Texas links of Interest

Posted in Around The State at 11:25 pm by wcnews

The Texas Freedom Network has released a report on teaching the bible in public schools. It’s called, Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12. Here’s what it’s about:

Bible courses can be an effective way to teach public school students about the importance of religion in history and literature. However, Bible courses in public schools must be taught in an academic, non-devotional manner that refrains from promoting or disparaging religion or promotiong one particular faith perspective over all others. Many courses fail this most basic test and jeopardize the religious freedom of students. Below are original reports from the TFN Education Fund that reveal how challenging it is to create courses that are both legally and ethically appropriate as well as academically sound.

Read the report here.

We couldn’t just do it because it’s the right thing to do. We had to wait until it’s good for the bidness community, Big-business lobby enters fray on criminal justice reforms. They do pay for most of our office holders campaign expenses, so it’s only fair that they should get to make this decision. That’s the way Texas operates right now unfortunately. Better late than never, Grits has more.

Speaking of campaign finance corruption, the Texas Rootstrikers are having an even this Saturday, Rally Against Citizens United/In Support of SCR 2 & HCR 21.

Texas Rootstrikers, a student organization at UT Austin, along with Texans United to Amend are hosting a rally at the State Capitol. We hope to raise awareness of the negative effects of the Citizen’s United ruling, and to support recent legislation proposed in our State legislator. Currently there are three bills being proposed. Two bills are to call congress to amend the constitution, and one is to call for an Article V constitutional convention. There will be many speakers, comedians, and some great musical acts. This is a great way to meet others in the area, and from all across Texas, who are also concerned about money’s influence in politics. I hope to see, and meet, other Rootstrikers from the area.

Click the link above for more information.

Despite the surplus, the Parks and Wildlife Department is getting the short end of the stick again, Texas Parks and Wildlife faces still more budget cuts.

The great outdoors could get a bit smaller in Texas as the state legislature looks for more ways to cut costs in spite of a projected $8.8 billion dollar surplus.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is no stranger to budget cuts - since 2000, the department has seen its budget continuously pared down and 27 parks permanently closed.

This biennium, the department asked the legislature for an extra $18.9 million on top of its operating budget to maintain and improve the park system. Instead, The Legislative Budget Board, the state’s financial advisory entity, is recommending about $28 million in cuts and closing 11 more of our remaining 95 state parks, which has park officials understandably concerned.

“Parks are critical to a healthy lifestyle, to have that connection with nature,” says Cory Evans, Palo Duro Canyon State Park Superintendent. “Our state is increasingly urbanized and just the opportunity to get out and visit and be exposed to nature and the outdoors is absolutely critical.”

A bargain for bargain’s sake is no bargain

Posted in Around The Nation, jobs, The Economy at 4:35 pm by wcnews

As he’s so good at historian Rick Perlstein explains things so well. An excerpt from his latest post, Our Obama Bargain.

We’ve arrived at a question of character, or deep psychological disposition. I’ve always thought of Barack Obama’s obsession with a “Grand Bargain”—Democrats give something on spending, Republicans give something on taxes—as having very little to do at all with concrete policy questions. After all, the austerity Obama seems to want has more and more been revealed as bad policy. Bad politics, too, of course. More and more, in fact, I wonder whether in some deep wellspring of his being this isn’t ultimately the point: if it’s bad, then it must be good. After all, he’s always said such deals should “hurt.” In the rhetoric of hurt lives the magic thinking: that the pain in itself makes for noble transcendence. In itself—not in the policy outcome. [Emphasis added]

There’s something so arbitrary about it, so cliché: pick the one thing that Republicans are supposed to cherish most (tax cuts!). Pick the one thing Democrats are supposed to cherish most (spending!). If you get both to give up what they cherish, something transcendent has occurred; something mystical; something deep, deep inside America’s soul—healing!

