Yesterday’s Senate debate on Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s driver’s ed bill highlighted one of the remarkable stories of the session: Dan Patrick’s transformation into a real player who is having an impact on legislation. Wentworth’s bill would have required 18 to 25-year-olds to take a driver’s ed course before obtaining a
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
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
Lt. Gov. David Dewhust informed reporters today that “a cloud has arisen” over the conference committee’s efforts to produce a balanced budget: a $1 billion shortfall in Medicaid now predicted by the Legislative Budget Board. Apparently, the worsening economy has prompted a bigger demand for Medicaid than anticipated by either
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
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
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s bill permitting teen mothers to get contraception without parental consent to reduce repeat teen pregnancies produced a tie-breaker on an amendment by Dan Patrick which required notification of parents for those teens still living at home. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was summoned to break the
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
On a vote of 27 to 4, the Texas Senate accepted a compromise to fund the Texas Wind Insurance Association that apparently required input from most of the membership, judging from the accolades passed around at the end of the debate. It was a friendly end to an acrimonious issue,
Sen. Troy Fraser reports a “fragile” compromise on his TWIA (Texas Wind Insurance Association) bill is currently being reviewed by senators and he hopes to have the measure on the floor tomorrow. A version that contains agreements forged during three days of meetings with coastal senators is now “being read
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
Who says U.S. Supreme Court decisions can’t be funny? In a decision delivered yesterday in the case of Federal Communications Commission versus Fox Television, a majority of the court broadened the definition of indecency to include the broadcast of a single word. This is a huge change, when you consider
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
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
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,
They are Ogden, Shapiro, Williams, West and Hinojosa.
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
Paul heard a rumor today and asked me to check it out (it must be good to be Burka) that discussions were underway for each chamber to name 7 members, instead of the traditional five, to the budget conference committee. Now Senate Finance chair Steve Ogden, who says he promoted
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
It only took 48 hours for this idea to pop in my head, but it occurs to me that the Texas Senate’s passage of the Texas Department of Insurance sunset bill Monday provides a textbook example of how the two-thirds rule enhances public policy. After blocking debate on the bill,
Thanks to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for alerting us that Texas has dominated Forbes’ list of best cities for business in this article.
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
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
Taking fewer than three minutes, Sen. Kevin Eltife just passed SB 1569 drawing down federal stimulus money for the Texas Unemployment Compensation Fund. He makes the case that accepting federal money will reduce the tax burden on Texas employers. 22-9. No questions, no debate.
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.
Senate Democrats sent a letter today to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking for clarification about the use of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds in its recently-adopted budget, specifically whether the spending plan incorrectly supplants general revenue with federal money intended for schools. "We are requesting specific guidance on whether the
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
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 the
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?
We respect the right of everyone to celebrate Easter / Passover Week in his or her own way. Charlie Geren has a spiritual moment with a 50-caliber sniper rifle (accurate to 2,000 yards) at his ranch on Good Friday. More proof that the 81st Legislature is weapons-obsessed.
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.
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,
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.
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
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,
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
Opening the floor debate on the budget bill, Finance chair Steve Ogden defended his use of federal stimulus funds and not dipping into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, noting that the $182.25 billion spending plan is seven percent higher than last biennium. “That is attributable to the federal stimulus funding,”
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
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
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
UTIMCO was back before the Senate Finance Committee today, and what a different one regent can make. Texas A&M regent (and TXU chairman emeritus) Earl Nye, replacing former UT regent Robert Rowling as chairman of UTIMCO, gave a calm and convincing analysis of UTIMCO’s performance and urged lawmakers not to
Steve Ogden may have lost support of Senate Democrats for SB 1 with his surprise rider prohibiting state funds to be used in stem cell research, or as the rider states: "in conjunction with or to support research that involves the destruction of a human embryo." The rider was added
As the Texas Senate began its debate this afternoon on Florence Shapiro’s bill to limit the Top Ten percent rule for university admissions, Royce West threw out some interesting numbers that call into question UT’s argument that it faces a “crisis” regarding its freshman class. UT has argued that its
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
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
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
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
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:
For the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished file: Chairman Steve Ogden at this morning’s Senate Finance meeting stirred up a hornet’s nest when he offered a rider of $2 million contingent upon passage of the Voter ID bill. Democrats were quick to point out that the bill carried a fiscal note of zero– in
Twelve Democrats have sent a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst asking that he convene a Committee of the Whole to hear a SJR 15 which urges the Governor to accept federal stimulus money. We request the Senate convene a Committee of the Whole to address SCR 15 to ensure