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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#TXLEGE: An Embarrassment to Dogs and Ponies....


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

We're currently sitting in the house gallery, watching the so-called debate on the state budget.

They're just going through the motions.  There's no vision, or guidance, or sense of where they want to take the state.  It's government on autopilot.  But Democrats want to spend even more....

Which is pretty crazy, considering how much Republicans want to spend.

But the worst part is the Republicans' inability to answer completely obvious questions.

Case in point: We just watched an exchange between Chris Turner and Gina Hinojosa over child care.  The details aren't important, except that they were asking for more money.  They were pitching increased spending on child care subsidies as a way to 'help' struggling families.

Had any Republican been smart about it, they could have pointed out that government expenditures on child care make it more expensive.  Thus, the best way to help struggling families afford child care is to keep the government away from it.  Make Chris Turner and Gina Hinojosa defend making child care more expensive.

Instead, we only get languid, tepid, passivity.

And more spending.

A LOT of spending.

Bottom Line: This is how Republics die....

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#TXLEGE: The wrong questions on Occupational Licenses and Religious Liberty


They said to Him, “Caesar’s.

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Matthew 22:21

We made a similar point about a similar topic over the weekend, but it looks like the topic is here to stay.

From Yesterday:
Opening what promises to be one of the most contentious fights of the 2019 legislative session, a Senate committee on Monday approved a bill to give state-licensed professionals — including doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and barbers — broad protection for actions taken according to their religious beliefs.

Opponents said the bill, and more than a dozen similar measures that have not yet been acted upon, would give religious people, particularly conservative Christians, the power to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people as well as anyone they don’t want to do business with or serve.

But supporters of Senate Bill 17 — including its Republican author, Sen. Charles Perry — said the protections are needed to ensure that licensing agencies do not discriminate against religious professionals by forcing them to do something that violates their beliefs.
That's fine.  Government licensing boards certainly should not abuse individual conscience rights.  In that sense, SB 17 is worthwhile.

But, let's get real: Is anybody surprised?!?

Occupational licensing, by government, is inherently political.  Period.  End of story.  For a political process to reflect political trends is completely predictable.

Even if you delineate some protections this session, as long as this licensing monstrosity remains in place, those protections are temporary at best.

In the spirit of permanent relief, the Institute for Justice offers something intriguing:



TL,DR version: Take these decisions out of the realm of politics, return them to the free market.

Bottom Line: Maybe it's time to start asking if we've been rendering too much to Caesar in the first place....

Monday, March 25, 2019

#TXLEGE: Texas Democrats remain NUTSO as ever for Murdering Children


"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

ICYMI:
A frustrated Texas House Republican committee chairman was forced to postpone a hearing on his anti-abortion bill Monday morning after five members on the nine-person panel didn't show up for the meeting — prompting what’s known as a lack of quorum.

At issue is a bill by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano. The measure, House Bill 16, would require doctors to care for a baby who survives an abortion procedure. It was unveiled earlier this month and already has more than 70 House members signed on as co-authors.

Four Democrats and one Republican on the committee were absent for Monday’s meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Leach said state Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, missed because of a flight delay. Meyer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The four Democrats, meanwhile, signed onto a statement Monday saying that they would not “join this charade,” apparently referring to Leach’s anti-abortion proposal that was on the committee’s calendar for consideration.

“While some members of the Texas Legislature insist on attacking as well as offending women directly and indirectly, we will not join this charade by participating in this political grandstanding on issues which are already codified in Texas and Federal law,” read a statement signed by state Reps. Victoria Neave of Dallas, Julie Johnson of Carrollton, Jessica Farrar of Houston and Yvonne Davis of Dallas. “We refuse to offend our fellow Texas women, their families, and licensed physicians by wasting time on unnecessary legislation designed to intimidate and restrict women’s access to healthcare.”
That's insane.

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.

This website doesn't often tout our greatest hits, but this incident from six years ago is re-relevant:



Bottom Line: Clearly, some things never change....

