Saturday, August 19, 2017

#TXLEGE: How the LAWLESS Texas house operates (Part 2)....


"They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah"
Psalm 62:4

We finally found the third video we wanted to post yesterday:



Highlights:

  • Murders row of Straus lieutenants signed Huberty's petition.
  • Almost as many Democrats as Republicans signed the petition.
  • Rinaldi: "The effect of the motion you're making is there's no more amendments and we're going to vote on the bill immediately, correct?!?"
  • Pre-filed amendments would have expanded the scope of the bill.
    • Huberty refuses to pull the motion.
  • Leach: "Does the chair have the authority to not recognize a motion to call the previous question?!?"
    • Straus: "Yes."
      • Translation: Straus could have overruled Huberty and allowed debate on the amendments.
    • Straus refuses to answer questions about why he's making this ruling.
  • Previous question motions have historically been used only after marathon floor debates.
  • Briscoe Cain points out how Straus' ruling is a...creative...interpretation of house rules.
  • Cain asks why the bill had been delayed 24 hours if getting it over to the Senate was the top priority.
  • Schaefer: "When we objected to the bill being postponed yesterday, we had amendments ready to go that we wanted to put before the body."
  • Stickland: "More games are being played in your Texas capitol."
    • "There were three different amendments that sought to bring in more Texans."
    • "Instead, there are members of this body who are moving to silence folks like myself who believe that people's property taxes are too high right now."
    • Straus interrupts Stickland.
    • "The substance of this motion is to silence our ability, as members, to bring forth amendments to make this bill stronger."
    • None of Dennis Bonnen's constituents were included in the bill.
    • Millions left out of the bill.

UT Politburo (predictably) begins laying foundation for next tuition increase....


"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly."
Proverbs 26:11

[Note: This story is actually a week old, but it remains worth noting because it's such a textbook example of how they operate.]

[Note II: You can see our testimony over why reigning in tuition hikes is step one to restoring financial accountability in higher education here.]

LOL, of course:
University of Texas System regents sketched out a strategy Friday to ensure that proposals to raise tuition and fees in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years are warranted and to seek support from local officials, lawmakers and statewide elected leaders before adopting them. The effort to bolster the tuition-setting process with an eye toward enlisting political support comes after a legislative session that saw the Texas Senate vote 29-2 to freeze academic charges for two years at the state’s public universities and to sharply restrict future increases. But the measure, Senate Bill 19, didn’t emerge from a House committee.

“I think more than ever we need to do everything we can to educate them,” Regent Kevin Eltife, a former Republican state senator from Tyler, said of lawmakers. “They may not like it, but we need to be able to say when we go to session in ’19, ‘Look, we had to do this. Here’s the need, here’s why we did it, and we did our best to visit with all of you.’ And we need to target the reps and senators from the area of the institution and we need to target” the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Regent Rad Weaver said it will be crucial to find local champions for any tuition increase. “There’ll be one or two within each local delegation, and we need to identify those early on and make sure that they’re informed,” he said.

Regent Janiece Longoria agreed. “They can be very helpful with state leadership in helping frame the message about why it’s so important, assuming that they need a tuition increase and assuming that it’s the right amount,” she said.

Regent Sara Martinez Tucker, who chairs the UT board’s Academic Affairs Committee, said campus leaders would be expected to play a key role in making the case to elected officials for any tuition increase. Her committee signed off on the strategy Friday, and the full Board of Regents is expected to go along with it at a meeting later this month.

....

Chancellor Bill McRaven noted that a political calculation is inevitably part of the decision.

“If you look at the facts that will be presented in terms of the needs for the institutions to generate additional revenue, we are clearly going to have to balance that with the political will, and I think we all understand that moving forward,” McRaven said.
A few points:

  • You'll notice that all the regents pushing this (Eltife, Weaver, Longoria, and Tucker) are Abbott appointees; the 3 remaining Perry holdovers all seem to be keeping their heads down.
Bottom Line: This was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo predictable (which is why we predicted it)....

Friday, August 18, 2017

#TXLEGE: How the LAWLESS Texas house operates


"They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah"
Psalm 62:4

[Note: There was video we saw earlier on Facebook from when Huberty moved to vote on the property tax bill without considering amendments, but we can no longer find it; we'll include it in a separate post if it shows up.]

For as disappointing as the special session was on so many policy fronts, it certainly produced some humdinger examples of house leadership acting lawlessly....

