Category Archives: Legislature Stuff

Rick Perry cyclist veto haunts him (again)

In case you missed it, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would make the roads safe for cylcists, construction workers and humans in general.  Here’s an Austinist post about the initial veto, then a story from the Statesman about the cyclists reaction.  Said one voter:

“I have never voted in a Republican primary in my life,” said Hill Abell, owner of Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin. “But more than likely, if Perry has a significant opponent in the primary, I’ll be supporting that opponent with my vote, and financially.

Well the anger at Perry has boiled over in recent days, as the granddaughter of a Texas House member was struck while riding her bike by an SUV that didn’t have a “share the road” bumper sticker, I’m guessing.  According the Houston Chronicle story:

Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, sponsor of a bill to protect bicyclists, expressed relief Wednesday that her granddaughter and a friend suffered only minor injuries after getting hit by a SUV. Gov. Rick Perry recently vetoed legislation that Harper-Brown plans to push again next session to protect vulnerable road users.

“Now I can put a face to it,” Harper-Brown said about efforts to help raise awareness for the perils facing vulnerable road users. “It really does touch home now.”

Luckily the girl is doing fine now. It’s sad that sometimes this is what it takes to make issues “real” for us, but I know we’ve all been in a situation like this.  Problems never seem as serious as when they hit close to home.  (Also, they’re talking about this story over at the Lone Star Times, if you’re interested.)

So the question arises, why did Perry veto this bill? The Chron story says the bill “would have required motorists to give cyclists and other vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, runners, motorcyclists, construction and maintenance workers at least 3 feet clearance when they pass, or at least 6 feet for commercial vehicles.”  This seems reasonable.  Actually, this seems almost like common sense.  How is this not on the books already?

As expected, the veto started a grassroots movement against Perry.  Unfortunately for the governor, he’s used to things like this (TTC, HPV, etc.), but cyclists have already gathered more than 4,000 signatures for “a petition declaring they will keep the governor’s veto on their mind when they vote next year.”  For an incumbent who received 39 percent of the vote last time, this doesn’t bode well.

The thing that would get to me, if I were Perry, is that story about the granddaughter.  Obviously the cyclists mobilized almost immediately following the veto because the believed in the bill in principle.  But the story of Harper-Brown’s granddaughter getting hit by a car?  I’m just glad that blood isn’t on my hands.

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Rick Perry and food stamps

A Dallas Morning News story today highlights a critical issue that’s being either ignored or swept under the rug by Texas legislators and Gov. Rick Perry.  According to the Texas Legal Services Center, the last month has seen thousands of Texans applying for food stamps who’ve been ignored by their state government.  The story says:

Last month, more than half of new food stamp applications from metropolitan Dallas and Houston languished beyond a 30-day processing deadline required by law. Statewide, one-third weren’t handled in timely fashion last month, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Austin late Friday.

The Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman, Stephanie Goodman, said the recession and Hurricane Ike have caused an overload on the states’ infrastructure.
Regardless of excuses, deputy director of Texas Legal Services, Bruce Bower, said “it’s unacceptable for nearly 60,000 households a month to be applying for food stamps in desperation, and not receive prompt word on whether they qualify.”
Adding to the drumbeat, Celia Hagert, a nutrition expert with the CPPP, said that recent events such as the recession and Hurricane Ike cannot be blamed for the current situation, since the system has been failing to meet federal timeliness standards for three years.
Why does this matter? Well, it’s all a bit ironic, considering Rick Perry has been marching around the state saying how great the Texas economy is and how we have a $9 billion surplus.  Need a reminder?  Here’s a graf from his Washington Times op-ed from last week:

For example, our just-concluded legislative session yielded a balanced state budget, tax relief for 40,000 small businesses, and it left $9 billion unspent for future state needs.

I guess I’m unclear about what our future needs are, if they aren’t Texans who are forced to go hungry? I understand that he has to campaign right now to keep his job, but can we reevaluate our priorities for a second and take care of our own?

Rick Perry takes stimulus, threatens secession

The Federal stimulus money seems to be a recurring subject in the Texas media.  Although Rick Perry rejected $555 million in unemployment insurance money, he accpepted about $14 billion in Federal stimulus money.  This often gets swept under the rug by his campaign, and for good reason.  First of all, it’s an incredibly large sum of money.  A 10th Amendment candidate, as Perry is attempting to brand himself, should not have accepted any Federal money.

The problem with this, as Jason Embry points out, is that the Rainy Day Fund” that Perry touts “went untouched,” could not have been so without Federal aid.  Embry gets his information from the National Conference of State Legislatures:

The national group asked states to say how they closed their budget gaps for the 2010 budget year, and 35 states responded. Of those, 25 said they used federal stimulus dollars to close budget gaps, and Texas reported that it relied most heavily on stimulus dollars, using those dollars to provide 96.7 percent of the gap-closing solution. Nebraska was next at 88 percent.

