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Abbott’s Politically Risky Special Session

The strengths and weaknesses shown in Abbott’s call for a special session.

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Television cameras in the press conference room formed a tripod wall between Governor Greg Abbott and the Capitol journalists as he announced a special legislative session for July 18. Throughout the regular session, Abbott isolated himself from the legislative process—and as he delivered his call, the cameras insulated him once again. There would be no reporter questions to disrupt his message. He put forth the image of a man in charge, calling lawmakers back together on a twenty-item agenda. At the top was legislation to renew five regulatory agencies that are set to expire, including the one that licenses doctors.

In calling a special session with a broad array of issues, it was a show of strength—but also a demonstration of weakness. Abbott’s strength was using the power of his office to call the session and set the agenda. It also revealed his lack of leadership, because almost everything on Abbott’s list was something that might have passed in the regular legislative session if he had simply engaged lawmakers instead of sitting on the sideline until it was too late for the bills’ salvation. Abbott also set himself up for a potential pratfall if little to nothing on his list reaches his desk in the course of the thirty-day session. He now he owns this list of legislative priorities. Passage is as much up to him as it is the legislative leadership.

And his agenda for this special session is ambitious. Abbott promised a range of items, including overturning local ordinances that ban discrimination against people because of sexual orientation or identity. But his war on local government did not stop there. He also asked for bills overturning local regulations on using mobile devices in cars, on protecting trees, annexing land into a city, and how cities and counties raise taxes. Additionally, he wants a crackdown on mail-in ballot fraud, and he promised a pay raise for teachers that would cost the state $700 million to implement, all while putting off homeowner public school property tax relief for two years.

Without naming him, Abbott put the blame for the special session squarely on Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who had held up the legislation renewing the five state regulatory agencies—item number one on Abbott’s list. “A special session was entirely avoidable, and there was plenty of time for the legislature to forge compromises to avoid the time and taxpayer expense of a special session. As governor, if I am going to call a special session, I intend to make it count,” Abbott said at the announcement.

If you need further evidence that Abbott blames Patrick, the governor said at the press conference that he would not add anything to the special session call until after the Senate approves the only must-have legislation: renewing the state regulatory agencies. Patrick—who wanted to force a special session so he could pass his transgender bathroom policy and roll back property tax elections for cities and counties—has almost complete control of the Senate. Abbott’s marquee legislation is the only leverage he has to force another special session on his top two priorities. During the regular session, Patrick pledged to force a special session “again and again and again” until the bathroom bill passed. Once the agency renewal legislation is out of the Senate, Patrick will have no obvious way to force another special session.

Patrick was collegial in a statement he issued. “I want to congratulate Governor Abbott for his big and bold special session agenda, which solidly reflects the priorities of the people of Texas,” he wrote. “Almost every issue he addressed today passed the Senate during the regular session and I am confident the senators are ready to hit the ground running to move these issues forward.”

On the bathroom legislation, Abbott specifically said he supported House Bill 2899, which never got out of the House State Affairs Committee. That bill did not regulate bathroom use based on biological sex, as the Senate version did, but it would have overturned local nondiscrimination ordinances for people not in a class protected by federal law. Federal law does not protect people based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or whether they are a military veteran.

Over on the House side, Speaker Joe Straus, if he’s willing to take the heat, can simply not refer legislation on bathrooms or vouchers or tax rollbacks to a committee for a hearing. In other words, he could make a speaker pocket veto. The House also could approve the Senate legislation on renewing the agencies and then adjourn sine die, without another day—a unilateral end to the session. Between Democrats and rural Republicans who don’t want private school vouchers or property tax restrictions on local government, the votes would be there for such a drastic maneuver.

So long as the legislature is in session, the pressure will be on House Republicans. As presiding officer of the Senate, Patrick will be able to quickly send the legislation to the House. But on two separate votes during the regular session, the House voted against private school vouchers. The House also demonstrated a desire to start working on public school property tax reform, which Patrick said they needed more time to do. Abbott proposed creating a task force to study the issue between now and the 2019 regular session. That means little relief for property owners with rapidly rising appraisals. Instead, Abbott and Patrick are focusing on the far less significant restriction of property taxes that pay for city and county governments.

