Citizens’ Filibuster and more

Most notably, after holding a largely successful “Citizens Filibuster” into the wee hours of the morning yesterday, the House State Affairs Committee adjourned without voting on the Omnibus Abortion restriction bill. However, the committee quietly reconvened today and voted out the bill.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the hearings on HB60, the equivalent of the Senate’s anti-abortion bill but also including the 20 week ban, extended until 3:40 in the morning last night as nearly 2000 women showed up to testify against the burdensome regulations. I was in meetings all day today, so I never had a chance to be on the first people writing on this. Off the Kuff, Texas Leftist and Brains & Eggs (who spelled my name right, yea!!!) have much more on the topic of the filibuster.

The bigger issue, unfortunately, is that it didn’t really mean much. The Texas Tribune reports that the State Affairs Committee approved the bill anyway. However, there is actually quite a lot to discuss on the actions by this committee. The committee not only approved HB60, which is different than the Senate’s bill (SB5), but they also rubber-stamped SB5 itself. This means the legislation goes straight to Perry if the full House votes favorably upon it. However, in one shining glimmer of hope, the Tribune article notes that there may have been a Point of Order violation when Chairman Bryan Cook cut testimony short.

From the Tribune article: “Farrar and reproductive rights advocates allege Cook’s decision to end testimony could endanger the legislation. House members may be able to kill the bill on a point of order if the committee did not follow proper legislative procedures when they ended testimony. If approved, advocates could also sue the state and seek to overturn the legislation, arguing the state ignored democratic processes by denying them the opportunity to speak on the bill.”

If Turner and his gang can P.O.O. the bill, that would be fabulous. I have always maintained that this bill would be unconstitutional and summarily thrown out in Federal Court. Last but not least, I thoroughly recommend watching Rachel Maddow’s thoughts on the matter. Jessica Farrar joins her as the guest (TX @ 6 min; Farrar @ 14 min).

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/#52280296

Though I can’t find an article for it, I know that the House third-read passed the redistricting maps. It’s a done deal now.

Finally, in an exceedingly bizarre series of events, the Austin American-Statesman reports that Sen. John Whitmire alleged that Governor Perry vetoed one of his bills, SB1234/Truancy Reform, by mistake. The article opened the idea of Perry calling a mea culpa on the matter, and the Legislature summarily re-approving the legislation in the final days of the Special Session. However, in the recent update to the article, Perry reaffirmed it was not by mistake. Even if it was (it probably was), there is no way he would ever admit to it, it would make him look too bad. Whitmire claims he had some good sources, but as our Editorial Board says, he isn’t always to be trusted.

I was supposed to meet with Dan Branch today, but Special Session needs came calling. I did get to see, in unrelated news, a mock trial being put on by Dallas County. It was the hypothetical “Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald.” After a very, very, very short trial for Capital Murder (three hours), a jury of Dallas’ judges deadlocked 9-3 in favor of guilt. It will be in the news soon enough, and you will probably see me in the video (I’m in the second row).

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King James VII

This is two days old (I was in meetings all day yesterday), but nonetheless very important news. The House has rejected the Senate’s bill to impose term limits on statewide officeholders. While most news sources had a line or two about this in their wire service, nobody wrote a major article on it–with the significant exception of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

The bill had been proposed and pushed through the Senate by Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), where it passed on a 27-4 vote. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) had similarly been campaigning for the bill, SJR 13, in the House. Not only did the bill fail to garner the 2/3 majority required for passage of a Constitutional Amendment, it couldn’t even muster up majority support. The roll call was 61 in favor, 80 in opposition.

While I want to just blame the tea party and the far-right for this, about half the Democratic caucus also voted in opposition to this legislation. Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado and Jessica Farrar, just to name a few Houstonians. The bill would have imposed term limits for EACH executive office (Gov, L. Gov, AG, etc), of two four-year terms. The limits would not be effective to current officeholders, meaning Perry would still be able to serve, hypothetically, through 2023. It’s official, Perry is now “King James VII.”

Parker’s ‘grassroots’ rally

The Houston Chronicle (stupid paywall) reports on the recent grassroots rally Annise Parker held to start off her heavy campaign. I went to the rally myself (I’ve gotten a few calls–evidently I was on the news), and I have a few thoughts of the top of my head.

