Saturday, February 17, 2018

#atxcouncil: Flannigan throws District 6 under the bus


"And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him."
Luke 22:47

[Note: Allison Alter did something similar in District 10, but she wasn't nearly as blatant about it.]

As we survey the wreckage from Thusday night's/Friday morning's debacle, there's one more element on which we need to comment: Jimmy Flannigan voted directly against the interests of his district.

As Austin adjusts to this new "sick leave" entitlement, a natural follow up question is emerging: Who's going to pay for it?!?  The answer, obviously, is people who've built successful companies.  And where do those people tend to live?!?  In the Northwestern part of the city.  That means District 6 (and, to a lesser degree, District 10).

Here's what makes Flannigan's vote so puzzling:  During the year and a half he's been on council, Jimmy Flannigan has previously voted his district on major things.  Sure, Jimmy Flannigan will pander to his socially liberal base, but on big ticket "dollars and cents" items he has previously represented District 6.  Jimmy Flannigan supported last year's "affordability road map."  Jimmy Flannigan voted against last year's budget.  Jimmy Flannigan supported re-allocating the hotel occupancy tax.  But no longer.  On Thursday night/Friday morning Jimmy Flannigan voted to invent a municipal entitlement, and it's his own voters who are going to be paying for it.

For those interested in his rationalization, we present Jimmy Flannigan in his own words (but we warn you, it's just a bunch of excuses):



To be clear: We like Jimmy Flannigan.  He's a nice guy.  Prior to Thursday night/Friday morning, he had complied a reasonably decent voting record (at least on big ticket items).  Furthermore, we're stuck with him for another two and a half years, so holding a grudge won't accomplish anything.  But Jimmy Flannigan took a really bad vote the other night.  Jimmy Flannigan's vote was terrible for all Austinites, but it was especially terrible for District 6 ("Disproportionate Impact" as the liberals would say).  Nice guy or not, under Jimmy Flannigan's representation District 6 is (once again) finishing last.

Bottom Line: How any representative from district 6 could vote to create a municipal entitlement, when it's their own voters who are going to be paying for it, is beyond us.

Friday, February 16, 2018

#atxcouncil: Houston and Troxclair chronicle BULLYING and INTIMIDATION by proponents of Austin's new "sick leave" entitlement


"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."
Romans 12:19

Last night was the most bloodthirsty night we've seen at Council for a long time.  Unfortunately, it's been that way throughout this farce of a "stakeholder process."  Council members Houston and Troxclair noted the same thing.

Houston:



[Note: For more on the intimidation efforts in District 1, see the exchange between Houston and Casar at the end of Tuesday's work session.]

Highlights:
  • 5 months was not enough time for businesses to have the input that they needed.
  • "I am so sorry that this has turned into an 'us vs. them' scenario.  Because all of use support women, and children, and men and anyone who needs sick time off and needs paid sick time.  So, it's unfortunate that it's become that."
  • Seattle at least has some basic standards before you qualify for the entitlement.
  • Final ordinance was only posted yesterday afternoon, which gave nobody an opportunity to discuss what was actually passed.
  • Flannigan and Casar crafted the final ordinance behind closed doors hours before the vote.
  • "I've lived in this city long enough to see what happens when you don't take into consideration the unintended consequences."
  • "People in small communities, especially minority communities, are hurt."
  • "The disconnect between our stated community values, which support and encourage small local businesses, and this ordinance."
    • "I'm not talking about the Dell's, and I'm not talking about the Applied Materials'...."
    • "I'm talking about Roland's Soul Food Kitchen on Chestnut and Country Boy's on twelveth street."
  • "You say they won't be put out of business, but you don't know that."
  • "What do we say to the business owners and those that they hire?!?  Whoops, we made a mistake?!?"



Highlights:

  • "I would really appreciate respect and decorum."
    • Gets hissed.
  • Adler gets her back on that point.
  • "Being in this room tonight, and hearing this crowd hiss at people who have given up their time with their families to come down here and testify.  You can hiss at me.  I ran for office.  I take responsibility for what I say up here and the votes that I take.  But it was so incredibly disrespectful for those people to be treated the way that they were treated tonight."
  • "I have no doubt that's exactly how they were treated throughout this 'inclusive stakeholder process."
  • "I'm glad to know that the Democratic Socialists are supporters of big corporations because they offer great benefits to their employees...but were critical of small businesses for not giving the same benefits to their employees."
  • More than half of small businesses fail.
  • "Having a job, compared to not having a job, is really nice."
  • "Jobs don't grow on trees.

#atxcouncil Invents New Entitlement (and you'll NEVER believe what Wendy Davis said)


"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

It's done, at least for this round.

Early this morning, in a 9 - 2 vote (Troxclair and Houston against), the Austin City Council created a municipal entitlement.  For every thirty hours any employee at any private/non-profit (but, of course, the City of Austin itself is exempt) employer will now be required to receive an hour of so-called "sick leave."  What could possibly go wrong?!?

Obviously, benefit mandates beget fewer jobs.  Obviously, this new entitlement will strangle startups in the cradle.  Obviously, the employer/employee relationship is none of the city council's business.

But we took a more practical route during public testimony:



Having worked (off and on) in the service industry since 2003, allow us to elaborate on the point we made about this new entitlement being abused: People are going to exploit this new entitlement to nurse hangovers.  People who work in the service industry like to get hammered after work.  If you stay out till 3AM and you have a 6AM start time, it doesn't take a genius to see how this new entitlement will function in reality.  Anyone who tells you otherwise either a) doesn't understand the service industry or b) is a liar.

And paying people to come in late to work because they have a hangover is wildly unfair to the rest of the team.

As for supporters:


The lovefest continued:


Meanwhile, Austinites are left with fewer jobs, lower wages at the jobs that remain, and higher cost of living.

Thanks council!

--------

If last night's debacle had been limited to bad economic policy, it would have been bad enough.  But supporters devised an even more diabolical rationalization for this new entitlement.  And you'll never believe which washed up hack of a politician they trotted out to make it:

:

[Note: That really happened.  Wendy Davis testified immediately following this author.  You can view the full six surreal minutes between the 8 minute mark and the 14 minute mark here.]

So, according to the left, we need to invent so-called "sick leave" entitlements to facilitate the slaughter of innocent children.

