Author

Patricia Kilday Hart

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Dueling studies

So everyone has done their research…and found research that supports their position. For the Voter ID advocates, Hans von Spakovsky cited an academic study by economist and professor Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri about Indiana’s experience since passing Voter ID. His conclusion: Not only no evidence of repression

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Cute? Not so much…

Sen. Royce West, trying to gauge the impact of Voter ID on minorities, asks Fraser if he has spoken to any ethnic minorities about his bill. “I don’t want to get cute with you but you are an ethnic minority and I have talked to you about it,” said Fraser.

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Tone-deaf, defined by Fraser

Freshman Senator Wendy Davis was questioning Fraser when he asked her to speak up: “I have trouble hearing women’s voices,” he said. Really?  Rodney Ellis certainly couldn’t let that one go. He interrupts and asks Duncan:  “I thought I heard my wife’s voice…Is she calling me?” Davis tries to get

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Vanishing Fiscal Note

It did not escape Judith Zaffirini’s notice that the Voter ID bill from last session carried a $671,000 annual fiscal note, but this year’s version has a a neutral impact.  What prompted the difference? she asks Fraser. “Good research,” he contends. Evidently, upon closer scrutiny, the Voter ID bill can

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Fraser takes the floor

Sen. Troy Fraser says his bill requiring voters to present identification was a response to the 2005 Carter-Baker Commission which recommended a uniform voter photo ID. He says that commission found evidence of voter fraud, including voter impersonation. Despite Democratic fears that the bill would repress voter interest, Fraser said

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Tick tock…

The Texas Senate began its session at 10 a.m., but we’re still waiting to begin the hearing on Voter ID, thanks to a lot of questions by Democrats. The latest is Sen. Royce West’s point of order claiming the public notice with the correct time wasn’t posted on time. Now

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Tag to prevent hearing?

Judith Zaffirini tells the press table that Mario Gallego’s tag may prevent CONSIDERATION of the Voter ID bill, not just passage from committee. According to Z, the tag notes a defect in the official posting, since the Senate yesterday postponed the hearing from 9 a.m.to 10 a.m. today. Also, Duncan

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Abbott not to testify

Bob Duncan, responding to Leticia Van De Putte, says the Attorney General is not a proper witness  in the Texas Senate Committee of the Whole on Voter ID because  it “is an issue in which we know there will be a review by the court system and the DOJ.” Van

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2009

Voter ID Tagged

Senate Democrats have “tagged” the Voter ID bill, which means it cannot be voted upon by the Committee of the Whole for 48 hours, according to Senate rules. Delay may be the best tactic Democrats have to stop the bill.

Politics & Policy |
March 9, 2009

Steer small

Sailors navigating rough seas are advised to “steer small,”  which means they should keep a firm hand on the wheel and not allow winds and waves to throw them off course.  Sen. Robert Duncan, who will chair tomorrow’s Committee of the Whole on Voter ID, will need to “steer small”

Politics & Policy |
March 3, 2009

Van Cliburn, Hobby give virtuoso performances

The lucky folks who attended the Texas History Museum Foundation’s annual Texas Independence Day dinner last night witnessed virtuoso performances by Fort Worth piano legend Van Cliburn and former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, both  honored as “History-Making Texans” at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Cliburn managed to weave

Politics & Policy |
March 2, 2009

Free at last?

Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s redistricting commission bill, which has passed the Texas Senate twice, has a fighting chance this session since Tom Craddick’s no longer speaker.  Wentworth, who presented his bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee, tells me he has confirmed pledges from six of nine Senate committee members to

Politics & Policy |
March 2, 2009

Let’s talk about this gap on your resume…

Fort Worth businessman and former Ambassador Tom Schieffer announced his exploratory committee for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor at a Capitol press conference this morning, and here's the "take away message" he'd like us to seize on: He's a successful businessman and former elected Democratic elected official, who voted

Politics & Policy |
February 26, 2009

Putting things in perspective

With the raging debate over Texas' Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, it's interesting to take a second look at the Texas Workforce Commission's decision-- at Gov. Rick Perry's urging -- to award a $90 million tax cut to employers. First, from Perry's March 2008 press release: Gov. Rick Perry today

Politics & Policy |
February 26, 2009

Unemployment Fund situation dire

At yesterday's hearing of the Texas Senate Nominations Committee, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken didn't mince words about the dire situation facing the state's unemployment rate -- and the fund the state relies upon to pay unemployment benefits.  The Unemployment Compensation Trust  Fund will be flat broke sometime next

Politics & Policy |
February 24, 2009

Rocket Science

Rep. Mark Strama and Sen. Kirk Watson chose to recognize Pro-Life Lobby Day by introducing a “Prevention Works Act” aimed at reducing abortions by reducing unwanted pregnancies. Wait…so how would this work, exactly? The press release for the Watson and Strama bill claims that  “Prevention Works is a real pro-life

Politics & Policy |
February 23, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T? Get Real

Just got a notice from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s office that tomorrow, on Pro-Life Lobby Day, Dewhurst “will speak in support of legislation which would require all women considering abortion be offered an ultrasound image of their unborn child and the opportunity to hear its heartbeat prior to receiving an

Politics & Policy |
February 19, 2009

The NYT gets it right

The New York Times this morning endorsed Lon Burnam’s impeachment resolution against Sharon Keller, the Criminal Court of Appeals judge who refused to keep the court’s office open for a half hour when an lawyer for a death row defendant pleaded for extra time to complete an appeal.

