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judith zaffirini

The Best & Worst Legislators explained

Jun 16, 2011 By Paul Burka

The 20th edition of the “Best & Worst Legislators” story is complete. Yesterday we posted, on Twitter and on this blog, the names of the ten Best, the ten Worst, the Bull of the Brazos, and the Rookie of the Year. Today the write-ups for all of these 22 members are available online. The full story, including honorable and dishonorable mentions, furniture, and the very special features that mark the 20th edition of the story will be available in the magazine, which will begin reaching subscribers this weekend, and on our website next week. I have been involved in nineteen of the twenty previous articles, and I cannot recall a more difficult year when it came to selecting the members on both lists. This was a session without heroes. All the usual jokes about naming 5 Bests and 15 Worsts were on point, for a change. The budget dominated everything, with the result that there were few major bills. I count three: Truitt’s effort to regulate payday loans; Ritter’s attempt to get funding for the state water plan (one of several occasions on which Perry could have exercised leadership for the state’s future but did not); and Keffer’s bill regulating hydraulic fracturing in shale formations. The rest was noise. Particularly cacophonous was the governor’s “emergency” agenda, which consisted of nothing but red meat for Republicans. Republicans got to vote on abortion, immigration, voter fraud, tort reform, and, shades of the fifties, state’s rights. Democrats got to vote no a lot. Even the major Sunset bills didn’t seem to generate any interest. You could look out across the House floor during any debate and see few members engaged. The House Republican caucus was a curious organism. Its members preferred to vote as a block, as if they lived in fear that their age-old enemies, the Democrats, might perhaps be resuscitated to offer a scintilla of opposition. The group-think voting was reminiscent of the refrain sung by the “Monarch of the Sea” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore: “I grew so rich that I was sent/by a pocket borough into Parliament/I always voted at my party’s call/and never thought of thinking for myself at all.” The anemic Democratic caucus, meanwhile, mustered up occasional resistance, mostly with parliamentary maneuvers, but the D’s were so outnumbered, and so demoralized by their election rout, that they never seemed to have a leader or a plan. Not that it would have made any difference.

Follow the money

May 21, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

At today’s post-Senate session press avail, Sen. Steve Ogden says the final budget document approved by conferees shapes public policy in several big ways, including: 1. “A dramatic shift in policy in how we serve mentally retarded Texans” represented by a $500 million increase in total funds for community services…

While Dew dithers, tuition debate opens

Mar 31, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

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…

It won’t work

Mar 25, 2009 By Paul Burka

My colleague Patricia Kilday Hart posted an item yesterday about Democratic reaction to the Ogden rider prohibiting state funds from being used to support embryonic stem cell research. Hart quoted Judith Zaffirini as saying, “[T]here are some members so upset there has been discussion of blocking the appropriations bill if…

Showdown on Rider 56

Mar 20, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

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…

Between a rock and Zaffirini

Mar 19, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

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…

Dodging Dewhurst

Feb 3, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

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…