Gotcha.

But they weren't done; check out Alexa Garcia-Ditta from NARAL:



Again: That really happened.

Psychotown.

-------

Silver Lining: For as horrifying as that abortion talk might have been, it's also why we're confident the legislature will nuke this ordinance; even the RINO's can't kill it now.

-------

Bottom Line: There's a reason why, during public testimony, we used the phrase "hot mess."

Thursday, February 15, 2018

#TXLEGE: Sarah Davis does what she does


"Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell."
Proverbs 5:5

What can you say about Sarah Davis?!?  We attended this morning's Trib event...and it didn't break new ground.  She's who she is.

Evan Smith did a thorough job discussing the numerous policy differences between Davis and the majority of her party (including the Governor).  Topics included Abortion, Property Taxes, Hurricane Harvey, and Davis' welfare expansion bill from last year's special session.  This ground is well-tread, and everybody knows where everybody stands.

During Q&A, we asked Davis about the debacle on the Coaching Staff for the U of H football team.  Davis replied that she was "saddened" by the decision and didn't try to defend U of H's decision in any way, shape, or form.  We were satisfied by Davis' answer.

View the event for yourself below:



Highlights:
  • Abbott letting lots of other's who opposed him off the hook.
  • Plays the feminist card: "I'm a woman [Abbott] can't control."
  • Argues semantics over late-term abortions: "We're not allowed to have thoughtful or nuanced positions."
  • "I'm not pro-death."
    • Evan Smith: "if you're explaining, you're losing."
  • Has an obvious chip on her shoulder against Jonathan Stickland.
  • Doesn't disclose who she voted for for President.
    • Evan Smith: "Not disclosing is disclosing."
  • Inside baseball crosstalk re: Spending and Ethics.
  • Long discussion of her welfare expansion bill from the special session.
    • Sob Stories....
  • "I think I'm necessary" in the legislature.
  • Refuses to commit re: Speaker's race.
    • "I adore Dr. Zerwas."
  • In response to our question about the Kendal Briles hire: "Saddened by that decision."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Speaking of UT's multiple SEXUAL MISCONDUCT LAWSUITS


"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Turns out the Board of Regents is having a special meeting tomorrow; you'll NEVER guess what's on the agenda (you'll totally guess):

Keep in mind, in addition to the second Title IX lawsuit in six months, the Bev Kearny lawsuit is also working its way through the system.

Bottom Line: Thanks to the incompetence and mendacity of the University of Texas, somebody is going to get rich off of your tax dollars tomorrow....

Alongside TWO Title IX lawsuits IN SIX MONTHS, UT-Austin protects Tenured professor with Criminal Domestic Violence CONVICTION


"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Last August:
According to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Fenves on April 12 overruled a university hearing officer who determined that there had been no assault. In a letter informing the student of his suspension, Fenves asserted that the woman was highly intoxicated and “someone who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual activity because they are incapacitated.”

Fenves, citing testimony by a witness who attended the formal, added, “While parties may disagree as to whether intoxication and incapacitation are synonymous, certainly, someone described as: ‘incredibly intoxicated, no longer coherent, at a point where she needed to be taken home away from the event because she couldn’t form sentences,’ meets the definition of incapacitated.”

The lawsuit accuses Fenves of coming up with his own standard for incapacitation and ignoring the university’s standard, which defines it as “a state of being that prevents an individual from having the capacity to give consent” and “could result from the use of drugs or alcohol.”

The lawsuit also says Fenves has a possible conflict of interest because the father of the woman is a university donor who gave a significant sum within a month of her allegations. And, while the school’s investigation was ongoing, the lawsuit says the university brought on the father to be an adviser at the school.
Two weeks ago:
The lawsuit states Doe will not be treated justly in the Feb. 7 hearing because UT amended the Title IX case report three different times after receiving notice of an impending lawsuit. The report was allegedly amended by replacing the word “incapacitation” with “intoxication” in a sentence that originally said a witness observed that Roe was showing signs of incapacitation by acting less “socially inhibited” that she would normally.

Later pages of the report however were not amended to replace the “incapacitation” with “intoxication,” according to the lawsuit.

“If UT can’t get their story straight on what the definition of incapacitation is after months of contemplation and a recent Federal Court suit and public admonitions on the same topic from (a) Federal Judge, how in the world are a couple of hormone filled college students supposed to do it after a night of drinking?” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also said the University’s “bumbling” attempts to amend the use of incapacitation with intoxication in only one instance of the word’s use in the report show its desire to equate the two. If this is the case, and the standard for intoxication is simply “diminished social inhibitions,” then the hearing is “merely a facade for a predetermined conclusion,” according to the lawsuit.
Annnd, then yesterday:
More than two dozen protesters gathered outside the University of Texas College of Pharmacy on Tuesday to demand that school officials fire professor Richard Morrisett, who pleaded guilty in 2016 to a felony charge accusing him of choking his girlfriend.

The university placed Morrisett on paid administrative leave after learning of the charge, but declined to sanction him. Since the American-Statesman published an investigation on the charges against Morrisett, people have sprayed graffiti outside the College of Pharmacy building and posted flyers with Morrisett’s mug shot around campus.

On Tuesday, about 35 people marched from the pharmacy school to the UT Tower with signs that read “Stop harboring abusers” and “Watch your back Richard,” calling university officials to take further action.

“He should be in jail, but at the very least he should be fired,” psychology senior Jasmine Bell said. “I don’t feel safe on this campus and neither do most of my friends.”

....

Morrisett pleaded guilty in 2016 to a felony charge for trying to strangle his girlfriend, according to documents obtained by the Statesman. He was also accused of a second violent incident that sent his girlfriend to the hospital and for violating a court order to stay away from her, records show. He was sentenced to four years of community supervision for the offenses but failed to inform the university of the charges, which is a violation of its policies.

Morrisett has been allowed to continue teaching. In their review of the incident, university officials determined that there was “no relation between how the professor acted in this situation and how he acted on campus,” according to an emailed statement from university spokesman J.B. Bird.