Politics & Policy |
February 18, 2009

Shopaholic, the sequel

The state’s Republican leadership appears to be warming up to the $17 billion in federal stimulus money, Gov. Rick Perry’s voluble aversion notwithstanding. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who breakfasted today with Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus, gave some insight about the leadership’s thinking to reporters in remarks

Politics & Policy |
February 17, 2009

Gas tax indexing gets green light

Sen. John Carona’s SJR 8, which allows the gas tax to be indexed to the rate of inflation, is traveling in the fast lane (is there such a thing as too many traffic metaphors?) since Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst referred it to Carona’s own Transportation Committee, instead of the not-so-friendly

Politics & Policy |
February 11, 2009

On Eiland Time

A renowned medical facilities consultant has recommended to the UT Board of Regents that UTMB’s inpatient hospital in Galveston—which was hit hard by Hurricane Ike— be mostly relocated to League City where it would be both easier to rebuild and more financially viable. Under this proposal, one of three options

Politics & Policy |
February 9, 2009

Taking on a “big dog”

The Capitol gossip machine has worked overtime since Thursday’s explosive Senate Finance hearing, but Chairman Steve Ogden vehemently denies any coordination with the Governor’s office to ambush former UT Regent Robert Rowling. Everyone who hasn’t had a paper sack over their heads knows by now that Dallas billionaire Rowling quit

Politics & Policy |
February 5, 2009

Rowling: Take this job and shove it

Dallas billionaire Robert Rowling, chairman of the UTIMCO board, today abruptly resigned while under heavy fire from members of the Senate Finance Committee about $2.3 million in bonuses paid to fund managers for the University of Texas System and Texas A&M System’s endowment, which has declined 27 percent this year.

Politics & Policy |
February 4, 2009

Obama ups the ante in Medicaid debate

President Obama just lent a hand to the advocates in  Austin who have been arguing for 12-month eligibility for families signing up for Medicaid,  as opposed to having to re-up every six months. Obama today signed the SCHIP Reauthorization Act, which rewards states that reach more children with Medicaid. Currently,

Politics & Policy |
February 3, 2009

Dodging Dewhurst

David Dewhurst’s committee assignments late Friday spotlighted the challenge this session presents for Florence Shapiro, whose interest in running for the U.S. Senate places her in perilous territory vis-a-vis the Texas Senate’s presiding officer, who likewise is considering a relocation to Washington. While Dewhurst’s committee assignments shifted authority from Shapiro

Politics & Policy |
January 30, 2009

Senate Committees: A to….Z

Proving he knows that reporters are notoriously lazy late on Friday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst finally released committee assignments at 4:45 p.m. today, probably hoping that no one would notice he gave Judith Zaffirini responsibility for higher education, lopping it off from Florence Shapiro’s education committee.  Good luck with that,

Politics & Policy |
January 27, 2009

(Ultra) sounding off about State of the State

Deep into the State of the State address, Gov. Rick Perry endorsed a proposal by Sen. Dan Patrick and Rep. Frank Corte to, in Perry’s words, “require those wanting to terminate a pregnancy to review their ultrasound before proceeding.” Perry told the assembled lawmakers today that “as we consider the

Politics & Policy |
January 23, 2009

Let the (shell) games begin

In an interview with the Dallas Morning News this week, Gov. Rick Perry advocated an end to all diversions of gas tax money from the Highway Fund, which is used primarily to finance road construction. But two key senators believe the current budget estimates make that highly unlikely

Politics & Policy |
January 19, 2009

From the (Hobby) horse’s mouth

I contacted former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby get his reaction to last week’s Texas Senate debate and he shared the following memo, which he sent to Sen. Rodney Ellis. He readily acknowledges that he circumvented the two-thirds rule in the Killer Bees episode and calls it “the greatest mistake of my

Politics & Policy |
January 14, 2009

One Senate rule clearly in effect

That would be the “Pottery Barn” rule as invoked by Secretary of State Colin Powell to warn against the then-proposed invasion of Iraq. “You break it, you own it,” he reasoned. This morning, Dewhurst told reporters that he mentioned the Powell axiom to senators who wanted to change the two-thirds

Politics & Policy |
January 14, 2009

No further questions, your honor…

Kirk Watson just demonstrated why it’s a bad idea to tangle with a trial lawyer. Tommy Williams has spent the last two hours arguing that he wants the Voter ID vetted in a Committee of the Whole so that all senators — not just those on, say, Senate State Affairs

Politics & Policy |
January 14, 2009

The Senate’s conundrum

What rules govern when the Senate is debating what rules govern? That’s Sen. Eliot Shapleigh’s question to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. This debate has slowed down Sen. Tommy William’s resolution, which would change Senate rules to suspend the two-thirds rule for the Voter ID bill. Dewhurst’s answer was a little

Politics & Policy |
January 13, 2009

The Dew Links Rules Change to Voter ID

In his post-session Q and A with reporters, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst predicted that proposals for changing the Texas Senate’s two-thirds rule will evaporate if senators find middle ground on the Voter ID bill. “With agreement on that issue, it (a rules change) becomes moot,” he said. In fact, each