Ending the session early with several of Governor Abbott's priorities left undone:



Highlights:
  • You can hear the members both objecting and demanding a record vote on the motion.  Any member has the prerogative to make such a motion.  Yet Straus refuses to recognize either.
  • Note: We have no idea why the audio doesn't line up with the video.
Leadership uses unprecedented procedural trickery to prevent amendments on retired teacher health care bill:


Highlights:
  • The calendar rule under consideration would have made it impossible to end the rainy day fund raid.
  • Hunter: "You won't be able to make an amendment that doesn't follow section 2A."
  • Rinaldi: "With two days left in session obviously there's a shortage of time...why is the calendars committee opposed to allowing use to even vote on this opportunity?!?"
  • It's kinda moot after the house's early sine die, but Hunter's comments about wanting to keep the bill moving are painfully disingenuous.  The rule Hunter was proposing would have forced a conference committee, which would have had the practical effect of killing the bill.  The amendment Rinaldi wanted to offer the only way to preserve that bill in a form where the Senate could concur and send it to the Governor.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

#TXLEGE: Bettencourt's speech after the house killed property tax reform....


"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

From Tuesday night:



Highlights:
  • "Some days the Texas capitol does not recognize the obvious, and that's what's happened today."
  • "Today's action by the Texas house leaves us with a bill, to quote the house ways and means chairman, that provides no property tax relief whatsoever."
  • "SB 1...was a bill that belongs to the taxpayers of Texas."
  • The house refused to appoint a conference committee.
  • "The ability to amend legislation didn't occur in the Texas house."
  • Texans "are being taxed out of their homes and their businesses."
  • "We are not going to accept the take it or leave it proposal from the house."

#atxcouncil Approves $122 MILLION for office building....


"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it.?
Proverbs 21:20

We signed up to testify in opposition to items 16 - 18 from today's council meeting:
16.

17.

18.
The theory behind the project is that one of the problems with the permitting process is that simply getting the permits requires one to traipse all over town.  Thus, putting all the offices in one physical location will "streamline the process" (Note: Why can't this be done online?!?) (Note II: A nine-figure fiscal note is a strange definition of "streamlining.")

We had to leave before they got to this item, but if we'd testified we would have hit the following five points:
  • Cost - First things first, dadgum $122 MILLION is a LOT of money.  For an office building.  According to the city's documents, they want to build 264,000 square feet of office space.

    $122,500,000/264,000 square feet = $464.02 per square foot.

    According to any number of commercial real estate sites we checked, the average rate to rent existing office  space in Austin ranges from $23.00 to $50.74 depending on the neighborhood; new construction maxes out at $150 per square foot..

    Two weeks ago, Mayor Adler told this author to bring it to his attention when we think the city is spending money irresponsibly; this is a pretty good place to start.
  • Financing Mechanism - As item #18 makes clear, they're financing this through "certificates of obligation."  The beautiful thing about certificates of obligations for governmental entities is that they don't require voter approval.  While c of o's can have a legitimate cash management function, to use them for this sort of capital expenditure of a horrible abuse of the process.

    On a semi-related note, we fully intended to bring this one up with the legislature whenever we get new leadership in the Texas House.
  • Housing Costs - The city claims that the C of O's will be repaid by "development fees" instead of property tax revenue.  Of course, in order to raise the revenue needed to cover $122 million in obligations, you would need to shoot the development fees through the roof.  And that means every single piece of new construction from here to eternity will have to include those fees in the final cost to the end user.

    Translation: Higher housing costs.
  • Highland Mall Redevelopment - There's widespread agreement across the political spectrum that mixed use development is the best function of the highland mall tract.  Creating a five-acre city office complex on that property will mean the surrounding area is DEAD after 6pm.  Dead zones like that are kryptonite for vibrant neighborhoods.
  • Wrong Mindset - Everyone agrees that the permitting process is too bureaucratic.  But instead of eliminating bureaucracy...we're just going to build the bureaucrats a beautiful new building.  Does anyone actually believe that's going to "streamline" anything?!?

    Again, on a semi-related note, this is why Konni Burton's permitting bill is so desperately needed.
Following passage of the item, Mayor Adler released the following video to Facebook:

So he's arguing that he saved taxpayers $45 million...but the project is still going to cost $122 million?!?

Bottom Line: Never, ever, ever forget that, once you get past the headlines, politics at every level in the state of Texas is mostly about good ol' boys putting together shady real estate deals...and someone's getting paid on this one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reinforcing the Texas "Medical" Association's Diabolical Wickedness....


