HB 218 (Voter IDiocy) In The Senate - UPDATED

Posted in Elections, 80th Legislature, Had Enough Yet?, Around The State, The Lege at 11:54 am by wcnews

Tip to Pinkdome that the bill was coming to the floor.

Sen. Whitmire was on the floor and his vote didn’t get counted. He’s pissed, and Dewhurst is getting his panties in a wad, threatens to throw Sen. Whitmire off the floor if he doesn’t compose himself.

They’re going to vote again to suspend, Dewhurst thinks he’s got the numbers. Sen. Uresti is ill and not on the floor, that’s why Dewhurst is doing this.

[UPDATED]: On new vote, motion to suspend fails!!

[UPDATE II]: Postcards has a nice blow-by-blow here. I forgot this part.

What began with Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s threat to filibuster ended with the senior member of the Senate, John Whitmire, cursing, stabbing his finger at Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and demanding that his vote be counted.


The vote was 19-9, a two-thirds majority necessary to bring the bill to the floor.

“That’s dirty,” Van de Putte muttered in the direction of Dewhurst.

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, the author of the bill agreed to another vote count, but only after Van de Putte rose to speak. When asked upon which reading she intended to speak, she said, “Whenever I can stop [to] this bill, Mr. President.”

[UPDATE III]: Statement from TDP Chair Boyd Richie:


Below is a statement from Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie on an anti-voter bill that failed to win the necessary votes to be considered in the State Senate. HB 218, which is opposed by AARP, the League of Women Voters and other nonpartisan groups, is part of a national Republican agenda designed to suppress voting by selected groups of voters who typically vote Democratic.

Click “Read the rest of this entry” for complete statement.

Read the rest of this entry »

More Evidence Of Rep. Krusee Running For Reelection?

Posted in Election 2008, Williamson County, The Lege at 10:51 am by wcnews

Check this out. Tip to McBlogger who has much more hilarious commentary on this.

Team Krusee, which right now includes 5 people and 2 maybes (out of a possible 40), will be having their first Meetup tonight. It’s all part of what the email calls ‘the largest Republican election effort in Williamson County (TX) history!’

I can totally see why given that it’s 5 people and all. Mike’s running for re-election on a hope, a prayer and 5 dimwits who still haven’t figured out that WillCo is trending D because of demographics and the fact that everything they’ve been sold by Republicans has turned to shit. Seriously, Mike, did you really think there wouldn’t be repercussions for the toll roads? For the school finance fix that wasn’t so much a fix?

Used to be you couldn’t find enough Democrats in WillCo to fill a VW Beetle. Now, you can’t find enough Republicans to fill some crappy venue to talk about the re-election of a sitting State Rep.

Toll Deal Framing & Don’t Forget The TTC

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:39 am by wcnews

From reading newspaper accounts the framing on the toll road compromise appears to have changed. Just last week it was all on the governor’s back. Now it seems that the Senate and the legislature will avoid a confrontation they didn’t want, and were certain to lose, if they don’t hurry up and work out a deal with the governor. When in reality other than Burka’s speculation, it’s Perry who needs the deal to avoid looking like he would be calling a special session for no reason. That’s the way it was last week until the Lege started caving. Who knows maybe the Senate reads Burka and figured they’d better cut a deal?

Senate takes a detour in transportation fight.

Trying to avoid a confrontation with the governor, the Texas Senate voted unanimously Monday for another transportation bill that preserves a two-year moratorium on most private toll roads.

Senate avoids Perry veto, OKs compromise bill on toll roads.

The Senate swerved to avoid a governor’s veto and possible special session by unanimously approving a compromise bill on toll roads that will extend some local control and tap the brakes on privately operated roads, supporters said Monday.

The new proposal will have regional mobility groups working with the Texas Department of Transportation to establish a market value of proposed toll roads and then give the local entities 90 days to opt-in to developing the project.

Here are the words of the man who had taken Sen. Carona’s place. The latest candidate for most outspoken Senator against corporate toll roads.