It’s almost as if, were the Democrats’ most cherished nostrum was that the sky is blue; and if the Republicans’ most cherished nostrum were that the sky is red, Obama somehow imagines that if he can somehow get both to agree that the sky is purple, lo and behold, America will finally be a warm and conciliatory place.

But guess what! The sky is blue!

To cash out the allegory: Guess what! Spending more during a recession, and keeping faith with Medicare and Social Security, which are not in imminent crisis anyway, is great for the well-being of the country!

And guess what! Even if feckless Democrats are glad to entertain the notion that the sky just might be purple, pronouncing themselves as eager to cut spending as Republicans (vitiating, by the way, the very premise that big spending is some sort of hard-shell Democratic shibboleth), insane, Leninist Republicans will never, ever, ever, ever, ever stray from their conviction that it is red—in other words, that tax cuts magically create prosperity, always and everywhere, every time. Why, here’s Rush Limbaugh braying that very thing the other day.

And yet, for Obama work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die—that we can, all of us, some day, agree about things that are not true, that really help no one, but that, by mere virtue of the agreement, will render us no longer Red America and Blue America but the United States of American. And the sky? Everyone will say it is purple. And this will be counted as a great victory.

To be continued. Next time I write about Barack Obama’s biography—and try to puzzle through where this perverse conception of the ways of the world comes from.

I think that shows that Obama’s goal is to get a so-called grand bargain (SCGB) no matter the consequences. And that’s not why he was reelected, The President’s Priorities Are Not In Order.

I’m not entirely sure that’s what the election is about. It certainly wasn’t about the primacy of The Deficit among our various economic problems. Every time The American People get polled about the issues that are most important to them, including in the exit polling done in real-time during the election the president just cited, The Deficit finishes pretty far up the track behind unemployment and a generic category called The Economy. What becomes important is in what way is that generic category defined. The general public seems to think that The Economy is defined by how many people are working and how many people are not. The political elite, including the president, and the courtier press that services that elite, all seem to define the economy through the deficit. The cognitive dissonance in Washington is about how best to deal with an economy defined by the deficit. The cognitive dissonance in the country is about how best to deal with an economy that is being defined at the highest levels of the government in a way that the rest of the country finds odd and inadequate. So when the general public hears the president say this…

As I said on the campaign, one component to growing our economy and broadening opportunity for the middle class is shrinking our deficits in a balanced and responsible way. And for nearly two years now I’ve been fighting for such a plan, one that would reduce our deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade, which would stabilize our debt and our deficit in a sustainable way for the next decade. That would be enough not only to stop the growth of our debt relative to the size of our economy, but it would make it manageable so it doesn’t crowd out the investments we need to make in people and education and job training and science and medical research — all the things that help us grow.

…it thinks the president has his priorities in the wrong order. When he talks about The American People, and the Middle Class thereof, he ought not to convince himself that he was re-elected because he’s the guy who’ll best bring down The Deficit. He got re-elected because the other guy convinced America that he wouldn’t much care if people ate grass by the side of the road. The people who voted for this president did not do so because they wanted a balanced program to bring down the deficit. They did so because they thought he was less likely to make their everyday lives harder than they already are. Because, as the blog’s First Law Of Economics states: Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money.

As Atrios says, “..if you fix the jobs problem you largely fix the deficit problem. The reverse is not true. If you “fix” the deficit you kill the jobs.” It’s really that simple put people back to work and the economy will be fine. No a SCGB that’s neither grand or a bargain for the people of this country.


The budget, fear, and ideology

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, The Budget at 2:06 pm by wcnews

The GOP in Texas is facing an ideological conundrum. After passing last sessions austerity budget - which actually went into effect during a revenue boom, that the Comptroller didn’t estimate - Texas now has a bunch of money in surplus. Much of the money now in surplus is the money that was cut, unnecessarily we now know, from public education and the safety net. But those areas have always been seen as expendable by the GOP.

