Song of the Open Road

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Somewhere, Ogden Nash is smiling. The poet who specialized in humorous verse, including one whose title I borrowed for this post, would undoubtedly have approved of HB 410 by Eissler, prohibiting billboards on numerous stretches of scenic roads. Wrote Mr. Nash:

I think that I shall neveer see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

What I can’t understand is why all these Republicans who swear fealty to property rights keep saying this is such a good conservative bill. Branch. Gattis. As Geren pointed out, he can’t have a billboard on his land any more. Why isn’t this a taking? There is no good answer to this question.

This is a classic rural-suburban fight. You’ve got Hardcastle and Aycock and Keffer fighting the bill from the back mike, Republicans calling points of order on Republicans, and Gattis supporting Eissler.

Twas the time to have some fun
Eissler has to have his pun
Did bill ban signs from cell towers tall?
Said the author, “You have no call.”

Now here comes Haggerty with a stake through the heart: “This is what this bill does. It takes people’s property. The fiscal note on this bill should be millions and millions of dollars.” Eissler is going to join the Century Club if he fights it … especially when Keffer says he supports the Haggery amendment … and the vote on the motion to table is … 24 aye, 113 nay.

Gallego decides to have a little fun. He offers an amendment that, he says, will prevent Tx-DOT from realizing any revenue from advertising. The blood is really in the water now. Krusee tries to explain how the amendment doesn’t do anything. Nobody cares. They only care that they have a chance to vote against the Corridor. Eissler prudently accepts the amendment. This is another one of those times when you have to ask, How did this bill get on the calendar? If the Democrats had tried to pass this bill, Republicans would have gone nuts, saying it’s a taking. Now they’re going to have to vote against private property rights. (Don’t worry, Eissler says a billboard is OK if it’s turned away from the road.) No, they’re not going to have to vote. Eissler moves to postpone.

I think that I shall never see
A bill as lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless some sense should reign.
I fear to vote for em’nent domain.

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