the issues in here is to make sure that our regulatory agencies have the adequate resources so that they can go do their job, and hopefully, at least in Texas, we won’t have as many problems because we had sufficient oversight and regulation going forward.”
The money would be used for such things as more frequent inspection of investment advisers by the State Securities Board; salary increases for financial examiners to prevent federal agencies from luring them away; more people to handle complaint investigations involving doctors; and more people addressing fraud, complaints and solvency monitoring at the Texas Department of Insurance.
The cost would be covered mostly by fees paid by those who are regulated.
“All across the board — from the dental board to the banking commission to the securities commission — we made sure that they were funded adequately for them to do the job, and if necessary, hire additional people to meet their statutory responsibilities,” said Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Senate Finance vice chairman.
That appears to be an admission that less regulation, the “free market”, didn’t work as we’ve been told all these years.
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