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December 18th, 2012:

Where redistricting stands with SCOTUS

From Texas Redistricting:

What happens now in the Supreme Court?

With the filing of motions to affirm or dismiss last week by the Justice Department and intervenors, Texas’ appeal of the preclearance ruling is now ready for review by the Justices.

Under Rule 18 of the Supreme Court rules, the clerk of the Supreme Court must submit the briefs to the Justices by December 17. (While the state has the right under the court’s rules to respond to the motions filed last week by DOJ and the intervenors, the rules provide that the submission of the case to the Justices “will not be deferred pending its receipt” and the author understands that the state has already told the clerk that it will not be submitting any additional briefs.)

Because the Justices have already finished the December series of conferences where they review cases, the earliest opportunity the Justices will have to decide what to do with the Texas redistricting case would be at their January 4 conference. After that, the Justices have conferences scheduled January 11 and 18 and then February 15 and 22.

Though the deadline was yesterday, the briefs were submitted to the Justices last week for their consideration at their January 4 conference. Which doesn’t mean they will consider it at that time, but they could, and if they decide to affirm the ruling, which would be the best thing to happen from the intervenors’ perspective, or to dismiss the appeal (the next-best thing), that could come down as soon as January 7. There’s a lot more than this, so go click over and read it, and see here for some background. The state would like for nothing to happen until the Shelby County challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has taken place. We’ll know what SCOTUS intends to do when they’re damn good and ready to tell us.

Rodeo buys part of old Astroworld site

Unclear what this means.

Rest in peace

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is acquiring half of the old Six Flags AstroWorld property for $42.8 million.

The organization’s board of directors on Thursday authorized show officials to acquire 48 acres of the former amusement park site to diversify its investments, the nonprofit announced in a news release on its website.

The land, which is near Reliant Park, is used for tailgating at Texans games, and for several years the rodeo has had an agreement to use the property for patron parking.

“This actually is a piece of land that’s next door,” RodeoHouston chief operating officer Leroy Shafer said. “Immediately, we know we can park there. … We can do some improvements to the parking that will help us more with the inclement weather.”

[…]

The rodeo’s acquisition abuts Chuck Davis Chevrolet and generally runs north to south from Loop 610 to West Bellfort. It includes a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the loop to the Reliant Park parking lot.

Here’s the HLSR press release. The story notes that this land last changed hands in 2010. In 2007, the owners at that time sought the creation of a municipal management district to help pay for infrastructure, which included the possibility of extending the Main Street rail line into the property. What all this means for any future development on this site is unknown, but I for one hope it doesn’t mean 48 more acres of parking lot. Surely there’s a better use available than that. Swamplot has more.

Dude, I’m serious!

House Speaker Joe Straus is ready to have a “serious” legislative session. You know, totally unlike the last one.

Despite organized efforts to unseat him, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday he is confident his colleagues will re-elect him to the post so he can focus the 2013 legislative session on “serious issues” for a fast-growing state.

[…]

Straus said his priorities for the upcoming session are broad: education, transportation, water, jobs and budget transparency.

“It’s 2013 in a couple of weeks,” he said. “We have 17 years before 33 million people live here. They need to be educated. They need to have opportunities and we have not done a very good job in recent years of addressing serious issues. That’s what we’re going to do starting in January.”

I’m glad to see that someone in state leadership recognizes that the last legislative session was an exercise in frivolity and perfervid fulminations that not only did nothing to advance any solutions for any of those serious issues, it did a lot to set us back. I trust you’ll forgive me if I lack any faith that Straus will be able to get a majority of his members to address these serious issues in a serious fashion. Even if he can, the chucklehead quotient in the Senate is dangerously high – they could be a clown show to rival the SBOE – and of course there’s Rick Perry all set to veto anything sensible as he fantasizes about another Presidential campaign. So yeah, color me skeptical.

Asked about a so-called fetal pain measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks, legislation touted on Tuesday by Gov. Rick Perry, Straus declined to say whether he would support it, but strongly implied that he doesn’t view the proposal as a priority.

“I don’t see how it directly affects the agenda of education and transportation and water resources and budget transparency and manufacturing jobs,” Straus said. “But there are thousands of bills that will be filed as there always are and it sounds like that may be one of them. But the top of the agenda for me will be education, resources, infrastructure, the things that will help Texans cope with the tremendous growth we’re seeing in this state.”

I’ll say this much, if Straus actually succeeds at deep-sixing any of these bullshit bills, I’ll refrain from saying anything snarky about him until 2015. It’s the least I can do.

You can have a say on how the Railroad Commission conducts its business

From Texas Sharon:

STEPS TO CHANGE THE RRC.

The Sunset Advisory Commission is the agency that regulates all Texas agencies.ONCE EVERY 12 YEARS, they examine the agencies and decide what needs to be changed and if the agencies should continue. This year it’s the RRC’s turn for examination.

How to Participate.

On Wednesday, December 19th, you can testify (3 minutes) at the public hearing in Austin.

Since there is no drilling in Austin, it doesn’t make much sense to hold the hearings there. This is one of the many things we need to change about the RRC. Hearings should be held in the areas where people are most affected. What Austin does have is plenty of oil and gas lobbyists. This puts us at an unfair advantage and is why it is so important for you to show up if you can.

Comment on the Staff Report (November 2012)

The Sunset Commission staff has written a Staff Report from their examination of the RRC. You can submit your comments on their report. I will give you examples and walk you through submitting comments.

  1. Write up a general comment about your experiences with the RRC and living in the gas patch. HERE are Earthworks comments I prepared to give orally at the hearing.
  2. Write up your response to the items on the Staff Report. (You can just say agree or do not agree) HERE are Earthworks responses. These responses will be tallied and you can bet that the oil and gas industry will submit plenty of responses.

3.  Submit your comments through the form or through email sunset@sunset.state.tx.us.

I don’t follow the RRC like Sharon does, but she’s right, this is a rare opportunity to provide feedback on a Texas state agency. If you have any interest at all in the RRC and/or the natural gas business in Texas, you should take advantage of that opportunity.