Lazy blogging, what’s worth checking out

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Williamson County at 4:52 pm by wcnews

Follow up on NSA spying, The NSA Black Hole: 5 Basic Things We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Snooping. And meet the whistleblower, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’ – video.

Texas News:

Special Interests Paid Lobbyists Up to $328 Million in 2013 Session.

By late May 2013, 1,663 Texas lobbyists reported that 2,820 clients took out 8,172 paid lobby contracts worth a grand total of from $155 million to $328 million. The precise value of these contracts is unknown because Texas lobbyists report values in ranges (e.g. $100,000 to $149,999). 2013 lobby spending fell short of the $359 million maximum spent at the same point in the 2011 session.

Democratic organization opens Bexar County office.

A group that aims to turn the Lone Star State into a stronghold for the Democratic Party opened a headquarters in Bexar County on Sunday.

Battleground Texas, an organization founded earlier this year to make Democrats within the state more competitive for statewide and national office, hosted an open house in its new location at 3000 West Interstate 10, which it will share with the Bexar County Democratic Party.

Oscar Silva, senior organizer for Battleground Texas, told a group of about 30 volunteers that the organization will focus on registering voters, calling potential voters and gathering data.

“Why are we emphasizing this so much? Because we know that when the electorate is expanded, Democrats win,” he said.

Pauken on Perry: Sound bites, not sound policy.

Pauken said Perry’s office “wanted me to essentially repudiate my own position,” and that he refused, having made up his mind when he left a stint as a military intelligence officer in Vietnam in 1969 that he would salute only the folks he felt like saluting.

He said the difference in opinion was one of the things that led him to believe the current administration practices “government by sound bite, not sound policies.”

Perry showcased his decision as one of the ways he has stood up against Washington meddling as he faced a GOP primary challenge from then U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, whom he handily defeated.

With his idea, Pauken said, the state either could have received the money without strings or had a beauty of a 10th Amendment lawsuit against the Obama Administration.

“That’s when I came to the conclusion that these folks weren’t serious about advancing our conservative principles in an effective way,” said Pauken, who continued to serve as Workforce Commission chairman until 2012.

In tea party era, it’s tough to maintain party discipline.

In the House, 29 of the chamber’s 150 members voted against the final conference committee report on the budget. Only one was a Democrat, House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Abel Herrero of Robstown. He was among four Straus-appointed committee chairmen who voted nay.

The others were GOP Reps. Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville, head of tax-writing Ways and Means; Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, who leads Public Health; and John Smithee of Amarillo, the Insurance Committee’s long-time chief. Hilderbran wants to run for comptroller. Most people believe Kolkhorst, who this year courted both tea party-backed House freshmen and Gov. Rick Perry, is ambitious and hatching some big career move.

Who wielded the most influence in Austin? Not who you’d expect.

This year, neither Gov. Rick Perry nor Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst left the biggest mark on the Legislature’s regular session. The most important figure was House Speaker Joe Straus. His influence was both positive and negative — you couldn’t miss it.

Williamson County:

County pushes stronger election-judge training.

Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis on Tuesday called for the formation of a committee – consisting of five Republicans, five Democrats and election administration officials – that will draft standards and procedures regarding mandatory training for election judges.

Training is currently available, but who takes what level of course and other issues have been sources of contention. What the problem is depends upon whom one asks.

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