Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Luckiest Man in Texas (for now)


"I returned and saw under the sun that—

The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
Ecclesiastes 9:11

Wasn't expecting her to pull the trigger:



M.J. Hegar in a U.S. Senate race is an interesting dynamic.  How it play out remains to be seen.  But the down ballot implication is obvious.

Nobody is happier about this decision than John Carter.

In case you forgot:

Throughout last fall's campaign, we argued (on multiple occasions) that Carter would be safe in a midterm, but that a presidential cycle was a different story.  That being said, even we didn't think Carter would lose WillCo.  We still think Carter's a terrible candidate.

John Carter is the Congressional equivalent of Wonder Bread: Old, White, and bleached of nutritional value.



Yet, the woman who nearly took him out last time decides to run for something else.

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That being said, the filing deadline isn't for 8 months; it wouldn't surprise us to see M.J. Hegar switch races after Labor Day.

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Bottom Line: John Carter is a pretty worthless congressman.  John Carter is a reliably cheap date for plutocracy; the type of dullard too arrogant to comprehend his own stupidity.  If Karl Rove and used dish soap had a baby, it would be John Carter.  That being said, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good (or smart) (or personable) (or interesting).

Monday, April 22, 2019

#TXLEGE: Sham Bill Nevertheless Accomplishes Political Purposes


"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6

[Note: Van Halen's "Runnin' with the Devil" literally came on in the background as we sat down to write this blog post.]

Fascinating write up in the Texas Observer over last week's passage of the 'born-alive' act:
As the Texas House voted on the first anti-abortion bill to make it to the floor this session, advocates rolled down a banner above the board displaying lawmakers’ votes: “STOP TURNING LIES INTO LAWS.”

The House gave initial passage to the bill, titled the “Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act,” after a brief but tense floor debate Tuesday evening, and gave it a final stamp of approval on Wednesday. The measure, House Bill 16, is Texas’ version of a national proposal that failed in the U.S. Senate earlier this year. HB 16 would penalize doctors who don’t give full medical treatment to babies born alive after abortion. Practically speaking, the bill does very little: There have been zero cases reported by the state since it started tracking them in 2013. Even if it did occur, federal law already requires infants born alive at any stage in development be given equal protection. But abortion-rights advocates say the measure is dangerous political propaganda that aims to paint abortions later in pregnancy as extreme and target the doctors who provide them.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
Money quote from Donna Howard:
“We refuse to waste the limited time we have here to take care of the people’s business by entertaining malicious and purely political attacks against women and doctors,” Howard said. “We refuse to ignore the expertise of medical professionals and allow them to be targeted and harassed. We refuse to use the power entrusted in us by our constituents and the voters of Texas for political theater, or to be party to turning lies into law.”
Here's the thing: Donna Howard is correct.  This 'born-alive' bill is political theater.  But (like all Democrats) she misunderstands the intended target of the theatrics.  In her misunderstanding, she led Democrats right into the trap.

Allow this guy to explain:

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As we explained about six weeks ago:
There's nothing inherently wrong with this bill.  Obviously, babies still alive after an abortion deserve medical care.  But, notice that phrase: After an abortion.
A month ago, following Democrats' stunt at the committee hearing:
This bill doesn't stop a single abortion.  This bill only goes into effect after the baby is 100% outside the birth canal.  That's why we've been unenthusiastic about it.  But Holy Toledo Democrats....

There will be plenty of time to discuss the proper response, but it's worth taking a second to reflect on the insanity of this position: Texas Democrats want to Deny Medical Care to Infants who are 100% outside the birth canal.
Again, The Texas Observer article linked above is correct. This bill doesn't stop a single abortion.  That's not its purpose.

The purpose of the 'born-alive' bill is to find an obvious, common sense, issue with almost zero practical impact.  Then get the Democrats to vote against it.  Which most of them just did (more on that below).

------

This issue polls well with suburban women.

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Here's what's crazier: In a session in which 'bi-partisanship' (hashtagNewDay, hashtagTexasPlan, hashtagTheTimeisNow) is all the rage, the Democrats could have used this to neutralize abortion as a campaign issue.

Had the Democrats gone along with this farce, they could have taken a vote for political cover without stopping a single abortion.

