Sun May 31, 2015 8:49 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

State Representative Jonathan Stickland may have been thwarted time and again on his efforts to obtain the open carrying of handguns without a permit, but he won the video war.

Sat May 30, 2015 10:08 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

Evidently, not convinced that voters will approve the proposed constitutional amendment to increase residential homestead exemptions, the Legislature included in Senate Bill 1 a bribe – uh, correct that – financial inducement to homeowners to get out and vote. It is a statement of what they will save if the amendment passes in November, an inducement to vote that will not be received by any renters or owners of commercial property. On top of that, it appears to be contrary to the Oath of Office prescribed in the Texas Constitution that every member of the Legislature must sign on taking office.

Let’s start with the inducement language in Senate Bill 1.


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Thu May 28, 2015 2:20 pm By R.G. Ratcliffe

When the Eighty-fourth Legislature ends on Monday, your Texas leaders will brag that they have balanced the state budget and put forth proposals to cut the state business tax and to reduce property tax burdens. What they won’t tell you is they are hoarding more than $18 billion that could have gone to deeper tax cuts, or to repairing the state’s infrastructure or improving roads, or to reducing state debt, or to eliminating a deficit in the pension fund for state employees, or even to public education.

Nope. They’re just going to hoard that money like the dragon Smaug sitting on his pile of gold and jewels and other treasurers in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

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Wed May 27, 2015 1:31 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

Rare are the times like tonight when the three political parties of the Texas House are so vividly on display, when deals are so distasteful to all involved and frustrations flare into tempestuous displays of angry eyes.

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Tue May 26, 2015 8:53 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

Gallup adoptionsAlthough public support for adoptions by same-sex couples has increased at a faster pace than support for same-sex marriage, anxiety among social conservatives and faith-based adoption agencies also has risen, especially while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether gay marriage is a constitutional right. Faith-based adoption agencies in other states have shut down rather than place children with same-sex couples. That anxiety will play out in the Texas House today as state Representative Scott Sanford plans to offer a religious freedom amendment to a family services bill. The amendment would allow adoption agencies to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

Sanford had introduced HB 3864 to allow faith-based organizations to opt-out of adopting or fostering children with same-sex couples. The bill never made it any farther than the calendars committee. A similar bill by Senator Donna Campbell, SB 1935, never even received a public hearing.

But Sanford just last week won House approval of a bill to protect clergy from lawsuits if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages. The vote was 142-0. That was different, though, because it dealt more with a fear than a reality. In this case, the reality is faith-based adoption agencies may shut down unless they are allowed to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds.

UPDATE: Sanford never offered his amendment Tuesday night because debate on it would have prevented the House from debating a bill on the carrying of handguns on college campuses; however, I’m told conservative lawmakers have found a bill in the Senate to amend with the adoption language. So to fill you in on the issue, please read on in the original story:

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