From The Capitol
Lawmakers aren’t the only sharks in this week’s Cocktail Hour! We have bullies on the Board of Regents and a budget that just won’t go away.
Board of regents: No more temper tantrums!
A few weeks ago, I mentioned it was UT President “Bill Powers’ Day” at the Capitol. All the lawmakers ate Bill’s favorite foods while listening to his favorite music (probably Steely Dan). Fun was had by all.
But Bill Powers’ Day was more than fun and '70s crybaby rock. It was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s very public way of aligning himself with UT’s president, who has been under intense scrutiny by both the Board of Regents and Gov. Rick Perry. This week the Senate Higher Education Committee approved a bill limiting the Board’s ability to fire the president of the University of Texas. It would also limit the power of Regents appointed by the Governor.
I guess the eyes of Texas really are always upon you, especially when you’re on the Board of Regents. Or when you mess with friends in high places.
After weeks of battles and taste tests, pecan pie has officially been named the Texas State Pie. We’ve followed this contentious issue since the beginning and are proud that our fearless lawmakers have bravely selected pecan pie. Nut allergy sufferers, we’re sorry for your loss. You put up a good fight. Enjoy living in places with fruit-based state pies.
Hit and runs
A new hit-and-run bill was approved by the Senate just days after legislative aide Gabrielle Nestande was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 180 days in prison for the death of Courtney Griffin. In March, I mentioned how under current Texas law, a drunk driver who stops at the scene of the crash is more likely to receive stiffer sentencing than a driver who flees and has time to let the alcohol seep out of their system. This bill would eliminate that loophole.
If people claim they’re crazy, they don’t get guns
In gun control news, a bill has passed the House that would make it illegal for certain people with mental illness to own guns. Under the current language, this includes folks who have been acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity, required to have in-patient mental health services, or those who claim to be crazy.
I don’t know about you, but I can certainly sleep easier knowing that thoughtful, self-aware crazy people are able to take themselves out of the gun racket.
With some 250 amendments filed to the state budget bill, House lawmakers were expected to work well past midnight in an attempt to pass their version of the state budget for 2014-15. Early indicators, however, showed that they were ready to finish up by dinner. This was good news for the lawmakers and the media, but bad news for the caterers who were set to feed 150 lawmakers after seven hours on the floor. Either way, though, just think. Tomorrow morning you’ll wake up, run downstairs and find a whole new budget under the tree. To the tune of nearly $200 billion.
No more shark fins
All you shark fin toting Texans better get your jollies while you can! Just kidding. While shark fins are already illegal on a federal level, the House passed a bill this week making it easier to enforce this law here in Texas. And it’s not just fins! It’s illegal to carry the tails, too.
I don’t know about you but this law has me reeling. I’m clenching my jaws. It’s really sent me into a tailspin.