Saturday, March 23, 2019

San Antonio/Chick-fil-a Debacle Textbook Example of Why GOVERNMENT SHOULDN'T OWN AIRPORTS


They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Matthew 22:21

So this happened:
Wayfarers passing through San Antonio International Airport will be out of luck if they’re craving Chick-fil-A's crispy chicken or waffle fries, as the city council has banned the chicken-centric chain from opening up shop in the air hub due to the company’s alleged “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

On Thursday, six members of the San Antonio City Council rejected the inclusion of Chick-fil-A from the new Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement for the airport, KTSA reports. The seven-year contract for concession management at the terminal is expected to create $2.1 million in revenue for the Texas city; the motion that passed gave the green light to food shops including Smoke Shack and Local Coffee.

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion," Councilman Roberto TreviƱo said of the vote, as per News 4 San Antonio. "San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior."
 Some predictable reactions:







Those reactions aren't wrong. The San Antonio city council's action certainly was an affront to religious liberty.  But they're not asking the right question.

Why does the San Antonio city council have jurisdiction over the airport in the first place?!?

This is why:


Is anyone surprised that an entity controlled by a political body is making political decisions?!?

Because you shouldn't be.

We have no idea about the solution.  Air travel in the United States is, basically, an act of socialism.  There are ample opportunities for reform at both the state and federal level.

As long as socialism continues in air travel, it should surprise nobody that concessions contracts are handed out based on political factors.

Bottom Line: No private business owner would have made this decision....

Friday, March 22, 2019

#TXLEGE: About Dan Patrick....


"Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,"
Proverbs 2:3

Some of the gripes about Dan Patrick have made it into the DMN:
AUSTIN — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick prides himself on being thought of as one of the most conservative leaders in Texas.

He's certainly earned the title. Patrick has championed school vouchers. He’s proposed cutting college financial aid. And during the last legislative session, he led the push for a bathroom bill.

But now some of his allies are criticizing him for being too moderate.

The lieutenant governor has abandoned some of his red-meat priorities, they allege, and supplanted them with middle-of-the-road proposals popular with more moderate and even liberal voters. While restricting abortion still tops Patrick's list, priorities like giving every teacher a pay bump and raising the smoking age have small-government types scratching their heads.

....

“The lieutenant governor’s list of priorities is not quite what we've come to expect from Dan Patrick,” Julie McCarty, president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, told The Dallas Morning News. “And, yes, we are disappointed to see him moving to the middle of the road.”
The article goes on to discuss the Senate's priorities and why folks are upset.  Lauren McGaughy does a good job discussing them.  You really should read the whole thing.

Here's the thing: People have every right to be concerned, but it's still way too early to draw conclusions.

Historically, Dan Patrick has been pretty conservative...but he has always operated under the constraints imposed on him be reality.  Dan Patrick does not tilt at windmills.  Unfortunately, reality is imposing new constraints this session (ie. one fewer vote with which to work).

Dan Patrick is also a political horse trader, and the trades he makes are usually net positives for conservatives.

There are several example of this we can't discuss, but we will give one that's public: Last session, no one was more upset than this author about the Senate giving Abbott his UT Regents.  But, by giving Abbott what he wanted on Regents, he brought Abbott on board for everything else that session.  In hindsight, it was a good trade.

That's not to say we approve of everything we're seeing in the Senate.  They certainly seem determined to spend an astronomical amount of money.  But it is to say that we've been doing this long enough to withhold judgement until sine die.

If SB's 2, 9, 15, and 29 get signed by the Governor (without being watered down), and they keep the spending somewhat in check, it will be difficult to walk away from this session upset.

Bottom Line: We'll know in two months.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dana Loesch's Counterproductive Misdiagnosis


"For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods."
Exodus 7:12

Dana Loesch is a friend of this website.  We've known each other for many years.  We've been on her show.

Thus, we appreciate her discussing Texas-specific challenges last night on Twitter.

Unfortunately, however, her diagnosis misses the mark.

Specifically, she says:

She's not wrong that this is a problem. But it's not one that's caused by the state party.  The state party are the ones trying to remedy the situation.