“Ultimately when you compare what this does with where we were before we got here in January, it does a lot,” said Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, a former TxDOT commissioner who led the push for a moratorium.

“It does put a cooler and a damper on some of these runaway projects,” he said.

Sounds like more than just some “runaway projects” have had a “cooler and a damper” put on them. Linda Stall of CorridorWatch is also quoted in the article.

But CorridorWatch, a grass-roots group opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor and other private tollway projects, said it is concerned that the new compromise has “loopholes big enough to drive any TTC CDA through.”

CorridorWatch co-founder Linda Stall said she was unimpressed with the governor’s veto threats.

“Special session? Bring it on. If any one issue deserves more study and more of a thorough look, it’s transportation,” she said.

It’s good to see CorridorWatch weighing in that this “compromise” is worthless as far as the TTC is concerned. What’s not being realized, and not being reported, in all of this is that none of this will stop the TTC. For all Gov. Perry’s talk of being for a moratorium, don’t think for a second he’s for a moratorium on the TTC. Nothing is being done to keep a wide swath of prime farmland from being paved over, and taken from families, on order to allow the TTC to be built.

The Craddick Situation, Blogs & Traditional Media

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary, The Lege at 10:03 am by wcnews

I think it’s rather interesting that Burka is already calling the race over and most of the major papers in Texas are just starting to analyze the dynamics of the “coup”.

Startelgram, Rumors fly about effort to oust Craddick. They mention Burka:

Whispers of a gathering revolt have been heard throughout the Capitol all session. But the rumors became public over the weekend when Wallace, a Republican Party official from Lampasas, warned his fellow GOP activists of a plot.

Wallace’s letter, splashed into cyberspace by Texas Monthly’s BurkaBlog, urged the Republican faithful to pressure several GOP House members whose loyalty to the speaker had come into question. Some on the list denied being part of a movement to depose Craddick. Others wouldn’t say. “I am not unseating the speaker in the middle of a session,” said Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, a rising star in the GOP caucus who wondered aloud why he was named in Wallace’s letter. “I’m not part of any organized effort.”


Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, also took a pass, saying the selection of a House leader should remain out of public view. “Speakers’ races are for members to discuss,” Krusee said. “I wouldn’t discuss my decision with the press no matter what I was doing.”


But (Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco) said if Craddick falls in the next two weeks, which is all that’s left of the 2007 session, it will be an internal matter of the majority party. Dunnam also vowed to oppose any motion to take Craddick out unless he has some idea about a replacement. “I would want to know why and what the alternatives were,” Dunnam said. “I can’t find a Democrat who knows anything other than the rumors.”

DMN, Whispers grow louder about Craddick’s future.

But to hear many House members tell it, it’s a matter of when, not if. That would be a surprising downfall for a man who has ruled the chamber with absolute authority since 2003, when he earned the job he toiled three decades in the House to get.

SAEN, Foes talk of ousting Craddick.

“There are more than 76 House members (a majority) who want a new speaker. There are not 76 votes for any one person (successor) at this point,” (Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston) said.

AAS chimes in with this, Possible rebels weigh political consequences and fate of legislation.

Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, last week consulted with Craddick during the procedural challenge and then encouraged colleagues to vote against the speaker, as he did. But he said Monday he would not support an effort to remove Craddick before the session’s end.

“I don’t think it’s right for the body, for the membership, to be put through that mess,” Gattis said. “Ultimately, what would be the reason? The only reason is so that somebody else could become speaker. And to put the body through that without running a legitimate speaker’s race, I just don’t think that’s the right way to do it.”

I’m sure Rep. Gattis is well aware of the reason. At the bottom of th article they detail their four scenarios for a coup:

  • The palace coup: A motion to remove the speaker is submitted in the House during this session.
  • Sine die pledge party: Weak response to speaker’s bid for future support leaves him vulnerable.
  • Guerrilla war: Challengers woo those up for House seats through campaign season.
  • Grinch Who Stole Christmas II: Foes move as the 2009 session begins, as they did at the start of this one.