They could have made it all about 'bi-partisanship.'  They could have spun it as being 'magnanimous.'  They could have appeared to have made a concession (without conceding anything in reality).  Heck, they probably could have traded their support for several Billion dollars of additional spending.

Instead, they took the vote they took.....

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Democrat State Reps elected in 2018 who voted against 'born-alive' act:
  • Michelle Beckley
  • Rhetta Bowers
  • John Bucy
  • Gina Calanni
  • Art Fierro
  • Vicki Goodwin
  • Julie Johnson
  • Ray Lopez
  • Terry Meza
  • Lina Ortega
  • Ana-Maria Ramos
  • John Rosenthal
  • James Talarico
  • Erin Zweiner
Obviously, a few of those are safe seats where one Democrat took over for another.  But most of those are districts the D's picked up last fall.  Good luck defending that vote.

Furthermore, most of those Democrats are white, a point upon which we will elaborate below.

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Let's return to the Texas Observer article that was the original reason for this blog post:
The bill passed, 93-1-50; Republicans were joined by 12 Democrats to support it, while state Representative Harold Dutton, D-Houston cast the sole “no” vote and 50 lawmakers registered “present, not voting.”
Sssssssssay what?!?  12 Democrats voted for the 'born-alive' act?!?  While there are a handful of D's that vote for pro-life bills, 12 is really high.

Which ones?!?


[Note: Joe Moody later made a journal statement for the bill.]

The overwhelming majority of those members are Black or Hispanic; all of those members, except one, represent majority-minority districts.

That's a racial dynamic Republicans should exploit.

Especially when white Democrats are taking the votes referenced above.

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Bottom Line: We'd rather prevent abortions, but we'll take the campaign issue....

Saturday, April 20, 2019

#atxcouncil: Flannigan Abandons Pretenses to Fiscal Moderation


"For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light."
Luke 8:17

The things you see scrolling through Facebook:

These are the same rancid Texas Municipal League talking points to which we've grown accustomed.  So Flannigan's propagandizing for the taxpayer-funded lobbying industrial complex.  Congratulations Jimmy, you must be so proud.

But beyond the political implications of Flannigan aligning himself with rent-seekers over taxpayers, are the economic implications for our community.

Any serious advocate for middle class taxpayers understands automatic election triggers give taxpayers leverage.  If you oppose automatic election triggers, you oppose leverage for taxpayers.  It's that simple.

Jimmy Flannigan has always sold himself as a kinder, gentler, type of fiscal conservative.  By avoiding his predecessor's bombast, he could be a more effective advocate.  That characterization has always been a stretch (esp. since Flannigan started voting for soccer stadiums and tax hikes).

Bottom Line: To stand with taxpayer funded lobbyists over taxpayers speaks for itself....

Friday, April 19, 2019

Imagine Friday Afternoon


And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Matthew 27:46

Every year, on Good Friday, one question that stands out: What would it have been like, to be one of the disciples, during the hours after the crucifixion, but before the crucifixion.

You've just seen the Messiah of the world falsely accused.  You've seen His fraudulent conviction.  You've seen Him suffer in the most gruesome way possible.  You saw Him die.

The bastards got away with it.

Imagine the gloating.  Imagine hearing the gloating.  Imaging the mix of devastation and rage the disciples must have felt.

We've lost elections.  We've lost in sports.  WE HATE LOSING.  We hate it so, so, sooooooooooooo much.  Losing sucks.  It sucks so much.  But imagine that loss....

Of course, the truth is that disciples didn't know their Old Testament well enough.  If the disciples had known their Old Testament, nothing that happened on Good Friday would have surprised them.  That's the real lesson.

But there's no reason to believe the figured out that lesson on Friday afternoon....


Thursday, April 18, 2019

#TXLEGE: Speaking about More Efficiently Funding Education


"Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

Yesterday, immediately following the committee discussion about higher ed. funding, we attended TPPF's event: Using Efficiency Audits to Help Schools Succeed.  The timing was ironic, because we think efficiency audits are a BIG part of the solution for higher ed. funding.  While TPPF's event discussed K-12 funding, the principle applies at all levels of education.



For those who remember Prop. K from last fall, we're talking about the same type of efficiency audit.  They're designed to root out waste.  TPPF wants to apply them to school districts.

For all of the bill's flaws, HB 3's silver lining is that it requires school districts to undergo efficiency audits before they can raise M&O taxes.  As TPPF's Kara Belew explained, that's a major reform.  It might make the bill more palatable.

