The State of Texas: January 16, 2015
Video of the Day
Texas is not known for its soccer, but an awesome play is an awesome play, no matter the sport. So three cheers for the McKinney High School player, whose eye-popping goal involves both gymnastics and football quarterbacking.
As the legislature gets rolling, it’s worth remembering that they’re there for work. Apparently there are things like governing and lawmaking that go on, and to better understand the process, it’s worth revisiting an infographic from last year that shows how a Texas bill becomes a law:
Thank You and Goodnight – Governor Rick Perry had a final hooray before riding off into the sunset (a.k.a. trying again to run for President). During his farewell address, Perry “the importance of bipartisanship, compromise and common ground,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The message might have been lost on Perry’s audience, however. Apparently, most of the state’s Democrats weren’t even at the speech. As the Statesman notes, “It was not an intentional or organized snub, but a House Democratic caucus meeting … ran right up against the governor’s speech.” That said, “all but a few of the Democrats chose a belated lunch or a return to their districts over a speech they felt was intended more for a national political audience than themselves.” Regardless, Perry’s call for bipartisanship was aimed more at Republicans, with the governor invoking the spirit of Ronald Reagan and “asking that you do not place purity ahead of unity.” The speech included Campaign Perry classics like mentioning the Texas Miracle as well as his “humble beginnings.” After delivering his farewell, Perry did what Perry does best: headed to San Diego to give a keynote address to the Republican National Committee. Adios, cowboy.
Citizens United – As Perry said goodbye, Dan Patrick got his reign started off with a bang. The lieutenant governor announced the establishment of “citizen advisory” panels, which is not only a misnomer but immediately attracted scorn as well. The panels appear to be comprised almost entirely of “Billionaire political donors and other special interest heavyweights who already spend lavishly on lobbying,” according to the normally dry Associated Press, which didn’t mince words. “The new ‘citizen advisory’ panels are virtually unprecedented in the Texas Legislature and drew immediate condemnation from public watchdogs. One group said Patrick alone has personally received a total of nearly $2 million in donations from his dozens of hand-picked panelists, who include energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens. … According to Texas for Public Justice, more than three-quarters of appointees have donated to Patrick at least once since 2005.” In one sense, it’s actually quite polite of Patrick to be so forthright about how much big money controls politics and how back-scratching will happen. “Very often the private sector is asked for help by a candidate, and after they get elected, there’s not much follow up,” he said. Patrick even had the chutzpah to question “why anyone would criticize lawmakers for turning to the private sector for ideas,” which, well played, sir.
Trouble Continues – Short of not going completely out of business and/or people being indicted for some sort of crime, it appears all press is bad press for those involved in 21CT. The latest developments about the scandal include the resignation of Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek’s chief of staff. Last month Erica Stick went on paid leave because of the scandal, saying in her resignation letter, “she had hoped the drama over the contract would end soon, but, with several reviews underway, ‘it is increasingly clear that a resolution will not come any time soon,’” according to the Houston Chronicle. The real question now is how many other people will fall (or be pushed) on swords. Others covering their bases include incoming Governor Greg Abbott who yesterday “returned a $10,000 campaign contribution from the CEO” of 21CT, according to the Texas Tribune. Abbott is among four top lawmakers who have returned sizable checks from the tech company. At this rate, 21CT won’t even be able to get a place on Patrick’s citizen advisory board.
Lone Movie Stars – Texas is kicking butt in Hollywood. Following a round of wins at the Golden Globes, the Oscar nominations were announced and they, too, are Texas-heavy. Boyhood continues its victory march with Richard Linklater getting the nod for Best Director, not to mention “Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette, Best Supporting Actor for Ethan Hawke and Best Film Editing,” as Culturemap Dallas lists. Boyhood might be the most directly Texas-related film, but we’re representin’ in so many other ways as well. “The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Texan Wes Anderson, tied with Birdman to lead all films with nine nominations [and] Dallas native Keven McAlester was nominated along with director/producer Rory Kennedy for the documentary feature, Last Days of Vietnam.” When Robert Rodriquez and the rest of the local film industry really get things off the ground, there will be no need to ever go to California ever again, which is its own reward in and of itself.