Tag Archives: Texas Legislature

Texas’ Most Endangered Species – Thoughtful Republicans

The Republicans who represent a good chunk of the Texas Panhandle in the Texas House and Senate are facing ultra-right wing challengers in the upcoming GOP primary.  Merely being a somewhat thoughtful conservative or even considering a Democratic proposal is a dangerous game to play in the Tea Party dominated Texas GOP.  If you are unwilling to lick the boots of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you might just find yourself back home wondering how you aren’t quite conservative enough.  Senator Kel Selinger and Representatives Ken King (Lubbock) and Four Price (Amarillo) may be unseated in March.  The Texas Observer has more on the far right movement to take down any such “Establishment Republicans.”

The challengers are generally following a playbook developed by Empower Texans, a right-wing enforcement group that targets what it considers establishment Republicans: claim that you are unequivocally conservative and that the other guy is basically a Democrat, all the while vilifying bipartisanship and accusing your opponent of being a big-government patsy who’s soft on abortion.

Far-right groups, including Texans for Vaccine Choice, Texas Right to Life and Grassroots America — We The People are working to knock off the incumbents. And while the Panhandle is one of the reddest parts of the whole country (Trump took 90 percent of the vote in some of the counties here), the area continues to elect Republicans with a pragmatic streak. For instance, King has sought to secure funding for struggling rural schools; Price has been a champion for mental health care; and Seliger refused to divert money from public schools for private school vouchers. Wielding accusations of perceived liberalism, challengers have made the region a battleground in the civil war raging within the Texas GOP.

 

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Today in Texas History – November 7

From the Annals of the Constitution –  In 1972, Texas voters passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Texas Constitution.  The Amendment was the end result of a campaign started in 1957 by the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women. In 1957, the TFBPW sent attorney Hermine D. Tobolowsky to testify for a bill authorizing married women to control property separately from their husbands. When members of the Senate Committee reacted to her testimony with amusement, Tobolowsky determined to shift direction and steer the TFBPW towards a campaign for an equal rights amendment rather than seeking incremental changes in particular statutes.  Despite several setbacks including resistance from later-disgraced House Speaker Gus Mutscher, the TFBPW ultimately succeeded in getting the amendment passed by the Legislature and almost 80% of Texas voters approved the amendment.  The amendment is remarkably simple in its phrasing but broad in its impact.

Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin.  This amendment is self-operative.

License to Run Over a Protestor?

State Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) filed House Bill 250  last month that would protect motorists who hit demonstrators “blocking traffic in a public right-of-way” if the river exercises “due care.”   Red isn’t sure how you would determine if a driver used due care in hitting a protestor or why you would want to provide such protection to a motorist.  What’s so gall-danged important that you need to drive through a throng blocking a street anyway?  If it’s a life and death situation, it is also pretty unlikely to involve your average driver in their Toyota.  The bill would not change any criminal laws, but would make it more difficult to hold someone civilly liable in such cases.

Predictably, Fallon caught a lot of flack for his tone deafness in this matter and was outraged that anyone would take umbrage with making it potentially less – shall we say, troublesome – to run over a demonstrator.   The Dallas Morning News has more here.

Texas GOP in Turmoil

The Texas Tribune reports that members of the so-called Freedom Caucus sabotaged more than 100 bills in the Texas House last night in retribution for not getting their way in attempting to restrict abortion rights even more, make sure that everyone has a gun and that good God-fearing white people are not abused.   It’s all too complicated and inside baseball for Red to explain, but it does show that there is no Republican solidarity in Texas and that the ultra rightwing of the party is willing to do anything to inflict punishment on those who will not go along with their attempt to turn Texas into the largest Christian Church in the country where the good ol’ boy whiteys are running the show.

Today in Texas History – March 7

From the Annals of the Wildflowers –  In 1901,  Texas legislature proclaimed the “bluebonnet” as the state flower.  Although consideration was given to the cotton boll and varieties of cactus flower, the choice of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Texas prevailed.  That was the Lupinus subcarnosus (“also known as buffalo clover or bluebonnet” as stated in the resolution) and the bluebonnet became the state flower without any recorded opposition.

But that is not the end of the story.  Lupinus subcarnosus is a small variety of the Lupine family which largely inhabits areas of coastal and south Texas.   Some wildflower enthusiasts believed that the LS was the least attractive of the Texas bluebonnets. Thus, began a push for Lupinus texensis, a hardier and showier blue beauty which covers most of Texas to take up the mantle as the official state flower.