The problem, unfortunately, is that Republicans don't vote in local elections. Nothing more. Nothing less. There's only so much a political party can do when citizens are apathetic.

Furthermore, to make that accusation against a state party chairman who helped elect three Republicans to the Austin City Council is historically ignorant.



More accurate statement: In 2020, the Texas GOP needs an affirmative record of accomplishments on which to run.  If that happens, they're fine.  They'll probably even pick up a few of the state rep seats they lost last fall.

Unfortunately, given where we are in the session, the odds of that happening are cloudy at best....


You can't organize if you don't have a record on which to run.


Perhaps, to a degree. Democrats certainly have more data than they did five years ago. But none of that matters if Republicans are giving their own voters a reason to show up.
Again, Dana's correct to recognize a problem.   We're glad she did.  But the problem is the elected officials, not the state party.

A few other points:
  • Anyone who wants to understand why the left has newfound momentum in Texas needs to look at Trump.  Anyone who pretends otherwise is either foolish or in denial.  If reading that last sentence made you angry, then you're part of the problem.
  • We wouldn't be in this mess if national conservative media hadn't spent the past decade giving Greg Abbott softball interviews.
  • A word or two about election integrity (esp. in Dallas, Hays, and Travis counties) would have been helpful.
  • There's still time to get these trends moving in the right direction during the current legislative session, if anyone wants to help.
Bottom Line: We appreciate the attention, we just wish it were focused on the real problem....

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#TXLEGE: House trying to extend local-level corporate welfare under the radar


"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here. Our testimony on the first bill is about an hour in.  Our second testimony is about an hour after that.  We'll update this post with our others.]

This afternoon, we've testified against two bills in House Ways and Means.  We're waiting to testify in favor of two others.  But the pattern is becoming clear.

The House is moving to extend two of the most noxious corporate welfare programs in this state.  "Chapter 312" are local tax abatements that subsidize displacement and gentrification.  "Chapter 313" are ineffective school-district boondoggles.  They want to extend both.

The bills related to Chapter 312 and 313 are the following:
  • HB 360         Murphy
    Relating to the extension of the expiration date of the Property Redevelopment and Tax Abatement Act.
  • HB 2129        Murphy            
    Relating to the extension of the expiration of certain parts of the Texas Economic Development Act.
Both programs share the same problem: They (kinda sorta) cut taxes for already wealthy people who can afford to hire lobbyists.  Everyone else gets nothing.  All this at a time when property tax reform for regular people languishes.

[Note: For perspective, HB 2 has been sitting in committee since the UTSA game.]

There's been a lot of talk this session about how to "pay for" property tax reform.  We don't particularly accept the premise of that question, but we understand why folks are asking it.  If we are going to have to "pay for" property tax reform for regular Texans, these sorts of special interest carve outs are the first place to look.

Furthermore, it's galling to hear these corporate guys whine about their school taxes.  On Chapter 313, specifically, we've heard corporate lobbyist after corporate lobbyist after corporate lobbyist going on about their burdensome school taxes.  Unfortunately, they couldn't care less about the rest of us.  As long as their lobbyists can get them special tax breaks.

To be honest, these corporate guys are making a great case for a much bigger tax compression as part of any school finance reform.

Finally, on Chapter 312/313, we'll say this: Having Jim Friggin' Murphy carry this bill might not be the best optics.

That being said, the committee is hearing two other bills to significantly increase transparency in the process:
  • HB 2799        Sanford                 
    Relating to economic development.
  • HB 1977        Cole               
    Relating to a requirement that a fiscal impact statement be provided before a taxing unit may enter into a tax abatement agreement.
Both are good.  Not surprisingly, the Sanford bill is better than the Cole bill.  But either one would be a significant improvement over the status quo.

Bottom Line: Must be nice to be able to afford lobbyists; unfortunately, that's not an option for the rest of us....

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#TXLEGE: Abbott is going to have to VETO (at least) 100 Bills


"Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,"
Acts 4:29

As we observe House committee hearings for this week, one trend is emerging:

Here's the problem: We don't have the bandwidth to read all those bills.

Here's the other problem: Given the way this session is going, a bunch of those bills are going to pass.

