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Earlier today R.G. and I sat down with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune for a live conversation about our picks for Best & Worst Legislators. The discussion covered some of the questions that commenters have raised since we announced the picks, so if anyone else is wondering about Jane Nelson, you might want to take a look.
The video is available here. I enjoyed the discussion overall, but a particular highlight from me was the question, around the 43-minute mark, from an audience member who asked about the untimely demise of HB 984, which would give adult adoptees the option of tracking down their original birth certificates. Really, it was an assassination: the measure, by Joe Deshotel, received unanimous support in committee, and passed the House on a 138-1 vote. It then received unanimous support in the Senate State Affairs Committee, and would almost certainly have passed on the floor– the Senate sponsor, Brandon Creighton, had lined up 14 co-sponsors, ranging across the ideological spectrum from Jose Menendez to Brian Birdwell—if it hadn’t been taken off the intent calendar for reasons that were never specified.
At the time, I had heard the reason: Donna Campbell is against the idea, and this year scuttled the effort by asking the lieutenant governor to remove it from the intent calendar. She succeeded, apparently, and no one really noticed: the bill hadn’t attracted much attention in the first place, and it was removed from the intent calendar in the final days of session. Still, taking a bill off the intent calendar as a favor to a pal is a total breach of process values, and it was obviously unfair to the bill’s many supporters and the advocates who had worked to build support for the issue. And, as it happens, I had heard about the episode from my sources; it helps explain why Campbell appears on the worst list. But as you’ll see in the July issue, it’s not mentioned in her write-up–all of the write-ups are too short to be comprehensive–and it hadn’t come up during our discussion with Evan. The questioner, however, turned out to be an advocate for adoptees, and therefore one of the people who had been trampled by Campbell. If she hadn’t been there, this probably would have been one of the many episodes of any legislative session that are lost to the shifting sands of time.
All this by way of saying that we really do appreciate those of you leaving thoughtful comments, and all the sources we talked to over the course of the session. The list can’t cover everything that happened, or address every legislator’s involvement, or corroborate and relay every good observation. We are paying attention, though—so thanks, and thanks for reading.