The Legislative Cocktail Hour

Special session aims to make Texas a no drones zone — kind of

Special session aims to make Texas a no drones zone — kind of

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Special session aims to make Texas a no drones zone — kind of.

Remember the days when we poked fun at scoliosis bills and the golf carts on the highway? Well, those days are gone. The fun is over! The party boat has left the dock. After the one-drink interim, Texas lawmakers are using the 30-day special session to aggressively push through a controversial re-districting map, get a drone bill up to the Governor and pay a bunch of lawyers a lot of money to do something Lewis and Clark did for about $40 a month.

No drones
Last week lawmakers sent a bill to Governor Rick Perry that would make it a misdemeanor to use surveillance drones on fellow Texans. But there are quite a few exceptions, including drones used in felony law enforcement investigations. Critics say that the law doesn't go far enough to protect citizens in police investigations, which is what the bill was aimed at, but considering that there was no law at all governing this behavior by cops, the author calls this a good start.

A host of other organizations would be allowed to continue to drone on under this bill, including oil and gas companies, real estate developers, educational institutions and, of course, border patrol. Photojournalists are protected if they're investigating stories, but are not allowed to use drones to be all papparazi-like and spy on someone without their knowledge. The whole purpose of the bill is to start building in protections against unmanned cameras spying on us by people who intend to use them against us — we can count on lawmakers to come back to it next session. 

Lawmakers have lawyers on $75,000 retainers in hopes to push re-districting maps
Oh, these maps. It’s just like that Yeah Yeah Yeah’s song says, “they don’t love you like I love you, maps.” Really, not many people do love these district maps. They’ve been called racist, unconstitutional and are currently being reviewed by judges at a federal level. But that isn’t stopping our GOP lawmakers on embarking on a Trail of Tears four-city tour across Texas to help rally support for the new maps.

Meanwhile, back in the Capitol, Texas Democrats spent this week pushing for new re-districting outlines that they argue are more reflective of Texas’ changing population tide. In preparation for what has already been a very long battle, lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have lawyered up to the tune of $75,000 tax-payer dollars a piece. Do you know how much Lewis of Lewis and Clark was paid to map the entire north western United States? $40 a month. And I guarantee you they weren't mapping that stuff in an air conditioned rotunda with Coors Light on ice waiting for 'em back in the office.

Texas is the 51st worst state for voter turnout
Y’all we need to step up our game! I love football and barbecue and pick up trucks as much as the next person, but I also vote! Apparently, I’m pretty much the only Texan to do so. Now that regular session is over, election season cometh — and with it, the push for voter turnout. In 2010, Texas placed 51st in voter turn out. We’re assuming the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico were also included, but still, out of 50 states, placing 51st is pretty terrible.

We’re also almost last in a bunch of other categories like civic engagement, voter registration and political discussions. One thing we are good at is helping our neighbors. As the Star-Telegram reports, “Residents rank 16th in helping their neighbors by doing favors a few times a week or more, but Texans rank 47th in terms of neighborhood trust.” Basically, we’re all like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino: suspicious old men with hearts of gold.