That's where Greg Abbott's veto is going to come into play.

Whatever his other flaws, historically speaking, Greg Abbott has been a reasonably decent last line of defense against bad bills.

We're going to need that more than ever this session.

Bottom Line: It's a sad statement on where we are in the session, but it's reality....

Monday, March 18, 2019

#TXLEGE:Four Good Bills (and one STINKER)


"He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
Mark 16:16

{Note: The committee hearing can be viewed here; our testimony on the smoking age bill is about two and a half hours in, our testimony on the election integrity is about five hours in.]

We spent most of today in the Senate State Affairs committee.  We testified on two bills and dropped cards on two others.  Finally, we discovered a bill that, while we weren't aware it was getting a hearing today, is totally worth supporting.

The Good:
  • SB 13          Creighton               
    Relating to the ethics of public officials, including restrictions relating to lobbying and the personal financial statements of public officials; creating a criminal offense.

    This is similar to ethics legislation the House has killed in previous sessions. Testimony on the bill was closed by the time we arrived at the hearing. But this very worthwhile.
  • SB 9           Hughes                  
    Relating to election integrity; increasing criminal penalties; creating a criminal offense; creating civil penalties.

    This is the omnibus election integrity package. Others argued in-favor of it far more eloquently than we could. We're sure they'll write about it in detail as well. But this is must pass legislation for this session.
  • SB 29          Hall                    
    Relating to expenditures for lobbying activities made by certain entities.

    This is the Senate compainion to the ban on taxpayer funded lobbying. We were out of the room when they called us to testify. But there isn't anything to say on this topic we haven't already said.
  • SB 22          Campbell | et al.        
    Relating to prohibiting certain transactions between a governmental entity and an abortion provider or affiliate of the provider.

    This bill would prohibit municipal governments from subsidizing abortion providers; obviously, this bill doesn't prevent a single abortion, but it's nevertheless worthwhile.
The Awful:
  • SB 21          Huffman | et al.         
    Relating to the distribution, possession, purchase, consumption, and receipt of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products.


    The smoking age bill. Such a terrible bill for many reasons. Unfortunately, there's a good chance it will require the Governor's veto.

    Yeah, we know....
Bottom Line: For better or worse, bills are moving this session....

Saturday, March 16, 2019

"Texas isn't a basketball school" is a Bullshit-Ass Excuse


"But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’"
Luke 14:18

The Shaka Smart situation is a mess.  Personally, we're over him.  But we understand the numbers.  There are times when reality constrains you.

Nevertheless, there's one part of this discussion that bothers us: This notion that "Texas isn't a Basketball school" because "Texas is a Football/Baseball school."

Horse manure.

The reason why, historically, Texas' fan base has paid more attention to Baseball and Football is because, historically, Baseball and Football has been more interesting.

There's nothing wrong with the Basketball program that a decade of winning wouldn't fix.

Especially with a new arena.

We're not advocating any specific course right now.  As we said above, we understand the constraints reality is currently imposing.  But it is to say that those constraints are temporary.

It can be done.

Even with the challenges, Kevin Durant, Myles Turner, Jarrett Allen, Mo Bamba, and Jaxson Hayes sure seemed to think Texas was a Basketball school.  That's a sure-fire Hall of Famer and a whole bunch of All-Stars.  Imagine what could happen if the entire program were moving in the right direction.

Bottom Line: It's a matter of will....

Friday, March 15, 2019

Early returns on O'Rourke's Presidential Campaign illustrate Cruz's Cataclysmic FAILURE last year


"[H]e is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
James 1:8

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he's running.  Nobody's surprised.  That being said, we have one observation.

Why, pray tell, have we heard more about O'Rourke's Billionaire daddy-in-law during the past day and a half than we did during the year and a half long U.S. Senate campaign?!?

The obvious answer is that the media cares about such things more now than they did at the time.  There's a lot of truth to that.  But, even so, that's not good enough.

The evidence that O'Rourke abused his authority, to steal land from poor people of color, all to benefit his billionaire daddy-in-law, was always hiding in plain sight.

