Polytechnic HIgh School is set to be closed by the state next year if it doesn't improve its academic standing. State Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, has filed a bill to let Poly keep its name and give it more time to get its act together. Veasey says wiping out Poly would erase the local community's heritage.
Sen. John Cornyn told reporters today he was "firmly on the sidelines" in the race between Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry but he sure wasn't neutral about Hutchison leaving the Senate. Wearing, as he put it, his National Republican Senatorial Committee hat, Cornyn said, "My hope is that she keeps her Senate seat as long as possible."
Cornyn noted that there are only 41 Republican senators -- and losing Hutchison would potentially put the GOP "in a 40 vote filibuster-proof position."
"That is my concern," he said. "She does not have to give up her seat," he added, since Texas law allows her to run for office while maintaining her Senate seat. Asked if he had told her not to resign at all -- she's already delayed her planned exit from June to the end of the year -- Cornyn said he had spoken to her about it. "That is my request for her," which he said he had made "both publicly and privately."
Fort Worth state Rep. Lon Burnam is holding a first of a series of community meetings tonight in an effort to whip up concern about efforts by Luminant(formerly TXU) to build new nuclear reactors at nearby Comanche Peak.
The meeting, in coalition with SEED Coalition, Public Citizen and Sierra Club , will be at at 7 pm at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.
Burnam, a Democrat, said he will hold more meetings on the topic in advance of the 30-year anniversary of the Three-Mile Island on March 29.
"Clean, safe affordable energy choices exist, and working together we can ensure that clean affordable options are pursued, instead of dangerous nuclear reactors," Burnam said in an email to supporters.
Freshman State Sen. Wendy Davis filed her first two bills today. Both address wonky issues that appeal to city governments.
Senate Bill 575 will allow cities to hold elections for renewing crime control districts on the same days as all other city elections. Civic-minded Politex readers that vote in every election and not just the major ones know that crime-prevention tax elections are often held on separate dates. Officials with several cities have been hoping that the law would be changed so they could stop holding special elections for that one issue.
Senate Bill 576 will expand the list of items cities can spend money from Tax Increment Finance districts to include roads or sidewalks going into and out of that district.
North Texans are driving extra carefully this morning but one state lawmaker wants to keep that practice going even when the roads aren't slipperier than [insert name of crooked politician here].
State Rep. "Chente" Quintanilla of El Paso has filed a bill that targets inattentive driving. It goes way farther than other bills filed that would restrict or outlaw cell phone use while behind the wheel.
Quintanilla wants to make it an offense for a driver to make drivers caught breaking a rule of the road pay a bigger fine if they broke the law while doing any of the following: (1) reading; (2) writing; (3) performing personal grooming; (4) consuming food or a beverage; (5) interacting with a pet; (6) interacting with a vehicle passenger; (7) using a personal communications device; or (8) engaging in another activity that prevents the operator from safely operating the motor vehicle. (b) For the purposes of this section: (1) "Personal grooming" includes: (A) applying makeup; (B) shaving; (C) combing hair; or (D) attending to another personal hygiene or appearance task. (2) "Personal communications device" includes: (A) a radio; (B) a personal stereo; (C) a compact disc player; (D) an audio or video device; (E) a personal computer; (F) a two-way radio, including a citizen's band radio; (G) a pager; (H) a telephone; (I) a wireless messaging device; (J) a facsimile machine; (K) a radar detector; (L) a personal digital assistant; (M) a geographic positioning system receiver; or (N) a similar device.
For all of you Texans operating a fax machine while driving, whether this bill goes anywhere or not, just knock it off.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who now chairs the National Senate Republican Committee, says he's hoping to tap Texas donors who haven't been hit as hard by the downturn to help fuel a nationwide GOP comeback.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, is hoping to target those same deep pockets in Texas too, according to the story.
Gov. Rick Perry will deliver his catchy-titled State of the State address in a joint session of the House and Senate today.
Less than a year ago, people assumed this speech would be from a lame-duck governor overseeing his last session. Now he's in a bare-knuckle primary fight against a popular US Senator. (And only one Democrat planning to run against the winner so far. Hello, Democrats? You keep saying this guy isn't one of yours. If so, where's your real candidate?)
You can watch the speech live on the Texas House web site here.
Perry is also streaming it live at his Texans for Rick Perry campaign site, RickPerry.org. (Perry's campaign staff will be live blogging the speech too.)
UPDATE: You can read our report here or the full text of the speech here. To watch the video, click here and skip to the 1 hour 40 minute mark.
And Democratic Rep. Garnett Coleman has filmed a YouTube response to Perry's address.
Texans angry about their electric rates may soon have more trouble keeping track of utility legislation in Austin.
House Speaker Joe Strauss wants to scrap the House Committee on Regulated Industries and disperse the different utility issues among as many as five other committees.
Of course, there's plenty of speculation about where that leaves Rep. Phil King, who previously chaired that committee and may be punished for backing Tom Craddick in the battle for House Speaker.
But for now, reaction is focused on how the change in committees will affect those that try to shape how those utility bills look when they land on the House floor.
Kristen Doyle, who works with the Cities Aggregation Power Project which represents dozens of Texas cities in utility matters, said dispersing utility bills to different committees will put advocacy groups with fewer resources at a disadvantage.
“I think it helps those big electric utility lobbyists that can afford to have multiple lobbyists at every committee hearings,” Doyle said.
Representatives for energy companies said they would work within whatever structure the House voted on.
“Generally, we’re supportive of any committee structure that state lawmakers think will be best for the citizens of Texas,” said Lisa Singleton of Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, formerly TXU Corp.
Rather than scrapping the Regulated Industries committee, a better solution would be to replace some of the current committee members, said Rosie Barrera with AARP Texas.
She noted that in past sessions, some members have been from areas that still regulate their electric rates, meaning their constituents weren't affected by how they voted on a lot of electricity legislation. (Current committee chairman Phil King’s district is based in Weatherford, which continues to regulate its electric rates.)
“It’s the membership we had a problem with, not the structure,” Barrera said.