“I cannot express how angry I am to find out that UT didn’t do anything about having an abusive professor on campus,” government and economics junior Austin Smith said. “In my opinion, almost killing someone is universally immoral … if they are going to make excuses for why this man is still here, it’s just not good enough for me.”
Bottom Line: It takes a special degree of mendacity to make up Title IX standards out of thin air while simultaneously refusing to discipline a tenured faculty member (making $169,892) with a CRIMINAL CONVICTION.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#TXLEGE: How Jay Wiley's Son shaped Jay Wiley's pro-life convictions


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

Jay Wiley is running for the Western Travis County house seat currently occupied by Paul Workman; Wiley explains how a vote Workman took last session to preserve a pro-abortion loophole would have impacted his family:



Highlights:

  • While his wife Sally was pregnant with their son Anders, they found out Anders had a heart defect.
    • Offered the option of abortion.
    • Obviously, they declined.
  • Instead, they had heart surgery performed on Anders in utero; that was followed by additional surgeries over the years.
  • Despite the challenges, today Anders is a thriving 10 year old.
  • Thus, Anders is a textbook example of the type of baby who could be legally aborted under the "fetal abnormality" loophole Paul Workman voted to preserve.
  • "Shamefully, liberal Republicans teamed up with Democrats to kill this amendment; Paul Workman was one of those Republicans.
  • Workman then had the nerve to make a "journal statement" changing his vote.
    • Wiley: "This is an example of the type of cowardice I'm running against in the Texas House."
  • "Anders life has no less value than yours or mine."

Monday, February 12, 2018

#TXLEGE: This Jim Murphy situation is very, Very, VERY Serious


"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24

This is bad:



Highlights:
  • Murphy has second government job running obscure special purpose district in Harris County.
  • Murphy dodged the reporter physically, then dodged reporter's question once confonted.
  • $312,000 per year.
  • State law says legislator can't hold second taxpayer funded job.
  • He's all over the place on their social media.
  • Getting bonuses for getting contracts from state agencies over which he has budgetary authority; Murphy lied about the amount of those bonuses he's received.
  • "Any common sense person knows that, if you've got a chance to make some money, you're gonna try to get that done.
It gets worse:



Highlights:

  • Murphy making more that either the Governor or the Mayor of Houston.
  • "If the goal of these contracts was to get favors out of Austin by hiring a state rep, they seem to be an effective mechanism for how to wire the system in an unethical way."
  • "Corruption in Austin is fish in a barrel."
    • Note: LOL, ain't that the truth.
  • Murphy's been doing this since 2007.
  • Gets travel re-imbursments.
Worse Still:


Bottom Line: This is really, really, bad.

If Cruz is worried about unenthusiastic Republicans, he should look at his own vote on the budget


"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Galatians 6:7

Ted Cruz over the weekend:
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is preparing Texas Republicans for a turbulent election year amid super-charged Democratic enthusiasm — including in his own re-election campaign.

....

Addressing the Fort Bend County GOP on Friday night, Cruz warned of an "incredible volatility in politics right now," calling Democrats "stark-raving nuts" in their opposition to Trump. He pointed to Trump's recent State of the Union address and Democrats' reluctance to applaud, saying the scene "underscores the political risk in November."

"Let me tell you right now: The left is going to show up," Cruz said, delivering the keynote address at the party's Lincoln Reagan Dinner. "They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote."
Maybe.

It's possible we will face a challenging general election environment.  Democrats are livid.  Republicans are, at best, inconsistent.

But what possible reason could Republican voters have to not care?!?
The massive two-year budget deal proposed by Senate leaders Wednesday raises budget caps by $300 billion in the next two years, increases the debt ceiling and offer up nearly $90 billion in disaster relief for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

About $165 billion would go to the Pentagon and $131 billion to non-defense programs.

"Our members who are focused on the military are very happy where we landed with that," Ryan told Hewitt on his radio show in reference to the defense spending caps.

The debt ceiling will be raised by the appropriate amount until March 2019.
And who, pray tell, voted for the spending bill?!?
Bottom Line: It's still too soon to tell what the environment will look like in November, but if you're wondering why Republicans might stay home in large quantities, actions like last week's spending bill stunt would be a good place to start.

#TXLEGE: Kristin Tassin [Huffman's educrat opponent] gave superintendent $350,000 annual salary (plus "benefits")


"Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need."
Ephesians 4:28

Kristin Tassin is the liberal school board president challenging incumbent Senator Joan Huffman from the left.

A few weeks back, on a hunch, we sent in an open records request to Ft. Bend ISD (where Tassin is the board president) to see the contract of their superindent.

View it for yourself:


Dupre's current salary is shown on the amended contract above, Dupre's full list of benefits and perks can be found in his original contract from 2013:


Bottom Line: The socialized education bureaucracy loves to use children as human shields, but bureaucrats making more than twice what the Governor of Texas illustrates their real intention.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Educrats across Texas throw a HILARIOUS Tantrum

 

"If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them."
Ecclesiastes 5:8

A few days ago, Empower Texans put out a call for whistleblowers to report illegal electioneering at various ISD's.

Hilarity ensued.

First, Texas Observer:
I will vote in support of public education in the interest of the more than 5 million Texas school children.”

That’s the oath Texas Educators Vote shopped to public school districts across the state last year as part of the teacher coalition’s campaign for school board resolutions that promote voting among eligible students and staff. The group’s pledge, and the idea that public schools might promote voting to the extent that they even transport students and staff to and from the polls, was so hyper-partisan and offensive to some Texas conservatives that they asked state Attorney General Ken Paxton to declare school district attempts to encourage voting illegal “electioneering.”

That resulted in a nonbinding legal opinion Paxton issued last month, in which he questioned whether school districts that promote or facilitate voting are serving any “educational purpose.” As Quorum Report first noted last week, Paxton’s opinion gave the arch-conservatives at Empower Texans just the creative spark they needed to launch the “ISD Whistleblower Project,” which asked teachers to confidentially rat out educators who dare to promote voting on campus.

This week Twitter responded with the #blowingthewhistle hashtag, which public education supporters used in thousands of tweets to mock Empower Texans while simultaneously elevating public school teachers as selfless, unsung heroes. “I am #blowingthewhistle on teachers who sneak and give students lunch money when their accounts are at $0,” tweeted Devon Bradley, a teacher at Crosby Elementary School. Non-teachers chimed in, too. “I’m #blowingthewhistle on my wife for spending every free moment for the better part of last year helping one of her Kindergarten students get hearing aids,” wrote @ColinHildinger.
And the Trib:
Laura Yeager founded Texas Educators Vote in fall 2015 to spur local educators to practice what they preached. Why, she wondered, were Texas teachers talking about the importance of political participation in class, but not always modeling that behavior themselves?

