Reporting from the Texas Legislature, with investigation and analysis of the state's economy, public policy, education, and more. 

Overturning Fracking Bans Sent to Abbott

The Texas Senate ran over the voters of Denton today by sending Governor Greg Abbott a bill to prohibit local governments from adopting bans on oil and gas drilling within a city limits. The bill was in response to Denton voters last year passing a ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Overturning the ban has been a key issue for Abbott, who called local restrictions on drilling, plastic grocery bags and limits on tree cutting a “patchwork quilt” of ordinances. Abbott said Texas is being “California-ized.”

Overturning Fracking Bans Sent to Abbott

The Texas Senate ran over the voters of Denton today by sending Governor Greg Abbott a bill to prohibit local governments from adopting bans on oil and gas drilling within a city limits. The bill was in response to Denton voters last year passing a ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Overturning the ban has been a key issue for Abbott, who called local restrictions on drilling, plastic grocery bags and limits on tree cutting a “patchwork quilt” of ordinances. Abbott said Texas is being “California-ized.”

Patrick Advisor Was Present at Garland Shooting

One of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s grassroots advisory committee members apparently was a promoter of the Garland event that came under gunfire on Sunday. According to his Facebook page, Ken Emanuelson, a member of Patrick’s advisory panel, was present at the event when the shooting occurred and was locked down inside the Curtis Culwell Center.

House Takes Its Dirty Laundry Off The Internet

The Texas House today took its dirty laundry off the Internet, removing from public view official video of a public committee meeting where transportation Chairman Joe Pickett ejected Representative Jonathan Stickland because of allegedly falsified witness registrations.

Prior to every House committee meeting, chairmen admonish the audience that only credentialed media are allowed to video or record the committee, but the public also is reassured that an official recording of the meeting is being made. But if it hadn’t been for some members of the public violating the rules at the House Transportation Committee meeting Thursday night to video record the confrontation, only the vaguest descriptions of the allegations and recriminations would be available.

The video was “locked up” because it had become part of an investigation into a violation of House rules, according to House General Investigating Chairman John Kuemple.

But removing the video from public view also meant it looked like a conspiracy by the House leadership to keep the truth from coming out. Stickland’s supporters were quick to shower him with blessings on Facebook.

“This little bit of juvenile payback by Tyrant Pickett effectively reveals who they are really afraid of: YOU and the liberty-lovin’ Texans that you speak for!” wrote one.  

House Will Investigate Stickland Witness Fight

Questions about whether Representative Jonathan Stickland was involved in a scheme to falsely fill out witness registration cards for a bill at the Capitol have been referred to the House General Investigating & Ethics Committee.

 “There will be an investigation looking into the alleged violations of House rules regarding witness registration,” said committee Chairman John Kuemple, R-Seguin. “Our rulebook, it clearly states you have to fill it out yourself at the Capitol.”

Jade Helm and the Second Battle of Bastrop

Attention, Alex Jones! Attention, Governor Greg Abbott! The federal government has placed 90,000 Army troops just north of Killeen with tanks. If those tanks start to roll, they can be in the capital city of Texas within two hours.

But, wait! There are another 90,000 U.S. military personnel in San Antonio de Bexar. Somehow, I don’t think they’re about to hand over the keys to the armory as U.S. Major General David E. Twiggs did on February 8, 1861, when Ben McCulloch showed up with the Texas militia. (You know Ben McCulloch. He’s the guy with the camp named after him near The Salt Lick barbecue.)

Pickett Tosses Stickland Out of Committee

House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett apparently threw Representative Jonathan Stickland out of his committee tonight over an allegation that Stickland had falsely signed up witnesses for a bill, according to Tim Eaton of the Austin American-Statesman.

Pickett, D-El Paso, ultimately had one of the House sergeants escort a fuming Stickland, R-Bedford, from the committee room in the Capitol.

An Unstable Economy Is Not the Time for Tax Cuts.

Property tax appraisals going out around Texas right now likely will give a boost to the Senate’s property tax cut proposals over the House plan for sales tax cuts. But a look at some of the appraisals show the Senate plan is too little to make a real difference to homeowners in fast growth areas. And an honest look at the state of the state’s economy finds the House plan borders on fiscal irresponsibility rather than fiscal conservatism.

The Texas economy is poised for a contraction, and, with that, comes a major decline in state government revenues. This may not be the time for tax cuts, even if this KPRC-TV map clearly shows the pain of rising appraisals, at least in Harris County. For an interactive version, click here.

KPRC Tax Map

 

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