Out of fairness alone the areas that had to sacrifice during the bad times, should be taken care of first once good times return. (Because that is why we cut those budgets, or was it because of ideology?) But fairness doesn’t enter into the equation when ideology is the determining factor. That’s why in the budgets released by the House and Senate yesterday they’re cutting even more in their current budgets, Initial Budget Proposals Include Cuts We Can’t Afford.

Both budget proposals for 2014-15 include cuts to the barebones budget passed in 2011. That means cuts to schools that have already laid off teachers and increased classroom sizes, cuts to health care when fewer doctors are accepting Medicaid patients, and retaining the 2011 cuts to college student financial aid.

Rather than take the opportunity to undo 2011 cuts, both chambers also left over $6 billion in General Revenue unspent, and all $11.8 billion of the Rainy Day Fund untouched.

It’s important to note, though, that these budget proposals are just a starting point. Over the next several months, the Legislature will hold hearings, votes, and debates that will end in a 2014-15 budget. Based on what we learned today, there is room for A LOT of improvement to the budget.

As the budget process continue, we’ll keep you updated on each proposal and what they mean for you, and for Texas.

The Texas Observer has more, Proposed Senate Budget Maintains Last Session’s Cuts.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told reporters that the budget totals adequately provided opportunities for one of the nation’s fastest growing population. “To maintain that opportunity we need to make sure we keep our spending under control, fund our priorities and keep our taxes low,” Dewhurst said. “We can continue to provide opportunity to everyone. All of our children can get access to great education in public education and higher education.”

Dewhurst listed education, building roads and Medicaid as the state’s top priorities. Those are state programs that can’t be cut much more, said Eva De Luna Castro, a budget analyst for the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities.

She said for the most part the proposed budget continues all the cuts from the 2011 legislative session, which she said is absurd given the needs of the state and the almost $12 billion sitting in the Rainy Day Fund. Castro said the state should use the rainy day fund to provide proper services for Texans. “The average, normal person tries to strive to get back to where they used to be,” Castro said.

Linda Bridges, president of the American Federation of Teachers, echoed Castro’s sentiments that the funds don’t truly confront enrollment growth in public schools because they just maintain the $500 per pupil cuts from 2011.

“Texas can do better,” Bridges said. “The money is there. What’s needed is the will to make the needed investment in our schoolchildren and our state’s future.”

In the Statesman article on the proposals state Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) is leaving the door open for changes.

“Keep in mind, this is our base budget,” said Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who chairs the Higher Education Committee. He said he would advocate for additional funding and called the Texas Grants program in particular “critically important.”

“This is not going to be the budget that passes the Senate,” Seliger predicted.

That’s what most Texans, not on the right fringe, are hoping will eventually transpire. But it won’t without pressure. More from the Texas Tribune, Despite Surplus, House and Senate Offer Lean Budgets.

Both proposals drew swift criticism from Democrats and education groups, but Republican lawmakers in both chambers stressed that the budgets are merely starting points.

“The filing of this budget will allow the House to formally begin a discussion about Texas’ priorities,” state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “This bill recognizes the demands of population growth on public schools and Medicaid, and steadfastly maintains the House’s commitment to fiscal discipline.”

State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said his chamber’s base budget was developed to “start as close as we can to where we ended in the last session so that this legislature can make the spending decisions.”

The budget process picked up steam last week when Comptroller Susan Combs announced that Texas had $101.4 billion available in general revenue and $11.8 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. Both the House and Senate proposals leave the Rainy Day Fund untouched.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank in Austin, has said the state needs to spend $96 billion in general revenue to keep state services at the current level and $108 billion to restore the cuts from the last session. The proposals laid out Monday are more apt for the Texas of three or four years ago, said Eva DeLuna Castro, a budget expert with the group.

“We’re trying to write a budget for 2014 and 2015, and this comes nowhere near what’s needed to fix our schools, ensure access to health care and do something about congestion on our roads — the basic things,” Castro said.