More than two years later, her civic engagement effort has stirred up a right-wing maelstrom, leading conservative organizations and some powerful elected officials to question whether it's breaking the law.

Headed up by the influential group Empower Texans, adversaries say the educators’ organization, and others like it, might be using illegal tactics to boost liberal policies. Yeager counters that her group is merely trying to promote voting — and is only drawing backlash because staunch conservatives are worried public education-focused voters will unseat their candidates.

Some public education advocates allege that Empower Texans has had its eye on teachers' groups since last year, when the Texas Legislature's failure to reach a deal on a sweeping school finance overhaul left many educators across the state fuming. Education groups pledged to take that anger to the polls.

Since its early days, Texas Educators Vote, along with several partner groups, has been promoting a version of its “culture of voting” resolution. That document suggests school boards encourage students and employees to vote by implementing “no cost” incentives, including driving students and staff to polling places if district policy allows. More than 100 school boards in the state have signed on to some version of the proposalwhich — like Texas Educators Vote — doesn't back any particular party or candidates. The group on its website does ask supporters to vote “in support of the more than 5.4 million Texas school children.”

Conservative groups in general and Empower Texans in particular are deeply suspicious of the resolution, which they allege promotes electioneering on the taxpayers’ dime.

“Voting in mass, they would influence statewide office and state legislative races. Locally, the combined voter block would have the mass to virtually guarantee approval of tax ratification elections and bond propositions. All it takes is registration, indoctrination and mobilization,” Tom Fabry, treasurer of the Frisco Tea Party, wrote for Empower Texans in November. “And it’s all being done under the guise of ‘civic responsibility.’”

....

Later that fall, Yeager said, she became aware that [Empower Texans] was submitting records requests to school districts across the state in what she called an effort at intimidation.

....

At least some of those inquiries appear to be sparked by concerns about Scott Milder, a longshot Republican challenger to conservative favorite Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Milder — who founded a public education advocacy group with his wife, Leslie, in 2004 but stepped down from the organization’s helm Nov. 22 to focus on his campaign — is an explicit target of Empower Texans. In explaining the reason for its public records requests, the group has cited complaints from teachers that Milder’s campaign newsletter was disseminated across a school district.

Milder’s group, Friends of Texas Public Schools, is one of Texas Educators Vote’s partners.

Troy Reynolds, the founder of Texans for Public Education and an administrator in Splendora ISD, said his district received several records requests from Empower Texans, including one specifically regarding Milder and one asking for communications including words like “election,” “cross-over” and “primary.”

Reynolds called those efforts a “bullying technique” — and a waste of taxpayer resources.

“[Dan Patrick] is spending thousands of public school man hours doing opposition research for himself,” Reynolds said. “They know that they’re hampering our day-to-day operations.
LOL, think we've struck a nerve?!?

It's also hilarious that they're objecting to what is, essentially, political opposition research 101.

If you're interested in more, check out the twitter hashtag #blowingthewhistle.

Bottom Line: It's amazing how thin-skinned bureaucrats making six-figure salaries to propagandize vulnerable children can be....

Friday, February 9, 2018

How "Missing Middle" Health Care Reforms can reduce costs across Texas


"So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
Acts 19:27

On the final day of TPPF's Policy Orientation, we attended a panel "Mid-Level Medical Providers Could Improve Care Shortages."  That's a longwinded way of saying that not every medical issue needs to be treated by a licensed physician.  As a website that often works on housing issues at the local level, we found this discussion very similar to the conversation about "Missing Middle" housing.

Texas currently has a shortage of health care providers across the state.  36 counties have zero physicians.  80 counties have five physicians or fewer.  While this is often a problem in rural areas, there are parts of the cities that aren't much better.  East Austin and East Houston are the two most obvious examples.

Given the geographically dispersed nature of the issue, a broad based coalition is emerging to promote "scope of practice" reform.  TPPF has been joined by the AARP and the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.  The proposed reforms would enable nurse practitioners to perform many functions currently limited to licensed physicians.

Supporters made fairly standard free-market arguments in favor of the reforms.  Fewer regulations will mean more providers.  More providers means more competition which means more options at lower prices for health care consumers.

Rep. Tom Oliverson, a licensed physician, spoke against the proposal.  Oliverson spoke about an alleged need for "training requirements" that were comparable between physicians and nurse practitioners.  Oliverson also spoke about the need to "standardize" training across the practitioner field.  This was all to be done to protect public safety.  To be honest, Rep. Oliverson's arguments sounded very similar to the types of complaints cab companies make against Uber, a point we raised during Q&A.

We continued the conversation with Oliverson after the panel concluded.  Oliverson spoke about health care as a special case where we need to "get it right in advance."  We remain unconvinced, as we believe decentralized consumers can digest far more information far more efficiently than a government licensing board (*).  Nevertheless, we appreciate Rep. Oliverson's candor and willingness to engage the issue.

Bottom Line: There is a politically created shortage of medical providers across this state.  This shortage drives up costs, which accrues to the benefit of current providers.  Scope of practice reform will help alleviate that shortage, which will in turn lower costs and increase options for consumers.

-------

* -- It's also worth pointing out that nurse practitioners are still pretty heavily regulated, they're just not as heavily regulated as licensed physicians.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

How can we, REALISTICALLY, eliminate property taxes?!?


"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

Final TPPF Policy Orientation panel of the afternoon: "Should Texas Eliminate Property Taxes?!?"; it's not easy, but it's worth doing.

The most important takeaways is that, for eliminating property taxes to become viable, you need binding restraints on local spending...FIRST.  That's because bonds currently issued by local governments are obligations against property tax revenues.  Thus, you need to bind future spending and debt before you can wind down current obligations.

Furthermore, if you don't curtail spending at the local level, you're likely to (realistically speaking) end up in a situation where property taxes survive but we have higher state sales taxes as well.