The other panelist was Erin Covington, from the firm Alvarez-Marsal.  They're a firm that performs these audits with various governmental entities.  Covington discussed specific benefits specific entities received.  While some of the changes were big, policy-making, decisions, other stuff was minor.  One story Covington told, about a school district that saved millions by having its maintenance staff work in the evening (easier access to classrooms), stood out.

During Q&A, we asked Covington about how she dealt with entrenched special interests.  We asked because of this guy's performance in last fall's election.  Covington's response was that they let the facts speak for themselves.  We suspect that this guy didn't want said facts to speak for themselves.

Bottom Line: Periodic efficiency audits are a no-brainer.  All levels of government should adopt them.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a political hack (who's probably getting rich off political connections).

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

#TXLEGE: Consensus and Dissention on University Tuition


"Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase."
Proverbs 13:11

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here; our testimony is 90ish minutes in.]

We testified this morning in favor of HB 132 (Gonzalez): "Relating to a limitation on the amount of tuition charged by public institutions of higher education"; this is the tuition freeze bill we discussed in January.

Gonzalez did a really good job laying out her bill.  She explained how public university tuition has exploded across Texas.  This is personally relevant to Gonzalez seeing how, apparently, she's just completed her Phd.  What we really loved, however, Gonzalez pointed out that shuffling off tuition to the Board of Regents' was a way for the legislature to duck responsibility.

Amen.

Gonzalez made most of the points we wanted to make.  During our testimony we added that, while most of the problems in higher ed. policy are federal, that was no reason for the state of Texas to make things worse.  We've thought that how Texas public universities set tuition rates was a particularly bad system for at least five years.

That was where things got interesting.  Following our testimony, Chairman Turner felt compelled to explain that, while he was very sympathetic to the complaint, tuition reform needed to be accompanied by more state spending.  We're familiar with the argument.  As we explained to Chairman Turner, we're sympathetic to the argument, but we need tuition restraints with teeth up-front.  We were about to make a further point about cost controls when...

...John Smithee spoke up.  As the only member of the committee who was in the legislature when the current system passed, Smithee called it "a vote I wish I could have back."  Smithee then made the same points about expensive buildings and excessive bureaucracy this author would have made.

Bottom Line: The breakdown of support/opposition to this bill was very intersting....

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Political Note for Republicans: There were (at least) four Democrat bills dealing with tuition on today's docket.  Zero from Republicans.  If you want to know why you're getting killed with the under-40 crowd, that would be a good place to look....

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

#TXLEGE: Good stuff happening all around today!!!


"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Nothing's done.  And there's a long way to go.  But today must be encouraging.

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Citizens Property Tax Rally:

HUNDREDS of taxpayers showed up this afternoon to demand the lege pass the property tax reform package AND come up with a substantial relief package.

Speakers called upon the lege to finish the job on both subjects OR for Governor Abbott to call a special session.

We still suspect this gets done during the regular, but there's a part of us that wants to take this to a special.

What else would Abbott include on the call?!?

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House unanimously passes (at least) two GOOD Sexual Assault bills:


Yeah, yeah, yeah.  We get it.  This issue has been a political football.

Get over yourself; these are good bills.

HB 8 (Neave) addresses the disgraceful rape kit backlog.  This is a blot on our state.  The bill passed unanimously, as it should have.

HB 1735 (Howard) creates good rules to deal with sexual assault on college campuses.  The language on due process is some of the strongest we've ever seen.  It should be the new national standard.  The bill also creates much better processes for survivors.

We haven't written about this bill (due to time), but we've supported this bill since it came onto our radar screen last month.

The bill passed on a voice vote.

Anyone who has problem with this author supporting a Donna Howard sexual assault bill can step on a Lego.

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Senate Passes Ban on Taxpayer Funded Lobbying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's out of a chamber!!!

What else do we need to say?!?

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Senate to hear bill on Austin's "Major League" Soccer stadium:

SB 1771 (Bettencourt) would knock out Austin's soccer stadium nonsense, it would also establish a good precedent for other sports stadium giveaways.

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Note on the sexual assault bills: The house is passing a whole bunch of bills on the topic today.  We're only familiar with the ones listed above.  We know nothing about the others.

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Bottom Line: We still have a long way to go, but there's a lot from today to like....