Presumably, Abbott said he would put his nineteen items on the call so Patrick would not hector him over bathrooms. And if everything else fails, he just blames the Legislature. Inescapable, though, is the fact Abbott was not a player for most of the regular session, as was pointed out in a New York Times profile on Monday: “Why is he so hands-off?” asked Julie McCarty, the president of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party in the Fort Worth area. “Is that what his dream was, to become governor of the greatest state in the nation so that he could sit out on everything?” The story ended with Abbott defending his lack of legislative engagement: “’The governor’s job is far bigger than just a legislative session,’” Mr. Abbott said. ‘Most of my time is devoted to being the CEO of Texas, not being involved in a legislative session.’”

So a day after that story ran, Abbott gathered the state news media in to the governor’s press conference room, protected from questions by a wall of cameras, where he outlined his twenty-item agenda for the special session. If a substantial number pass, Abbott can rightfully claim a mantel of leadership. If they fail, blaming the Legislature may not be enough to save his reputation.

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  • Texas Publius

    Who the hell is Greg Abbott? I bet Governor Hodge-Patrick knows.

  • WUSRPH

    I sure hope Gov. Abbott is more explicit in his official call for the special session than he was in listing the 19 items he wants the legislature to pass after it takes care of the Sunset bill (and/or makes Dr. Hotze happy). For example, in one case his one word description of the issue he will submit—“Privacy”—if left at that, could certainly open the door to a lot of mischief.

    Now we all know that that is just a cover and code for saying make transgenders use the bathroom we pick for them….but,that’s not what it says…If he were just to leave it at privacy it could give legislative pranksters a lot of room to draft all kinds of amendments and raise all kinds of debates on subjects ranging from abortion (where the SCOTUS found that the right to an abortion grew out of “the penumbra of privacy” Justice Douglas found in the Constitution) to expanding the Fourth Amendment to ban wiretapping and other “invasions of privacy” by the government or its agents. Actually, I kind of hope he does.

    • WUSRPH

      As to the political “danger” to Abbott…..The worst I can see happening is some public disgust at the Legislature having to be called back a time or two to try to force them to adopt some of the things he is proposing……especially his nearly all-out attack on the rights of local residents and local governments to control their own lives…(I can see efforts to sell that as “it only affects those crazies in Austin, Dallas, Houston and a few dozen other places..” but one hopes that enough local government officials can remember those important words—“First they came for….”—and recognize they could well be next just as those good Republicans in Denton found out when they didn’t want any oil cracking in their city limits). BUT, in the long run I suspect Abbott will be re-nominated and easily re-elected unless Patrick goes after him.

      • WUSRPH

        Two other interesting items among the 19 are the $1,000 pay raise for teachers AND new laws that will probably make it easier to fire them. It sounds a little like the $5,000 raise the teachers received from HB 72 (Perot Commission recommendations) back in 1984 which, just coincidentally, also included a competency exam for all teachers. Back then the teachers took the money but were so angry at Gov. Mark White over the exam that they helped vote him out of office. I doubt the same thing will happen this time, but it would be only fitting it if does.

        • WUSRPH

          Of course, that would assume that teachers are still any kind of a political force….which is getting more and more doubtful…..and will be even less so when Abbott/Patrick get through with banning dues check off and making it easier to fire them. My faith in teachers as a force to change things for the better (rather than just for things that benefit them directly) started fading back in 1978 when they went all out to defeat Gov. Briscoe in the primary (“Dump Dolph on his as–phalt”) but went to sleep in the fall election thereby helping Clements defeat John Hill.

          • BCinBCS

            But…but…but all-powerful teachers unions.

          • SpiritofPearl

            There are no longer legitimate teachers’ unions in Texas.

          • BCinBCS

            That was my point.
            I should have indicated snark (/s).

          • SpiritofPearl

            Some still believe teachers in Texas have legitimate unions. Gotta keep educating . . .

  • SpiritofPearl

    Whatever happened to local control in Texas?

    • WestTexan70

      Democrats began to win elections in big cities.

