People across Texas and the United States know the Straus family enterprises are focused on gambling. There are as many people for gambling in Texas as there are against it. The pros and cons of gambling are for another time and place. There are far more important aspects to the role of this particular Speaker of the House in the Texas 82nd legislature. Some of you are familiar with this information, while others are not. Over the coming months, information will be shared that shine a light on the manipulations and machinations which occurred during this legislative session.
The Speaker of the House position is one of two key leadership positions in active legislative sessions of Texas. This year was particularly challenging due to unfunded Federal Mandates, Redistricting Maps and a budget to balance for the biennium. There was a shortfall in the revenue looming large. The question of the hour was whether there had been a miraculous move toward a more conservative leadership since the last session led by Speaker Straus in 2009. Sadly, this was not to be.
The battle to be “crowned” Speaker again, was contentious at best. There was a challenge to his leadership by two strong conservatives. They could not get enough votes challenge Mr. Straus. Why? Joe Straus had people sign “pledge cards” to indicate their vote of support for him in the elections. His group of confidantes assisted by cajoling and coercing people to the inevitable conclusions of a pledge of support. Why is this important now? The story of this session and this Speaker begins with a brave Representative named Bryan Hughes who came forward with information about the whole intimidation process. Did you hear the rest of the story, as the late Paul Harvey was so fond of saying in his broadcasts.
A June 2nd article by John Alaniz, revealed Speaker Straus and his crew made good on the redistricting threats to those who would not pledge their vote for the his re-election as Speaker. In November of 2010, several months before the 2011 Texas Legislative Session began; Texas State Rep. Bryan Hughes issued a press release stating that he had withdrawn his support from Rep. Joe Straus as Speaker (Bryan Hughes Press Release, 11/2010). Rep. Hughes explained a member of Straus’ leadership team had called and had “ brought up the subject of redistricting and explained to me how that process would be used to punish those members not on Speaker Straus’s list of supporters.” There was an ethics investigation, which raises more alarm bells than brings resolution to the matter. The chairman of the ethics committee gave Representative Hughes and Representative Phillips the option of whether to provide testimony under oath! Representative Hughes voluntarily took the oath and gave his testimony. Representative Phillips who allegedly made these veiled threats on behalf of Straus, did not testify under oath. This raises an important point. Perjury under oath could cause the loss of a license to practice law.
The Texas Tribune provided this golden nugget of testimony from Representative Phillips: “Representative Hughes statement is unequivocally false,” Phillips said in response. ”I did not tell Representative Hughes that maps were already being drawn to get rid of Representative-elect [Erwin] Cain or Representative Flynn. I also did not tell Representative Hughes that there was a plan to use redistricting to punish those who were not on Speaker Straus’ support list.”
The House map was finalized and signed into law. The new map was exactly what Representative Hughes had indicated was in “the warning”. The facts now vindicate the elected officials who earnestly tried to warn the people and the legislators of the power that was being wielded to re-elect Joe Straus.
The House Redistricting map was a carefully orchestrated event, utilizing powerful lobbyists, legal resources, and some expert negotiation with various legislators. The map that emerged as the winner, punished the strongest conservatives who had stood together to vote for an alternative leader of this session. Somehow, it was voted through by the House legislators, despite what had been done to their colleagues. Read what actually happened beginning with a point of order by Calendars Chairman Todd Hunter which was specific to this bill (this timetable forced work on Good Friday and the Easter Weekend): http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/82r/pdf/82RDAY60FINAL.PDF#page=4
This map was expedited much like the notorious Obamacare, presenting many obstacles to people who would like to have a voice for their constituents. Speaker Joe Straus presided over final proceedings for the House Bill. Representative Hunter and Solomans indicated this was an “emergency” that must be finalized and moved to the Senate. Who uses the same strategy in Washington that everything is a crisis and must be rushed through prior to people having input? In the above link, please read through a few pages, when Representative Hunter (Calendars Chair), and Representative Solomons (Redistricting Chair) explain their rule which would cause Christians to be working on Good Friday and Easter Weekend to accommodate the point of order.
Redistricting maps are always difficult, is the mantra of every person in the House and Senate. There is difficult, and there is contrived. I draw your attention to a speech given by Representative Cain in the House Journal when this map (which punished those who opposed Straus) was coming up for the final vote: http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/82r/pdf/82RDAY64FINAL.PDF#page=37
The people of Texas got exactly what they feared with the re-election of Joe Straus. This session reflected a liberal leadership from day one. Speaker Straus had a far reach and was able to “convince” many people to overlook things that were glaring throughout the session. A conservative majority was elected, and great hopes were pinned on this session. There were a limited number of conservative bills that were passed which kept the public from noticing many of the appalling decisions/actions in this session. Think for a moment about what is being said by the politicians. Over 10,000 bills were filed. More than 1400 were passed, including resolutions. Yet, the representatives boast about the same 5-6 bills in speeches across the state. Odd. Not to worry, over the coming months, many of the passed bills will be discussed with the public. You may find it illuminating. Texas may have a spooky dude…Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
The past few days in Texas have been enlightening as far as patriot groups and news outlets are concerned. Granted, the frustration of Texans with this legislative session is at an all time high. The most disturbing part of all is the number of patriot leaders seeking moments of “limelight” in the press, without having the facts. Assuredly, most of these people mean well. However, there is a sacred honor that should be evident, when trusted sources report to the people.
