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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pickett’

Why would you want to regulate that?

I mean, what are a few fiery explosions among friends? Members of the state House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee have been struggling for several months over how to respond to last year’s massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 and devastated the nearby city of West. On Tuesday, committee Chairman […]

The explosion in West will change nothing

That’s just how we roll around here. A year after the blast killed 15 people and injured hundreds, Texas lawmakers have yet to propose or put into action any major reforms in an attempt to prevent future industrial accidents, whether it’s at a small, rural fertilizer retailer or a petrochemical plant along the Houston Ship […]

More primary thoughts

I wonder if Big John Cornyn will come to rue this interview. BDS: At the kickoff for your reelection campaign in November, Governor Perry said that you are “the epitome of what I look for in a U.S. senator.” He has certainly been embraced by members of the tea party. But in your speech you […]

And that’s a wrap on Special Session 3

Hallelujah. The Texas Legislature adjourned its third special session since May on Monday night after passing a measure estimated to increase transportation funding by $1.2 billion annually if Texas voters approve it next year. “Let’s adjourn this mutha,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, after the Senate had sent House Bill 1 back over to […]

Yeah, they’re still working on a transportation funding bill

The committee hearings will continue until morale improves. After consulting with members from both the House and Senate, state Rep. Joe Pickett decided to make some minor changes to his latest transportation funding proposal. On Thursday — the third day of the third special session — a House committee gave his altered proposal its endorsement. […]

Special Session 3: Beyond Thunderdome

Beyond ridiculous, if you ask me, not that they did. Standing before mostly empty chairs in the 150-member Texas House on Tuesday, House Speaker Joe Straus adjourned the second special session and announced that Gov. Rick Perry would be calling them all back for a third special session later in the day. After gaveling in […]

Transportation deal dies

Technically, it’s not dead till sine die, but it sure is on life support. A compromise plan to spend $848 million on Texas highways just landed in a ditch. House members voted down a plan to split oil and gas production money between the state’s economic stabilization fund and highway spending. It needed 100 votes […]

Lege may have found a way on transportation funding

As of Thursday, Special Session 3: Beyond Thunderdome was looming. Both chambers of the Legislature were filled with activity Thursday afternoon but they ended up essentially where they had started: waiting on House and Senate negotiators to come up with a transportation funding plan most lawmakers could agree on. There was little sign Thursday that […]

House passes different transportation bill than the Senate passed

Our endless summer of special sessions isn’t over yet. The Texas House on Thursday gave final passage to a measure to boost funding for transportation projects, though few members expect it to survive the Senate without significant changes. After more than an hour of debate, the House voted 108-25 for House Joint Resolution 2, clearing […]

Senate passes non-abortion bills, committee passes HB2

The decks are cleared on the Senate side for the main event. In a speedy Thursday morning meeting with little debate, the upper chamber passed Senate Bill 2 with a 30-1 vote, allowing Texas judges and juries to sentence 17-year-olds convicted of capital murderers to life in prison with parole after 40 years. It also […]

Elsewhere in the House

No action on transportation yet. House budget writers on Tuesday ended a hearing on transportation funding with no clear decision about how to raise money for Texas roads. The House Appropriations Committee is considering several proposals to see which has the most support, even if that means trying to pass a combination of bills in […]

Transportation funding advances

Between redistricting and abortion, transportation funding has taken a bit of a back seat in the special session despite being the first additional item on the agenda. The Senate took the first step on that yesterday. Despite concerns raised by both Republicans and Democrats, senators on Tuesday tentatively passed a resolution that aims to solve […]

Getting on the same page on marriage equality

Harold Cook asks a darned good question. As SCOTUS hears arguments on marriage equality this week, it reminds me of when the Texas Legislature voted for the state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage in Texas eight years ago. Texas voters subsequently approved the measure that November by a 3-to-1 margin. I wonder if any of […]

The driverless car visits Austin

Anyone there get to see it? Google, which has been developing and touting the future of self-piloting cars, has parked a driverless car in front of the Hilton Hotel downtown, site of the three-day Texas Transportation Forum. The modified Lexus hybrid is equipped with all manner of sensors that allow it to be aware of […]

White Ds and non-white Rs

A few points to make about this. White Democrats are an increasingly vanishing species in the Texas Legislature, where there will be only 10 when the new legislative session starts in early January. The face of the Legislature has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past 25 years, and the state’s rapidly changing demographics are […]

We got those bad road blues

So many bad roads, so little funding to maintain them. Issues including traffic congestion, damage to vehicles from roads needing repair and costs incurred in accidents caused by insufficient safety features on roadways cost drivers in Texas $23 billion annually, according to a study released Tuesday by a national transportation research group. “Texas has fallen […]

By the way, we have no money for roads

Just another issue we won’t be dealing with this session. During the next 20 years, the Texas Department of Transportation will need $315 billion to spend on the state’s roads and freeways for maintenance and construction just to keep traffic from getting worse, according to a report commissioned by the Texas Transportation Commission. The gasoline […]

On the road to nowhere

Use your own favorite cliche for this. Texas soon will be shelling out more per year to pay back money it borrowed for road construction than it spends from its quickly vanishing pile of cash to build new highways. Legislative leaders characterize the state’s transportation funding as a crisis. Most Texans, they say, are unaware […]

Raising the gas tax

This is long overdue. Members of the Texas Senate’s Transportation Committee said Tuesday that an increase in the 20-cents-per-gallon state fuel tax may be necessary to overcome a drastic shortage of money for new roads. “We are in the critical position in this state where we are growing and will need more roads. But we […]

Special session starts tomorrow

The special session everyone knew was coming to address the disposition of several state agencies begins tomorrow. So far, at least, the agenda hasn’t changed from the original call. Gov. Rick Perry is being pressed to add issues ranging from children’s health care to voter identification to the agenda of the special session that begins […]

Budget heads to the Governor

Anti-Metro amendment officially dead

Good. State lawmakers today voted unanimously to kill a provision that could have complicated the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s light-rail plans. The House removed language from a local transportation bill for Austin that would have put limits on Metro’s authority to acquire property through condemnation. Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, quietly placed the provision in the […]

Would-be Metro killer outs himself

Anti-Metro amendment removed

Westpark zealots try to pull a fast one