Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 12:19 pm
There is a Facebook group calling itself Turn Texas Back to Blue, or something like that. What they need to do first is find some Democrats before they can even begin.
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Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2015 09:33 pm
The weekly kumbaya breakfast between the big three Texas lawmakers broke down today into a round-robin of recriminations that concluded with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick declaring he was tired of Governor Greg Abbott and Speaker Joe Straus “picking on me.”

The blow-up, confirmed by multiple sources, represents the boiling point of long-simmering disputes. The House has been upset that Patrick declared his inauguration marked a “New Day” in Texas and that he pushed a conservative agenda quickly through the Senate with expectations that the House would just pass his legislation. But, instead, most of the Senate’s bills on tax cuts, licensed open carry of handguns and moving the Public Integrity Unit have languished in the House without even being referred to committee by Straus.

The House instead has passed its own version of the same legislation, putting the Senate in a take-it-or-leave-it position. To pass the Senate bills now, the House would have to have an entirely new debate on controversial measures it already has approved.

So the Senate, in what looked like retaliation on Tuesday, ignored a House-approved border security bill to vote on its own measure, putting the House into a take-it-or-leave-it position on border security – a measure that House Ways and Means Chair Dennis Bonnen had crafted to win support of border Democrats.

This may be Patrick’s New Day, but Straus’ Old Guard still runs the House.

Topping off that battle, Patrick’s grassroots advisory council sent out a letter Tuesday on its own letterhead attacking the House bill on pre-kindergarten education that was passed after a bitter fight. The legislation is part of Abbott’s signature set of legislation, but the Patrick advisory board of tea party activists claimed the bill would take children out of religious pre-schools and force them into “a Godless environment.” Patrick immediately put out a statement disowning the letter as “unsolicited and expresses the individual viewpoints of Texas citizens.”

But as Patrick arrived at the speaker’s quarters behind the House chamber for today’s breakfast, he encountered House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren in the hallway. Geren sniped about the letter Patrick had put out against Abbott. Patrick again denied having anything to do with it.

Once in the breakfast, Patrick and Straus began arguing over the House not moving on Patrick’s agenda bills, while Straus was critical of the Senate action on the border security bill. At that point, Abbott interjected his displeasure with the letter attacking the pre-k bill that he supported.

With Abbott and Straus coming at him, Patrick declared that he was tired of them “picking on me.” (All three offices have issued statements regarding the breakfast. Straus’s office writes, “Speaker Straus is confident that the members of the House and Senate, as well as the leadership, will work together well in the final weeks of the session.” The governor’s spokesperson said, “Governor Abbott has a strong working relationshiop with Lt. Governor Patrick and looks forward to working with the House and the Senate to address Texans’ priorities.” In a statement that sounds awfully familiar to the governor’s, Patrick’s office wrote: “The Lt. Governor has a strong working relationship with Abbott and Straus and looks forward to continuing their work on Texans’ priorities.”)

Either way it works out, one chamber or another will need to have a new debate on legislation such as open carry if it is to pass. The Senate is most likely to blink, but then Patrick and the Republican senators will have less claim to being the authors of the legislation.

Kumbaya. What’s for breakfast next Wednesday?
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Reply Fri 1 May, 2015 01:01 pm
Texas Senate Votes to Abolish Renewable Energy Programs

April 14, 2015 by kaibawhite

Today, the Texas Senate passed Senator Fraser’s anti-renewable energy Senate Bill 931. If passed by the House, this bill will abolish two of Texas’ few renewable energy programs – the renewable portfolio standard and building of competitive renewable energy zone transmission lines.

Job growth, economic development, stable business climate – I thought those were conservative bread and butter. The wind industry should have earned the good graces of Texas lawmakers. Wind farms annually pay over $85 million in taxes to rural Texas counties, plus about $65 million in lease payments to landowners.

solar panels - photo from ShutterstockAnd the solar industry is rapidly becoming a significant driver of Texas job growth as well. As of November 2014, there were almost 7,000 solar jobs in Texas. That’s a 68% increase from 2013, a job growth rate 24 times greater than in the Texas economy overall.

And yet, the Texas Senate has decided that Texas should have no renewable energy goal and that it should be more difficult for the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to build transmission lines to prime areas for wind and solar energy development.

Abolishing the Texas renewable energy portfolio standard would cause a devaluing of the Texas Renewable Energy Credit (REC) market and would cause renewable energy developers to lose a revenue stream they counted on when making investments. Existing projects used REC revenue when applying for financing. Now developers will have to go back to their financers and let them know that the Texas market has changed, and not for the better.

Competitive renewable energy zones have been established and transmission lines built to bring electricity from west Texas to the parts of the state where electricity is needed. But that project is not yet complete. Some of the best areas for solar energy development still have no transmission lines.

