The 83rd Lege has started to hear this session’s “sunset” bills. The first to come to the House floor, on Wednesday, concerned the Public Utility Commission. It passed, but as Paul Burka explained on BurkaBlog, there was a bit of a scrap on the floor:
Only two bills have to pass during a legislative session. One is the budget. The other is the safety-net Sunset bill. At this point, only one has passed. The death of the safety-net bill puts the existence of several state agencies, including TxDOT and the State Board of Insurance, at risk. This cannot be ignored. It will necessitate a special session.
But an idea is circulating this morning that could avoid this scenario.
During today’s Senate transportation hearing, Hegar expressed concern that the eminent domain issue might not pass the House, and that as a last resort it should be included in the TxDOT sunset bill. The disappearance of eminent domain from the radar screen is very curious. After all, this was one of the few proposals the governor advocated in his State of the State address. What happened?
I’ve been watching Senate Transportation on TV. Hegar is talking about the process:
“There is a prevailing thought among the public that they want their tax dollars to be used to build roads, nothing more, nothing less. They want transparency and accountability in the agency, nothing more, nothing less.”
“I want to change the attitude of an agency.”
“I am convinced that we must have an oversight committee.”
The House was out of control Thursday during the debate on the TxDOT Sunset bill. The process was living proof of the old saying that there are two things you should never see being made: sausage and legislation. This was not serious lawmaking. It was an orgy–an orgy of hatred for TxDOT. Why bother to offer amendments at all?
This time it was on Dan Flynn’s Sunset bill to abolish the Office of State-Federal Relations, which is subject to legislative oversight, and transfer the functions to the governor’s office. A similar bill died last session. You cannot mention the word “governor” in the House without stirring certain members–Tommy Merritt, Lon Burnam–to action. This was no exception.