Monday, April 15, 2019

#TXLEGE: Senate (finally) gets some things done!!!


"The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
Ecclesiastes 7:8 t

Finally, some stuff happened:

  • SB 2 -- Property tax reform -- It finally passed!!!  To get it out of the Senate, they had to change the cap for non-school district taxing entities to 3.5%.  But school districts stay at 2.5%.

    Seliger voted for considering the bill (ie. motion to suspend), but against final passage (aka. Dan Patrick's gambit worked).

    In its current form, SB 2 is far from ideal.  But it's good enough.  Assuming you can keep the bill in its current form, you should take it and fix its shortcomings next session.  (TBH, what you really need are spending caps, but we'll take automatic revenue triggers.)
  • SB 9 -- Election integrity -- This was one of the major must pass bills of this session.  Texas' elections have a lot of issues.  This bill helps address them.
It's also worth pointing out that, with bills successfully out of the Senate, you're not at the mercy of the (rapidly dwindling) house calendar.

Bottom Line: These are two major priorities, and they just got a major shot in the arm....

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Some Takeaways from the Longhorn Spring Game


"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,"
Colossians 3:23

Just got back from Spring Game, thoughts:

  • Sam Ehlinger needs to learn how to chill.  Following a first half pick (Note: whatever), Sam put a hard hit on the returner at the two yard line.  Stupid, unnecessary, risk.

    You don't need to risk your body in Spring Game.


  • Speaking of Sam taking unnecessary risks with his body, Casey Thompson looked solid as backup.  Dude can fly.   Some early jitters, but worked through them.
  • The offensive line needs to stay healthy, the backups look really green.

CDC and the Governor
 [Note: The picture above doesn't show it, but the Governor was wearing mom jeans.]

  • Jordan Whittington didn't get much action until the second half; once he got going, look out!!!



Bru McCoy

  • On defense, nobody stood out by name.  But the unit looked solid.  The low score speaks for itself (and the weather).

Breckyn Hegar does not look like Breckyn Hegar with short hair

  • Speaking of weather, dadgum it got cold. 





Props to Chris del Conte for the atmosphere.  But, especially, props to Chris Del Conte for the on-field autograph session after the game.  We didn't wait in line for autographs, but getting to walk around the field was really cool.

Finally, props to Tom Herman; without him, nothing CDC does matters.

Bottom Line: Great evening (except for the weather), and a lot for which to look forward....

Friday, April 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: Patrick and Creighton (very) belatedly (kinda sorta) triage self-inflicted wound


"My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;"
Proverbs 3:21

Good (we suppose):
Legislation to prohibit local governments from imposing job-killing mandates has passed the Texas Senate and is on its way to the Texas House.

Senate Bills 2486 and 2487 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) fight to rein in out-of-control local governments by restricting them from implementing their own policies regarding paid sick leave and employment benefits.

....

Originally filed as Senate Bill 15, the legislation was broken up into four separate bills by Creighton in order to get past the objections of Democrats and State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo), who took issue with a provision to override local nondiscrimination ordinances.
Here's the thing: Literally nothing in the bills that passed yesterday, besides the fact that they've been broken into smaller bills, has changed.

The 'non-discrimination' carve out whose removal got everybody's panties in a wad?!?

Hasn't changed.

During floor debate, Kirk Watson attempted to amend Creighton's bill to include the 'non-discrimination' clause.  Creighton declined to adopt the amendment and the Senate voted it down.  The bill passed, regardless.

Which begs the natural follow-up question: If they weren't going/didn't have to change anything, then why didn't they simply pass SB 15 a month ago?!?  The delay changed nothing substantive, but gave opponents the opportunity to beat them up for a month.  Do Dan Patrick and Brandon Creighton enjoy being beaten up by their political opponents?!?

Subconscious masochism is the only rational explanation.

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Then there's this: According to sources close to the conservative legal community, the 'non-discrimination' clause in question was, potentially, a loophole that could have gutted the entire bill.

Apparently, with creative lawyering, any conditions on employment can be spun as 'non-discrimination.'

Thus, the original 'non-discrimination' clause in the original bill couldn't stand.

Which begs the follow up question: Why didn't Dan Patrick and Brandon Creighton just say so?!?

It's a simple explanation that makes a lot of sense (once it's explained).