      • SpiritofPearl

        Good observation.

        • Another Wilco Voter

          Oh, you mean Republicans love local control until the locals begin to do things Republicans don’t like??

          • SpiritofPearl

            “Control” is the operative word.

            At least we still have a plastic bag ban in Austin . .

          • WUSRPH

            Didn’t you see the item with the TPer complaining after Dunn and company spent a bunch of money in the spring elections in the D-FW area AND LOST….about how difficult it is for “a conservative” to win local elections…..Well, they have a solution to that problem—make local elections meaningless by running everything out of Austin (Capitol, not city). That way you don’t have to worry about local voters wanting things done that you don’t like. You can just forbid local governments from doing things and turn them into administrative functionaries….sort of like the job of the county tax assessor-collector since the State took accessing property taxes away from him in the late 1970s.

          • BCinBCS

            Exactly. You, W, just won the internet for the day.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Precisely.

      • vjmassey

        Yep.

  • José

    I was curious about the history of called sessions of the Texas Legislature and found this nifty list. Abbott’s 19 topics is above average but not exceptional. Bill Clements named more than 50 topics twice. Ma Ferguson was the last to break 100.
    One thing that surprised me a bit was that GWBush had no called sessions at all during his time in office. Yes, he served less than two full terms but still. Before him the last time we had a governor who didn’t call a special session was Beauford Jester. He served a single term in the 1940s back when they were just two years. You’ll find him lodged in between Coke Stevenson and Allan Shivers.
    http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/sessions/SpecialSessions/specialsessionYears.cfm

    • R.G. Ratcliffe

      If you look into the details of those calls, you’ll see that most of the time items were added after the original call. That’s a sign that something was added to the call to get someone’s vote. Also, prior to about the 1950s, budget items were handled individually. In one of William P. Hobby’s sessions, there are a bunch of items creating new school districts. If that was done today, there would be one bill creating all the school districts. As to GWB, legislative karma was on the side of Señor Suerte, as he was known. The economy was coming back from the 1985 bust, school finance lawsuits had been settled under Richards and no crisis confronted the state. The 1999 regular session was known to some as the “no mistakes” session designed to launch his presidential campaign.

      • WUSRPH

        Plus for his first term Bullock was Lt. Gov. and he hated special sessions……plus he and Speaker Laney were able to work with Bush (the junior of the three) to get things done on time.

        • José

          I was wondering how much credit was due to Bullock for completing the assignment on time. With him and Laney acting like grown ups (well, sort of) and Bush having the good sense not to mess things up, that’s a sweet combination.

          • WUSRPH

            Bullock had a fixation with doing things fast…..which could be good, but could also be bad. For example, one session he had me research to find out what was the shortest time it had taken to report the appropriations committee back to the Senate so that he could beat that record. This was one of those times that setting a record was not a good idea, as I explain in discussing the use of time as a legislative tool in my (in) famous legislative training manual:

            “However, being too fast in passing bills can pass the initiative and the power to make decisions to the other chamber. This makes balancing the amount of time a bill is held up against the amount of time the other chamber will have to consider it a matter of careful consideration.

            “Former Lt. Governor Bullock sometimes did not seem to understand the need to find such a balance if he was to protect the Senate’s position on an issue. The problem was
            that Bullock almost had a passion for speeding the issues thru the Senate, often it seemed just to show that it could be done. For example, one session he pushed the Senate Finance Committee into reporting the general appropriations bill in a record amount of time so that he could claim that the Senate had completed its work in the shortest time in legislative history. (The author had to conduct a study to prove that claim.)

            “The problem was that some of the issues involved in developing the state budget were not be resolved in the amount of time Bullock allowed for the bill to be drafted and debated. The result was that he passed the initiative and the responsibility—and the credit—for making those decisions to the House.”

  • WestTexan70

    Abbott’s reputation should only be based on his overwhelming desire to take away the ability to sue for the same huge damages that he won after his terrible accident. Any person who makes use of the system and then uses his political power to make sure that no one else in the same situation can benefit as he did is lower than pond scum.