Throughout last year's U.S. Senate race, we made the point that O'Rourke was nothing more than a typical scumbag Texas politician over and over and over again.  Without getting into too much detail, we made similar points privately to the Cruz campaign (using much stronger language).  Unfortunately, this aspect of O'Rourke's record was, at best, underutilized.

Instead, Cruz's team decided to make the election about hair dye (we all know how that turned out).

Bottom Line: Better late than never (perhaps)....

Thursday, March 14, 2019

#TXLEGE: Repeal THIS protectionist racket for a small-ball health care win


"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,"
Ephesians 3:20

Did you know that Texas has some of the most restrictive laws on who can provide medication in the country?!?  Neither did we, until we attended this afternoon's TPPF event: "Physician Dispense Laws: Can Texas Make Medications More Affordable?" Texas is worse than California on this.

Currently in Texas, if a Doctor writes a prescription, the patient is required by law to make a separate trip to a pharmacy to fill the prescription.  This despite the fact that it's legal in 46 other states for a doctor to dispense medication in their office.  That's asinine, and it drives up costs to consumers.

In some cases, those cost increases are dramatic: Panelists mentioned cost escalations of 60% to 80% on some drugs.

Fortunately, there's hope: HB 460, by Matt Shaheen, would address this issue.  The bill was heard last week.  It's currently pending in committee.

Shaheen specifically asked the public to talk to members of the Public Health committee.  Senfronia Thompson is chair.  We'll post her office contact info below.

If we're ever going to fix the health care system, this sort of small-ball effort is how you build the credibility necessary for that sort of undertaking.

Bottom Line: Honestly, the fact that California is better than us on this issue speaks for itself.

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Representative Senfronia Thompson:
Chair, House Committee on Public Health
(512) 463-0720

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Minjarez Physician Dispense... by on Scribd


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

#TXLEGE: Coalition DEMANDS Ending Taxpayer Funded Lobbying


"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

From the inbox:
Coalition Demands Eliminating Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying 
AUSTIN— Today, a coalition of conservative groups called on the Texas legislature to support measures that would significantly limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to use taxpayer dollars to pay for lobbyists. In the last session, local Texas governments spent some $41 million of taxpayer money on contract lobbyists. A poll taken last December by WPA Intelligence showed that 91 percent of Texans opposed using tax dollars to pay for lobbying, including 80 percent who strongly opposed it.

Several bills introduced in the 86th Legislature would create an outright ban on using taxpayer money to pay for lobbyists, while others would significantly increase transparency and accountability, including voter approval, for any tax-funded lobbying.

The coalition calling for ending taxpayer-funded lobbying includes the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, the Republican Party of Texas, Grassroots America – We the People, Americans for Prosperity – Texas, Convention of States, and the Kingwood TEA Party.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for lobbyists who often push for legislation that contradicts the interest of the taxpayer,” said the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Executive Director Kevin Roberts. “We need better reporting requirements, accountability, and transparency to ensure tax dollars are used the way they are intended and not to influence the decisions made by the people’s elected state representatives.”

“Texas has a national reputation as a bastion for conservative governance. Yet many Americans would be surprised to learn that in Texas, Lone Star State taxpayers see their hard-earned taxpayer dollars used to hire well-heeled lobbyists who push state legislators to further raise various taxes and fees,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Taxpayer dollars should be used to finance core functions of government, not pad the bank accounts of high-priced lobbyists whose job it is to grow government, not the economy. Americans for Tax Reform is urging Texas lawmakers to end this unjust misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

"At the 2018 State Convention, Republicans supported ending taxpayer-funded lobbying by an overwhelming 94 percent," said RPT Chairman James Dickey. "They voted for this because they know it is vital that we prohibit taxing entities from using tax dollars to lobby against the interests of the taxpayers. This deplorable activity must come to an end."

“Taxpayers’ hard-earned money is used against them to lobby for laws and policies that spend too much, borrow too much, tax too much, and regulate too much,” said JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director, Grassroots America – We the People. “Taxpayer-funded lobbying is akin to inviting a robber into your home to steal you blind – except the homeowner doesn’t do the inviting. His local elected officials do. It’s time to end it.”

