Gov. Perry proves that it can always be worse.
Critics who engineered the recent ouster of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, in part because of his strong religious beliefs, could end up with someone even more outspoken in her faith.
Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richardson, who advocated more Christianity in the public square last year with the publication of her book, “One Nation Under God,” is among those that Gov. Rick Perry is considering to lead the State Board of Education, some of her colleagues say.
If Cynthia Dunbar is appointed it’s likely to further alienate Independent voters from the Texas GOP, while increasing Perry’s chances to beat Hutchison in the primary.
Texas Democratic lawmakers urge passage of Comprehensive Healthcare Reform at the federal level.
With 1.4 million uninsured children, state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) said that for Texas it is “very important that progress is made at the federal level.” That’s especially true, he said, given the state Legislature’s unwillingness to invest in a CHIP buy-in program that would have enrolled another 84,000 children in the low-cost health insurance plan.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) said that it was important for federal lawmakers to listen to their counterparts in the statehouses. Local officials have a better sense as to the impact of the current health system’s failings on hospitals, local governments and the taxpayers. And given that state lawmakers speak with the authority given to them by the voters, “we need to use our voice,” she said.
Coleman and Van de Putte have been active in President Obama’s push to use state lawmakers as liaisons back home to advocate for comprehensive health care reform. State Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) has been to Washington, D.C., as part of another health care advocacy effort, Health Care for America Now.
AAS has a wrap-up of health care legislation from last session, CHIP failed, but lawmakers did pass some new health insurance programs. Included was Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s latest giveaway to insurance corporations.
One change creates a health insurance program called ChildLink for children in the state’s child-support collection system. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who floated the idea in 2008, says the program — which will be run by a to-be-named private company — could reach about 200,000 children within a few years.
ChildLink takes “cash medical support” that parents already pay and redirects it to the new health insurance program. It doesn’t cost the state money because parents pay the premiums, Abbott said.
But some of the state’s most ardent supporters of expanding health insurance programs for children aren’t celebrating ChildLink. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said he’s not opposed to the program — he just doesn’t think it will have the impact that Abbott envisions.
“He’s not insuring 200,000 kids,” Coleman said. “He’s putting a mechanism in place trying to bring medical support orders to one company.”
An interesting read from the Sequin Gazette-Enterprise, Kuempel weighs in on special session.
Seguin State Rep. Edmund Kuempel said the two-day special session of the state legislature called by Gov. Rick Perry was quick — and productive.
“It wasn’t so bad,” said Kuempel, who missed the end of this year’s regular session as a result of a heart attack he suffered in the State Capitol on May 12. “It was ‘in and out,’ basically.”
A special session can last up to 30 days. Lawmakers including Kuempel said they believed they’d be able to accomplish the work in less than a week, and Kuempel said he had no problem with the workload.
“It wasn’t bad — unless you’re on the transportation or appropriations committees,” Kuempel said.
Good to see Kuempel back and healthy. But here’s the interesting part.
Look for the transportation issue — particularly where it pertains to tolling — to stick around for a while, Kuempel said. It was no surprise, he added, to see it on the agenda for the special session.
“We have a tremendous number of people moving to Texas every day, and our roads really haven’t kept up for at least 10 years or longer now,” Kuempel said. “The governor’s still looking at this problem. Of course, you have a lot of people against tolls — some against tolls on existing roads and some against tolls altogether. This will be back in 2011.” (Emphasis added).
Perry said something needs to be done — and soon.
“With more than 1,000 people moving to Texas each day and a growing economy, improving transportation in our state continues to be a top priority,” Perry said in a statement. “I had hoped to reduce uncertainty regarding several major transportation projects across the state. Although the CDA bill did not pass, we will continue to work with legislators and local officials to find transportation solutions for our state.”
Kuempel said he believed the bonds and the authorizations to keep TxDOT and other vital agencies running should have been handled in the regular legislative session but for partisan bickering. Look for the transportation issues, including toll roads, to surface again in the next legislature.
“We’ll live to fight another day — in 2011,” Kuempel said.
Essentially there’s agreement that our transportation infrastructure has been neglected for many years. It has been longer than 10 years, of course, the gas tax hasn’t been raised in this state since 1992. Raising the gas tax should be the first option, and it usually is never mentioned, except to say that it won’t pass. Although no leader will step up and advocate for it.
And corporate toll roads have definitely become toxic. At least too toxic for a special session when all legislators, many voters, and the media have few other contentious issues to focus on. Via the AAS, In spotlight, toll roads too hot to handle.
It’s intriguing how a spotlight can change a politician’s perspective. Or in the case of the special session just past, a whole bunch of politicians’ perspectives.
Way back in the spring of 2009 (OK, about three months ago), the Texas Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 404 and Senate Bill 17. The House Transportation Committee later passed both bills. And the Senate even passed them again, this time while they were taking a ride on the Texas Department of Transportation sunset bill that later died.
In fact, all of these bills died in the House late in the session. But it had nothing to do with the content of SB 404 and SB 17, which occasioned little debate during the regular session.
Then, last week, members of the House and Senate turned their noses up at both bills and declined to even vote on them.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant.