No Special Session

The Texas Tribune reports that a joint agreement between Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus has been reached to immediately augment funding for the Department of Public Safety in order to beef border patrols. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Governor, also backed this plan.

As the sagacious will surely recall, there have been thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the Texas-Mexico border in recent weeks, reportedly migrating –at least in part– in response to the US’s lenient policy toward undocumented minors. Obviously, the key folly with this line of reasoning is that everyone –minor or not– apprehended at the border is slated for deportation immediately. Anyways, as a direct result of this recent flareup, some prominent Republicans have begun clamoring for a special session of the Texas Legislature to address the issue. Most notably, State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, pushed his nativist rhetoric hard, even giving a hat-tip to previous controversial statements made about immigrants and “third world diseases.” I pushed hard a couple of days ago about just how bad of an idea that it would be to accept such a proposition, as an innocuous border protection session could very easily morph into a right-wing think tank producing Arizona-style immigration policies.

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It’s a trap!

The Texas Tribune reports that a gaggle of Republican politicians, lead by State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor, have began pushing for Governor Rick Perry to call a fourth special session of the Texas Legislature to deal with border security.

The Washington Post provides the needed background on this issue. There have been tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border, with some evidence that they are coming here because of deferred action programs delaying the deportation of minor undocumented immigrants. Anyways, the powers-to-be have quickly realized that something needs to be done. Breitbart notes that Perry has said that, given current budget constraints, he can do little over the issue.

Accordingly, enter State Reps. Jonathan Strickland (R-Tarrant County) and Steve Toth (R-Montgomery County). The two pushed for the Governor to call a fourth special session specifically devoted to border security. By the end of the day, Patrick had publicly signed onto the matter. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, now a lame duck but still President of the Senate for the time being, also supported the measure via his Facebook page.

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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.

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Abbott and Davis on equal pay

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the gubernatorial campaigns have begun fighting a war of words over the Equal Pay for Equal Work act and how each candidate would handle the issue. As some may recall, back in June, Governor Rick Perry vetoed a new equal pay for women bill that would have mirrored Texas law to newly implemented Federal standards. The controversy specifically revolves around the statute of limitations for such suits, which has previously been defined as 180 days from the date the allegedly discriminatory pay was set. In 2009, President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act into law, which shifted the statute of limitations to 18o days following the last allegedly discriminatory paycheck received.

Following a 2012 decision of the Texas Supreme Court, renewed attention was placed on State law, which still had the “180 days from first paycheck” limitation placed upon it. Thus, State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Harris County) reintroduced a bill in the State Legislature last session to make Texas law mirror existing Federal regulations. Reasons for this include the fact that the State Court system is significantly cheaper and less cumbersome than the Federal system. The bill, which had State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic nominee for Governor, as its main co-sponsor in the upper chamber, passed by razor-thin margins before being vetoed by the Governor.

Click here to read more about Abbott & Davis’ positions on the matter!

Dewhurst adds to Ethics committee

The Houston Chronicle reports that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has appointed a new Democrat to the Texas Ethics Commission. As I noted back in December, Dewhurst had previously been considering former Congressman Craig Washington for the post. However, on Friday, it was determined that former State Representative Wilhemina Delco would be appointed to the position.

Delco was first nominated by State Senator Kirk Watson (D-Travis County), the de facto Senate Minority Leader. Likewise, Delco served in office from the capital area and continues to reside there to this day. Delco, 84, has a long and illustrious career in public service. She was first elected to public office in 1968, to the AISD School Board, being the first African-American person (much less, a woman) elected to office in Austin. In 1976, she was elected to the Texas House, where she served for ten terms.

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Sylvester Turner will run for Mayor

KRIV reports that Sylvester Turner, a longtime State Representative, will run for Mayor of Houston in 2015. Turner has run for Mayor twice before, in 1991 and 2003. While he finished in a distant third place in 2003, he proceeded into a very close runoff election during his first run. In that race, he lost in a squeaker to Bob Lanier after Wayne Dolcefino ran a slimy expose based on utter falsehoods. Turner later sued Dolcefino for libel, but that is neither here nor there. My point is that if you think of Sylvester Turner with preconceived notions of alleged wrongdoing, you are totally incorrect.

In the 22 years since then (30 years total, in the House), Turner has truly become a force to be reckoned with on the State Legislature. He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations Committee (the ranking Democrat) and is one of the biggest leaders among the minority party in the Capitol. Instrumental in the passage of a massive water-infrastructure constitutional amendment this past session, he earned a spot on Texpatriate’s list of Best LegislatorsTexas Monthly also noted his massive contribution to the session by naming him the Bull of the Brazos.

Click here to read Turner’s announcement!