Instead, Dan Patrick and Brandon Creighton failed to make this explanation, and got beaten up for a month as a result.

Way to go, guys.

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It's also worth pointing out the predictive scheduling and ban the box still haven't gotten done.

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Bottom Line: Even when they do good things, they mismanage them in the worst way possible....

Thursday, April 11, 2019

#TXLEGE: Who the heck knows what's happening on 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

We got to the Capitol expecting to see house debate on HB 2.  Didn't happen.  Instead, they punted to Monday.

For now.

Meanwhile, the Senate claims to be having discussions behind closed doors; heard that before.

From the Trib:
As debate stalled on Thursday in both the Texas House and Senate over priority property tax legislation, and as questions lingered over how school districts should fit into the equation, Gov. Greg Abbott laid his own marker in the sand, stating through a spokesman that “there must be a cap on school districts’ ability to raise taxes.”

The lower chamber had for days planned to debate House Bill 2, its version of the high-priority legislation on Thursday. But amid rumors that the Senate would take up its own version of the bill, the House adjourned for a lunch break without taking the measure up. Eventually, state Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican spearheading the House measure, announced to the lower chamber later Thursday afternoon that he was punting the bill to Monday for debate.

"Members," House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, told the lower chamber afterward, "we are respectfully working with the Senate on this issue."

News of the postponement came after Bonnen, Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, along with various lawmakers, spent most of Thursday behind closed doors trying to work out a deal. One sticking point between the two chambers — and across party lines, to an extent — appeared to be over school districts, which levy the bulk of property taxes in Texas, and whether and how they should be included in property tax reform legislation. In the original, identical versions of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2, districts were included along with cities and counties. But after a House committee stripped them from its version of the consensus proposal, the bill’s Senate author, Houston Republican Paul Bettencourt criticized that approach, arguing in a now-deleted social media post that “school districts must be included as part of any property tax reform and relief plan.”

....

Still, as Thursday afternoon carried on, it remained unclear how negotiations between the two chambers and the governor’s office were progressing — and when, if at all, either House Bill 2 or Senate Bill 2 would come up for a vote in their respective chambers.
We don't have a lot to add, although according to house sources the speaker's team doesn't want to include school districts (at all)...but it's an open question whether they'll die on that hill.

Bottom Line: We have no bloody idea....

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

#TXLEGE: Thoughts on the Abolition Bill hearing


"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Obviously, we stayed late to testify on Monday night.  These are our thought.  No particular order:
  • Jeff Leach did a really good job running the hearing.  With such an intense topic, the hearing could have been easily derailed.  It wasn't.

    Credit for that goes to the chair.
  • We know some people were annoyed at the pace of the hearing.  We respectfully disagree.  On a topic like this, it's better to let everybody speak.  If it takes an extra four hours, so be it.
  • Speaking of Jeff Leach: That exchange with the chick from NARAL was quite something.  ICYMI, she attacked Leach over taking an allegedly non-mainstream position.  Leach asked her whether she supported legal abortion at 39 weeks, 6 days, and 23 hours.  When she said yes, Leach correctly refused to be lectured about mainstream positions on abortion.
  • The post-abortive women who testified as to how this sort of law would have impacted their thinking were easily the most compelling of the night; they should be the face of the movement moving forward.
  • Tom Glass is right: The real solution on any number of issues, including abortion, is for the states to become much more assertive with the federal government.  Baby steps.
  • Speaking of Baby Steps: We referenced the Capitol euphemisms "beginning the conversation" and "multi-session process."  Monday's hearing was the former.  It begins the latter.  You've gotta start somewhere.
  • Speakiung of Starting Somewhere: Tony Tinderholt and Jeff Leach deserve tremendous credit for getting this ball rolling.
To be clear: This author's concerns about the unintended consequences of this approach remain, but those concerns weren't relevant Monday night....

Bottom Line: Monday night undeniably moved the cultural conversation forward....

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

#TXLEGE: Larry Taylor's Permanent School Fund Stunt


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

Via RPT:
Tomorrow, Tuesday April 9, SJR 78 will be heard in the Senate Education Committee. The bill will remove responsibility for the Permanent School Fund (PSF) from the elected State Board of Education (SBOE) to an unelected entity. The SBOE and its oversight of the PSF have been long time and current planks of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. The Republican Party of Texas State Executive Committee (SREC) passed a resolution reaffirming the SBOE’s responsibility for the PSF.