“Local governments already have lobbyists – the duly elected state senators and representatives from their areas. Spending taxpayer money on third-party lobbyists is not an appropriate role of local government or in the best interest of taxpayers,” said Sam Sheetz, Policy Director of Americans for Prosperity – Texas.

"Our elected representatives at all levels are supposed to work with one another to represent and act in the best interest of We the People,” said Shelby Williams, Texas State Director of Convention of States. “To use our hard-earned tax dollars to pay lobbyists to advocate for the bureaucracy–over the people–is an abrogation of their sacred duty under the American system of government."

“The boundless greed of local Texas governments is bankrupting Texas and driving so many of the destructive policies and bills in the Texas legislature. Kingwood TEA Party supports the effort to end taxpayer dollars being used to pay for local government lobbyists,” said Jim and Robin Lennon of the Kingwood TEA Party.
 Bottom Line: Taxpayer-funded lobbying is a wretched, disgraceful, practice....

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: Thoughts on House School Finance proposal....


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

We're still traveling.  Don't know when we're back in Austin.  We'll testify if we get back in time, but if not here are our thoughts on Huberty's school finance bill.

If we testify today, it will be "on:"

  • The process really is better this time.  Last session, the house's so-called "school finance" efforts were nothing more than an attempt to jam a thumb in the Senate's eye.  This session, the House is approaching the issue in good faith.
    • Note: This is a major change, and one that deserves recognition.
  • The school finance commission was a healthy process, and we're glad that some of the worst ideas from last session seem to have been jettisoned.
  • For the first time in recent memory, taxpayers are part of the discussion on school finance.
Nevertheless:
  • This is an astronomical amount of new spending for a miniscule amount of tax relief.
  • No matter how much the legislature wants to believe otherwise, Texans are not clamoring to throw more money (tm) at the status quo.  Texans want property tax relief.
  • That being said, school finance reform is a mechanism to deliver tax relief.
  • For the amount of money the legislature wants to spend, you could completely abolish Robin Hood AND boost spending on academic instruction by a fairly robust amount.
  • Besides the (fairly modest) amount dedicated to tax relief, all other spending decisions funded by this bill will be left to bureaucrats.
  • In a choice between completely abolishing Robin Hood and shoveling Billions to bureaucrats, it doesn't take a genius to know which Texans would prefer.
  • If completely abolishing Robin Hood isn't addressed in committee, expect to see that amendment on the floor.
  • Worst case scenario: "[INSERT LEGISLATOR'S NAME HERE]: Billions for bureaucrats, crumbs for taxpayers" is a campaign slogan that writes itself.
  • Any attempt to empower bureaucrats at the expense of the elected State Board of Education is an obvious non-starter.
Bottom Line: This bill, and this process, can still go either way.  There have been positive developments, but other signs are worrisome.  We hope, between now and sine die, that the legislature chooses more of the former and less of the latter....

Monday, March 11, 2019

#TXLEGE: Campus Free Speech Bill FLIES out of Senate committee!!!


"Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?!?"
Galatians 4:16

We're travelling today, but we did notice that SB 18 was up in Senate State Affairs:
Relating to the protection of expressive activities at public institutions of higher education.
We had originally intended to discuss the bill, when we noticed something even more ASTONISHING:
Wow, that's quick!!!  Normally, the committee would sit on the bill for a week or so.  Also, if Democrats are voting for this bill, that means SB 18 has the votes to pass on the floor.  Possibly even unanimously.

That's good.  This session seems to be taking on a very bi-polar persona.  Obviously, there's a lot of garbage out there.  But good things seem to be moving as well.

Bottom Line: This development is very positive.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

#TXLEGE: Why, pray tell, is the Texas Senate making THE SMOKING AGE priority legislation?!?


"A foolish woman is clamorous;
She is simple, and knows nothing."
Proverbs 9:13

We were investigating the Senate's newly announced priorities, when we noticed the following:
SB21 - Raise the Smoking Age 21 - Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston
Wait...what?!?