  • oblate spheroid

    Help us, Speaker Straus, you’re our only hope.

    • WUSRPH

      Based on the past session, that may be a pretty slim hope.

    • SpiritofPearl

      “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

      —- Princess Leia

  • Marufo mojo

    This article needs one correction stat. “[H]e promised a pay raise for teachers that would cost the state $700 million to implement”. Absolutely wrong. That raise wouldn’t cost the state anything: the $700 million would be simply another unfunded mandate for local school districts. Here is what Abbott said in his speech: “During this special session, I want legislation on my desk that increases teacher pay by one thousand dollars. To achieve that, Texas doesn’t need to spend more, we just need to spend smarter. The pay increases can easily be achieved by passing laws that reprioritize how schools spend money, and we can do that without taxpayers spending a penny more.”

    Easily? Easy for you to say – and by the way, what do you mean “we”? Our local school board, of which I am a member, will be holding a public workshop this evening to review the proposed budget for the next school year line by line. Will Gov Abbott be there to explain to us how we should “reprioritize”? Should that money come from cutting back on preventative maintenance, or field trips, or the salaries of paraprofessionals that are crucial to our students’ success?

    In 2008, the relative share of public school funding in Texas was local taxes 44.8%, state aid 44.9%. In 2017 those figures are local taxes 51.5%, state aid 38.4%. Gov. Abbott and others are eager to take a stand for property tax relief when the fact is that increasing property taxes are simply a result of rising property values, at the same time that they are perfectly happy to use those increasing property values to reduce the state’s share of education funding. SMH.

    • WUSRPH

      And, you might note, he is also calling of laws that will probably have the effect of making it easier to fire teachers….I suspect that “continuing contracts” and “due process” may be on the hit list. As I noted on the other thread, sounds a lot like 1984.

    • vjmassey

      Why shouldn’t the local systems pay?

      • José

        Did you miss the part where local school districts do pay for a huge chunk?

        If your question is why localities shouldn’t be required pay for all of it then could be that you’re one of those folks who like to disregard the Texas Constitution. Specifically Article 7. Call me a stickler for the law but there’s a clear state responsibility. And if you think that governance needs to devolve from the state down to local levels then pull up a chair and let’s take a look at what your freedom loving governor and numbskull Lt. Governor have done.

      • Jed

        They do pay, until they are capped by state law and Robin Hood.

        Do you know anything about this subject other than the usual conservative talking points devoid of any context?

    • wessexmom

      Why do the people of Texas keep voting against their own interests? Do they have any idea what happened to the people of Kansas who did the same?

  • WUSRPH

    On a different subject:

    I sure would not want to be the intelligence analyst who has to try to explain to Trump how Iran…who Trump says is the cause of all terrorism….was attacked by terrorists.

    • anonyfool

      They are not the cause of *all* terrorism but their hands are pretty dirty. Iran (majority Shiite) had a truce/working relationship with Sunni terrorists( dealing weapons and hosting leaders of Al Qaeda) that Daesh just broke. We learned this from the data retrieved from the Bin Laden raid. http://www.thedailybeast.com/heres-how-al-qaeda-protected-iranuntil-now

  • WUSRPH

    Can you hear someone chanting two words in the background of all the mess in Washington—-DEBT CEILING…..

    If the GOP cannot pass it without Democratic votes—as appears to be the case—-it will be interesting to see if they, like the GOP did in the past, “attach conditions” to their votes….but they have this sometimes regretful tendency to put the public good ahead of political advantage.

    Back during the campaign Trump said he wasn’t worried about the national debt—-terming himself the “King of Debt”—and suggested that we handle it by telling our creditors (bond holders, etc.) that we would not pay
    them in full but would force them to accept a discounted return…….I wonder if he will give that a try?