The PSF pays for textbooks and per student funding. It is not funded by taxpayer dollars, has achieved solid investment performance over the past decade, and its management by the SBOE allows the coordination of the State Board of Education’s materials purchase decisions with the Permanent School Funds’ investment performance.

SBOE members will be testifying against the resolution to remove the constitutionally assigned responsibility for the fund from the Board tomorrow. Join them in supporting their constitutional authority and the Platform of the Republican Party.

Please encourage your elected Representatives and Senators to vote against SJR 78.
It's insane. In a session where school finance is the alleged hot topic, they want to raid the most secure source of long-term school funding. Your "conservative" legislature. Bottom Line: Nothing good....

Monday, April 8, 2019

#TXLEGE: No fiscal risk management commission with teeth will pass this session


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

We stopped by the Capitol this morning to support the following bill:
HB 236         Krause
Relating to the creation of the Fiscal Risk Management Commission.
We didn't get a chance to testify.  But that's ok.   The more we think about, the more we realize we don't want to associate our name with this particular project at this particular time.

A fiscal risk management commission is a GREAT idea.  The Federal government's finances have been unsustainable for a long time.  Texas should address its exposure to events beyond our borders.

But, let's get real: The Texas Legislature has zero interest in sustainable fiscal policy.  This session proves that.  If the legislature won't buy down local property taxes, they won't prepare for chaos out of Washington.

Any fiscal risk management commission that can emerge from this session is a sham.  It's designed to create the impression of fiscal responsibility on a campaign mailer.  No thank you.

Bottom Line: It's a great idea.  But the legislature has no intention of curbing its spending.  We shouldn't help them pretend to care.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

#TXLEGE: Constitutional Carry supporters Accidentally Discharge All Over Themselves All Over Again


"That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun."

Nehemiah 4:18

Sigh:
AUSTIN — Texas state troopers had House Speaker Dennis Bonnen's home in Lake Jackson under surveillance last week amid concerns that an outraged gun rights activist was headed there.

Chris McNutt, executive director of the nonprofit Texas Gun Rights, is advocating for a “constitutional carry” bill that would allow gun owners to carry their pistols, openly or concealed, in public without a license.

The bill has gone nowhere so far in the legislative session, and McNutt took to posting rants on Facebook about Bonnen. Then McNutt visited the homes of Bonnen allies Amarillo Rep. Four Price and Lubbock Rep. Dustin Burrows early last week. McNutt posted a video of himself in Burrows’ neighborhood on the Texas Gun Rights Facebook page.
Let's get a couple things straight:
  • Yes, Bonnen and the media are deliberately blowing this incident out of proportion.  Chris McNutt, specifically, was lit-dropping in the districts of members who play key roles in moving legislation.  That's completely valid.
  • The only reason this tactic was successful for Bonnen and the media is because the more overzealous #2A types have given them ammo.
We spent awhile yesterday discussing this issue with Capitol sources.  We can't say much.  But what we can say is sufficient: There have been serious, violent, threats.

That's why so many people fell for the narrative so quickly.

[Note: Members and staffers really ought to share A LOT more on this topic publicly.]

Yes, it's a relatively small number of people engaging this activity.  Yes, those people are keyboard warriors who never lift a finger.  No, the people who show up and work this issue at the Capitol don't do that.

But the psuedo-Tough guy incel keyboard warriors have become a serious liability to gun rights.

God forbid there's another school shooting...and those guys are the face of your movement.

As we said, barely two months ago:
One of the problems constitutional carry has faced in recent sessions is that its advocates act like assholes tend to be unnecessarily aggressive and hostile (especially with staff).  This behavior has alienated many members who otherwise don't object to the policy.  That is the dynamic that, unfortunately, Dennis Bonnen has to manage.

Like it or not, it's a completely self-inflicted wound.

That's what Dennis Bonnen is trying to explain to you.

It's up to y'all whether you want to heed this advice (you won't).  But if you don't (which is what will happen), don't be surprised when nothing changes (which, somehow, you will).  When that happens, you'll have no one to blame but yourselves (which is the last person you'll blame).