And Paul Burka had this to say about yesterday’s proposals, ” there is no public policy in this state; there is only ideology”.

The problem is that it’s hard to see where the fulcrum is going to be on getting a budget passed that restores funding to public education and the safety net without enormous public pressure. Are there enough GOP members in each chamber that are afraid of being challenged by a traditional Republican in the primary to actually vote to restore funding? Because that’s likely what the deciding factor will be. Are the GOP legislators more afraid of a challenge from the left or from the right. For the funding to be restored it must be fear of a challenge from the left.

Again, many are hoping this is an opening gambit, but don’t be so sure. Only fear of not being reelected and ideology can make members of the legislature choose one session, with little money, they must cut public education and the safety net, and then in the next session, with a surplus of money decide not to replace the cuts, and cut taxes for the wealthy instead.

The Texas House passes filibuster reform

Posted in Around The State, The Lege at 11:57 am by wcnews

As Kuff explains it that’s kind of what it seems like, Point of disorder.

You can see the amended rule here. This is potentially a big deal, because Democrats have indeed been very adept at using points of order, known colloquially and amusingly as POOs, to stymie, delay, and sometimes kill outright bills they don’t like. Not just Democrats, of course, as anyone familiar with the oeuvres of Robert Talton and Arlene Wohlgemuth can attest, but it’s certainly been the main arrow in their quiver these past few sessions. Limiting their ability to wield this weapon will limit their ability to influence the outcomes. Having said that, I do have some sympathy for what Phil King says. There’s not really a principle behind POOs, and as they say about holding in the NFL, you could probably find such errors on every bill if you wanted to. It’s a matter of how much sway the minority is allowed, and how much authority the majority thinks it ought to have to enact its agenda. How you feel about these things is almost certainly directly proportional to your feelings about the majority and minority parties in the legislative body in question.

The new rule takes away the power the minority party, or the minority on a bill, has in the House of slowing down or killing a bill. It’s changes the filibuster rules in the Texas House.


The myth of the citizen legislator revisited

Posted in Around The State, Corruption, The Lege, Uncategorized at 2:17 pm by wcnews

Over the weekend the Texas Tribune had a article regarding our part-time legislature, A Part-Time Legislature, but in Whose Interest? Much of their article has to do with the issue that there’s little transparency and even less punishment when legislators make questionable decisions regarding how they make their living.

Wonderfully, it turns out, for many of those elected. Paid a pittance by taxpayers for their official state duties, lawmakers need to make a living elsewhere, and the prestige and influence of their elective office often helps them do it.

But with a conflict disclosure system rife with holes, virtually toothless ethics laws often left to the interpretation of the lawmakers they are supposed to regulate, and a Legislature historically unwilling to make itself more transparent, the reality is Texans know exceedingly little about who or what influences the people elected to represent them. They have no way to differentiate between lawmakers motivated entirely by the interests of their constituents and those in it for their own enrichment.

“Ostensibly, there is a defined level of disclosure and an agreed code of conduct,” said Jack Gullahorn, a Texas ethics expert who represents the state’s trade association for lobbyists. “But in general, either the sanctions aren’t there or the provisions aren’t clear enough to give people that don’t want to play by the rules any incentive to avoid the consequences for their actions.”

Over the coming months, The Texas Tribune will look at these lawmakers and the ethics rules that govern them, addressing issues like conflicts of interest and breaches in public accountability.

In other words is a legislator beholden to their constituents of to those who pay them a salary to live on? It definitely makes for a murky existence. In the comments Gritsforbreakfast makes a solid point in the comments of the Tribune article. That the “part time” nature of the legislature, (meeting 140 days every two years), is not responsible for this. But there are two aspects of the part time/full time discussion. One is the discussion of how often the legislature should meet, annual or biennial sessions. And the other, whether they are paid a full time or a part time wage.

Kuff had this to say about the second in relation to the Tribune article, On conflicts of interest.