  • Jay Trainor

    If Governor Abbott were such an effective CEO for the State of Texas, we wouldn’t have AARP giving our nursing homes an “F” rating. While AG and Governor, we wouldn’t have the child support agency waste over $110 million and taking over a decade to upgrade the IT system. We wouldn’t have HHSC executives continually leaving after contract and other scandals. Severely disabled poor kids ages 1-3 in need of acute care therapy wouldn’t be unable to access treatment. Texas’ foster care is in such bad shape kids are forced to sleep in agency offices. Our governor says he’s pro-life but he takes every opportunity to cut services to the least among us, shredding an already meager safety net. The list of administrative ineptitude and waste of precious resources for political partisan purposes under Governor Abbott is why he’s unfit to run for reelection.

    • WUSRPH

      Hey, Jay, you know you are not supposed to talk like that. You want to talk about “reality” when we all know that perception is much more important……He’s led us to great days….of low unemployment, low taxes and fighting those godless liberals…..That’s all the voters need to know….

      • SpiritofPearl

        Parameters are declining.

      • TacoRub

        He led us nowhere since he has been occupying the governor’s mansion as not a lame duck but a dead duck. In 2018, he is Dead Man Walking.

    • Fantasy Maker

      The Texas Teacher Insurance system did not fall a billion in the hole under his watch you biased, ignorant clown.

      • vjmassey

        Spot on.

    • ORAXX

      All of it delivered with his big sloppy smile.

    • RAYMOND GONZALEZ

      Jay, please pardon our republican amigo WUSRPH for his acrimonious
      fluff as he neither attempts to disputes or suggest nary a mitigating solution – beyond his
      partisan Neanderthal chest-thumpping and unwarrented berating of those who do……. “Oh, who can rid us of this meddlesome Priest?”
      Un dicho!

  • Texas Publius

    Where is Governor Hodge-Patrick-Abbott proposing to get the money for the across the board teacher pay raise? They’re on the record opposing rainy day fund money being used for ongoing expenses. And they keep moving to eliminate every other tax in existence.

    • WUSRPH

      Maurfo mojo, below, says that Abbott says it can be done without ANY additional costs by making the local districts do a better job of setting priorities on their spending. In other words, make them eat the cost.

      • vjmassey

        And why not?

        • Jed

          Because Texas school are underfunded, by any measure and according to many sources (e.g.several courts).

          It isn’t complicated.

    • vjmassey

      I’m sure they will find a way.

    • Jed

      He doesn’t have to say it, but the only way that gets funded is property taxes and financial shell games.

  • WUSRPH

    In all likelihood if the special is opened to the extra 19 subjects (and/or any more the governor feels that opening the call will bring him more votes for his positions) the session could take the full 30 days or more, even into another special if Abbott REALLY insists on things being passed. But the House and Senate could speed up the process by having the appropriate committees in each chamber hold public hearings on the “topics” involved in the week or two prior to the special. They would not have to have a “bill” but can take testimony on the subject although by that time they should have a fairly good idea of the specifics the governor wants passed. This would allow them to limit the official hearings during the special session to just a couple of hours on the firsr or second day of the special session, rather than dragging them out for hour after hour of testimony they have already heard (and for many of the issues heard during the Regular Session.) Doing this could substantially decrease the amount of time required for the session. The only drawback to this would be if they held hearings one of the 19 issues and Abbott to which Abbott did not eventually open the call. Of course, that approach only works if you want to get it over quickly……The Senate is quite likely to follow this course since Patrick already knows what the votes are going to be on virtually every one of the 20 potential issues. That may not be the case in the House as there is always a chance that some of the members will be more responsive to what they hear from their locally elected officials and will not be anxious to move the bills they oppose that quickly. In that case, the House could insist on delaying any hearings on the other 19 until Abbott has officially opened the call to them under the guise that there is no reason to hold a hearing on an issue that the legislature cannot legally consider. We should get some idea of which approach the two chambers will take in the coming days. Bet on the Senate moving fast on everything….with the House, one would hope, being a little more deliberative.

    • WUSRPH

      I might note that most people seem to believe that a “public hearing” where the public gets to speak, even if limited to a few seconds each, is some sort of a sacred principle….but, in reality, that is NOT THE CASE, as I explained in an excerpt from my (in)famous legislative training manual as follows:

      “Are Public Hearings Required?

      “There is actually some question about whether either chamber of the Legislature is required to hear public testimony on the bills and resolutions they are considering.