Two options moving forward:
  • Operate Within Reality:  Understand that this issue carries a lot of baggage.  A certain amount of fence-mending is in order.  You've gotta start somewhere....
  • Pointless Hostility:  No, really, keep threatening legislative staffers.  That's been super effective.  At least you're a big shot in the comments section.
It looks like, once again, pointless hostility was the path chosen.

Bottom Line: The results speak for themselves....

Friday, April 5, 2019

#TXLEGE: Hughes should come clean about whatever deal he cut with Huffman


"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
Colossians 2:8

Sigh:
A bill to raise the age for purchasing tobacco products was voted out of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday by the narrow margin of 5-4.

Authored by the committee’s chairman State Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston), the bill passed with the support of both Democrats on the committee, State Sens. Eddie Lucio (Brownsville) and Judith Zaffirini (Laredo), in addition to Republican State Sens. Jane Nelson (Flower Mound) and Bryan Hughes (Mineola).

Hughes provided the pivotal vote to send the legislation to the full body, but his office told Texas Scorecard that Hughes said he voted the bill out of committee “to let debate occur on the floor,” but intends to oppose it upon its arrival because the issue is a matter of personal liberty.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
That's asinine.  Everybody knows that, in the Texas Senate, bills are only discussed on the floor once they have the votes to pass (see here).  Taken at face value, Hughes' decision is the type only a chump would make.  We originally intended to write a blog post discussing such chumpish asininity.

But let's get real: Bryan Hughes almost certainly cut a deal with Joan Huffman.  He's probably getting something for that vote.  Furthermore, it's almost certainly something we'd like.

Whatever it is, Hughes should fess up.

One of the biggest problems with the Texas Senate is the amount of policymaking that occurs "behind the scenes."  The public just (kinda sorta) sees the final product.  It's the type of thing more suited to philosopher-kings than a republic.

Obviously, Bryan Hughes didn't invent that aspect of Senate culture.  But he could have taken a small step towards changing it.  Would have been nice.

Bottom Line:  On the surface, this vote looks terrible.  But there's probably more to the story.  Nevertheless, you can't blame folks for assuming the worst (esp. this session) if they don't know the details of that "more to the story."

Thursday, April 4, 2019

TXLEGE: SB 15 -- Case Study in Republican FAILURE


"My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;"
Proverbs 3:21

Following our discussion on Tuesday about the infuriating process which SB 15 is taking, we were asked for a follow up comment by the Texas Tribune:
“This bill has been languishing without a vote for six weeks,” said Adam Cahn, a service industry veteran who writes the Austin-based political blog, Cahnman's Musings. “Meanwhile, the authors are getting killed from all sides. This is the worst of all possible worlds.”
There are actually two problems.  In the short term, Dan Patrick and Brandon Creighton have failed basic bill management.  But the long term, and more important, failure is the failure of vision.

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Failure of Bill Management:

This is the basic blocking and tackling of the legislature.  Dan Patrick and Brandon Creighton are both veterans.  It's pathetic.

Here's the policy nut: Wage/benefit mandates and discrimination are separate components of employment law.  There is a case to be made, a quite compelling one, for having uniform statewide policies on both.  But they're SEPARATE F**KING ISSUES.

Whatever your personal opinion of the 'non-discrimination' carve out, Dan Patrick and Brandon Creighton are the ones who've been all over the map it. Reasonable people can disagree over whether it's prudent to tie these issues together [Hint: It's not]. But the Senate's current approach is guaranteed to piss the maximum number of people off, while satisfying the fewest.

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We have no specific knowledge, but this debacle wreaks of Steve Hotze.

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Failure of Vision:

Complicated, expensive, employment regulations beget fewer jobs and higher prices. While that's true for any level of government, it's even truer at the local level (because employers do business in multiple jurisdictions). This is Free Market 101 type stuff.

For a confident party making a proactive case for how liberty inevitably produces upward economic mobility, this is an easy sell.

Instead, our elected Republican leadership is in a defensive crouch, and their languid passivity enables their opponents to set terms of the debate.

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Bottom Line: This situation was completely preventable, yet here we are....

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

#TXLEGE: Everything You Need to Know about the house School Finance Bill

From Rafael Anchia's Twitter

"that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,"
1 Peter 1:7


via GIPHY
Bottom Line: Your "conservative" Texas Legislature folks....

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

#TXLEGE: It's time for Senators to Vote


"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
Joel 3:14

[Note: Check out that verse in context.]