Postcards also has this discussion about how the “palace coup” might go down, it’s never been done before.

Rumors, and the ensuing analysis of them, are handled much better online as opposed to print media. Not to mention liveblogging and breaking news. Blog readers are already aware of most of what was reported in the newspapers today about the Craddick situation. That is not to say that anything above isn’t worth reading and isn’t’ well done. It’s the reason Burka go into blogging and most newspapers are blogging the lege, it’s really the most timely way to cover it now. Blog it as it happens, with full analysis to come later online, and in the print edition.

Chair Vacation Thoughts

Posted in Election 2008, 80th Legislature, Commentary, Around The State at 9:11 am by wcnews

As much as the “wing-nutters” are going to try and make this about the “libruls” trying to take over the Speaker’s chair in the waning days of session by putting a “librul” like Jim Keffer into the chair, that’s not what’s happening.

Will enough Democrats vote to vacate, if enough Republicans came out against Craddick? More than liekly. But, as evidenced by the vote in January, the Democrats won’t vote as a bloc. So it will take a majority of the Republicans in the House to come forward in order for the chair to be vacated. It won’t happen without it.

This, as it always has been, is a fight inside the Texas GOP. Right now it’s about whether or not they want this done now or wait until 209. It would be best for Democrats if this fight kept up now through the primary and into the general election. That’s, more than likely, the only reason this has come up now.


SB 792 Passes Senate

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 5:10 pm by wcnews

QR is reporting a unanimous vote.

The compromises in the substitute are those that have been discussed in other reports today: an initial discussion of market value of a road, based on commonly held terms and expectations of profit and tolls agreed upon between TxDOT and the local toll authority; the ability of the the local toll authority to bid on the project, based on those terms, and requiring TxDOT to meet the same terms as any toll authority or regional mobility authority; a contract term of 50 years, over 40 years, in CDA agreements in order to require the private contractor to repair or replace the road at least once; and clarification of when the metropolitan planning organization is involved.

What a long way we’ve come since December when Sen. Carona said this, “Within thrity years’ time, under existing comprehensive development agreements, we’ll bring free roads in this state to a condition of ruin.” Oh well.

Another TxDOT Tool We Don’t Need

Posted in 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State, Uncategorized at 2:00 pm by wcnews

HB 2268 is the latest transportation “tool” to be added to the tool box to make it through the Texas House. Rep. Jim Murphy is the author but there’s speculation that this is Rep. Mike Krusee’s idea.

Rep. Krusee will have others hold hold up this horrible bill and claim it is a solution citizens have been asking for, but it does just the opposite and gives TxDOT MORE power to steal our land and our roads!

Here’s a link to a post from Somervell County Salon on the bill, Rep. Krusee promotes HB 2268 TxDOT Empowerment Bill and the House plays follow-the-leader. HB 2268 allows TxDOT to begin purchasing land before a specific route has been chosen for a new road.

Krusee’s aggressive pro-TxDOT bill HB 2268 swiftly moved through the House, “like water off a duck’s back”, and is on its way to the Senate. The bill permits TxDOT to acquire land before a toll or road project is approved, before environmental studies are completed, before public hearings take place, etc.

Basically, HB 2268 lets TxDOT lock in a route in advance, and then pretend like all the public input and research might actually change their decision.

This bill is another of Krusee’s many attempts and coups to pass pro-toll, pro-TxDOT legislation that empowers the pro-toll effort and weakens public input. In addition, TxDOT is strengthened in its lack of accountability to the legislature and the people of Texas.

This is from the bill analysis of HB 2268, it passed the House Transportation Committee unanimously:

There is an uncertainty as to if the property will be acquired by the department, when it will be acquired, and what will be the purchase price. The uncertainty increases with a longer option period. Landowners may be very reluctant to sell an option that will affect their and their children’s or grandchildren’s use or disposition of the property. To allow the department to purchase an interest in the property as an alternative would prevent these parcels from being developed, saving the department millions in later acquisition costs and damages. It also provides willing landowners with certainty: immediate receipt of sale proceeds and the ability to develop their remaining property without waiting on the normal acquisition process. This would also help local governments plan development in their areas, and allows the department flexibility.

