Author

Patricia Kilday Hart

Politics & Policy |
May 8, 2009

Medicaid Mischief: A Case Study

In looking into the Medicaid caseload changes afoot in this year’s budget process, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a pack-rat who shared with me a clipping of a April 11, 2003 Austin American-Statesman story entitled: Medicaid money may shift. It’s a textbook example of how to manipulate Medicaid

Politics & Policy |
May 6, 2009

Behind the Medicaid projections

A closer look at Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s announcement yesterday about a $1 billion projected increase in Medicaid costs suggests the Senate is using the revised forecasts as a bargaining device with the House. Since 2001, budget writers have been presented with two projections of Medicaid costs: a high (usually

Politics & Policy |
May 5, 2009

Senate confirms Bryan Shaw to TCEQ

Voting mostly on party lines, the Texas Senate confirmed the nomination of Dr. Bryan Shaw to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  Seven Democratic senators unhappy with the performance of the Texas Environmental quality Commission objected to the confirmation Shaw, a constituent of Sen. Steve Ogden. Ogden urged the Senate

Politics & Policy |
May 4, 2009

Eminent domain sails out of Texas Senate

Sen. Craig Este’s SB 18, which prohibits government entities from condemning land for speculative purposes, won unanimous approval by the Texas Senate.  SB 18 makes it clear that government entities can condemn land only for government purposes after offering fair compensation. Estes credited colleagues Bob Duncan and Glen Hegar with

Politics & Policy |
April 30, 2009

Ultrasound bill wins Senate approval

Doctors would be required to offer ultrasounds to women seeking abortions, and women would have the choice to view or not view the tests, under a compromise accepted today by Sen. Dan Patrick and adopted by the Texas Senate. “It is really inform and consent. It is women’s health. It

Politics & Policy |
April 29, 2009

Dueling Education Debates

First, here’s an update from Abby Rappaport on the House: Dawnna Dukes just lost the most exciting battle thus far on her amendment to eliminate school closures. Dukes spoke at length about the troubles at Webb Elementary School and argued that some school districts don’t mind school closure.  “That just

Politics & Policy |
April 28, 2009

Transportation “bank” gets Senate approval

The Texas Senate just gave unanimous approval to Sen. John Carona’s SB 1350, which sets up the Texas Transportation Revolving Fund — a transportation “bank,” really — that will leverage $1 billion in transportation bonds authorized by Prop 12.  According to the bill’s analysis, the revolving fund will allow funds

Politics & Policy |
April 27, 2009

Another confirmation in question

Bryan W. Shaw's confirmation as a member of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has run into trouble in the Texas Senate. At a press conference this morning, Sens. Eliot Shapleigh, Wendy Davis and Rodney Ellis called for a "top to bottom" review of the agency -- in the manner

Politics & Policy |
April 27, 2009

Tuition caps get Senate committee approval

An intensive, month-long working group in the Texas Senate has produced a bill combining the best elements of the myriad of tuition freeze/tuition reregulation bills. The resulting SB 1443 by Zaffirini unanimously passed out of the Higher Education Committee  and had the additional support of Sens. Tommy Williams, Florence Shapiro,

Politics & Policy |
April 24, 2009

Dewhurst pushing TWIA compromise

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced from the prodium this morning that he plans to begin meeting with coastal senators on Sen. Troy Fraser’s Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) bill.  I’m told that the coastal senators, plus a few other senators whose constituents own property on the coast, had enough votes

Politics & Policy |
April 23, 2009

McLeroy nomination stalled

After State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy gave a shaky performance before the Senate Nominations committee Wednesday, there appears to be little interest in the Texas Senate in moving forward on his confirmation. Nominations chair Mike Jackson has said he won’t ask for a committee vote if there aren’t

Politics & Policy |
April 20, 2009

Keep your hands off my jet skis

Sen. John Whitmire preserved the right of Texans to drive boats and jet skis without the burden of completing driver safety courses by shooting down a bill by Sen. Jeff Wentworth mandating the new requirement. Holding his hand to his forehead in disbelief, Whitmire passionately argued against “big government” intrusion

Politics & Policy |
April 20, 2009

Senate gives final passage to unemployment bill

Seeking final passage of his bill drawing down federal money for the unemployment compensation fund, Sen. Kevin Eltife argued that taking federal money — despite the strings attached —  is a good deal for Texas employers and will actually save them money. By October, the unemployment insurance fund will be nearly

Politics & Policy |
April 16, 2009

Meso bill passes

Duncan eeks out his 21 votes with all Democrats and the following Republicans: Averitt, Carona, Duncan, Eltife, Harris, Hegar, Ogden, Seliger, Wentworth.  Same line-up, minus Hegar, wins passage to second reading.

Politics & Policy |
April 16, 2009

A Patrick compliment. Sort of.

Sen. Dan Patrick, apparently attempting to compliment Sen. Bob Duncan, said that the mesothelioma bill would not even be getting debated except for the “political capital” and respect Duncan enjoys among his colleagues. Okay, so far, so good. “I don’t think that one senator voting with you really knows what

Politics & Policy |
April 16, 2009

Duncan says meso opponents refused negotiations

Sen. Bob Duncan, laying out his bill easing causation standards in mesothelioma (asbestos-induced cancer) lawsuits, faulted opponents to his bill (which includes Texans for Lawsuit Reform, and many major industries in Texas) for failing to come to the table with language improving the controversial legislation. “My frustration is

Politics & Policy |
April 14, 2009

Seliger bill would clip SBOE’s wings

The fallout from the State Board of Education's debate over the teaching of evolution continued this morning in the Senate Education Committee, which held a spirited discussion on Sen. Kel Seliger's SB 2275 transferring authority for textbook adoption from the State Board of Education to the state's Education Commissioner. How spirited?