But it's right there, in the text of the bill:
 Sec. 161.082.  SALE OF CIGARETTES, E-CIGARETTES, OR TOBACCO
PRODUCTS TO PERSONS YOUNGER THAN 21 [18] YEARS OF AGE PROHIBITED;
PROOF OF AGE REQUIRED.
Is this a joke?!?

This is a cartoonishly nanny-state proposal. We suppose that smoking by those between 18 and 21 years of age is less than desirable.  But it's none of the government's DAMN BUSINESS!!!

Furthermore, why is this a top-30 priority?!? Nobody in Texas is asking for this. We can't prove it, but based on history, we strongly suspect there are lobbyists (somehow, some way) getting paid off of this.

Finally, for those who care about such things, this is quite the message to send young people: We trust you to fight wars, but heaven forbid you smoke a cigarette to help manage the stress.

[Note: The exact same principle applies with alcohol.]

Bottom Line: Ladies and Gentlemen, your allegedly 'conservative' Texas Senate....

-------

Senator Joan Huffman: (512) 463-0117

Friday, March 8, 2019

#TXLEGE: Are we trying to prevent Abortions?!? (Or, will cheap theatrics suffice?!?)


"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

Interesting:
AUSTIN — A North Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that could result in doctors being fined for not trying to save an infant born after an abortion.

Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, filed House Bill 16 on Thursday. The legislation would require doctors to provide "appropriate medical treatment" in the event that a fetus lives through an attempted abortion. The parent or guardian — or the infant itself — could sue the physician for damages, and the state attorney general could impose a $100,000 fine if it's proved such treatment was not provided.

"With the filing of the Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act today, the Texas Legislature will draw a line in the sand, proclaiming clearly and loudly on behalf of the Texans we represent, that a baby who survives an abortion deserves the full protection of the law and the highest standards of medical care," Leach said Thursday at a news conference packed with the bill's supporters.

....

Brenham Republican Lois Kolkhorst, who is sponsoring the bill in the Texas Senate, said she hopes Lone Star State conservatives will prevail where Washington's failed.
One and a half cheers. Hip, hip, hooray. Hip, hip....

That's all the enthusiasm we can muster.

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.

This is a defensive; pro-lifers need to go on offense.

"Going on offense" means actively preventing abortions.

There are currently 3 approaches in play to go on offense:

  • Outright abolition.
    • Note: This author has some very serious reservations about this approach, but it's a debate worth having.
  • Heartbeat.
  • Pre-Born Non-Discrimination.
There's a very valid debate in terms of which of these is most prudent, but all three share one common factor: They PREVENT abortions.

[Note: From a narrowly-defined political perspective, PreNDA is the vote we want to make every Democrat elected last fall take.]

Bottom Line: Go on offense....

Thursday, March 7, 2019

#TXLEGE: Abbott's Regent Nominees pretty seem pretty "meh"


"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Revelation 3:16

That answers that question:
Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Nolan Perez, M.D. to the University of Texas System Board of Regents for a term set to expire on February 1, 2021. Additionally, the Governor appointed Christina Melton Crain, Jodie Lee Jiles, and Kelcy Warren for terms set to expire on February 1, 2025.

Nolan Perez, M.D. of Harlingen is CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas. He is a member of the Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and the American Gastroenterologic Association, and a is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Gastroenterology. He has served as a member of the Texas Woman's University Board of Regents since 2015, and as board chair since 2017. He is a Trustee for Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, having first been elected in 2010. He also serves on the University of Texas Foundation, UT Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, UT Austin Development Board, UT Rio Grande Valley Development Board Executive Committee, Holdsworth Center Governing Board, Humanities of Texas Board, Texas Lyceum Board of Directors, and Educate Texas Advisory Board. Additionally, he is a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, Texas Foundation for Innovative Communities, Lone Star National Bank Board, Senator John Cornyn’s Service Academy Nominations Board, and FIRST in Texas Foundation. Perez received a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin and a Medical Doctorate from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, and fellowship training in Gastroenterology at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center. After medical school he served in the U.S. Navy as a Medical Corps Officer.