So if it weren’t for Obama’s stimulus, Perry would have had to deplete the Rainy Day fund, and probably also raise taxes to make up for the difference.  Because the mainstream media doesn’t make a habit of getting into details like this, you rarely hear about it.  Kudos to Embry for taking the time.

This “Please, sir, can I have some more?” Perry is rarely seen in public.  Rather, we get his opposite twin–the 10th Amendment posturing Perry.  On the Mark Davis show this morning, Perry claimed that if Obama’s healthcare plan became law, he would make the “not in my state” stand. Secession, anyone?  That’s the only plausible thing Perry could be referencing.  Otherwise, he’s obligated to comply with U.S. law.

And somewhat related to the “Two Perrys” theory, the Dallas Morning News notes that public and private Perry are very different, as well (“Democrats routinely mention they’ve talked to Perry about some issue or another, and suggest they get along just fine when it comes to most state-specific issues.”)

This, understandably, upsets many conservatives.  Bloggers at the RNI have noticed the disparity between Perry’s words and actions:

While Texas Governor Rick Perry assumes a populist tone at several Tea Party Rallies in the Lone Star State, even to the point of suggesting to reporters that State secession might happen if there is continued overreach in Washington, it is important to recall that he has been a “friend” of policies favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants, a Trans-Texas Corridor, and an emerging, de facto North American Union. If he has such checkered past on issues of national sovereignty, then his sudden interest in state sovereignty must be seen for what it is: a campaign gimmick and an act of brazen, political demagoguery.

A harsh critique, indeed.  But it’s not entirely unfounded.  Someone who has moseyed about the governor’s mansion for as long as Perry has is bound to have people who notice his political maneuvering.  To counter them, he’s become incredible astute at learning how to get elected.  As long as he can keep what happens in between elections fuzzy in the minds of Texas voters, he’s sitting pretty.

TX Legislature Special Session July 1

This just in, Gov. Rick Perry announced that the special session for the Texas Legislature will begin Wednesday, July 1.  His press release can be found here.

According to the release, three issues will be covered in the special session:

  • Legislation that will keep open the five state agencies that had no funding at the end of the regular session.  These agencies are:  Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Insurance, Texas Racing Commission, Office of Public Insurance Counsel and Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.
  • Legislation that would allow TxDot to issue bonds for highway improvements.
  • Legislation that would allow TxDot to use comprehensive development agreements that would allow them to design, finance, build and maintain transportation infrastructure.

That’s it.  No voter ID, no CHIP, no nothin’ else.  Is this what you expected?

Rick Perry vs. Brazoria County

In all the fuss over bills signed and vetoed, it’s easy to lose track of who wins and loses the most from these actions:  Texans.  One Brazoria County blog, The Facts, does a great job of focusing on the issues of their local community.  To them, HB 3202 was vitally important to the development of their area.

“I wish the governor had asked us before today,” bill author Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said.

The story goes on to cite past actions by Gov. Perry that have been unexpected and broad in scope:

You might recall the 2007 session in which Perry unexpectedly vetoed $154 million for community college health benefits, accusing campuses across the state of, in effect, lying en mass on their appropriations requests to bilk Austin. That managed the neat trick of enraging community college officials and Republican lawmakers.

If enough people are able or willing to remember past events such as these, Perry could find himself in hot water during this primary.  Ten years is a lot of time to have afftected peoples’ lives…  or a lot of time to have wasted and not affect them at all.

SA Express News hits Perry on signing ceremony

Unfortunately I only have time for a quick post this afternoon, but the San Antonio Express-News has an interesting opinion piece out today.  As I’m sure you all remember, Gov. Rick Perry provided the pomp and circumstance of a Medieval coronation ceremony for the signing of a resolution that…  well…  didn’t require his signature. The SA Express-News is making it their job to point this out:

Politicians will always try to manage their images. And the Alamo provides an impressive backdrop. But not even the venerable old mission can obscure the difference between a contrived ceremony and a dubious track record.

The track record they’re referring to is Perry’s veto of an eminent domain reform bill from 2007 that would have laid the groundwork for Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor.  Strong opposition to the corridor made the governor drop that idea, but the veto of diminished access to roadways persists.

Not surprisingly, the writers noted that with a tough primary battle against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison looming, Perry needed to build up his property rights cred among Republicans.  He tried it.  Did it work?

Joe Straus on the 81st legislative session

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus addressed the Plano Chamber of Commerce last week.  In his speech, he offered a glimpse at how he viewed this past legislative session.  Since he has enough backers to become speaker again, this may be a helpful read.  (Via DMN Trailblazer’s blog):

“We worked together. We attacked problems, not people. We disagreed, but we never became disagreeable. On perhaps two of the most important issues, the budget and education, we reached a consensus and we passed legislation without a single no vote. That’s proof that we created a new atmosphere, one where every voice was heard and every opinion was respected.”