The not so “special” session lumbered on today with each chamber gaveling-in for milli-minutes. Mostly because the House, for the second time this week, was unable to make the quorum (100 members) needed to conduct business. Keep in mind that there are 101 Republicans in the House, so even if every Democrats was absent – which wasn’t the case – the GOP alone could still make quorum.
In the wake of this situation the “leader” of the House, GOP Speaker Joe Straus, vented his frustration over Gov. Rick Perry’s latest attention grabbing non-issue, Speaker calls anti-agressive pat-down bill a “stunt”.
House Speaker Joe Straus said a the so-called anti-groping bill, which was scheduled for debate today, amounted to an ill-advised stunt that would embarrass the State of Texas.
“The bill — without some serious revisions — appears to me to be nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt. Unenforceable. Ill-advised. Misdirected to uniform security personnel. And not where it appropriately should be aimed, which is in Washington, to the bosses of these people,” Straus said. “I have some other thoughts on how to send a message without actually harming commercial aviation in Texas and without making the Texas Legislature a laughing stock.”
The speaker said a resolution is in the works to address the issue of aggressive pat-downs.
The bill — and other eligible pieces of legislation — were not debated today because too few members showed up to the Capitol.
Straus may finally be tiring of Perry and the wing nuts attacking him and making a mockery of the House over “nuttty” issues like this one.
Speaking of “nutty” issues, the “bidness” community, and in particular GOP sugar daddy Bob Perry, is starting to speak out against the so-called “sanctuary cities” legislation, Top business leaders try to derail Texas ‘sanctuary cities’ bill.
On Thursday, Austin superlobbyist Neal “Buddy” Jones Jr. of HillCo Partners, which represents Perry Homes and HEB, urged committee members not to pass the bill.
“Just want to tell you that Charles Butt and Bob Perry have asked me to call every member of State Affairs and ask them not to pass the sanctuary city bill,” Jones wrote in an email to Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. House Democrats released the email to The Dallas Morning News.
“They think it is very bad for Texas,” Jones said, encouraging Gallego, an opponent of the bill, to inform his committee colleagues “that these two giants of Texas business are concerned that this is taking Texas in the wrong direction.”
Asked to elaborate on Perry’s and Butt’s concerns about the bill, Jones declined.
House bill sponsor Rep. Burt Solomons of Carrollton said grassroots Republicans favor the measure, which he said merely would outlaw official interference with immigration law enforcement.
“You shouldn’t get to pick and choose which federal laws you abide by,” he said. “These big businessmen all of a sudden think we shouldn’t have any type of sanctuary city legislation. Well, where were they for six months?”
Gov. Rick Perry added the bill to the special session’s agenda, and Bob Perry — no relation — has been his biggest political contributor for many years. Bob Perry, owner of Perry Homes, and Butt, chairman and chief executive of HEB Grocery Co. LP, were ranked by Texans for Public Justice as No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, among givers to legislative candidates in the 2008 cycle.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone as Solomons called out Perry during the regular session too – likely part of an ongoing feud. None of the work is done as the session nears the end. And many of our elected officials seem to be focused on other things, Special session nearly over, work hardly done.
Legislative leaders hope the session’s leisurely pace will pick up today. The 30-day session ends Wednesday; the House and Senate remain far apart on the restructuring of the state’s windstorm insurance program, and movement has been slow on a measure to ban so-called sanctuary cities.
Legislators signaled their fatigue this week when the House adjourned because of a lack of a quorum, meaning more than one-third of the members were absent. One legislator, GOP Rep. Larry Taylor of Friendswood, admitted to reporters that he was on a long-scheduled family vacation in the Bahamas instead of working at the Capitol.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry has spent a number of days out of the state since the special session began May 31. A possible presidential candidate, Perry went to Los Angeles, New York, North Carolina and New Orleans last week. On Wednesday, he threatened to call another special session if legislators can’t resolve the windstorm issue.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, said Perry and the leaders of the House and Senate have been distracted by issues such as an attempt to ban intrusive searches at airports, which Perry added to lawmakers’ agenda on Monday. “It’s a lack of leadership,” Martinez Fischer said. “Nobody wants to be in special session. They have the power to call it; they have the power to end it. If we’re only looking at one or two issues, let’s focus on those issues.”
As Perry prances all over the country, getting unpaid media for all his “non-campaign” campaign stops, it is starting to wear on the rest of his party’s elected officials, who are stuck in Austin doing nothing – literally.
Yesterday Perry showed up at the NALEO conference in San Antonio and got a reception he’s not used to, Presidential Candidate Perry Bombs at National Latino Conference.