SB 2 (Property Tax Reform) has been languishing for a month and a half.

SB 15 (Labor Law Preemption) has, likewise, been sitting on intent for a month.

We get it.  There are Senators opposed.  We just don't know who they are.

Let's find out.

Put SB 2 and SB 15 on the Senate floor.

The chips can fall where they may.

Bottom Line: It'll be real interesting to see which of these so-called "Republican" senators support high property taxes and complicated employment law mandates....

Monday, April 1, 2019

#TXLEGE **EXCLUSIVE**: Abbott renounces Chick-fil-a sideshow; promises "diligent focus" on legislative session


"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
John 8:24

Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement exclusively to Cahnman's Musings:
Over the past week, I have exploited predictable contracting decisions from the San Antonio City Council for political purposes.  Given the Texas Legislature's inability to take tangible action to lower Texans' cost of living, I was looking for a jolt of cheap outrage.  My actions have been an embarrassing spectacle that insults Texans' intelligence.

Texans elected me to address serious matters of public policy. Not cheap theatrics. I lost sight of that.

I'm sorry.

As your Governor, I am committed to priorities like Constitutional carry, Abolishing Taxpayer Funded Lobbying, Significantly curtailing (and ultimately eliminating) Property Taxes, Preventing Abortions, and MEANINGFULLY defending religious liberty.

Over the next 56 days, my only priority will be a diligent focus on the current legislative session.

Greg Abbott serves as the 48th Governor as the state of Texas. He was first elected in 2014, and was re-elected in 2018. Prior to that, he served three terms as Texas Attorney General.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Georgia Proving Greg Abbott's Pro-Life FAILURES


"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
James 4:17

Via Erick Erickson:

The Georgia House of Representatives has passed the fetal heartbeat legislation. In the past week, progressives have mounted strident opposition to the legislation, but Republicans held their ground. The measure passed the Georgia House with 92 votes to 78 in opposition.

Democrats claim they will use this measure to take back the House next year, but objective polling shows most women are actually in favor of some restrictions on abortion. This measure would begin restricting abortions when the child has his own heartbeat. It would also allow parents to claim children in utero for tax purposes and allow mothers to get deadbeat dads to help cover the costs of pregnancy.

Governor Kemp intends to sign the legislation.
Meanwhile, in Texas, we can't even establish a quorum to pass the joke bill they're using to run interference.

What's really insane: 2018 General Election was closer in Georgia than Texas.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp:


Greg Abbott:

Even if you use the Cruz/O'Rourke race as your benchmark, Texas Republicans still won bigger.

Which proves that close elections are no reason to go soft on life.

Bottom Line: The midterm election was closer in Georgia than Texas.  Yet Georgia moves forward.  For that, you can blame Greg Abbott....

Friday, March 29, 2019

Greg Abbott should Party with This Guy


"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
John 8:24

LOL:



We'd originally planned to write a full blog post ridiculing this disgraceful and embarrassing spectacle, but this gem from 2012 says it better than we ever could:

[Note: If you don't understand why Texas' Republican elected officials actions related to Chick fil a are a disgraceful and embarrassing spectacle, you're part of the problem.]



Spoiler alert:


Bottom Line: If they go down this path, they're going to deserve what they get....

Thursday, March 28, 2019

#TXLEGE: Right Wingers SQUANDER, yet another, Opportunity on Higher Ed.


"That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here; our testimony is at the 1:37 mark.]

Guess what, geniuses!!!  There was a U.T Regent confirmation hearing this morning.  Were you there?!?

Just kidding.  We know you weren't there.  Because we were:

More Empty Seats than the Erwin Center
Right-wingers constantly complain about college campuses.  Correctly.  Yet, the one time they can actually do something about it?!?  Nothing.

Bupkus.  Squat.  Zilch.

Go ahead, get mad at the legislature.  These Regents are going to be confirmed.  But the legislature will only try what they think they can get away with.

And, on the subject of higher ed., the legislature knows the right wingers are a bunch of chumps.

A point y'all just proved.  YET AGAIN.

The status quo continues.

Bottom Line: Why work the levers of power to change policy when you can get outraged on social media over alleged "political correctness," amirite?!?

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Note: This blog post does not apply to those who are working hard on other issues.  If you have bandwidth issues, that's fine.  But it is to call out those who constantly complain, yet never lift a finger.