Politics & Policy |
April 9, 2009

Carona moving forward on SB 855

Sen. John Carona tells us he believes he’s resolved constitutional questions about his local option highway funding bill and will win final Senate passage on Tuesday — though he acknowledges he expects Gov. Rick Perry to “do everything he can to derail the bill” as it moves through the House.

Politics & Policy |
April 8, 2009

Insurance update

Sen. Glen Hegar says he hopes to make a run on his Insurance Department sunset bill on Tuesday, though apparently there is a stand-off with Democrats on the issue of prior approval versus file-and-use. Hegar, who has indeed (as a commenter noted below) met with Democrats on some 40 amendments,

Politics & Policy |
April 8, 2009

Another screeching halt

Senate Democrats are blocking the Insurance sunset bill because they are unhappy that bill author Glenn Hegar has not accepted key amendments.  Here’s a statement from Leticia Van de Putte: Senate Democrats are blocking the Texas Department of Insurance sunset legislation today because the bill does not yet protect consumers.

Politics & Policy |
April 8, 2009

Postponement on local option highway tax

Every legislative session seems to have its own personality — and lingo. The 81st will no doubt go down as the session of “these tough economic times” and “dire prediction.”  For today’s dire prediction, Sen. John Carona served up the nightmare de jure that the state’s highway fund will be

Politics & Policy |
April 1, 2009

Ogden promises to clarify stem cell rider

Finance chair Steve Ogden has just promised to clarify his rider prohibiting the use of state funds in embryonic stem cell research, acknowledging that its broad language probably goes too far. “I have recently passed around what I think might be better language” which he will substitute in conference committee,

Politics & Policy |
April 1, 2009

No response from AG to Frew letter?

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte believes the Senate Finance Committee failed to include enough money in SB 1 to cover the state’s obligations under the settlement of the Frew v. Hawkins lawsuit, in which the state agreed two years ago to significantly improve access to Medicaid services.  And she lays

Politics & Policy |
March 31, 2009

While Dew dithers, tuition debate opens

While Lt. David Dewhurst has not yet referred to committee several bills on the re-regulation of college tuition, the debate on the issue will move forward tomorrow morning in the Senate’s Higher Education Committee. Sen. Judith Zaffirini has scheduled a hearing on her version, which limits tuition increases to five

Politics & Policy |
March 30, 2009

Stem cell issue heats up

Prompted by the Senate Finance committee's rider banning the use of state funds for embryonic stem cell research, 18 prominent Texas scientists have signed a letter addressed to all Texas lawmakers urging them to "remove the ban on funding for embryonic stem cell research in Texas from SB1, and to

Politics & Policy |
March 30, 2009

Patterson calls school fund management “dysfunctional”

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson today told the Senate Finance Committee that the management of the state’s Permanent School Fund is “dysfunctional” because responsibility is fractured among three entities: his office, the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education. “It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just evolved that way,” Patterson

Politics & Policy |
March 20, 2009

Showdown on Rider 56

All was sweetness and light when Steve Ogden convened the Senate Finance Committee at 9:30 a.m. today — but only because the shouting match over a rider making Planned Parenthood ineligible for women’s health care funds took place earlier behind closed doors. This session, Sen. Bob Deuell is carrying the

Politics & Policy |
March 19, 2009

Between a rock and Zaffirini

That’s where Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst now finds himself regarding tuition de-regulation bills, most of which have not been referred to any committee.  The two main proposals are SB 1443 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini and SB 105 by Sen. Juan Hinojosa. Although Zaffirini was quoted in a newspaper story promising

Politics & Policy |
March 18, 2009

Slow out of the gate

The Capitol extension this afternoon is filled with edgy lobbyists packing committee rooms in near panic-mode about getting bills through the committee process. One lobbyist speculated that a bill not passed from committee within the next 10 days should be considered dead. It’s not just talk. The statistics show that

Politics & Policy |
March 18, 2009

Needle exchange passes Senate

Republican Senator Bob Deuell passed his needle exchange bill from the Senate today, despite opposition from his own party and Texas Eagle Forum president Cathie Adams. Voting no were Republicans Craig Estes, Troy Fraser, Joan Hoffman, Steve Ogden, Dan Patrick, Florence Shapiro and Tommy Williams. “I know this is a

Politics & Policy |
March 17, 2009

Should the AG be on the LRB?

An interesting debate has been spun-off from last week’s Voter ID hearing:  Should the Attorney General serve on the Legislative Redistricting Board? You will recall that Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott declined the invitation of Senate Democrats to appear before the Committee of the Whole to answer questions about Voter ID:

Politics & Policy |
March 12, 2009

Read bill, smack forehead

HB3152, by Christian. Relating to prohibiting the performance of an abortion on a woman who is not known to be pregnant; providing penalties. Filed two days ago, Christian’s bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor for a doctor to use drugs or medical instruments commonly used to perform abortions