A big part of the problem is that being a legislator means needing to take a six-month leave of absence from your job every other year, for which you get paid all of $7,200. It’s not particularly conducive to holding a regular job, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people who want to hire you. It’s just that these are often people and organizations with interests in particular legislation, and they want to hire you for your expertise as a legislator. As you might imagine, that can be a problem, especially since the rules of financial disclosure for legislators allows them a fair bit of leeway in describing how they earn their money. To me, the answer is to recognize that being a legislator is a fulltime job regardless of how much the Lege is actually in session, and pay legislators a salary that recognizes this. Once you do that, you can very strictly limit the amount of things for which they can be paid outside of their legislative duties, and ensure there are sufficient punishments for breaking those rules. I don’t expect anything like this to happen any time soon, but until then I don’t think we have much grounds to complain about what these folks do, or think they have to do, to earn a living.

And the compensation issue is the bigger issue, as far as conflict of interest and corruption issues are concerned, then how much time they spend in session.

I debunked the the myth of the citizen legislator in Texas several years back, A Texas Myth: The Citizen Legislator. Here’s an excerpt:

While legislators do make more than the $7,200 annual salary it’s still not a lot of money. While these two reasons are why many believe in the citizen legislator myth, it is also exactly why very few citizens can actually run for and serve in the legislature in modern day Texas. The word citizen, as used in this context infers the common person. But in reality only those who are independently wealthy or whose job allows them the time off for the legislative session can afford to run for, and serve, in the legislature. While the lore of a part-time “citizen legislature” that meets every other year to blunt the effects of carpetbaggers makes a great tale, it is today little more than that.

But as the twenty-first century unfolds, the Legislature remains a curious combination of old-style politics, nineteenth century institutional design, and the realities of a state with 22 million people, many of whom live in or near some of the largest urban areas in the country.

That “curious combination” is now, quite possibly, causing more problems than it’s worth. There are several recent stories swirling around the Texas Legislature that point out structural weaknesses in how we fund it. Tales of “ghost workers”, spouses being paid with campaign funds, and legislators using campaign funds to pay off credit cards, are more the norm these days, than is the myth of the legislator coming for 140 days every two years and going back to the farm, ranch of general store. More often than not it’s the lawyer, insurance man, or consultant that can afford to be a legislator.

Although the regular session is still 140 days, there are many more special sessions these days and much more work to be done between sessions (interim). In the interim now there are many committee hearings that do the work, as set out by the leaders of both houses, that needs to be done to get ready for the next regular session. Often times these hearings are held not just in Austin, but all over the state, and over a span of many months. Again this schedule is not very conducive for a “citizen” working at a 40 hr./week or more job, 5 days a week, with a couple of weeks vacation a year.


A citizen legislator in the 21st century would be someone who is not beholden to monied interests, lobbyists, or their employer for them to be able to continue to support themselves and their families in order to keep serving in the legislature.

In tandem with the above article the Texas Tribune has launched a Business as Usual project, as well as an Lawmaker Explorer app to see how your legislator makes their money.

One thing is clear with the current part time pay legislature is that we don’t have citizens legislators. But even worse we don’t have legislators that are responsive to their constituents - the citizens of Texas. That’s what needs to change. Pay them well, limit outside pay, and institute harsh punishments for breaking the rules, as Kuff said. This kind of reform should be given serious consideration, but it won’t until citizens demand it.

TPA Blog Round Up (January 14, 2013)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 9:37 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is digging in for another long legislative session as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff has interviews with SD06 special election candidates Sylvia Garcia and Carol Alvarado.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is just appalled that the whole story isn’t addressed, Of Course It’s Not Just Guns.

Cut taxes, create a structural deficit, cut education and the safety net which results in a surplus. Rinse and repeat. WCNews at Eye on Williamson wants to make sure everyone hasn’t forgotten the past, Do you remember how we got here?