The first thing that came to mind when reading both of these excerpts was that it would give people in the “know” an opportunity to start buying-up the land around the areas where TxDOT is buying it for future profit.

With a bill analysis that is slanted toward the idea that this bill is actually for the benefit of landowners and their descendants, that makes it seem a little disingenuous. If this bill allows routes to be determined before public input and environmental studies, this is a horrible idea. It would seem, at this point, that any bill with the support of Rep. Krusee and TxDOT would be DOA. Call your Senator!!

Toll Roads And The Lege

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 11:35 am by wcnews

It’s a normal thing in politics in this country and, now state, that the name of something usually means the exact opposite. The “toll road moratoriums” going through the legislature are just such a thing. Since toll roads will still be built if this bill becomes law it’s not a toll road moratorium. It may stop some deals in the future but these bills, whether it’s the bill on Gov. Perry’s desk, HB 1892, or the new-and-improved “compromise” bill, SB 792, there are many exemptions and neither bill them includes the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC).

These moratorium bills have become a shell game for the legislature to make it look like they’re doing something while, in effect, doing nothing. Making them look tough by sending a bill that, if looked at with a discerning eye, does nothing to fix the problem and could possibly make things worse.

EOW said in an earlier post last week, that maybe a special session where the legislature, along with the Gov., Lt. Gov. and the people of Texas - we’re aware of what a stretch this is - are able to focus on the issue of transportation is just what this state needs. Now it looks like what our representatives and “others” are trying to do is rush something through the Lege that enough of them can agree on, no matter what the long-term effects it will have, to allow the governor to save face. And to make it look like they did something to defy the governor, got him to compromise on a supposed toll road moratorium, and do something for the people where toll roads are concerned.

Will Craddick Fall?

Posted in Elections, 80th Legislature, Commentary, The Lege, Uncategorized at 10:56 am by wcnews

Go to BurkaBlog to see this turn from a rumor to hard evidence.

Whether there’s a will to vacate the chair or not the grassroots of the GOP in Texas is scared and that’s a good sign. But I agree more with Harvey Kronberg:

(As we have written before, pointing the finger at Democrats is a red herring, albeit an effective one for the base. Given the fractured nature of the House, neither Craddick nor any Republican opponent can win or govern without some Democratic support.)

But the problem with the January playbook strategy is that it reinforces every impulse on the floor to rebel. The drumbeat has increased the urgency to replace the speaker because the sixty-eight members that supported Geren’s secret ballot amendment last January know they are fair game in the next election cycle. The eighty-seven that voted against Craddick on the appeal of the ruling the chair know they too are fair game.

But this goes back to a point that Burka made in November ‘06, during Craddick’s last crisis. The Speaker’s number one duty is to protect the members and if nobody’s safe then he isn’t doing his number one duty.

It would probably be better for the GOP to take him out now instead of having to worry about their Craddick-problem until January of 2009.

Kuff has more here.

Some Form Of Toll Compromise Has Been Reached

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 9:53 am by wcnews

That’s what AAS reporter Ben Wear is telling us, Toll road compromise reached. The question is who has reached an agreement?

Lawmakers, representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation and others have reached agreement on major toll road legislation that will be laid out this morning in a meeting of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee

But there could be a backlash. Many legislators had said this session that what they didn’t want was to be presented with a large “agreed-upon” transportation bill late in the session with little or no time to absorb it.

That’s exactly what they’re getting, however.

Obviously the lawmakers involved in this deal are Gov. Perry, Sen. Carona and Rep. Krusee. As for who the “others” are, just use your imagination. Could be a backlash? No, probably will be a backlash. More on tolls and moratoriums to come.

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