Tag Archives: Texas Legislature

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

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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.

HISD Plays Chicken with Texas Legislature

The Texas Tribune details the Hobson’s Choice facing voters residing within the Houston Independent School.  Under the “Robin Hood” plan HISD is due to send $165 million to poorer school districts subject to voter approval.  The voters can turn down the plan, but then the district faces the prospect of having some of its most expensive real estate figuratively moved to another close-by poorer district.  That is, if the voters say ‘no’ to the incredibly poorly worded proposition on the November ballot, then the state can take some expensive real property off of the HISD rolls and instead assign it to another district to boost its property tax base.  Locals bigwigs are lining up behind the “no” vote in the hopes that the Legislature will blink when faced with the proposition of telling the largest school district in the state that it is stripping away some $18 billion of its tax base.  And the kicker is, the obligation to pay the $165 million is still there – only to be paid by the smaller number of taxpayers.   Red envisions James Dean speeding towards the cliff and this time his sleeve gets caught in the door handle.

Texas Cities Under Attack by State Senate

The Dallas Morning News reports that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Tea Party dominated Texas Senate are working diligently to restrict local governments from straying too far from his conservative vision – the will of the local voters be damned.

The read out: Many of the Legislature’s most conservative members don’t like what they see.

On Monday, a Senate panel heard accusations that city governments abusively have tried to squelch ballot initiatives and complaints that school districts and other local taxing entities too often aren’t candid when they ask voters to approve bond issues.

It was a preview of more fights to come in next year’s legislative session over bonded indebtedness and local control on issues that include transgender people in bathrooms, red-light cameras and fluoride in the drinking water.

Last fall, Patrick asked the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee to study whether more information about proposed local borrowing should be provided to citizens in the voting booth and whether about 300 “home rule” cities have too much leeway in flicking off unwelcome referendum petitions.

As suspected, Texas conservatives are all for smaller and more local government – except that is when they disagree with the outcome.  Then big state government has to come into play to enforce Tea Party ideological purity.  And next to the word “hypocrite” in the dictionary – big picture of your Lt. Gov.

Texas Allows Guns in Mental Hospitals

Please don’t claim that you are surprised to find out that a State Mental Hospital cannot ban visitors from bringing guns into the facility.  Hospital officials, however, were taken off guard when they recently discovered that under Texas law the longstanding practice of prohibiting handguns at the ten state psychiatric hospitals was illegal – and had been for years.

“Patients in our facilities are a danger to themselves or others,” Cathy Campbell, a policy coordinator for the state hospitals, wrote in a December email. “It seems inconceivable that we would require visitors to store box cutters but allow them to bring a gun on campus.”  But despite Campbell’s concerns, the law in Texas does not allow the state-run hospitals to ban handguns.

Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News has the whole sad story of how the Texas Legislature failed to foresee the consequences in their zeal to promote more guns in the state.

Lawmakers who passed gun carry laws in the 1990s don’t appear to have contemplated the scenario. Carve-outs in the law and later legislative tweaks fuzzed things. At some point, “no guns” signs were posted at those hospitals. And until last year, the setup went largely unnoticed.

Officials with the Department of State Health Services have now taken steps to mitigate the risk of a patient accessing a gun – posting signs, for example, that ask visitors to voluntarily keep guns away.

But at least one facility, Austin State Hospital, has been slow to put up the new signs — which remain difficult to notice. And though there’s optimism that lawmakers will address the issue next year, the state remains in somewhat uncharted territory.

“It defies comprehension,” Dorthy Floyd, superintendent at Terrell State Hospital, wrote in an email in January. The News obtained the emails under the state’s open-records law after the gun policy earned international attention in January.

State-run psychiatric hospitals are just one of several government institutions re-evaluating their firearms policies these days. Private mental hospitals continue to have the right to bar guns on their property.

Today in Texas History – April 22

From the Annals of the Police State –  In 1873, the Texas state legislature – once again in the hands of the then reactionary and racist Democratic Party –  repealed the law that had authorized the State Police.  The TSP had been formed during the administration of Governor Edmund J. Davis to combat crime during Reconstruction and the force worked primarily against racially based crimes.  Even worse for the unreconstructed Texans was the fact that the force included black police officers.  The TSP were replaced by the reformed Texas Rangers.  The state would not have another police force until the creation of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935.  The DPS would not have a black trooper until Adolph Thomas graduated from the DPS Academy in 1969.