As early voting began, Brains and Eggs had the most comprehensive coverage of the special election to replace the late Mario Gallegos in the Texas Senate. A post on the protest at TransCanada, two posts on Sylvia Garcia’s aggressive campaign against Carol Alvarado, a post on the candidate who boycotted one of the debates, and a post critical of the exceptionally lame media coverage of the election highlighted a busy week.

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker gives you the skivvy on the educational funding issue including the latest lamebrain schemes from our Repubican leaders. Check it out at : Texas Education-The Same Old Fools In Charge Part 2.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted that a grave with a view of traffic would be a fitting end to an urban Houston life.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that Rick Perry has doubled down on corporate greed and Tea Party crazy.


Reversing voter ID and increasing voter participation

Posted in Around The State, Elections at 6:00 am by wcnews

Texas state Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) has filed a series of bills related to reversing the attack on voting rights in Texas over the last few years. It includes repealing last sessions discriminatory voter id law. Here’s the Texas Tribune story on the bills.

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, started the 83rd legislative session with one issue in mind: voter identification laws.

Johnson filed five bills Thursday, his first legislation of the new session, aiming to both increase voter participation and strike down a bill requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls.

For some reason the Tribune left out HB 466 which would require that voter registration forms be provided to ex-offenders who qualify for having their voting rights restored. These are logical and much needed bills that would help increase citizen participation. They therefore have no chance of passing in our GOP controlled state. This is a perfect example of the difference in priorities between Democrats and the GOP. Democrats want more citizen participation in our elections.

Rep. Johnson’s press release can be read below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry �


Friday items of interest

Posted in Around The Nation at 4:12 pm by wcnews

Great news! Rick Perlstein is back to blogging, this time at The Nation. He says he will be posting “thrice-weekly missives”. His first post is, Why I Am A Liberal, and here’s an excerpt.

In the 1930s, a congressman named Maury Maverick defined liberalism in three words: “Freedom plus groceries.” That’s how I define it, too. Liberalism is a both/and philosophy. There is no freedom without groceries. There are no groceries without freedom. What people call “capitalism” and “socialism” are actually one and inseparable. It’s a virtuous circle.

Consider healthcare. We all of us—libertarians, conservatives and liberals—want a growing economy. And we all agree that a growing economy requires entrepreneurial dynamism.

So ask yourself this: In a country in which health insurance isn’t guaranteed, how many millions of Americans with great ideas find it impossible to become entrepreneurs because they’re terrified to leave their job, because then they would lose their health insurance and ruin their lives if they get sick?

Now, in response to something like that, you’ll hear my fellow debaters repeat a curious fallacy, a crushing intellectual failure. They’ll act like only governments have the power to deprive citizens of freedom.

Consider, however, a corporation like Walnart, which had $447 billion in revenue this year, bigger than the gross domestic product of all but seventeen of the world’s nations. But according to libertarianism and conservatism, Walmart can only produce liberty. It can never curtail it. Even if they fire you for no reason at all—and by law there’s nothing you can do about it.

Conservatives and libertarians somehow believe that you are freer if an entity bigger than the economies of Austria, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates is simply left alone to act against you in whatever way it wishes. Only liberals know how to make you freer on the job, which is where most of us suffer the gravest indignities in our lives.

And Bob Borosage brings us back to reality on the economy, Budget Bedlam: Common Sense in the Madhouse.

Washington is careening off the fiscal cliff smack into the debt ceiling. These mind-numbing mixed metaphors are not the currency of a well-governed nation.

Once more, Washington is fixated on what and how to cut. Once more, the media is clamoring for a deal, for “shared sacrifice.” Once more, Republicans have indicated that they are prepared to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to exact deep cuts in spending, with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid their primary targets. Once more, the president has indicated that he wants more deficit reduction, with a “balanced” program mixing spending cuts with tax hikes.

“Our government, “ wrote Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “is the potent, the omnipresent teacher.” But in Washington’s budget bedlam, reason gets lost in the din. As we hurdle the sequester while bouncing off the debt ceiling, it’s worth remembering some basic common sense about where we are.