      “In fact, nothing in the House Rules requires a hearing so it is possible that a bill can be considered by a committee and reported back to the full House without any public comment. (NOTE: This means that the House can hold a “formal meeting” on a bill that does not require a 5-day notice.)

      “The Senate Rule is less clear in that, while it does not specify that the public must be allowed to testify at a hearing, it does provide that no bill can be reported by a committee “before it has been the subject of an open public meeting”. This could be read to mean no public input is required, however, in practice it s generally interpreted as requiring that the public be given an opportunity to speak on a bill when it is
      before a Senate committee. (Senate Rule 11.18 (a).)

      “In either case, it would be highly unusual if either of the chambers did not hold a public hearing on a bill. Generally, the only exception would be if the measure was a companion to a bill that the
      committee had heard previously.

      “The fact that public testimony is not required in the House was the source of a disagreement during one of the special sessions on congressional redistricting in 2003 when no public hearing was scheduled or held on the Senate version of the bill when it reached the House. Instead, it was referred to a committee
      that just as quickly reported back to the House without change. The failure to let the public testify was
      justified by a claim that the same proposal had been heard at a previous special session so that there was no reason to allow another public hearing.”

  • vjmassey

    If the protestors show up again, let’s hope they are denied entrance.

    • SpiritofPearl

      First Amendment prevents your brand of fascism.

    • scotfahey

      The protesters were enjoyed by the media, as the protesters filled new feeds, in the end the protesters were at best, an ineffective nuisance, that prevented those who had actual legislative business to tend to. Freedom of speech, is not the same as street theater and a 20 second sound bite of fame… Actual Facism, is opposed to the elected form of government, That is inline with actions of the protesters, not TXGOP

      • wessexmom

        Huh?

  • SpiritofPearl
    • WUSRPH

      Kansas was a dying state before Brownback…but he didn’t make things any better by listening to the likes of Dr. Laffer and his curve. But they never learn…When Rep. Bonnen was challenged about the $8 billion hole in Texas state budget he would have created by killing the franchise tax, he used the same kind of defense that the economic activity generated by all this new money in the economy would produce enough revenues to cover it. I give Bonnen credit for knowing better….but he apparently thinks the voters don’t.

      • SpiritofPearl

        I doubt Kansans think of it as a “dying state.” It sure is flat.

  • WUSRPH

    Virtually no one remembers it now….but back in his first term as Lt. Governor, before many of you were born, Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby Jr. was stopped and charged with a DWI….but, unlike these newcomers (See Neave, State Rep. Dallas) , he handled it perfectly so that it was not an issue. The very next morning he was down at the municipal court (with Roy Minton at his side) to plea out the case…..He took his lumps (very small ones) and got it over. A one-day news story and it was old news. (In fact, more people were talking about who was the young woman in the car with him than the DWI itself.) But these days the reps. (Neave and the lady from El Paso during the prior session) drag it out so that it gets mentioned again and again… There are a few things they can learn from their elders…..but they apparently won’t.

    • José

      TM published a cute story about that incident a long time ago. It was in an article by Harry Hurt III profiling the editor of the Houston Post. Oveta Culp Hobby, or as the Lt Gov called her, “Mama”. Being a true blue journalist executive she insisted that the story run on Page 1. (I bet he also got a good talking to at dinner.)

      Hobby was a graduate of the Rice Institute and one night had dinner in our commons after attending some function. I recall that the presence of the high ranking official did not deter one group of students at an adjacent table from enjoying their usual after dinner smoke.

      • WUSRPH

        Ovetta Culp Hobby was certainly one of the “dragon ladies” of Texas history……Parliamentarian of the Texas Legislature, wife (much younger) of former Lt. Gov/Governor W.P. Hobby Sr., co-editor of the Houston Post (with Sr.), first commandant of the US Army Women’s Army Corps (and the highest ranking women officer as a full Bird Colonel), leader of the movement in Texas to take over the Texas GOP in 1952 for Eisenhower (altho she was supposedly a Texas Democrat)—my parents were delegates for Sen. Robert Taft to the 1952 GOP State Convention and often talked about how she ran them down—First Secretary of the US Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare…She was the second women in US history to be in a president’s cabinet and, when she resigned to come home to Texas was called by another member of the cabinet “the strongest MAN in the cabinet”….Powerbroker, mover and shaper…..mother of the longest serving Lt. Governor in Texas history (Bill Jr.)….Quite a WOMAN…quite a PERSON. Claimed she was never a “feminist” but could serve as an example to all of them.