Otherwise, some notes:
  • Property taxes are a really inefficient mechanism for government to raise money.
  • Businesses pay half of property taxes.
  • Property tax elimination raises complicated legal questions re: debt obligations of local governments.
    • Note: This is probably a surmountable obstacles, but it's potentially fraught with unintended consequences.
  • Swapping school district M&O taxes for sales taxes is the most realistic achievable step in the short to medium term.
  • Taxing "professional services" could help modernize the sales tax system...but good luck getting the legislature to raise taxes on lawyers.
Bottom Line: It can be done, but it needs to be done carefully, and nobody should underestimate the potential for unintended consequences.

Taxpayer Funded Lobbying: Financial and Spiritual ABOMINATION


"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."
2 Peter 2:19

This morning, TPPF hosted a Policy Orientation Panel, "Should local governments use Taxpayer Money to hire lobbyists?!?"  Obviously, anyone who's read this website for more than 5 minutes knows where we stand.  But it was still an interesting discussion.

From a strategic perspective, the most important takeaway is that nobody was willing to show up to defend the practice.  This despite the fact that TPPF extended "over 20" invitations to groups one would expect to be supportive.   That's notable because we've learned from experience that when people are no longer willing to show up at TPPF to defend a practice, it's often a sign that those involved know they've lost the argument.

The panel featured local Austin attorney Roger Borgelt and a staffer for Representative Matt Shaheen [Note: Shaheen had been originally scheduled to speak on the panel, but came down with the flu yesterday].  Borgelt began by explaining how, during the annexation debates the past few sessions, all of the support came from average citizens while all the opposition was taxpayer funded.  This is true for any number of public policy reforms that would reduce the size of government.

Moderator Chuck DeVore asked if, in banning taxpayer funded lobbying, we would simply be transferring the problem to local governments who would hire bureaucrats dedicated to "government relations."  That's obviously one workaround political subdivisions would try, but it would still represent an improvement over the status quo.  At a minimum, if a political subdivision wants to hire a full-time bureaucrat to perform "government relations," they'll have to disclose it in their budgets.  Furthermore, it's better to have a local bureaucrat representing their political subdivision full time rather than a capitol lobbyist who could have any other number of clients with any number of other potential conflicts of interest.

During Q&A, TPPF attorney Chance Weldon pointed out that taxpayer funded lobbying is a form of compelled political speech.  As such, it's flagrantly unconstitutional.  We'd never thought about that before, but Weldon is absolutely correct and there should probably be a lawsuit.

As for this Author, we asked a question that pointed out how taxpayer funded lobbying is a gatekeeper issue that needs to be addressed before any number of other limited government reforms (eg. Property Taxes, Bond Transparency, Parental Educational Choice) can become politically feasible.  Taxpayer funded lobbying inherently tips the scales in favor of big government.  Disconcertingly, we also learned that public sector unions are growing faster in Texas than anywhere else in the country.

Bottom Line:  Local governments have no right to use taxpayer money to lobby the legislature.  For every public entity that lobbies, there's a private entity that holds the same position.  Ending this practice is a necessary step if we're ever going to get serious about restoring government in Texas to it's constitutional framework.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Where does Texas' sharing economy go from here?!? (Also: #TROXROX)


"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.
Mark 2:22

This afternoon, TPPF held a policy orientation panel entitled "Where does Texas' sharing economy go from here?!?"  #atxcouncil member Ellen Troxclair was joined by Senator Don Huffines and representatives from HomeAway and Uber.  The panel touched on past unpleasantness before examining the future for Short term rentals and transportation.

Senator Huffines opened with a discussion of economic liberty, explaining "I believe in the free market."  Senator Huffines decried incumbent industries "legislating away their competition" and pointed out that taxi companies did so "decades ago." Councilmember Troxclair echoed the point and reminded that the legacy taxi industry showed no interest in reducing their own regulatory burden during the discussion in Austin two years ago.  The Uber representative stated that, while their primary goal was regulatory certainty for their business, they'd love to takes a "deregulate the taxis" approach but that the taxi companies were the ones who wouldn't come to the table.

On short-term rentals, the HomeAway rep was optimistic about their chances to pass a bill next session.  Because other cities beyond Austin have begun to abuse their authority, she believed legislators who hadn't previously given the issue much thought were coming around.  She also pointed to Florida and Arizona as states with the best short-term rental laws.  For our part, we pointed out during Q&A that the only reason this bill failed last session was because it was referred (and ultimately killed) to a house committee with a Democrat committee chair who had been a previous president of the Texas Municipal League.

Council member Troxclair called Austin's current STR regulations "completely ineffective."  She pointed out that four properties were responsible for an inordinate amount of the complaints under the old rules.  She also explained that STR regulations weren't actually eliminating short term rentals, but simply driving them underground (which means that the spend-a-holic city government loses a source of revenue).

Other obvserstations:

  • Uber "very concerned" about potential sick leave mandate from the City of Austin.
  • Uber hoping to deploy early stage aerial vehicles in DFW in 2023; will require significant interface with the FAA.
  • Last session, lege passed a bill to pre-empt municipal regulations on autonomous vehicles.
  • 96% of auto collisions are driver related; autonomous vehicles eliminate almost all of them.
    • Note: This is why autonomous vehicles are way, way, way safer than traditional automobiles.
  • Uber began to investigate using their platform for search and rescue purposes after Hurricane Harvey.
  • Short Term rentals typically have longer stays, and more repeat business, than traditional hotels; this frequently makes STR guests more respectful of the surrounding neighborhoods than comparable hotel guests.
Bottom Line: For as much as it fell short, last session's Uber bill was nevertheless an important signal to the marketplace.  More work remains to be done, but Texas is already an attractive place to do business.  If we can preempt future municipal debacle like the 2016 era unpleasantness in Austin, some really exciting things are going to happen (especially in transportation) over the next few years.

#TXLEGE: Abbott makes serious proposal re: Capitiol Culture of Chronic Sexual Abuse (but questions remain)


"However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her."
2 Samuel 13:14

Since the first (recent) reports of chronic sexual abuse in the legislature first surfaced three months ago, we've been waiting for someone, anyone, to make a serious proposal to address the situation.  The new house policy, passed by Charlie Geren, was as pathetic as we predicted.  The Senate, meanwhile, is twiddling its thumbs.

