Filing bills for the 84th

The Texas Tribune reports that bill filings have begun for next year’s session of the State Legislature. When all was said and done, about 350 proposed laws and constitutional amendments were proposed today. Oddly enough, all this commotion conspicuously occurred amid the silence of Governor-elect Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus (R-Bexar County). Most of the loudest initiatives came from Democrats and Tea Party Republicans, with both leadership and centrists mostly ducking away from the limelight.

For whatever reason, the Tribune as well as the Associated Press have been harping about a new proposed ban on texting-while-driving. The usual suspects, including former Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland County), have been pushing the measure once again, cautiously optimistic that the new Governor would consider the idea; a far cry from Governor Rick Perry, who infamously vetoed the bipartisan measure in 2011. However, Abbott noted in the course of the campaign that he too would likely veto a measure. Accordingly, it’s a dumb point to focus upon.

Most notable were three major Tea Party aspirations, all of which very well may get a vote in this upcoming session. First, three concurrent pieces of legislation (HB 106 by State Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van Zandt County); HB 164 by State Representative James White (R-Tyler County) and; HB 195 by State Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Tarrant County)) were all introduced that would have the effect of ushering in “open carry” in Texas, meaning that all CHL holders could openly show off their deadly weapons in any location its hidden counterpart would be welcome. Abbott has implied he would sign such a law.

Second, Stickland also introduced HB 209, which would do away with the Texas Dream Act, the bipartisan policy nearly unanimously passed at the start of Perry’s tenure that allows undocumented students brought into this country in their infancy to attend UT and other public universities at the “in-state” rate. Abbott would also sign this proposal.

Third, State Representative Jim Murphy (R-Harris County) introduced HB 193 while State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita County) introduced SB 105. The bills would repeal Texas’ unpopular franchise tax, the closest thing to taxes on corporate profits in the state.

That’s more or less what’s important, but I included a list below of the other assorted bills that piqued my interest one way or another:

  • HB41 by State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-Bexar County) would raise the minimum wage to about $10, while HB 174 would do the same for state contractors.
  • HB 53 by State Representative Ruth McClendon (D-Bexar County) would raise the age at which offenders are tried as an adult from 17 to 18, all other things being equal.
  • HB 68 by State Representative Robert Alonzo (D-Dallas County) would allow for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
  • HB 70 by State Representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso County) would provide for penalties for bullying on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in school districts.
  • HB 71 by Gonzalez would create a “Romeo & Juliet exception” for same-sex partners.
  • HB 76 by State Representative Ceila Israel (D-Travis County) would allow for online voter registration.
  • HB 78 by Gonzalez would provide for comprehensive sexual education in schools.
  • HB 81 by State Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Starr County) as well as HB 170 by State Representative Carol Alvarado (D-Harris County) would regulate e-cigarettes throughout the state, as well as prohibit their sale to minors.
  • HB 89 by Gonzalez would regulate tuition at public universities.
  • HB 91 by Flynn would create a legal marketplace for the sale of raw milk.
  • HB 92 by White would legalize possession of the “Bowie knife,” among other changes to the state’s knife laws.
  • HB 93, HB 107 and HB 110 by White would greatly reform and generally liberalize laws pertaining to truancy. Specifically, the fine would be reduced from $500 to $20, among other provisions.
  • HB 97 by Guillen as well as HB 189 by State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Harris County) would end the statute of limitations on sexual assault.
  • HB 108 by Guillen would retain the right of lottery winners to be anonymous.
  • HB 111 by Fischer would allow for voters to register to vote on election day.
  • HB 113 by State Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Harris County) would criminalize aborting a fetus based on its gender.
  • HB 116 by Fischer would expand Medicaid in Texas.
  • HB 124 by Fischer would expand free, universal Pre-Kindergarten throughout the state.
  • HB 130 by State Representative Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas County), as well as other pertinent joint resolutions, would legalize gay marriage in Texas.
  • HB 135 by Flynn would require High School students to take a civics class on the US Constitution.
  • HB 138 by Flynn would require the 10 Commandments be posted in schools, in clear defiance of the Supreme Court.
  • HB 142 by Stickland would prohibit the use of red light cameras for traffic citations.
  • HB 147 by State Representative Jose Menendez (D-Bexar County) would require merchants to receive photo identification for major purchases involving credit cards.
  • HB 150 by Flynn would nix day light saving’s time in Texas.
  • HB 161 by State Representative Lyle Larson (R-Bexar County) would allow prisons to house inmates in tents.
  • HB 176 by State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lee County) would somehow “allow” the state to not follow Federal laws involving guns that they did not fancy. The ignorance here is astounding.
  • HB 204 by State Representative Jeff Leach (R-Collin County) would shorten summer break for public schools by about two weeks.
  • HB 213 by State Representative Angie Button (R-Dallas County) would require ex-legislators to wait four years before lobbying under the dome.
  • HB 215 by State Representative Patricia Harless (R-Harris County) would do away with the fees for fishing licenses when it came to fishermen 65 years and older.
  • HB 216 by White would lower the minimum wage for a concealed handgun license from 21 to 18.
  • HJR 31 by Gonzalez would require the Attorney General to be an attorney.
  • HJR 37 by Larson would require legislators to resign from office before running for something else.
  • HJR 38 by Larson would impose term limits on state offices.
  • SB 54 by State Senator Jane Nelson (R-Denton County) would drug test welfare recipients.
  • SB 76 by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Harris County) would prohibit insurance discrimination on the part of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • SB 81 by Ellis would create a commission to further research wrongful convictions, particularly for capital offenses.
  • SB 82 by Ellis would greatly expand the availability of probation for drug-related offenses.
  • SB 86 by Ellis would allow for no-excuse absentee voting.
  • SB 135 by State Senator John Whitmire (D-Harris County) would reform grand jury systems by transitioning from “pick-a-pal” systems in which the grand jurors are chosen by an intermediary to one in which the District Judge directly selects the participants.
  • SB 139 by State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock County) would end diversions from the State Highway Fund to the Department of Public Safety, among other recipients.
  • SB 141 by State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Harris County) would increase voter education for high school seniors.
  • SB 148 by State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso County) would repeal the unconstitutional ban on “homosexual conduct.”
  • SB 150 by State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Potter County) would appropriate about $3 Billion for university construction around the state.
  • SB 158 by State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas County) would grant funds for local police departments to purchase body cameras, then require officers wear them throughout their interactions with the public.
  • SB 173 by State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Harris County) would deem synthetic marijuana a “controlled substance.”
  • SJR 10 by State Senator Donna Campbell (R-Comal County) would invalidate municipality’s non-discrimination ordinances.

