This post could be titled, “Hey Texas!! Your lack of leadership is showing!!” Either way the point is the same. Texans have been suffering for years now, because those who hold the reins of power in Texas do not have the ability to govern.
A perfect example is how the CHIP expansion bill was sabotaged by GOP Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan). It highlights how they never actually wanted CHIP expansion to become law, they just wanted to take credit for passing in through the Senate. Via Rick Casey in the HChron, CHIP charade also failed test of character.
Dewhurst and other Senate leaders basked in one-day headlines saying they had saved the popular bill, but Coleman knew better. It was dead on arrival.
The House has much stricter rules than the Senate requiring that an amendment must be “germane” to the bill to which it is attached. Thursday evening, Speaker Joe Strauss not surprisingly ruled that the amendment was not germane.
The bill to which the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expansion amendment was attached was titled: “Relating to newborn screening and the creation of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee.”
Well, they were both about children.
“You could take a bill about the Edwards Aquifer and amend one about building swimming pools and say they’re both about water,” Coleman said. “But that wouldn’t fly.”
Substitute was ready
What galls Coleman is that sitting in the Senate Finance Committee was a bill that was clearly germane to the Senate CHIP bill.
It was Coleman’s CHIP bill. The Senate could have approved it as it was, or the Finance Committee could have voted to substitute the Senate version authored by Sen. Kip Averitt, a moderate Republican from Waco.
The differences were not substantial, said Coleman. Coleman believes the Senate leadership sabotaged the bill so that they could take credit, then blame the House for killing it.
Maybe that’s smart politics, if dishonest.
Was it a deliberate charade or callous stupidity?
Does it matter, since Gov. Rick Perry appeared ready to veto the bill anyway?
Yes, it matters. It was a test of either character or competence. Dewhurst and Ogden flunked.
They’d rather take credit for passing CHIP through the Senate and have it ultimately fail, then actually get uninsured children insurance. This is one vote, and issue, that all voters in Senate District 5 must remember if Ogden runs for reelection in 2010, and whatever it is Dewhurst tries to run for next. We used to have Lt. Gov.’s that could get the things they wanted passed. So that means either Dewhurst didn’t want CHIP expansion passed, or he’s a weak Lt. Gov. Of course BOR has more on the CHIP issue.
The next issue where there’s a profound lack of leadership is transportation. While the DMN is reporting on Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) becoming a stud, he’s really had one focus this session. Getting the the local option gas and fee tax increases bill through the legislature. Which is fine for his constituents, but he’s done little, if anything, to lead on bringing any kind of real change to TxDOT or to how we fund and plan for transportation statewide.
The broad outlines remain unchanged: The House wants to limit TxDOT’s control over which roads get built. The Senate wants local-option tax and to keep the department role essentially unchanged. Both sides back accountability measures, a legislative oversight committee, and greater transparency. The future of red-light cameras is anybody’s guess.
Sources in the Senate who strongly want a deal to be made said they hope they will see one, but warned that it’s entirely possible that if the House refuses to accept a local-option tax in the final bill, Carona will scuttle the larger bill altogether.
Oh yeah and this:
One source’s thoughts: Carona is a stud, and to watch him in action on the local-option bill negotiations, is to see a senator who has come into his full maturity.
The other obvious part of this is that Gov. Rick Perry has decided to take a total pass this session on even being involved in the transportation discussion. Maybe he finally understands he can’t lead on this issue? He’s never said he would sign, or is for the local opiton tax bill, making him essentially opposed to it. Perry may be just fine with the way TxDOT is right now, and in that case all he has to do is veto the Sunset bill. Then TxDOT and transportation in Texas can stay just the way it is in now. Oh, and without a “moratorium” on CDA/PPP’s. Is Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst even aware that there’s is a problem with transportation in Texas?
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows a huge, HUGE opportunity has been missed over the last two years to have a serious discussion about the future of transportation in Texas. All the leaders of Texas have chosen to either ignore it, work for their own self interest, or shun any serious fights or forward thinking on what would be best for this state an it’s people moving forward. It’s pathetic and on this one issue alone they should all be run out of office.
Another serious issue that got pushed aside because the GOP leadership in this state wanted no part of it was insurance reform. There’s little in this state that is hurting thoseof middle and lower incomes than the extremely high insurance rates we have in Texas. And the GOP leadership decided to scuttle that by focusing on an ultra partisan issue instead. But they did find the willingness to get a business tax cut through. Jason Embry at First Read has more on what’s still pending.
How many more legislative sessions with a lack of leadership can this state take? That’s the question every Texan needs to ask when they go to the polls in 2010.