Yesterday, Governor Abbott stepped into the vacuum:
Following accusations of sexual misconduct against multiple state legislators, Abbott proposed that the Texas Rangers’ Public Integrity Unit be placed in charge of investigating these reports. The governor's office estimates that charging the Rangers with the task would require $2 million in funding.

“By allowing these cases to be reported to the Texas Rangers ... we can ensure that claims are investigated by an impartial law enforcement body that is equipped to hold public servants accountable,” Abbott said.
This is...interesting.

The good news: In the three months that recent reports have been out, this is the first time anyone in a position of real power has made a serious proposal on this issue.  Obviously, this website has been critical of Governor Abbott over the past couple years.  But, he's the first person to make anything remotely resembling a serious suggestion, so we applaud him.

Furthermore, the Texas Rangers might be a good entity to investigate claims; they have a good reputation, and they know how to do this work.

Nevertheless, some questions:
  • What happens with behavior that isn't criminal?!? -- The Texas Rangers are a law enforcement organization.  That means their primary purpose is to gather evidence for criminal prosecutions.  But, in many of these cases, the objectionable behavior isn't necessarily illegal.

    For example: Borris Miles forcibly kissing a woman probably constitutes some form of assault.  But Borris Miles aggressively propositioning an intern or Carlos Uresti inquiring about a woman's underwear, while disgusting and horrid, probably isn't criminal.  The criminal justice system can handle cases involving physical assault, but it's not well equipped to handle verbal harassment or intimidation.

    Will the Texas Rangers have jurisdiction in non-criminal cases?!?  If not, do we want to give it to them?!?  What would the unintended consequences of such a move be in 20 years?!?
  • What sanctions will exist for bad actors?!? -- The Texas Rangers will probably be able to investigate claims well...but what happens once they find something?!?

    Are there going to be any actual penalties for this behavior?!?

    In this website's opinion, two specific sanctions would go the furthest: Loss of committee chairmanships and expulsion from the chamber; so far, neither of those are under discussion.
  • How long will investigations take?!? -- The Texas Legislature only has 140 days to complete its business.  Everybody knows that "delay equals death" in the legislature.  What will prevent investigations from dragging out until the session is already over anyway?!?

    The slow-moving, bureaucratic, nature of government is bad enough...but once you add that members might have an incentive to move things as slowly as possible, it doesn't take a genius how this sort of policy could be rendered toothless.

    Two weeks seems like a reasonable amount of time after the survivor has come forward, but that's not currently under discussion.
  • When will the public be informed?!? -- One of the reasons the culture of chronic sexual abuse at the Capitol became so entrenched is because everything gets handled behind closed doors.

    Will the public learn at the beginning of an investigation?!?  At its conclusion?!?  Or is the type of thing that will require regular and diligent open records requests?!?

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant and all that.
  • Do these proposed changes require the legislature to pass a bill -- If so, see what the house did with Abbott's proposed ethics reforms the past two sessions.

    [Note: Isn't it interesting that Charlie Geren, the same guy who killed Abbott's ethics reforms, is also in charge of the new sexual harassment policy.]
  • Will Abbott follow through?!? -- You'll pardon us if we've seen this movie before.  Greg Abbott holds a high profile press conference where he says everything you want to hear.  Then, when the rubber meets the road, his personal involvement is...inconsistent at best.

    For example: In 2017, Abbott outlined a great special session agenda.  Then, during the special session, Abbott was nowhere to be found, and only about 30% of the good elements of his agenda passed.  Then Abbott promises to hold the legislators who killed his agenda accountable.  While Abbott has endorsed against three of the afore mentioned legislators, he's also let at least half a dozen others off the hook.  Again...inconsistent at best.

    When it comes to Greg Abbott, at this point, actions speak a lot louder than anything he says at a high profile press conference during an election year.
Bottom Line: Governor Abbott is the first prominent elected official to make a serious proposal.  For that, he deserves credit.  But we need to work through several more questions before we can have any confidence that behavior in the legislature will change.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

#TXLEGE: The Three Most Important Senate Primaries


"So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

[Note: Sure as heck ain't this one.]

[Note II: Ask us about Seliger's race once we get into the runoff.]

The following three races will determine the course of the Texas Senate next session.

Conservative Incumbent being challenged by RINO:


SD 2: Bob Hall vs. Cindy Burkett

In 2014, Bob Hall knocked off a liberal Republican incumbent on a shoestring budget.  The past two sessions, Bob Hall has kept his word and supported of all aspects of the conservative agenda.  Property tax reform?!? Check.  Border issues?!?  Check.  Pro-Life?!?  Check.  Higher ed. tuition freeze?!?  Check.  The various pro-property rights issues discussed during the 85th special session?!?  Check.  We could go on.

Bob Hall has also shown tremendous leadership raising the profile of electric grid security.  He hosted a major conference on the topic in 2016, and tried to get it added to the 2017 special session agenda.  It's also worth pointing out that, if any Senator is going to be carrying a BITCOIN bill in 2019, it'll probably be Bob Hall.

There's a reason why every major conservative group in Texas has endorsed Bob Hall.

Cindy Burkett, by contrast, is a liberal spendaholic who supports throwing more money into the socialized education status quo.  She went along with house leadership killing property tax reform last session.  Burkett's endorsement list is a fine collection of crony capitalists, fake 'pro-life' organizations, and public sector unions.

Speaking of pro-life, one note: Because Cindy Burkett is in no way, shape, or form a fiscal conservative, she's greatly exaggerating her pro-life record.  While it's true that Burkett has carried some pro-life bills, those bills were toothless as Burkett originally filed them.  Those bills only became meaningful once Burkett was outmanuvered in parliamentary procedure.

OK Incumbent being challenged by Liberal:


SD 17: Joan Huffman vs. Kristin Tassin

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it: Joan Huffman isn't perfect.  Her record, especially on the second amendment, leaves something to be desired.  But this race is still a no-brainer.

Kristin Tassin, Huffman's opponent, is a cog in the machine of the socialized education industrial complex.  As such, Tassin supports six figure salaries for government bureaucrats all in the name of "helping the children" [Note: We have a really fun piece of oppo waiting to drop on this one].  But don't dare call her an educrat.