First, I truly did like Parker’s speech. Often times, politicians (even ostensibly good ones, like the President) have to, well, act like useless politicians and simply use a bunch of buzz words in rah-rah speeches that lack any real substance. Parker’s speech yesterday was not like that. She very clearly, competently explained what she did in the past. She did not run from her record. It was quite refreshing to see a politician do that. Unfortunately, Parker did not offer many specifics, and might have dismissed her opponent, Ben Hall, too much. I am not someone who often thinks a politician should have attacked her or his opponent more, but this might have been an example. The tax fiasco of Hall is sort of a deal-breaker for me and a lot of people, Parker should use it. Go for jugular.

I was disappointed, however, to see how few elected officials were at the rally in solidarity with the Mayor. Vince Ryan was the only elected official there, and there were only a handful of candidates there.

Parker’s list of supporters did not have any surprises either. The typical liberal, white intelligentsia (Chris Bell, Kristi Thibaut, Glen Maxey and Scott Hochberg) are always a staple of the campaign. Repeat endorsers from 2009, Jessica Farrar, Garnet Coleman and Borris Miles, were not developments as well. Al Hoang’s endorsement was probably the most surprising.

Off the Kuff and Brains & Eggs have more.

Lege update 5/10

I just got back from the Capital city, I won’t go into the details, but I accomplished a lot of great business. Anyways, I didn’t get the opportunity to discuss all the bills that the House has been passing recently, so let me go down the list.

First up, HB864, which cuts CHL training time, has been sent to the Governor.

The Chron reports that “Guns on Cars” has passed the House, 124-13, and has been sent to the Governor. Among those voting nay were Jessica Farrar and Carol Alvarado.

Using your cellphone as evidence for insurance was also sent to the Governor.

The expanded school breakfast program sent to Perry too.

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The Chronicle reports that the “Space X Bill,” Rene Oliveira’s HB 2623, has unanimously passed the Senate. The bill would allow open beaches to be shut down during SpaceX launches in very limited circumstances. Whitmire previously had some reservations over the measure, but those must have been alleviated. It’s a good bill, and it heads to Perry now.

Speaking of Whitmire, the Statesman reports that he is dropping most of his opposition to the “Guns on Campus” bill. He feels that the new system, which allows opt-outs, is not especially controversial. “I think it will pass,” Whitmire said of the legislation.

 

Sylvia Garcia takes office

Photo: I'm fortunate and proud to be on-hand as Senator Garcia was sworn in today. The people of SD6 and beyond will be well represented!

I have been informed by Rep. Farrar’s office that Sylvia Garcia has officially taken office, just days after the bill filing deadline. How utterly ridiculous is that (or the mere presence of a bill filing deadline), but that is neither here nor there. I haven’t gotten any actual newspapers reporting on this event, so I have not heard any statements from the new Senator, so updates to come.

UPDATE: Lieutenant Governor has appointed Senator Garcia to Government Organization, Intergovernmental Relations, and Jurisprudence and Nominations Committees.

Garcia wins

With 100% of the precincts reporting, Sylvia Garcia won the SD06 runoff with roughly 53% of the vote, to Carol Alvarado’s 47%. 18,000 people voted in this runoff, compared to about 16,000 in January for the original special election.

Kuff has some info that insinuates Garcia will not be taking office for probably another two weeks, thereby disqualifying her from introducing legislation. What a bunch of hooey. However, it seems to be that Rep. Farrar, who was a huge backer of Garcia’s campaign, should just introduce the legislation on behalf of the Senator-elect.

Unfortunately for me, this means no writing about a Special HD145 election, but fortunately for me, my endorsed candidate won. Anyways the election was somewhat anticlimactic.

Poll day

All those lucky citizens in SD06, make sure to hit the polls today! The special election to succeed the late-Senator Gallegos is now underway. I believe the polls close at 7PM, so I will be posting some live results as they filter in. So, without further ado, one final look at the candidates.

Carol Alvarado
Endorsed by Senator Gallegos on his deathbed, as well as the late-Senator’s widow, Alvarado, a State Representative and former City Councilmember, has the backing of much of the Hispanic establishment, including Councilmember James Rodriguez.

Sylvia Garcia
Endorsed by Mayor Parker and State Rep. Jessica Farrar, Garcia, a former County Commissioner, City Controller, and Judge, is the favorite of most City Hall aficionados.

R.W. Bray
The Republican in the race. Also the Republican who lost in November. Now, I know SD06 is really liberal, and it made sense to posthumously elect Gallegos so that there would be a special election, but losing an election to a dead person just destroys your political reputation.

Now, I live in SD17, so I don’t have to vote in this race, thus, I am not endorsing. I don’t especially care which Democrat wins this seat, I just like to watch the game. I suppose, then, you could say this is like the Superbowl for me this year.