  • WUSRPH

    British polls (they are having an election you know) close at 5 pm. EST…..anyone have any predictions?….I’d think that if the conservatives wind up losing seats (by keeping their majority) Ms. May may be on her way out. Unlike us they can dump the leader any time the majority in the party membership in Parliament desires…They don’t have to wait for the next election of a formal impeachment). I find it funny that The Economist is belaying the fact that the best types don’t seem to be leaders anymore…unlike the good old days…..sounds a lot like what people were saying over here before Trump and are certain about after his election.

  • WUSRPH

    RG: Any chance you will hold off on the 10 W&B until after the special? If not, you might have to do a “reconsiderations” afterwards….

    I guess if you use Burka’s old standard of how efficiently a member used the process for his or her ends—both in passing and killing things—you almost might have to give Patrick a “best”…..However, if you use any measurement of good public policy he would hardly qualify………And it’s hard to make Straus a best when he ended up offering to compromise his way out of almost all the differences, even when that might not have been good policy either.

    In either case, I am looking forward to your views…..I may even agree on some.

  • WUSRPH

    Over the years Abbott’s comments have suggested that he is a fairly avid opponent of government restrictions of many kinds….but he has not had to put his ideas into a concrete form before now but we may get a better idea of just how radical Abbott is when it comes to restricting what people can do on their own property when he fills in just what he means by:

    “preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects” and by what he said In a 2015 opinion piece in Forbes, about how he wanted to “speed up the permitting process to help businesses get their projects done faster.”

    This kind of language could cover everything from restricting the zoning powers of local governments (“You can’t tell me what I can do on MY PROPERTY”) to setting deadlines for granting permits or even outlawing such things as environmental impact statements. It will be interesting to see just how far he is publicly willing to reveal what he means and how far he will go to tie the hands of local government when it tries to respond to its citizen’s wishes.

  • subtext9

    Will the doors of our new Texas bathrooms be wide enough to accommodate a clown car?

    • WUSRPH

      Requiring such, or even one for a wheelchair, will probably violate the governor’s idea about not letting government tell us what to do.

      • WUSRPH

        Only if all the clowns have the proper birth certificate.

  • WUSRPH

    Looks like a LONG, LONG Night in the UK…….BBC Website is giving on-going live coverage….As of now, with only 13 seats decided, it looks like the Tories (Conservatives) will be the largest party but perhaps without a majority….This would force someone to form a coalitions…After what happened to the Liberal Democrats when they joined in with Cameron—they got slaughtered at the next election and are now down to 7 seats—I doubt they would be interested……Fun in the UK…..Maybe even a couple of Conservative ministers are going to lose….

  • WUSRPH

    At least the British voters appear to be correcting one of their past mistakes…the UK Independence Party (UKIP) which is the loudest screamer for “get out of Europe” and the party whose ex-leader Trump uses as an advisor, IS GETTING SHUT OUT OF OFFICE. Sometimes one has to think that it would be nice if we to had the ability to call a “snap election” and not have to wait until 2018 or 2020 to fix our screw-ups.. But, as Ms. May may be finding out, timing in politics can be everything…and calling an election at the wrong time—and mishandling the campaign–can hurt as much as it helps.

    • WUSRPH

      It is interesting that the Scottish Nationalists also seem to be losing seats. They had made the big issue in Scotland whether there should be another Scottish independence referendum especially if the UK really leaves the EC, which could badly hurt Scotland. Looks like their voters were not as anxious for a third try at reversing 1707 as the SNP leadership thought. Both Labor and the Tories had lost seats to them in recent elections, but they seem to be getting some of those back now. From current results it looks like the Liberal Democrats (the primary 3rd Party until the last General Election where they get killed)…will probably double their strength–going up to 14 or more—but that is still a long way from where they used to be. They made “another Brexit vote” their big issue.

