HB770, the originally obscure bill to grant homestead exemptions to folks who lost their house in Hurricane Ike that has generated a big stink thanks to the self-serving provision inserted on behalf of State Rep. Wayne Christian, is getting panned by editorialists around the state. Here’s a sampling.
From the Chron:
Rep. Christian should be ashamed of pushing stealth legislation that benefits himself. As Tom Brown, president of Texas Open Beach Advocates, told the Chronicle, “it’s a very special bill to benefit a state legislator and that is flat-out wrong.”
For a half century, Texas has had one of the strongest coastal access laws in the nation. Residents who buy beach-front property are well aware that storms and rising sea levels may someday reshape the landscape, putting their investment in peril.
A law allowing homeowners to rebuild at the water’s edge, even if it is restricted to Bolivar, is laying the groundwork for future destruction of property while undermining the principle of open beaches. Texans should join [Land Commissioner Jerry] Patterson in calling on the governor to veto the bill.
From the Statesman:
he amendment makes a significant statement about public beaches and private property. Significant enough to warrant full legislative review, complete with public hearing.
Patterson, never a mincer of words, told the Houston Chronicle: “My opinion is just to say, ‘Screw you, Wayne Christian,’ because the Legislature didn’t pass this, one guy passed this.”
In his e-mail [to us], Christian railed about Patterson’s “cursive language.”
We’re really not sure what “cursive language” is, but perhaps this falls under that header: Perry should veto the damn bill.
From the Galveston Daily News:
The other reason this legislation deserves a quick veto is that it is bad public policy. The Open Beaches Act says that beaches belong to the public. If your land becomes a beach in Texas, you lose it, just as you would lose part of your cow pasture if a river changed course and ran through it. If a river runs through your pasture, you would not get to set up a tollbooth in the river and you would not get to charge bass boats and kayakers to pass.
The river would not be your private property in Texas — and neither would the beach.
Waterways and beaches are public property in Texas. And people who buy beach-front property are warned repeatedly, loudly and often about that provision in the law.
The Open Beaches Act is a good law. The alternative is to live in a state where most of the beaches are owned by the wealthy.
Remember that the initial purpose of this bill was to help folks in Galveston; it’s the reason given by State Rep. Craig Eiland why he voted for it. For the Galveston Daily News to argue for its veto strikes me as pretty powerful.
From Bud Kennedy:
Retired state Rep. A.R. “Babe” Schwartz, a Galveston Democrat, led the 1959 effort to defend public beaches.
After Ike, he talked about beachfront homeowners.
“We’re talking about damn fools that have built houses on the edge of the sea for as long as man could remember and against every advice anyone has given,” Schwartz said.
And who have power in Austin.
From the Star-Telegram:
Does the Open Beaches Act encroach on property rights in cases like this? Every beachfront-property owner knows the risk. If not for the act, eventually much of the Texas coast would be lined with private beaches.
Perry should veto HB 770. While that would hurt property owners in Galveston and elsewhere who want to retain their homestead tax exemptions while they rebuild, the greater good would come from upholding the integrity of the Open Beaches Act.
From the Beaumont Enterprise:
The sanctity of public beaches cannot be compromised in Texas. Homes or businesses cannot intrude onto beaches that belong to all Texans. For those reasons, Gov. Rick Perry has little choice but to veto a bill that contains a provision that would exempt property owners on the Bolivar Peninsula from a state law that bans construction on public beaches.
As of Friday, Governor Perry said he was still studying the bill. I have no idea what he’s going to do, and I daresay we won’t know until the June 21 deadline for him to take action. If you have an opinion, the Governor’s fax number is 512-463-1849; those who are rallying for a veto have been urging their supporters to send faxes asking for the bill to be rejected.