Tuesday, March 7, 2017
HB 21: Textbook case of #TXLEGE Lawlessness....
"For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil."
Earlier today, we signed up to testify against the "school finance" bill in the hearing that was hastily announced immediately after the bill was filed yesterday. But, in another typical move, Chairman Dan Huberty buried HB 21 behind six pointless bills in today's hearing and sitting around the Capitol all afternoon waiting to testify (when they're going to ignore us anyway) isn't our idea of a good time. So we will say our piece in this blog post instead.
For those who're wondering what's happening: yesterday afternoon, House public education committee chairman Dan Huberty introduced a bill to completely rework how the state pays for education (ie. one third of the state budget)...then called a hearing on it today. That's less than a 24 hour turnaround, when state law usually requires giving the public five days notice (*). In other words, this was a process rigged to benefit those already in Austin (**) (***) over stakeholders from around Texas.
On top of that, in case you haven't noticed from the non-stop media coverage, today is also the day the Senate is hearing the privacy act...aka. the most controversial bill of the session. So, if you were ever looking to push a massively expensive bill under the radar, today would be the day. And that's before the Obamacare "repeal" fiasco in DC got kicked off today.
The short version is that, if passed, the bill would pour another $1.6 billion into the bureaucracy...but no one seems to know exactly how it would be spent. Which is why, if you don't want anyone to ask difficult questions, you introduce this bill at the last minute then schedule the hearing while the other chamber is hearing their most controversial bill of the session. And, of course, that's what they did.
And it's such a typical example of how the House, under Joe Straus, is run. Usually they pull stunts like this for much smaller items than completely reworking one third of the state budget. But they're obviously feeling brazen.
And the most pathetic aspect of this whole fiasco is that this bill is DOA in the Senate. It can't pass. But why respect an obvious political constraint when you can act like a spiteful, juvenile, thug?!?
Bottom Line: One of the most important skills you can have in politics is the ability to ignore theater and focus on how you're being robbed blind; today was such a typical example.
* - Note: Technically, Huberty relied on a loophole in the law. But that's a distinction without much of a difference. The result is still that they're hearing a bill that completely reworks one third of the state budget on less than 24 hours notice.
** - ie. Taxpayer Funded Lobbyists
*** - Which was why we had originally planned to bite the bullet and testify.