As House Speaker Tom Craddick releases his Interim Charges in three parts, to get three days of media out of it, (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 [All in .PDF]). Keep in mind that they’re more than that, this is a look into what the agenda of another Craddick-lead session will hold in the Texas House. From Vince’s analysis (here and here) we can see it will be more budget scams, more Voter IDiocy, immigrant bashing, etc.. In other words, nothing new or different. This is also a blueprint for those anti-Craddick Republicans and right-leaning Democrats as to what issue Craddick’s money and backers will be hammering them with in the upcoming primary and general election. This is the Speaker’s, and his minions, agenda after all.
There are a couple of traditional media stories on some specific charges. One from the AAS talks about the rise in public retiree health care costs.
As directed by Speaker Tom Craddick on Wednesday, the state House Pensions and Investments Committee will “explore options for funding” retiree benefits before the next regular legislative session convenes in January 2009. [Added by EOW: Speaker's Interim Charges, House Committee on Pensions and Investments. 2. Explore options for funding other post-employment benefits, and examine strategies employed by other governmental entities in addressing these obligations.]
State Sen. Steve Ogden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he hasn’t had a chance to review the pension plans’ estimates and it’s too soon to tell how budget writers will respond.
“I think it’s good we’ve got the number out there,” said Ogden, R-Bryan. “I think it is a good exercise in recognizing we have a possibility for some pretty substantial increases in the amount of money the state is going to have to come up with for basically the state employee and other retiree health care costs.”
I’ve long thought that’s the next thing the Texas GOP will come after, public retiree pensions. This is another thing to consider about national single-payer and/or universal health care. It would take considerable pressure off of state pensions.
Another article, this one in the DMN, Texas legislation targeting non-citizen voting planned, deals with the fact that Craddick and his minion Leo Berman will go after virtually non-existent issue of non-citizen voting. They will try to pass Voter IDiocy for a third time, if Craddick returns. For our sake Democratic state Rep. Rafael AnchÃa is still on the committee.
The House Committee on Elections will start hearing testimony in January on voter fraud, and its chairman, Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, says he anticipates that lawmakers will try for the third session in a row to pass a law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship at voting booths.
Committee member Rafael AnchÃa, a Dallas Democrat, said he plans to broaden the scope of the investigation beyond the immigration angle and look for things like tampering with voting machines, fraudulent mail-in voting and suppression of voters.
The GOP’s struggle with the immigration issue is playing out here as well. In Craddick’s Interim Charges it’s clear that Craddick, and the GOP in Texas, want to be a player in the immigration fight. While earlier in the week Sen. John Cornyn and Karl Rove urged them to stay out of it.
Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said Tuesday that while failures at the federal level to address immigration issues have left people frustrated, state lawmakers should not be attempting to fix the problem.
Cornyn, joined by former White House strategist Karl Rove at the East Texas Immigration Summit, said states passing tougher immigration laws focused only on enforcement and not economic impacts.
“Immigration is the federal government’s responsibility, under our Constitution,” Cornyn said. “Piecemeal approaches at the state level deal with only one aspect of the issue.”
This goes to show what a fine line some Republicans in Texas are having to walk on this issue. Cornyn has already lost some of his Hispanic GOP support in The Valley due to his votes on this issue in the US Senate. He’s now moderating his tone, EOW’s guessing that’s all he’s moderating, in an attempt to show that he’s willing to call the GOP’s base’s bluff on this issue. Fromthe comments on a right-wing blog, you can tell there not too concerned:
As for Senator Cornyn, I like the guy, I will most likely vote for the guy, BUT Cornyn has to understand, local and State governments are starting to take action because the Federal Government has failed to fulfill itâ€™s obligations.
I like Cornyn.
I agree with Cornyn most of the time.
Why would I not vote for him?
Besides what choice do they have. While Craddick and the house “wing-nuts” will try to keep all they’re base fired up on this issue so they’ll show up in March and November, John Cornyn will be singing a different tune in order to try and keep his job. From Cornyn’s precious votes on immigration it’s doubtful that the GOP base will believe what he’s saying. They’ll believe he’s just saying it for political reasons. Let’s most Texans who are less ideological on the immigrations issue don’t get suckered by this cynical campaign rhetoric.