  • WUSRPH

    I know it was a century ago—in public attention terms—but does anyone remember 2007 and 2008, especially the last quarter of 2008? Seems not…at least if you base what people remember on what the US House did yesterday to virtually put us right back there. And, please note JJ, no Glass-Stegall of either the 20th or 21st Century version… We almost went over the financial edge back then—and probably would have had the Republican Sec. of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve head not led an effort to stave off disaster. I wonder if we can count on that happening again? I certainly hope so since the House is setting us up for it to all happen again.

    • José

      This might be a bad time to remind everyone that the current administration is inexperienced, inept, untested, and understaffed. They are creating chaos and unrest big time despite inheriting a fairly calm world for the past five months. What’s going to happen if there’s a real crisis? A major terrorist action, a financial meltdown, a natural disaster? I shudder to think.

      While the world breaks down at least Texans will be secure in the knowledge that fetal remains will be disposed in an acceptable fashion and Uber is available in Austin. Yee haw.

      • WUSRPH

        I think that is what virtually EVERY newspaper, experienced political columnist and pundits of all flavors try to tell the voters last fall…but the minority of the voters that voted for Trump wanted just that…..The price they will have to pay for this irrationality is still to be determined. Let us hope it is not too high.

  • WUSRPH

    I assume you saw that Trump says he is “100% willing:” to testify under oath to Congress. Love to see it….It would be one of the very few times that a sitting president appeared before a Congressional committee or was questioned by Congress. Lincoln went down to The Hill and asked a congressional committee to layoff Mary Todd Lincoln for her spending habits…..Clinton has some sort of a session over his WH Affair…..but I’m trying to remember when a President went down there (or they came up) to be questioned about his official actions in public and under oath…..That’s what cabinet members are for….I doubt he really understands what it could mean….He probably thinks that they would let him dodge and weave and maybe even walk out, like he does on interviews when he does not like the questions. And, he could not “take the 5th:” if he agrees to testify. It would be something to see even if it would only further degrade the office of president…..but, then, he’s doing enough of that by himself.

  • WUSRPH

    I bet some of the largest smiles you have ever seen where quite common at the EU HQ in Brussels last night and today. Can’t you imagine how much they are enjoying Ms. May’s misadventure. Wonder what happened to all her talk about how she wanted a larger majority she could get Britain a better deal in the Brexit talks….

  • WUSRPH

    See, Donald, that didn’t hurt too much did it? I mean it only took nearly 5 months (not counting the post-election period and the campaign) but he finally said “Article 5″……and he did it without the Secretaries of State and Defense having to be there to whisper the magic words into his ear. “Little things” can mean a lot.

    • José

      Now if he’ll just read it.

      • WUSRPH

        Aren’t you asking just a little too much? He’s a busy man and would have to work it in in-between all his important Tweeting….

        Based on today’s tweets on the Qatar situation, Sessions may not be the only cabinet member thinking about whether he should resign….but what’s the “Great One” need with a secretary of state….those kinds of guys just get in his way by trying to explain little things like treaties, international relations and all that other dull stuff……Maybe someone should tell Trump about our big base there and how important it is in his favorite game of killing terrorists.

  • WUSRPH

    Everything the man does or touches seems to have a “Russian connection”:

    “Trump’s lawyer in Russia probe has clients with Kremlin ties” (Washington Post)
    Doesn’t the man have anybody else he can call on?

  • TacoRub

    I know that consistent voters like me do not elect our governor so he can disassociate ( you call it “insulate”) himself from the legislative process and I can assure you that I will remember this next year when it’s time to elect a representative of the people.

  • ORAXX

    Patrick’s fixation with bathroom issues is more than a little creepy. Since more Republican Congressmen have been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms than transgendered people, what does Mr. Patrick intend to about that particular menace?

    • donuthin2

      The smartest but unprincipled are playing to the bottom feeder, unprincipled part of the R party. Elections are not determined by who is the most intelligent.