For 70 years, the Legislature was encouraged to correct its oversight.  In order to avoid any wildflower controversy or offend patrons of the Lupinus subcarnosus,  the wise representatives of the people declared that both LS and LT as well as “any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded”, would now be the one and true state flower.

Well surprise, there are at least three other species of Lupines and the Legislature made all of them the state flower as well.  If new species are discovered, they also will automatically be the Texas State Flower.

As it stands now, the five state flowers of Texas are:

  1. Lupinus subcarnosus, the original which grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley.
  2. Lupinus texensis, the most widely known and easiest of all the species to grow.
  3. Lupinus Havardii, also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet, is the most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet tribe with flowering spikes up to three feet.
  4. Lupinus concinnus,  a small Lupine known as  the Annual Bluebonnet grows from 2 to 7 inches tall and has flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender.  It is uncommon in the Trans-Pecos region.
  5. Lupinus plattensis,  also known as the Dune Bluebonnet, the Plains Bluebonnet and heretically the Nebraska Lupine, grows to about 2 feet tall and is the only perennial species in the state, It is found mostly on sand hills in the Panhandle.

Photo of Lupinus Havardii from texasflashdude

Trees are a Communist Plot

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State Senator and Tea Party favorite Donna Campbell of New Braunfels is up in arms about municipalities protecting trees.  It’s the latest attempt to wrest control of local issues away from the citizens of Texas cities and have policy dictated by the right-thinking stalwarts of the Texas Legislature.

Campbell has introduced Senate Bill 782  which provides that a landowner owns the trees on his or her property, and limits the mitigation fee that a local government can impose on a landowner for removing trees greater than 10 inches in diameter.  According to Campbell, her bill:

“limits the power of government by ensuring Texans have solid ground to stand on when it comes to managing and developing their own land. City tree ordinances are some of the most egregious examples of property rights violations in our state, affecting millions of property owners in Texas. It’s time to shift the balance of local control back in favor of local liberty.”

What a crock.  If the voters in these godforsaken liberal bastions don’t want tree ordinances they are perfectly capable of voting out their council members and mayors who have enacted them and replacing them with Tea Partisans like Campbell.  Red guesses that aint happening and Campbell just can’t stand the thought that others may not believe the Tea Party nonsense she spouts.

Bottom line – Teabaggers like Campbell believe in local government right up to the point where they don’t agree with the policies enacted.  So Campbell and her Tea Party sycophants do not believe that Texas cities have the right to enact ordinances to protect their local environments and preserve their natural resources as they see fit for their communities.

Red won’t call Campbell a “ten dollar whore” of the development lobby because she probably has raked in a lot more than that in campaign contributions from the big developers who view trees as impediment to more profits.  Red is sure she can justify being bought and paid for because she probably believes her own BS.

Legalize It?

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The Texas Tribune reports that Texas Legislators have filed several bills aimed at decriminalization of Marijuana.

Less than a week after several other states approved measures weakening marijuana restrictions, some Texas lawmakers are looking to do the same. 

On Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session, Lone Star State legislators submitted several proposals to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Among the bills are those that would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders, reduce criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and re-classify convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

Among the Texas proposals that have been filed thus far:

House Bill 58 by state Rep. James White, R-Woodville, would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders based on the principle that first-time defendants are often self-correcting. The measure is intended to conserve law enforcement and corrections resources, White said in a news release.

State Rep. Joseph “Joe” Moody, D-El Paso, filed House Bill 81, which aims to replace criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $250. The bill also allows Texans to avoid arrest and possible jail time for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Moody authored a similar bill during the previous legislative session; it did not pass.

State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston, filed House Bill 82, which aims to classify a conviction for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana as a Class C misdemeanor instead of Class B. However, if a person is convicted three times, it would revert back to a Class B misdemeanor. Dutton co-authored a similar bill last session with Moody.

State Sen. José Rodríguez filed Senate Joint Resolution 17, which would allow voters to decide whether marijuana should be legalized in Texas, following the pattern of a number of states.

Senate Joint Resolution 18, also authored by Rodríguez, would allow voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical use if recommended by a health care provider. “It is long past time we allow the people to decide,” Rodríguez said in a statement.

Rodríguez also filed Senate Bill 170, which would change possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil one.