So, just as the solar energy is really starting to boom, the Texas Senate has voted to put the brakes on the policies that would best be able to allow this industry, as well as the wind industry, to grow successfully.

SB 931 heads to the Texas House of Representatives next, now is the time to call your Representative to voice your opposition to this anti-renewable energy bill. If you don’t know who represents you, look it up.
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Reply Fri 1 May, 2015 02:59 pm
I get emails from Lone Star Project all the time. Here is an example of their newsletter.

Texas Tracker

Highlighting the perils, pitfalls and
real danger of one-party Republican control in Texas.

Abbott Insults Heroes, Panders to Paranoia
This might be Greg Abbott’s worst week. Abbott dishonored the office of Texas Governor by insulting the integrity and loyalty of US Special Forces planning to train in Texas.

What did Abbott do? He wrote to the Texas State Guard suggesting that Texans’ civil liberties and property rights might be threatened by US Special Forces – meaning bona fide heroes like Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Green Berets – who will be conducting training exercises in Texas in July.

Abbott folded to pressure from right wing radio host Alex Jones who had worked up irrational Republican activists into believing US Special Forces might be part of an effort to institute martial law in Texas. Instead of ignoring the huckster and telling his activist base to calm down, Abbott insulted the best of the best within the US Military.

Even some Republicans couldn't stomach Abbott’s move. Former Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, slammed Abbott, writing in the Dallas Morning News that distrust of military members "must stop." Former Texas State Rep. Todd Smith laid into Abbott saying he was "pandering to idiots." Dewhurt and Smith, of course, are Republicans who lost in recent primaries to Tea Party-backed opponents. Current GOP leaders like Joe Straus, Dan Patrick and George P. Bush are still laying low.

Abbott's the goat here, though. No sugarcoating it. His letter was a shameful act by a fearful man.

Judge Asks: Why Didn’t Texas GOP Fix Discriminatory Voter ID Law?
On Tuesday, a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge asked a lawyer representing Texas Republican leaders a simple question – Why didn't Texas GOP legislators fix the Texas Voter ID law when a District Judge ruled that it discriminates against Hispanic and African American Texans? Not surprisingly, the lawyer didn't give a straight answer.

The exchange took place during a hearing on Texas’ discriminatory Voter ID law. The argument isn't about whether a photo ID can be required, it can. That matter is settled. Rather, the Court is deciding whether the Texas law is so restrictive and discriminatory that it constitutes a modern day poll tax and whether GOP leaders intended to discriminate against minority Texans when they passed the law.

Stickland – Troublemaker or Really in Trouble?
State Rep. Johnathan Stickland (HD92 – Bedford) likes making noise more than making friends in the Texas State House – and much of his off-the-edge Tea Party activist base loves it that way. But this week Stickland might have crossed the line and broken ethics rules. Stickland got under the skin of House Transportation Committee Chair Joe Pickett (HD79 – El Paso) who ordered Stickland escorted out of a committee hearing (watch the video here). Now Stickland is under investigation by the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics for improperly listing witnesses in support of a bill he authored when they were not physically in the Capitol, or even in the City of Austin.

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Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2015 06:53 pm
Lone Star Stumble
JUNE 5, 2015
Paul Krugman

Remember the Texas economic miracle? In 2012, it was one of the three main arguments from then-Gov. Rick Perry about why he should be president, along with his strong support from the religious right and something else I can’t remember (sorry, couldn’t help myself). More broadly, conservatives have long held Texas up as a supposed demonstration that low taxes on the rich and harsh treatment of the poor are the keys to prosperity.

So it’s interesting to note that Texas is looking a lot less miraculous lately than it used to. To be fair, we’re talking about a modest stumble, not a collapse. Still, events in Texas and other states — notably Kansas and California — are providing yet another object demonstration that the tax-cut obsession that dominates the modern Republican Party is all wrong.

The facts: For many years, economic growth in Texas has consistently outpaced growth in the rest of America. But that long run ended in 2015, with employment growth in Texas dropping well below the national average and a fall in leading indicators pointing to a further slowdown ahead. In most states, this slowdown would be no big deal; occasional underperformance is just a fact of life. But everything is bigger in Texas, including inflated expectations, so the slowdown has come as something of a shock.

Now, there’s no mystery about what is happening: It’s all about the hydrocarbons. Texans like to point out that their state’s economy is a lot more diversified than it was in J.R. Ewing’s day, and they’re right. But Texas still has a disproportionate share of the U.S. oil and gas industry, and it benefited far more than most other states from the fracking boom. By my estimates, about half the energy-related jobs created by that boom since it began in the middle of the last decade were in Texas, and this extractive-sector windfall accounted for about a third of the difference between growth in Texas and growth in the rest of the country.

