From The Capitol

The Legislative Cocktail Hour: Of casinos and cool people

The Legislative Cocktail Hour: Of casinos and cool people

The business of the rich, the plight of the poor, big-money casinos and food trucks with humble beginnings. The economic spectrum made their way into the Capitol conversation this week. Here's what stood out to us.

Every day should be Paul Qui Day

Anyone who has ever ducked into the Liberty Bar and murdered some chicken karaage  at 1 a.m. will appreciate, oddly enough, what happened in the Texas Legislature this week. Lawmakers honored chef Paul Qui, Top Chef winner and owner of East Side King (of the first generation of Austin trailer eateries). Qui is also about to open a new restaurant, QUI, and is known as one of the most exciting young chefs on the national scene.

Snippet from House Concurrent Resolution 78, by Austin state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez: “Through talent, creativity, and hard work, Paul Qui has proven himself one of the leading practitioners of his craft, earning national recognition for himself and for Austin’s dynamic culinary community.”

Blue Man Group in Texas?

Senators heard stories of huge casinos and better-than-Vegas shopping and entertainment venues dotted across Texas in a hearing over a statewide gambling bill. It would have to be approved by the voters, and — even bigger hurdle — 2/3 of the Texas Legislature. It’s not likely to happen this session, but the committee chairman — who happens to be the author as well — said he knows that “day is coming.” (They didn’t specifically say Blue Man Group. Just to be clear.)

Follow the money

When is it a bad idea to watch where half a billion dollars in taxpayer money goes? Apparently, a Senate committee would say “never,” and passed a bill by Fort Worth Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis to
increase transparency in the governor’s Texas Enterprise Fund.

Drug-free poor people

One has to wonder why a handful of Democratic Senators would vote for a bill that requires drug-testing for TANF recipients. Opponents tend to be left leaning and find it to be discriminatory, expensive and ineffective. But they did, when the Texas Senate unanimously supported the bill and sent it over to the House for their consideration.

There are a number of reasons for them to vote that way, one of which (and I tend to think this is likely in at least a few cases) is that it was going to pass anyway (Republican majority in the Senate), and a no vote is harder to explain later. So you don’t make it if it doesn’t matter. Politics.

Cool People Week

One of the nation’s most intriguing young entrepreneurs (and rich guys) Elon Musk testified in favor of legislation that would make it easier for him to sell his Tesla electric cars directly to customers in Texas. They want to bypass dealerships until their numbers increase (like Dell did) and the bill would let them — but dealerships, of course, don’t want it. Musk said it was do or die, but the House committee left pending (for now) the bill by Austin Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, who gets the award for Coolest Visitors of the Week.

As for the rest of you cool people, go enjoy your happy hour. Happy Belated Paul Qui Day!

Do you think casinos and Tesla's electric cars belong in Texas? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk testified at the Capitol this week.