Weekend in Review: Special Capitol Spotlight 5.9.11
Happy another week!
While this is the week when election drama in the city may boil over before election day on Saturday, other drama at the Capitol is also stealing focus.
Partisan politics reared their head at the Capitol this weekend, and the blogs are buzzing about what will happen in the last three weeks of this year’s legislative session.
A slice of power politics in the Republican controlled Texas House showed what can happen in Texas on Saturday. It was a holiday weekend, and just like normal people, lawmakers tend to use the excuse to slack off. Only 113 of the 150 members were present, which led the minority Democrats to ponder a power play of walking out to shut down the day’s business and led majority Republicans to consider such tactics as locking the doors of the chamber to prevent that.
Eventually, the Republicans called for a vote on tort-reform legislation – which the Statesman calls the “loser pays” model for lawsuits aimed at limiting frivolous lawsuits – and used their majority power to pass it with no debate and no amendments.
Abby Rappaport of the Texas Observer posted a really nice look at the intricacies of the political tug-of-war on display Saturday. I dig this quote: “Even if they choose not to use it again this session, the GOP has shown their weaponry—and how they can respond if pushed.” She also takes a good look at how these power plays crop up in a state where the basic construction of the legislature – such as only meeting 140 days every two years – intentionally limits anyone’s lawmaking power.
The Legislature is back in today, and the House may be taking up several controversial measures to watch, and the Statesman’s First Reading Blog has a quick rundown.
But there’s lots of juicy end of session gossip:
- Richard Whittaker at the Austin Chronicle takes the Lieutenant Governor to task for political double-talk after the Senate passed its budget at the end of last week. A press release from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst put a positive spin on the budget for trimming spending without raising taxes. “Dewhurst ignores the fact that the reason he has less money to spend is because … he has less money to spend,” he wrote.
- And let’s not forget that the budget talk is far from over. As of last week, the Senate and House have each passed their own versions of the budget, but now they have to reconcile them.
- In specific issues, Ben Wearat the Statesman talks transportation bills and which ones might have legs in the last three weeks, from raising speed limits to the legislation that keeps the state transportation department running.
- The so-called Sonogram Bill was finally passed, and is on its way to the Governor’s desk and into our lives.
- The Texas Tribune gets insiders to weigh in on whether or not there will be a special session, and they're leaning that way
And in some other State news that might make you avid readers and web posters happy, the Texas Supreme Court has said you can keep your anonymity rights online! Grits for Breakfast has a rundown on a Texas Supreme Court ruling that says you can’t subpoena Google for the identities of anonymous bloggers. You can also read the report on the Texas Supreme Court’s blog, (which Grits just introduced me to. Thanks!)
What bills and issues are you tracking over at the Pink Dome?