Huffman, meanwhile, has put together a respectable record.  She certainly isn't perfect, but she's mostly conservative on most things most of the time.  As chair of the Senate State Affairs committee, she's also played a key role in advancing any number of conservative priorities.

And yes, Kristin Tassin, you are an educrat who supports six figure salaries for government bureaucrats in the name of "helping the children."

RINO incumbent being challenged by Conservative:


SD 30: Craig Estes vs. Pat Fallon

Often referred to as "Boss Hogg" in the district (behind his back, of course), we often thought of Craig Estes as the Jobba the Hut of the Texas Senate.  Long before the current wave of reports about chronic sexual abuse in the Texas Legislature, Craig Estes was the subject of press reports on this topic.  Estes has also been documented "living large" off of campaign contributions [Note: Isn't it amazing how frequently acts of financial corruption and acts of sexual c orruption are committed by the same people].

But Estes record on the issues isn't much better.  The 17 year incumbent consistently finds himself among the most liberal Republicans in the Texas senate.  Specifically, Estes supports big spending and he's soft on the border.  While Estes did support property tax reform this past session, that's a fairly new development and it's an open question whether a re-elected Estes would continue to do so.

Finally, as it relates to Estes, we have to mention a personal pet peeve: During this past legislative session, Estes took it upon himself to butt into an obscure land dispute in West Austin.  But, to make matters worse, he took the side of the local Austin NIMBY crowd over the side of property rights and the rule of law.  From this author's perspective, the MUNY golf course bill is the #1 reason Craig Estes is a priority.

Pat Fallon, by contrast, is a conservative workhorse.  He doesn't necessarily seek the spotlight, but Pat Fallon shows up when you need him.  As a textbook example: Pat Fallon voted for Scott Turner for speaker in 2015.

Pat Fallon also provided this website with some of the earliest video documentation of left wing protestors admitting they were in the country illegally during the mayhem of last session.

Finally, Pat Fallon played football at Notre Dame; we only bring this up because Texas beat Notre Dame the last time they played.

-------

Bottom Line: Priorities people....

#TXLEGE: The most interesting, creative, thing we've seen ANY Republican campaign do in a long time


"A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones."
Proverbs 17:22

One of this website's longstanding frustrations is the lack of creative thinking with which so many Republican campaigns operate.  We've recently made this point in relation to congressional races, but it's been a big problem for a long time.  But a Texas house challenger just found a VERY interesting way to summarize an incumbent's record.

Damon Rambo is running against Dennis Bonnen in HD-25.  Obviously, readers of this website know Dennis' record, but the average voter in Brazoria and Matagorda counties don't read this website.  Enter Damon Rambo's campaign.

"Simply not conservative" by "Dennis and the Establishments" is a cheekily irreverent investigation of the 20 year incumbent's record.  It plays off of Robert's Palmer's 1980's classic "simply irresistible."  Watch it for yourself:



The video examines Dennis' record on a number of issues and finds it "simply not conservative."  Dennis Bonnen killed property tax reform?!?  "Simply not conservative."  Dennis Bonnen has a weak pro-life record?!?  "Simply not conservative."  Dennis Bonnen has a weak record on the border?!?  "Simply not conservative."

That being said, the video is still rough around the edges.  It's too long (shouldn't run longer than two minutes) and the vocal track isn't loud enough, which makes it difficult to understand the lyrics.  But the concept is so good that these modest refinements would be icing on the cake.

Bottom Line: Dennis Bonnen..."simply not conservative!!!"

Monday, February 5, 2018

UT (once again) in deep legal doo-doo over Sexual matters in TWO lawsuits....


"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Great weekend for UT Athletics.

Not so much on the legal front.

On Friday, we saw the second Title IX lawsuit in six months:
An unnamed student accused of sexual assault is suing UT ahead of a Title IX hearing set for next week. The hearing will decide if he should be punished with a potential two-year suspension.

The student, referred to in the lawsuit as John Doe, is accused of assaulting a female student, referred to as Jane Roe, at a party that took place on April 28, 2017. Doe is being represented by Brian Roark. Roark represented another male student accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit against UT President Gregory Fenves that was settled last November.

The students in the current case were both drinking at the party and left together around 2 a.m. and had sex afterward at Roe’s apartment, according to the lawsuit. The following day, Roe told her friends she blacked out and did not remember anything until “moments just before she and John finished having sex.”

The lawsuit states Doe will not be treated justly in the Feb. 7 hearing because UT amended the Title IX case report three different times after receiving notice of an impending lawsuit. The report was allegedly amended by replacing the word “incapacitation” with “intoxication” in a sentence that originally said a witness observed that Roe was showing signs of incapacitation by acting less “socially inhibited” that she would normally.

Later pages of the report however were not amended to replace the “incapacitation” with “intoxication,” according to the lawsuit.

“If UT can’t get their story straight on what the definition of incapacitation is after months of contemplation and a recent Federal Court suit and public admonitions on the same topic from (a) Federal Judge, how in the world are a couple of hormone filled college students supposed to do it after a night of drinking?” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also said the University’s “bumbling” attempts to amend the use of incapacitation with intoxication in only one instance of the word’s use in the report show its desire to equate the two. If this is the case, and the standard for intoxication is simply “diminished social inhibitions,” then the hearing is “merely a facade for a predetermined conclusion,” according to the lawsuit.
This is awful.  If you don't have a credible system for dealing with this nonsense, you hurt actual survivors of sexual assault.  This enables predators.

But, if that wasn't enough, speaking of the athletic department:
A lawsuit filed by the former women’s track and field coach of the University of Texas could cause widespread embarrassment for current and former university officials.

Former coach Bev Kearney filed the lawsuit four years ago, claiming that the university had discriminated against her by firing her over a decade-old relationship with one of her athletes, while condoning an affair that football coach Major Applewhite had with a student trainer.

Then the case stalled on appeal, but the state Supreme Court ruled last year that Kearney’s discrimination lawsuit could proceed, and her attorneys have been vigorously pursuing potentially embarrassing depositions since then, as the Associated Press reported Monday.

Kearney’s legal claim fires warning shots all over the place, claiming that “other University employees (all of whom are white males) have been involved in relationships with students or direct subordinates and have not been subjected to termination, let alone any meaningful disciplinary actions. These University employees include Major Applewhite (current Co-Offensive Coordinator for the football team) (sic), other coaches within the University’s Athletic Department, current and former law school professors, current and former professors within the University’s undergraduate school, and a department chairperson.”