"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"
Romans 11:33

[Note I: The sections about TMA are from 0:00 to 4:00 and from 12:00 to the end; the middle section is the chiropractic treatment.]

[Note II: This author had nothing to do with the production of this video.  Thus we were not consulted regarding Ms. Adams' wardrobe.  If some of you Baptist types have an issue with useful information being presented by an attractive woman in a semi-revealing outfit using modestly strong language, you are free to not watch the video without sending this author an angry Facebook message on the topic.]

[Note III: LOL, Baptist trigger warnings....]

Oh yeah, we'd forgotten about the chiropractors....

Over the years, this website's opposition to the texas "medical" association has primarily been rooted in their rabid support for abortion, euthanasia in hospitals, and Obamacare.  But we know they're is involved in all sorts of other terrible things.  But, like we said, we'd completely forgotten about the Chiropractors.

Gregory Johnson is a Houston based chiropractor with a popular YouTube channel.  We discovered Dr. Johnson's channel this past weekend during some fitness related research that wasn't supposed to be political.  But then the TMA video popped up....

Apparently, at some recent point, TMA attempted an effort to mandate a referral from a general practitioner before anyone in Texas could visit a chiropractor.  This was obviously a protectionist effort to use the coercive power of the state to create a new revenue stream.  We believe the effort was unsuccessful, but the fact that it had to be fought in the first place speaks volumes.

We first encountered TMA's anti-chiropractor nonsense during the Mike VanDeWalle special election campaign three years ago; at least TMA is staying classy.

This past January, Dr. Johnson released a video with professional wrestler Brooke Adams detailing TMA's latest villainy.  In the video, Dr. Johnson asks viewers to help make the video go "as viral as possible."  Considering that most of the top pro-free market activists in this state read this website, that's a request we can oblige.

Watch the full video below.

-----



Highlights:

  • Adams lives in Houston: "She wants to preserve the right [to see a chiropractor] without having to go through her medical doctor."
  • TMA trying to change "scope of practice" laws to box chiropractors out of the market.
  • Adams: "I owe the longevity of my career" to chiropractic.
    • Note: Long career or not, we'd never heard of her until we discovered Dr. Johnson's YouTube channel.
  • Adams: "I just think it's complete...[nonsense] that I have to spend extra money to go to a doctor just to get a referral."
    • Selfish and unfair to consumers.
  • Out of state clients would have to get a referral from a licensed doctor before they could see Johnson.
  • TMA has sued the chiropractors multiple times and the chiropractors have won every time.

#TXLEGE: Thoughts on #SINEDIE (take 2)....


"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

We're still digesting the past 24 hours, but a few observations in no particular order:
  • 83 Republican house members showed up to today's caucus meeting.  That's a heck of a lot more than we expected.  We were also pleasantly surprised by the length of the meeting.
  • Joe Straus personally showing up is an admission that all is not well in the Republican caucus.
  • There was a whole bunch of traditional media at today's caucus meeting; media interest can only raise the profile of the issue..
  • We're not sure who said it (Jim Graham?!?) but they're absolutely correct: You can't support both Greg Abbott and Joe Straus anymore.
    • At this point, it remains an open question whether Greg Abbott supports Greg Abbott or Joe Straus.
  • The arrogance of house leadership remains a sight to behold: Had they simply shown up for work this morning, they probably could have run out the clock with a fairly typical act of failure theater.  But they just had to jam their thumb in the eye of Abbott, Patrick/the Senate, and the Texas grassroots.  In doing so, they elevated their profile all over again.
    • Note: The only reason we haven't completely given up on Greg Abbott is because the degree to which he's been publicly disrespected essentially demands a response.
  • Apparently, the house Republican caucus has a September retreat scheduled; grassroots activists really ought to crash that party.
    • Note: If the new RPT leadership really wanted to impress this website, they'd convince the caucus make the whole event open to the public.
  • The kumbaya messaging coming out of today's caucus meeting was obnoxious.
  • Abbott said all the right things in today's radio interview.  But Greg Abbott frequently says all the right things.  Its Greg Abbott's follow through that leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Another special session won't accomplish anything right now.
    • Note: But then there's redistricting....
  • Random Thought: We wonder if the Texas Association of Business has ever taken any money from George Soros?!?
    • cc: Abbott, Greg
  • We're getting really, really, really sick of the socialized education industrial complex's sense of entitlement....