Uresti for Attorney General?

The Houston Chronicle reports on the growing need to find suitable Democrats to fill the statewide ticket. As the Democratic establishment has largely reached the consensus that Wendy Davis is running for Governor, the conversation has now shifted onto who will be running for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Comptroller & Railroad Commission, as well as 3 seats on the Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 seats on the Supreme Court.

The Chronicle article mentions Mike Collier, a local businessman who is running as a Democrat for Comptroller, as the only declared Democrat. However, this is untrue, as fmr El Paso Mayor John Cook was announced a run for Land Commissioner. Since that announcement in July, Cook has even created a website for his candidacy.

The article then notes Keith Hampton, a favorite Judicial candidate of mine who run unsuccessfully last year against Sharon Keller. Hampton appeared to rule out another candidacy himself in the near future.

The article then mentioned some names that keep coming up, specifically Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor, as well as Royce West, Kirk White and Rafael Anchia. The article must not have done their research, but Anchia is definitely running for re-election. From what I understand, White & West have not ruled out the run themselves, though White’s run would be highly unlikely.

The name that surprised everyone, however, was Carlos Uresti. The State Senator from San Antonio who has served since 2007, previously served five terms in the State House. At a young 50 years of age, he probably has some higher ambitions in him.

When asked by the Chronicle about a possible statewide run, Uresti hinted towards Attorney General. Specifically, he said “Politics is about timing. And I certainly think it’s the right time for the Democratic Party, and for myself as well.” To me, that sounds like someone planning on throwing his hat into the ring. Uresti, like Van de Putte, is not up for re-election in 2014. This means that he would not lose out on his Senate seat if he would lose (an almost certain probability).

The ballot is starting to shape up a little more now, with Davis, Van de Putte Uresti & Cook all at the top of the ticket. Each one is a very powerful figure sure to attract more pull than the average Democratic retread.

Brains & Eggs has more.

Van de Putte open to Statewide run

The Dallas Morning News reports that State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) is open to the idea of running for Lieutenant Governor. Van de Putte shot to international stardom last June during the Wendy Davis filibuster. With only about ten minutes left to go until midnight, Van de Putte asked a parliamentary inquiry: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” It was at this point that the crowd in the gallery went to their feet, started shouting and the rest is history.

Anyways, Van de Putte has now become a favorite candidate of Texas Democrats looking towards the future (specifically, the 2014 election). Van de Putte is an extraordinarily attractive for the Democrats because she is not defending her Senate seat in 2014. Therefore, unlike Wendy Davis, she could run for Statewide office next year, lose and show up for work in Austin like normal at the start of the next Legislative session.

“I’m not ruling it out, but right now I’m holding off on considering it until Wendy decides what she’s going to do,” Van de Putte said. “I’ll wait until then to consider how I can make the state more competitive.”

