Abbott opposes texting ban

The Associated Press reports (the Corpus Christi Caller-Times had it first, but it is paywalled) that Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Governor, would veto a proposed ban on texting-while-driving. As many will recall, Governor Rick Perry vetoed such a bill in 2011, and in 2013 the bill languished in the Legislature and never made it to his desk. Perry claimed that educational campaigns were preferable to changing the law and that it amounted to governmental micromanaging of one’s life. Indeed, Abbott has taken up the same point of view.

In 2011, both Houses of the Legislature passed the bill –which would have made it a moving violation citation (Class C misdemeanor) to send ANY type of communication from your cell phone while it is in motion, including not only texting, but email, messaging and any type of general internet usage– by supermajorities, veto-proof margins. However, because the Legislature adjourned before Perry could offer a final adjudication on the matter, his veto could not be overridden. The bill was heralded in the Legislature, of all people, by State Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland County), a firebrand Republican who once served as Speaker of the House. He introduced the bill in 2013, where it was passed by a supermajority, though no vote was ever taken in the Senate.

Click here to read more about future prospects!

Texpatriate endorses in Lieutenant Governor runoff

The Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor perplexes us in a way most other races do not. Simply put, we find both candidates to be extraordinarily hypocritical. A demagogue and a grandstander, the options for voters are not especially good this cycle. However, at the end of the day, we find that Dewhurst’s sane record of accomplished public service, no matter how much he may eschew it now, is superior to Patrick’s always unpredictable and often untested history.

A non-ideological technocrat and policy wonk at heart, Dewhurst has an impressive track record of competently leading the State in part. As many may recall, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas has often been called the State’s most powerful officer because it commands unencumbered powers over the State Senate. The Lieutenant Governor names committee chairs, and then decides which bills go to which committee. In summation, he chooses whether a bill lives or dies. Of course, this relationship with the Senate is a symbiotic one, which can largely be taken away by an unhappy Senate. Accordingly, a strong but respectful Lieutenant Governor is needed to maintain the integrity of that body.

We simply do not think Patrick fulfills that requirement, particularly the “respectful” part. He has made no shortage of enemies (mostly within his own party) following his brief sojourn in the chamber, fellow Senators who will be invaluable for a smooth stewardship of the Senate.

Click here to read our full endorsement!

TTU poll says Wendy is screwed

The more important matter is whether or not this poll, commissioned by Texas Tech University, is worth its weight in paper.  Hardcore Republicans will, no doubt, point to this result as evidence that the gubernatorial election is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a competitive contest. Hardcore Democrats will undoubtedly explain that the poll oversampled GOP participants, while also pointing to the 4.8% margin of error.

The poll, which contacted a few hundred people by telephone, pegged the gubernatorial election as Greg Abbott (R) at 54% and a mere 25% to Wendy Davis (D). A whopping 29-point lead for Abbott is leaps and bounds above any other poll result he has gotten thus far in the campaign. Astute readers of my opinion will be quite familiar with my cynicism, though even I would not say Abbott will get over two-thirds of the vote. PPP, long regarded by myself as the most reliable pollster, has long estimated the race at about a 14/15 point for Abbott. That being said, this poll looks rather legitimate, which should give the Davis campaign pause.

Click here to read more!

Council update, 4/16

The Houston City Council had a rather busy meeting today, unanimously passing two major ordinances. Additionally, conversations were sparked on two other major issues. Specifically, the previously-noted hoarding ordinance passed, as well as a provision to expand subsidies for downtown living. Meanwhile, the discussion over both One Bin for All (recycling programs) and the Wage Theft ordinance’s implications continued.

First up, the Council unanimously passed the hoarding ordinance. Jayme Fraser at the Houston Chronicle has a somewhat fuller story on the topic. Among the provisions in the ordinance are fines (up to $550/day) for rampant hoarders who disturb the peace of their neighbors and clarifications on when the police could step in without a warrant. Councilmembers such as Richard Nguyen have previously voiced concern on the prospect of criminalizing a mental illness. However, following a reassurance from the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, these fears were largely placated.

Next, the Council unanimously approved additional subsidies for living downtown. Mike Morris, also at the Houston Chronicle, first reported this on Twitter. Morris wrote a lengthier analysis in the paper on this issue last month; the issue at play, essentially, is that the City will continue offering subsidies of up to $15,000 per unit to the downtown developers.

Click here to read about the Recycling and Wage Theft developments!