Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BYRON COOK orders citizen ARRESTED for Filming....

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord."
Isaiah 54:17

[Update: Practical Politicking has more here.]

Amy Hedtke is a North Texas activist who frequently broadcasts political events on Facebook (using an iphone).  For those who are unaware, the Texas House's 'house rules' only allows citizens to film committee meetings "at the discretion of the chair" (even though that's illegal under state law).  Looks like Amy chose to put the 'House rules' to the legal test they've always deserved in Byron Cook's State Affairs committee hearing this afternoon:

[Note: The interaction with House staff and law enforcement begins at the 50:40 mark.]

The next video pretty much speaks for itself:

[Note: There's a full explanation of the day's events in the final minute of this one.]

Bottom Line:  Sometimes you pray for Rosa Parks, and God sends you Amy Hedtke....


DPS: (512) 463-6481.
Chairman Byron Cook: (512) 463-0730.
Governor Greg Abbott: (512) 463-2000.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Abbott's strangely timed comments on local pre-emption

See if you can spot the irony in this photo.
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."
Matthew 12:36 first, this sounds really good:
CORPUS CHRISTI — As local control battles rage at the Texas Capitol, Gov. Greg Abbott is voicing support for a much more sweeping approach to the issues that have captured headlines.

"As opposed to the state having to take multiple rifle-shot approaches at overriding local regulations, I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says across the board, the state is going to pre-empt local regulations, is a superior approach," Abbott said Tuesday during a Q&A session hosted by the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, an Austin-based think tank.

Such an approach, Abbott added, "makes it more simple, more elegant, but more importantly, provides greater advance notice to businesses and to individuals that you’re going to have the certainty to run your lives."
But then you start thinking about the current legislative session...and you realize that the bill filing deadline was 12 days ago.

Then you consider that Abbott has been governor for two and a half years, during which time this issue has kept bubbling up in various forms, and you realize that he's never actually done anything about it.

Instead, consider some of the items Abbott has declared "emergencies" ahead of local government accountability:

  • Pre-K.
  • University Faculty recruitment.
  • CPS reform.
  • Article V Convention.
  • Note: In fairness to Abbott, he's also announced some worthwhile priorities (Ethics reform and the border stuff), but it doesn't changed the fact that he's put a bunch of crap seemingly less important issues in front of a systematic approach to local government accountability.
Of course, we would never accuse Greg Abbott of cynically making an inflammatory headline generating comment less than a year out from his re-election secure in the knowledge that the average voter won't realize it's too late for him to do anything about it...he would never do that!

Bottom Line: At this point, when it comes to Governor FoxNews, actions speak SO much louder than words; if he wants to impress us, he should threaten a special session.

#TXLEGE SB 822: A TERRIBLE Bill for Austin's Housing Costs....

"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?"
Matthew 20:15

[Author's Note: The Statesman has a good write up this morning's hearing here.]

There's a bill we've been keeping an eye on for several weeks about which we have yet to comment, but considering that it got a hearing this morning, now is a good time.

SB 822 is a weird attempt to get the legislature involved in a West Austin land dispute that's been simmering for at least a decade.  To be honest, we have no idea why the legislature chose to but in this session.  While we have no specific knowledge, considering the neighborhood involved, we suspect there's a lobbyist who's also a participant in the land dispute.

At the heart of the issue is a tract of land (sidenote: What else is new in Texas?!?) on which is currently situated the Lions Golf Course.  The golf course is operated by the city of Austin while the land is owned by the University of Texas system.  That being said, given its proximity to downtown and various other popular locations, this tract is a prime candidate for residential construction in a city that needs to build 150,000 units of new housing over the next decade.

Because it's such a prime location for housing construction, from time to time UT has looked into selling (or long term ground leasing) the property to various developers...which of course doesn't sit well with the anti-growthers at the Austin Neighborhoods Council.  This has led to the disingenuous and tiresome "Save Muny" campaign in West Austin.  With UT's lease with the city set to expire in 2019, ANC is clearly trying to pre-empt a public discussion of the property.

Which brings us to Estes' bill.  SB 822 would transfer the property from the UT system (who might eventually allow hosing (in our city that needs to build 150,000 new units)) to the state of Texas' Parks and Wildlife department.  The P&W department could be expected to keep the property as a municipally run golf course for the indefinite future.

And, of course, keeping the property as a municipally run golf course will permanently remove almost a 150 acres of prime real estate from the housing stock.

Bottom Line: For this website to come down on the same side as UT on an issue before the legislature should tell you a lot about the unusual nature of this situation, but leaving the status quo in place is the best possible outcome for everyone except a few vocal anti-growthers in West Austin.


Note I: We didn't want to dilute the arguments on the merits above with an ideological tangent, but it's also worth pointing out that no city has any business running any golf course at any time.