Perry’s speech in San Antonio was one of his first in front of a crowd that wasn’t predisposed to loving him. There were no rah-rah Tea Partiers to cheer for Perry as they did during the last governor’s race—not even his celebrity friends Chuck Norris or Ted Nugent were on the sidelines to swoop in and save the day. Nope. This time it was a packed banquet room full of Latino elected officials from across the nation. In short, it was Perry dipping his toe into the national electoral pool of voters. Boy, did he get an icy reception.
Think watching the class president royally bomb during a high-school talent show.
During the 13-minute keynote speech all you could hear was silverware clattering on dishes as people tucked into their breaded chicken grimly chewing with their backs turned to Perry on the stage. Perry ran through his material about fiscal conservatism and low taxes. He touched on familiar themes about Texas being “the job creation capitol of the world.” And he exhorted members of the audience from other states to “come and live in Texas.”
Perry avoided talk about immigration or his controversial decision to push the banning of so called “sanctuary cities” by adding it to the call for the current special session. A vote is scheduled on the legislation in a House committee this Monday. Hispanics say the legislation that allows law enforcement to ask for citizenship status will promote racial profiling and unfairly single out communities of color for harrasment.
The grim silence was finally interrupted by light applause when Perry acknowledged at the end of his speech the growing Latino population. “It’s no stretch to suggest that the future of Texas is tied to its Hispanic population,” he said. Then Perry touted his appointments of “the best and brightest in leadership” in the Hispanic community ticking off the names of Secretary of State Hope Andrade, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and “my favorite” he chuckled “The head of the TABC Jose Cuevas. That is the right man for the job.” (In case you’re missing something, the governor apparently thinks that Jose Cuevas sounds like the popular tequila brand Jose Cuervo.)
He’s going to have problems with the Hispanic community for, among other things, adding the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill to the special session agenda, since he is the one that sets that agenda. And many in Texas are starting to recognize the hypocrisy of Perry and the Texas GOP’s agenda, Latinos’ freedom, dignity on the line with sanctuary cities bill.
My arguments fell on the deaf ears of 19 of my Senate colleagues — many of whom support a state law cracking down on the TSA.
It is hard to understand their disconnect on these two issues. They are willing to side with the traveling public, despite the real threat of violence in the skies, yet they are unwilling to protect Latino citizens from the very same kind of degradation, just so we can have a sanctuary cities law that accomplishes nothing.
During the Senate debate, the bill’s sponsor was repeatedly asked to name a single sanctuary city in Texas. He could not, because there are none.
So far the best results of Perry’s media exposure is that the national media, unlike the state media, is starting to show how bad Perry’s economic record, and rhetoric, really are, Perry’s Texas miracle is a mirage.
But, as long we’re being honest, we ought to acknowledge that there is another, not often talked about, dimension to the Texas Economic Miracle.
Or is it a mirage? Texas is a still a largely poor state, with weak infrastructure and a largely uneducated work force. Under Perry, the state budget deficit has surged to more than $25 billion, and the unemployment rate is higher than it has been in decades: about 8%.
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, recently gave me a primer on “Tex-onomics.”
“That jobs thing is a sleight of hand,” Castro said. “More than half of those new jobs have been filed by non-Texans. So it’s people moving here to take those jobs. It underscores this bipolar state that we live in. You have a population in Texas that is generally lower educated, poor, isn’t covered by health insurance … all of these things … so you can recruit these companies to come here from out of state but your own people, often times, aren’t qualified to fill these jobs.”
The way that Castro sees it, this is all about long-term investment and conflicting priorities.
“We’re not creating a system that educates them well and prepares them,” he said. “We underinvest in these things, which is what Perry is doing in public education and higher education. We can create the jobs, and that’s great. But our own people who have gone through Texas schools and Texas universities aren’t the ones filling them.”
Is this the record that Republicans think is Rick Perry’s strong suit? Does Perry really want to do for the rest of the country what he’s done for Texas? And, if so, can the country afford it?
That and the Rainy Day Fund has been spent, Perry’s Rainy Day Fund? Used Up, Say Some Republicans.
A special session that’s been short on work, full of non-issues, and potential candidacies, shouldn’t get Texans to take their eyes off of what is really important. The GOP is defunding what most Texans see as the most important issue facing our state – education. So make your voice heard. The GOP sees that as a better alternative then creating a fairer and more stable tax system in Texas.
The lazy way the Texas GOP is acting this special session tells Texans they see it as a joke. They will finish off the budget and what they deem necessary and the heck with the rest of it. From here it just seems like a nuisance to them on the way to their next campaign.
[UPDATE]: It appears they did something this week but it wasn’t good or “fiscally conservative”. Kuff has the (bad) news, GOP finally kills Howard amendment.
See here and here for the background. There needs to be quotation marks around “fiscal conservatives” in that penultimate paragraph. There are many words that can describe this, but there’s nothing conservative about failing to invest in one’s future. At least the Republicans have made it as clear as they can where their priorities aren’t.