Friday, January 11, 2013

More Austin/Washington transit

As is often the case during the first week of the legislative session, there's too much going on for me to cover in any depth, so I'll just dump the links that I've been collecting and let you draw your own conclusions. (Well, mostly.)

Hutchison mentioned for vacant Transportation Secretary position: Ludicrous at face value. Kay Bailey resigned from the Senate in order to return to Texas, be with her children, and earn speaking fees while she decides what to do next. She is NOT going to turn around and go back to DC and work in the Obama administration. FWIW I think that job is likely to go to Jennifer Granholm, who has some time on her hands now that Current has been sold to al-Jazeera.

Ron Kirk is also leaving the Obama administration. I just hope he has a Senate seat -- or perhaps the top job in Austin -- in his 2014 sights.

Greg Abbott is telling donors he's running for governor. This I believe. Even if "run" is the wrong verb to use. Update: Via Kuff, Paul Burka has some deep thoughts on this.

Folks, if we don't stop this guy, he'll wind up in the White House not so many years from now.

Twenty state parks may have to close next year due to funding cuts. Abominable.

Worse than abominable: Rick Perry’s Refusal to Expand Texas’ Medicaid Program Could Result In Thousands of Deaths.

Strong opposition stands in front of Dan Patrick's school vouchers legislative effort: I don't think the opposition is all that strong. The Republicans have the numbers in both chambers. This is probably going to happen. However...

Senate keeps two-thirds rule and eliminates exceptions.

Following a closed-door meeting, senators with little debate agreed 27-0 to leave in place the so-called “two-thirds rule” that allows 11 of the 31 senators to block a bill from coming up for debate. But they voted to remove a provision added four years ago that allows for “special exceptions” — a change made by Republicans that allowed them to debate a voter-identification bill that Democrats had been blocking.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, a leading proponent of dropping the rule, said it “cuts off our ability to have debate” on issues that are important to Texas — sometimes because senators don’t want to have to cast a public vote that some constituents or interest groups might not like.

He suggested that a more robust and open debate of state issues would result from dropping the rule, which has been in effect for decades. Most senators have said privately they believe the rule gives them more clout — that one vote can make a difference in whether a bill can be considered by the full Senate.

Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, championed the rule as “a long tradition that has served this body well” in requiring consensus-building before bills come up for a vote. “It distinguishes us from other bodies,” he said.

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, the author of Wednesday’s resolution and chairman of the Senate Administration Committee, said most senators for months have not supported dropping the rule, even though a behind-the-scenes drumbeat for the change has continued in recent weeks.

“It’s now back to the way it read before 2009. There are no special exceptions,” Eltife said.

Since I mucked up that post with bad math, this development makes me very happy despite the strengthening of Dewhurst's hand, mostly because it weakens Patrick's.

That's why they call it the lesser of two evils.

Update: EOW has a good collection of things I did not mention above, including this.


Gadfly said...

I will NOT do the "tip jar" for state parks. Per the story, send all the sporting goods tax where it should go.

The "tip jar" idea, while noble, simply encourages libertarian types.

PDiddie said...

The state has plenty of money to preserve the legacy of our parks without tip jars, admission fee increases, and all the rest.

It's a matter of priorities.