What about the other two-thirds? Like the rest of the Sunbelt, Texas is still benefiting from the long southward shift of America’s population that began with the coming of widespread air-conditioning; average January temperature remains a powerful predictor of regional growth. Texas also attracts new residents with its permissive land-use policies, which have kept housing cheap.

Now one of the three big drivers of Texas growth has gone into reverse, as low world oil prices are bringing the fracking boom to a screeching halt. Hey, things like that happen to every state now and then.

But Texas wasn’t supposed to be like other states. It was supposed to be the shining exemplar of the economic payoff to reverse Robin-Hood economics. So its recent disappointments hit the right-wing cause hard — especially coming on the heels of the Kansas debacle.

For those who haven’t been following the Kansas story, in 2012, Sam Brownback, the state’s hard-right governor, pushed through large tax cuts that would, he promised, lead to rapid economic growth with little, if any, loss of revenue. But the promised boom never materialized, while big budget deficits did.

And, meanwhile, there’s California, long mocked by the right as an economy doomed by its liberal politics. Not so much, it turns out: The budget is back in surplus in part because the emergence of a Democratic supermajority finally made it possible to enact tax increases, and the state is experiencing a solid recovery.

The states, Louis Brandeis famously declared, are the laboratories of democracy. In fact, Mr. Brownback himself described his plan as an “experiment” that would demonstrate the truth of his economic doctrine. What it actually did, however, was demonstrate the opposite — and much the same message is coming from other laboratories, from the stumble in Texas to the comeback in California.

Will anyone on the right take heed? Probably not. Unlike real experimenters, Mr. Brownback wasn’t willing to take no for an answer, whatever happened, and the same is true for just about everyone on his side of the political divide. Or to put it another way, belief that tax cuts are a universal elixir that cures all economic ills is the ultimate zombie idea — one that should have died long ago in the face of the facts, but just keeps shambling along. Nothing that has happened in the past quartercentury has supported tax-cut mania, yet the doctrine’s hold on the Republican Party is stronger than ever. It would be foolish to expect recent events to make much difference.

Still, the spectacle of the Texas economy coming back to earth, and Kansas sliding over the edge should at the very least make right-wing bombast ring hollow, in the general election if not in the primary. And someday, maybe, even conservatives will once again become willing to look at the facts.☐
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Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2015 10:17 am
From ABC channel 13 in Houston:

Wednesday, July 01, 2015 10:06PM
DALLAS, TX -- A special prosecutor said Wednesday that he planned to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to a North Texas grand jury.

In an interview with WFAA-TV of Dallas-Fort Worth, special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said he planned to bring the evidence before a Collin County grand jury within the next few weeks.

A first-degree felony conviction is punishable by up to life in prison.

The Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during an investigation into allegations that Paxton broke state securities laws, developing new allegations involving sums well in excess of $100,000, Schaffer said.

"The Rangers went out to investigate one thing, and they came back with information on something else," he told the station.

A message sent to a Paxton spokesman by The Associated Press on Wednesday evening was not returned.

WFAA reported Paxton hired Joe Kendall, a former federal district judge in Dallas, to defend him. In an interview with WFAA, Kendall said he would be "helping look into the matter" and called Paxton "a good man." He declined to comment further on the case.

Before being elected Texas attorney general, Paxton earned thousands of dollars by referring his private legal clients to a financial adviser now accused of "unethical and fraudulent conduct" by the state, according to court records. He was fined $1,000 last year for investment advising without registering.

A case involving a third-degree felony failure to register also was expected to be presented to the grand jury, Schaffer said. In all, eight or nine witnesses are expected to be called to appear, Schaffer said.

Last May, The Dallas Morning News reported that Paxton agreed to steer at least six clients - twice as many as previously reported - to Frederick "Fritz" Mowery, head of McKinney-based Mowery Capital Management, and the pair would split the management fees as long as the clients remained with Mowery.

Most of the clients said they were not told of the fee referral arrangement with Mowery, who declared bankruptcy in 2005. At the time, Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm told the newspaper that the attorney general was unaware of the bankruptcy and believed that Mowery had disclosed the arrangement to the clients and the state.
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2015 10:22 am
I expect we will see a statement from Paxton stating he won't be prosecuted since it's against his religious beliefs.
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Reply Wed 8 Jul, 2015 06:28 pm
Texas wants it's $650 million in gold back within TX borders and not a NY bank because conservative Republicans are just that stupid.

Some are hoping this is the 1st step towards secession. Why secede? Is this about the gays getting married? Or healthcare subsidies for the poor? Or people in 2015 finally realizing the Confederate flag is stupid? Is it because the President is black with a funny name?

Yes. All of these things apparently.
Reply Wed 8 Jul, 2015 06:41 pm
It's those things, but the stupid among us wanted secession long before they arose. That's fuel for the flame.
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