The article from the Morning News also mentioned four other possible candidates for next year’s Democratic Party: State Representative Rafael Anchia, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, State Representative Mike Villarreal and State Senator Royce West. However, this is some lazy reporting on the Morning News’ part unless they have some privileged information I am not aware to. Anchia is running for re-election, as is Villarreal.  Senator West is an interesting name to throw into the mix, though that may just be the Dallas bias in the article. Martinez Fischer, on the other hand, is frequently mentioned. I think both would make good candidates.

Either way, all of these candidates will be waiting on Wendy Davis’ big announcement. Davis, for her part, was supposed to make her big decision in the next few days, but delayed such a decision on account of her ailing father. Everything will become clear soon enough.

Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss.

Perry

Adios mofo.

The Texas Tribune, along with the entire Twitterverse, reported the news shortly after 2PM that Rick Perry would not be running for an unprecedented fourth full term in 2014. The news leaves the field wide open, and essentially gifts the post to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Unfortunately, I did not get to livestream the speech. But from what I understand, Perry bragged about both his record as Governor and the so-called “Texas miracle.” He then said something along the lines of “the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership.”

Perry made no comments on his intentions for the 2016 Presidential election. It is worth stating that what finally convinced me that Perry would not run was a tweet by Dan Patrick. I get the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to leak that information this morning.

The gubernatorial election is made much more clear by this announcement. When it comes to the Republican primary, there are three candidates: Greg Abbott, Larry SECEDE Kilgore and Tom Pauken. Kilgore, as you may recall, is the Klansman Theocratic secessionist. Pauken, a former Texas GOP Chairman and Texas Workforce Commission Chairman, is a little too reasonable to win a Republican primary.

Attorney General Abbott is the natural selection. This much is somewhat clear. Accordingly, the question shifts to who the Democratic candidates (and eventual nominee) will be.

First and foremost is Wendy Davis. The good Senator, as many may recall, recently reversed her longstanding pledge to not run. She is “open” to the idea, to be exact. Now that Perry is out, we may hear more in the next couple of weeks. Davis only trails Abbott by 8 points in recent polling, which is by far the smallest deficit of any of the possible Democrats mentioned.

The problem with those polls, of course, is who they mention as candidates. Julian Castro and Annise Parker are definitely not running. Bill White is another issue, as many (especially in Austin circles) believe he will run if no other candidate is found.

The other candidates that have been mentioned are State Rep. Mike Villarreal, State Rep. Rafael Anchia and State Sen. Kirk Watson. The former two have already specifically taken themselves out of contention. Watson must run for re-election next year, and BOR was really wrong about this exact thing in 2010, so I do not think he is a viable candidate.

That leaves Kinky Friedman. Color me excited. While at one point he might have been the best known Texas Democrat, times have changed. As I stated a few days ago, Wendy Davis, win or lose, needs to run in order to be the “the Texas Democrats’ Barry Goldwater.”

Eye on Williamson and Burnt Orange Report have more.

Who is running for Governor, again?

Who is running for Governor, again?

I meant to write this a few days ago. Anyways, BOR had this obnoxious little piece about the gubernatorial candidates. The piece mentioned six gubernatorial candidates (three being defied “on deck” and three as “long shots”). Mike Villarreal (a San Antonio State Rep), Kirk Watson (a Austin State Senator) and Bill White are the ones who are “on deck,” as BOR puts it. Rafael Anchia (a Dallas State Rep), Wendy Davis and Julian Castro are the ones who are less-likely, I suppose. I have a few comments on this.

First, I cannot say that I am surprised that the Austinites have to throw a bone to one of their own. I really like Sen. Watson, for the record, and think he would make a good statewide candidate, but I cannot find any other site which validates this little factoid. However, I seem to remember a very-similar rumour in 2010, which turned out to be completely, totally and utterly false.

Second, I really would not call Bill White “on-deck” for a gubernatorial run, or really anything in politics. Again, I don’t know where they’re getting this info, but even the adults in Houston political blogging haven’t been talking about this. Even if there is some movement about White’s candidacy, I would not venture to call his odds in an echelon above Sen Watson or Mayor Castro.

Finally, most perplexing in my opinion, is how completely different these names are from the ones I’ve been hearing of recent in other blogs. Kuff has been talking about Cecile Richards, Henry Cisneros and Rodney Ellis, and BOR did not even touch upon it. I find this a little perplexing. I’ve had problems with BOR’s reliability in the past, and I generally will trust fellow Houstonians first and foremost, but that’s just me.

Okay, goodnight. Soaking up everything that is Houston right now, leave for Austin on Friday.