Digby has a great video posted of the Progressive Change Campaign Committees Adam Green’s recent appearance on C-SPAN, Progressive Talk.

Adam Green talked about the work of his Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and the organization’s agenda for the 113th Congress.*He also outlined what progressives would like to see from President Obama in his second term, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications.*Topics included tax rates, Social Security and Medicare, jobs in the oil and gas industry, AIG’s potential lawsuit against the U.S. government, and President Obama’s negotiation skills.

And Paul Krugman will be on Bill Moyers tonight.

Slow start

Posted in Around The State, The Lege at 2:10 pm by wcnews

It always interesting how there’s the pomp and circumstance of the beginning of a legislative session and then….it takes three weeks for anything really significant to happen.

Here’s the gist of a memo sent from Texas Speaker Joe Straus to House members on what the schedule for the next couple of weeks will be.

Monday, January 14 - The House will convene at 10:00 a.m. Following adoption of the House Rules,committee preference cards will be placed in each Member’s mailbox, along with notice as to when thecards are to be returned to the Chief of Staff’s Office.

Tuesday, January 15 - The House will convene at 10:00 a.m. We will honor former Representative andSenator Mario Gallegos and welcome his family to the Chamber. Additionally, the Legislative BudgetBoard is scheduled to transmit to the House and Senate their proposed budget bills. Following this day’ssession, Chairman Pitts will meet with the House Republican and Democratic Caucuses to discuss theintroduced budget.

Wednesday, January 16 through Tuesday, January 22 - In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day aswell as the Presidential Inauguration, the House will not meet during this period.

Wednesday, January 23 - The House will convene at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, January 24 - The House will convene at 10:00 a.m.

As a reminder, the House will convene at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 29. At 11:00 a.m., the Senate will join us in the Chamber for a joint session to hear the Governor’s State of the State address.

Bills will not be read the first time and assigned to committees, until committees chairs are assigned. So we’re still several weeks away from The Lege getting down to any serious business.

Texas tidbits

Posted in Around The State, The Lege at 6:00 am by wcnews

Wing nuts produce a report saying that UT and A&M aren’t teaching enough wing nut history.

The report by the National Association of Scholars and its affiliate, the Texas Association of Scholars, examined the textbooks and other readings for 85 sections of lower-division American history courses at the two schools in fall 2010.

Click here to see who funds the National Association of Scholars. They’re also closely associated with the right wing Texas think tank TPPF.

[UPDATE]: Another take on the NAS study, We all politicize history.

Texas House and Senate already spending that $urplu$, Texas House members follow Senate’s lead, increase office budgets.

House members voted Wednesday to increase their office budgets by 10 percent, a day after senators boosted theirs by nearly 7 percent — and as GOP state leaders launched the legislative session affirming their commitment to austere spending.

State representatives’ office allowances for staff, supplies and phone bills will grow by $1,325 a month per member, costing nearly $1 million through the session’s end in May.

Senators, during a vote in a caucus of the entire Senate on Tuesday, increased their allowances by $2,375 a month per member. That five-month tab is nearly $370,000.

Leaders of both chambers have said lawmakers run efficient operations, and the chief House quartermaster, Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, insisted the extra money is needed to pay competitive salaries and attract able employees.

“It does not benefit the House members at all,” he said, referring to salaries and other perks.

Many legislators are already independently wealthy, the citizen legislator is a myth in Texas, and they don’t necessarily need a raise. Their staff on the other hand likely could use a raise. Let’s hope they don’t stop there because state employees need a raise too.

More information came out later today on the CPRIT debacle, CPRIT Foundation Releases List of Donors.

Pharmaceutical and drug development companies, meanwhile, donated more than $689,000 to the foundation.

In light of Perry’s wealth creation comment, it’s extremely likely they didn’t give out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re likely expecting a return on their investment.

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