The reference to the former law school professor is likely an allusion to then-university President Bill Powers, who met his wife of more than three decades when she was a law student of his in the late ’70s, at a time he was married to another woman.

Applewhite has gained an even higher profile since the lawsuit was filed, as he was hired this offseason as the new head coach at the University of Houston. One of his first hires was an assistant coach tarnished by the sexual assault scandal at Baylor University.

Kearney’s court papers claim there are other coaches and officials who either have married former athletes or conducted affairs with employees they supervise. While university policy explicitly permits consensual relationships between an “employee with direct teaching, supervisory, advisory, or evaluative responsibility over other employees, students, and/or student employees,” Kearney claims she was “singled out” as “an African American female” and regarded as different based on a nearly 10 year old relationship.”

In the last two months, Kearney’s attorneys have filed records with the court regarding the depositions of former President Bill Powers, former football coach Mack Brown, and former athletic director DeLoss Dodds.

The university has persuaded the court to seal the depositions themselves for now, but even the brief deposition certification forms hint at more trouble, with Brown revising his interview to make clear that “no arrest or issues brought to me (sic).”
This could get interesting.  We've long suspected, just as a hunch based on their arrogance and entitlement, that there was a lot of this nonsense in the senior levels of the UT leadership.  In the current climate, this could get them in a lot of trouble.

But what's even more mind-blowing is that they're simultaneously being sued for discrimination both against, and in favor of, white men.  For these two cases to be occurring alongside each other is a textbook example of how making up arbitrary standards out of thin air always comes back to haunt you.  If UT had clear and consistent standards as it relates to these matters, neither of these lawsuits would be occurring.

Bottom Line: Yes, they really are this incompetent.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Longhorns Play Defense for Five Minutes...AND BEAT OU!!! #HookEm #Longhorns


"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
2 Timothy 4:7

Holy [REDACTED} what a finish!!!

This author attended this evening's UT basketball game against Oklahoma.  To be honest, for 35 minutes it looked like it was going to be the type of dumpster fire of a game that has become all too typical for this athletic department over the past five years.  We spent most of the game pondering how we could spin the loss we assumed was inevitable to make it as politically painful for Greg Fenves (who was at today's game) as possible.

Then the final five minutes happened.

For most of the game, OU led between 5 and 8 points.  The Longhorns would occasionally make a push, but OU consistently used superior effort on defense and higher percentage shot selection to maintain their lead.  Everything seemed to point towards yet another one of those type of Longhorn games that have become all too typical across the athletic department over the past five year.

But then, with five minutes to go, the team pulled their heads out of their backsides and played real defense.  It was the first time during the Shaka Smart era that the team's effort matched their talent.  We weren't taking notes, so we'll leave it to Burnt Orange Nation to explain the details:
Roach responded with a three-pointer before Texas cashed in with six straight free throws to tie the game at 66 with 5:39 remaining. After a Young three-pointer didn’t find its mark the ensuing possession, Coleman continued his offensive hot streak, giving Texas its first lead since 10-9 with 5:01 left to play.

After playing from behind throughout much of the evening, Texas was now the aggressor, utilizing high ball screens and isolations on Young for points at the rim and from the charity stripe down the stretch to assure the lead wasn’t relinquished.

Much of that had to do with Coleman.

After missing three potential game-winning free throws against Texas Tech, the Longhorns freshman guard nailed all four attempts in the final two minutes to push Texas’ lead to 76-70. Of course, seemingly no lead is safe with the sharpshooting Young on the other end, but after a prayer from three fell short, Texas got out in transition for an Eric Davis Jr. lob to Bamba to seal the win, capping a 20-4 Longhorns run.
Bottom Line: For the first time during the Shaka Smart era, the Longhorns had five minutes where their effort matched their talent.  The results speak for themselves.  Imagine what could happen if this sort of effort were delivered on a more consistent basis.






Friday, February 2, 2018

CD-21: Nobody Stands Out in Cliche Filled Candidate Forum


"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."
Colossians 1:16

Last we, we wrote a blog post discussing the lack of creativity or intellectual bandwidth in the various races for open congressional seats across Texas; unfortunately, last night's candidate forum for the CD-21 race sponsored by the Travis and Hays County Republican parties was a textbook example of what we're talking about.

The forum was loaded with boilerplate Republican rhetoric: "Founding Fathers," "Constitution," "Cut spending [without specifics]," "Reduce regulation [without specifics]," "Strong Christian," "Rebuild the Military," "Ronald Reagan," "Servant Leadership," "Drain the Swamp."  Everybody hit their talking points.  But we hope you'll forgive for saying that, after hearing them repeatedly over the past decade, those talking points have become rather stale.

Instead, the candidates seem to be differentiating themselves based on resume and endorsements.  If we're going to play the resume/endorsement game, Chip Roy will win.  The man spent a decade in D.C., yet managed to escape with his soul and his integrity intact.  As for the others, nobody stands out.

Honestly, the most interesting candidate in this race is the worst one.  Jen Sarver is a loathsome political hack (aka. Bush crony) who made a name for herself several years ago by the depths to which she was willing to stoop to carry water for the UT Politburo.  What makes her interesting in this race, however, is that she's running as an unapologetic RINO.  In a race where 15 candidates are attempting to cram into the "conservative" lane, Sarver has the "moderate" lane to herself.  In a divided field in a district that includes Joe Straus' San Antonio stomping grounds, that might be enough to make the runoff.  This website does not support Jen Sarver's candidacy in any way, shape, or form...but we are nevertheless VERY curious to see how she ends up doing.

In terms of policy, the only candidate who (kinda, sorta) stood out was Matt McCall.  Matt endorsed using Article 3, Section 1 of the constitution to remove abortion and marriage from the Supreme Court's jurisdiction.  He also vaguely alluded to the need to abolish full cabinet departments.  On the other hand, Matt also supports placing immigration related sanctions on Mexico, a move that would be DOOMED to backfiring spectacularly.

We will also confess to a soft spot for Sam Temple, a longshot borderline-Anarchist who chided the other candidates for various stupid acts of fearmongring.

Bottom Line: Meh....