Note II: Where the heck are the Texas Exes on this one?!?  For as much as they loved to play the "the legislature shouldn't micromanage universities" card  during discussions of any attempts to hold Bill Powers accountable for all his misdeeds over the years, this actual attempt to micromanage the university's real estate doesn't seem to elicit a peep.  They're the one group that could probably kill this thing if they got we hope they do.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sampling issues over which House leadership has prioritized Minimum Wage HIKES.....

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,"
Galatians 1:6

[Author's Note : The list of issues below is not meant to be exhaustive, it's just a collection of issues (not all of which we support) that are more worthy of discussion that the minimum wage.]

It's not a secret that the House heard nine minimum wage bills today; but consider some issues that have yet to receive a committee hearing in the House:
  • Ethics reform (Gov. priority)
  • Article V Convention (RPT/Gov. priority)
  • Anything pro-life (RPT/Lite Guv. priority)
  • Constitutional carry (RPT priority)
    • Note: To be fair, that one is coming next week, but it's still revealing that they heard minimum wage first.
  • School Choice (RPT/Lite Guv Priority)
  • Anything related to property taxes (RPT priority)
  • Local government debt.
  • Short Term rentals.
  • Annexation reform.
  • Any number of other measures related to local government accountability.
  • Anything related to occupational licensing.
  • Abolishing taxpayer funded lobbying.
  • Anything related to preventing university tuition increases.
  • Privacy Act (Lite Guv priority)
  • List [Your favorite issue] in the comment section below.
Bottom Line: Yet, somehow, they've already managed to hear nine minimum wage bills.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


"Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me."
Nehemiah 4:18


Friday, March 17, 2017

Straus' Priorities: Minimum Wage Hikes and Rainy Day Fund Raids!!!

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,"
Galatians 1:6

One of the interesting dynamics of this session is the degree to which House leadership is being open about their left wing priorities; this past week saw two humdingers.

First the budget:
The institutions that we entrust with our future are facing serious setbacks that would harm our entire state. Our economic success begins in our schools, colleges and universities. In order to compete, we need a well-educated workforce with diverse skills.

And the cuts would hardly be limited to education. Across Texas, state mental hospitals are crumbling. Without significant repairs, for example, the Rusk State Hospital in East Texas will remain a public health hazard. Nursing homes could be forced to reduce their staffs.

And perhaps nobody should watch this debate closer than the retired teachers who put so many of us on the path to success. There is a $1 billion shortfall in the health care program for retired school employees. Without an injection of hundreds of millions of dollars to address that shortfall, retired teachers could face massive increases in their health insurance deductibles and very sizable increases in monthly premiums.


Another idea is to combine spending reductions with a modest withdrawal from the state's Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy day fund.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Read the whole thing here...but, honestly, what would you expect from a guy who uses identical language as Barack Obama to describe the economy?!?

Then there's this:
In a stunning move, the Texas House voted overwhelmingly to support Democrat efforts to hamstring the state’s economy by raising the minimum wage.

Earlier today, State Rep. Hugh Shine (R–Belton) moved to suspend the rules and fast track a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage by almost 50 percent.

Authored by the chairman of the House Democrat caucus, State Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington’s HJR 56 would amend the Texas Constitution to raise the minimum wage in the State of Texas from the federally required $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

Loyal to the Democrat-coalition that governs the Texas House, Shine serves as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Business & Industry and likely made the motion at the behest of his committee chairman State Rep. RenĂ© Oliveira (D–Brownsville).

And he succeeded.

Despite the Texas Republican Party Platform’s call for a complete abolition of the minimum wage and a long history of free market rhetoric, Republican members voted overwhelmingly in favor of Shine’s motion, with only 21 members voting against the motion to suspend the rules.

That vote was sharply condemned by conservative State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) who is serving his first term in the Legislature after dispatching a liberal Republican.
The minimum wage hike won't pass, but it will be used to waste time late in the session.

And there will be nine minimum wage related bills getting hearings on Monday; in other words, whatever your legislative priority, nine minimum wage related bills are going to get hearings first.

Priorities indeed.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#TXLEGE: Zaffirini votes FOR Dismemberment Abortion Ban!!!

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so."
Proverbs 3:27

We don't bring it up often, but we are actually a resident of Judy Zaffirini's district and, as such, this tidbit from Texas Right to Life caught our eye:
Today, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 415, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, on second reading. The bill was preliminarily approved by the Senate on a bipartisan 22-8 vote. In addition to every Republican of the Senate supporting the measure, two Democrats – Senators Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) and Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) – voted for the life-saving measure. Senate Bill 415 and House Bill 844, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, outlaw the barbaric and inhumane procedure that ends the life of a living, conscious preborn child by tearing her limb from limb.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Bottom Line: It's not often we say this, but as a constituent of Judy Zaffirini's we commend her.