Christina Melton Crain of Dallas is an attorney and the founder and president/CEO of Unlocking DOORS. She is a member of the American Correctional Association and the Texas Corrections Association. She is president of the Trinity River Authority of Texas Board of Directors, a public member of the Texas Public Transportation Advisory Council, a former chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice and serves as the prisoner representative on The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Institutional Review Board. She is a past director of the State Bar of Texas and past president the Dallas Bar Association, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and the Dallas Women Lawyers Association. She is a life member of The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council, a former board member of the Center for Missing/Exploited Children-Texas Region, and a former trustee of the Dallas Bar Foundation. Crain received a Bachelor of Arts in government from The University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctor degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Jodie Lee Jiles of Houston is director of business development for Transwestern. He is a member of The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, the UT Health Development Board and former board member of the Texas Southern University Foundation. He served as chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council and is currently on the Executive Committee. He is former chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership and a lifetime director. Additionally, he is a former gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a former director of The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas-Houston Branch. He is a trustee of the Texas Children’s Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine where he serves on both Executive Committees. Currently, he is chairman of Loving Kids and a former board member of KIPP Academy. Jiles received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Texas Southern University and a Master of Professional Accountancy from The University of Texas at Austin.

Kelcy Warren of Dallas is chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. He has received numerous awards for his outstanding career achievements and contributions toward the advancement of the midstream industry. He is a member of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, and is also active in organizations outside the energy business—he serves on the board of directors of The Klyde Warren Park, The Lamplighter School, and The University of Texas at Arlington. He also supports a number of children’s charities around the country through Cherokee Crossroads, Inc. Warren received a Bachelor of Science from The University of Texas at Arlington.

These appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
Hard to make much of these appointments.   Honestly, we've never heard of any other them.  They seem to be university graduates who've gone on to do other prestigious things.  That being said, extremely establishment/status quo.

One interesting tidbit: Three of the four don't seem to be major political donors.  A couple hundred here or there, but nothing eye-popping.  Seems noteworthy.

But then you see this from Kelcy Warren:


This author doesn't particularly care, but expect others to raise the issue.

Bottom Line: Missed opportunity.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

#TXLEGE: Given inch, Huberty et. al. take a frickin' mile


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

SIGH, of course:
Faced with a surplus of state funds this biennium, and flanked by Democrat and Republican lawmakers, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood) announced House Bill 3, the chamber’s plan for school finance reform and property tax relief.

Dubbed “The Texas Plan” in marketing materials published immediately after the announcement, HB 3 would add $9 billion in new state funding of public education in addition to the other $2 billion increase for projected enrollment growth.

The “Basic Allotment”, or the amount of funding per student, would be raised from $5,140 to $6,030, representing an $890 increase per student.

The legislation would also provide property tax relief by compressing school tax rates by four cents statewide, while reducing Robin Hood projected recapture payments by more than 38% during the biennium.
To be fair: At least at the conceptual level, this approach is less bad than what the House pushed last session.  Clearly, the school finance commission was helpful.  At a minimum, with the benefit of hindsight, we now know that punting the issue into this session was the right move.

But let's get real: This is an astronomical amount of new spending, with miniscule tax relief.

NINE.  BILLION.  DOLLARS.

Given the size, and composition, of the fiscal note, details (almost) don't matter.  But the details recommend this plan even less.  This proposal gives too much leeway to spendaholic school districts.

Say what you will about the Senate's teacher pay proposal.  It's pretty mediocre.  But at least the Senate is earmarking their spending for classroom instruction.

The House proposal, by contrast, is a blank check for bureaucrats.

Then there's this:




Obviously unacceptable.

Nevertheless, one reality remains: The easiest, practical, way to move from property to consumption taxes is by having the state take over a larger share of school funding.  That's still true.  But, for that reality to matter, that rate compression needs to be a lot bigger.

"A lot bigger" means eliminating Robin Hood.

If that doesn't happen in committee, we'll see you on the floor.

Bottom Line: It's not the worst school finance proposal we've ever seen, but it needs a lot more work before it's a win for Texas taxpayers.