Let’s begin by talking about the time between the election and the legislative session. There were no doubts about Speaker Joe Straus, due to his track record previously in the state as speaker and representative. The man is liberal, and makes decisions based upon his own needs. Yet, there was a primary teaparty leader of a group in Houston Texas who wrote an article that it didn’t matter if Joe was elected Speaker of the House. Per this leader, the people could “control” the legislature. After all, we were awake. This tea party leader has a fair amount of reach and knowledge. Today, I might say to her followers, you believe in her credibility – WHY?
Having spent hours and weeks in Austin, studying the legislature and bills, it is astounding to see the number of misinformed people in Texas. Well-known patriot groups, patriot members, bloggers, and media have been actively circulating incomplete and wrong information to suit their political preferences. How dare any of us exploit the everyday working Texans? What happened to accurate reporting for all the right reasons? It is egregious for people to use social media outlets to misguide the people. How is it the informed people speaking to the masses don’t know the Texas constitution or the procedures for a bill to pass the legislature? How is it they do not know who has the power in Texas during legislative sessions? How is it they don’t know exactly what happened to a bill, yet they continue to circulate inaccurate information to the masses?
In a legislative session, the Lt. Governor of Texas has the most power, closely followed by the Speaker of the House. The Governor may make suggestions on what is slated as an emergency item for the legislature. He has zero power to force the Speaker of the House or the Lt. Governor on the how and when they take actions. If a person studied the legislature this year, a pattern would emerge.
When Straus and Dewhurst named committee chairs and worked with them to determine the members, these actions determined ownership of the power. There were a handful of people controlling the personal agenda for Straus and Dewhurst. It had nothing to do with the people of Texas.
In May, Straus and Dewhurst openly defied the Governor with their choice on the formation of the committee to look at Higher Education. The Governor had focused on Higher Education reform for quite a while. He mentioned some of his ideas in speeches to the public and the legislature. Take a look at the press release and the names of people who have been appointed to the group. None of the conservative legislators heavily involved in reform ideas were included. The people on the list are the ones who will support the status quo in higher education. Why do you believe the Governor has the power to dictate actions to the Speaker and Lt. Governor? Where is the basis of those “facts”?
Yes, we got some good bills out. Those bills did not interfere with the agenda at hand (of Speaker Straus or Lt. Gov. Dewhurst), and distracted the public while other things were being discussed in the legislature. What was the agenda? If one looks at the overall number of bills and content, it appears to be a power play that will be completed in 2012 and 2013. Redistricting maps ensured the strongest conservatives in the state, who are against gambling will likely lose their seat. Deals were made to get a lot of people in a position to agree with these measures. Undue amounts of money were spent in the budget, regardless of the enormous bills facing Texas in 2013. Special interest groups ruled. This weakened Texas, but guaranteed the number of votes needed to pass legislation wanted by Straus and Dewhurst. Some might say this is politics. It is the selling out of Texas.
Specific actions by people in the press, placed the blame for this year’s debacle at the Governor’s door. Of course, the liberal press is counting on no one in Texas knowing how the legislature works! Liberals have wanted to topple Texas conservatives for a very long time. Has anyone stopped to ask who that would benefit and why?
The politic gameplaying this season, was a textbook study in deception, blocks, and innuendo to achieve goals of the people in charge. Over the next few months, I will publish specific examples proving the allegations made in this article. In fact, go look for the facts yourself. You will be surprised at the amount of public data that can be found on this session, fully supporting these points.
What will happen in 2013, when we do not have the money to pay the bills? Would it be a state income tax that is suggested as a solution, or will it be gambling? Formula One Racing was passed this session. It has already been approved by the City of Austin. This will be a large complex, that is surrounded by more open land for more vendors and projects. Think about this. Even if you are not against gambling, statistics show the crime rate will rise 3 to 1. Can we afford more of a crime issue, given the open border and immigration problems? People from dozens of terrorist countries come and use the Mexican border as the gateway to America. Currently there is a war on crime in our state, do we need more?
Seven people controlled the legislative agenda for the most part. Without these gatekeepers, good legislation would have gone to the floor in a timely manner, and been passed. There were choices on what went to the floor. On the House side, the most powerful gatekeepers appointed by Straus were Jim Pitts (Appropriations), Burt Solomans (Redistricting), and Todd Hunter (Calendars). None of the key legislation could get to the floor without touching one of these chairmen. On the Dewhurst side of the house, we had Ken Seliger (Redistricting), and Steve Ogden (Finance). By looking at the impact of those chairs, and the people on those committees, you will see the whole picture.
A closing comment to patriot groups. The majority of the groups are thoughtful people, trying to get to the truth, so it may be shared with others. What is the purpose of this article? It is time to warn people they need to be careful when getting information from so-called leaders. Whether it is me, or someone else in the patriot world, it is time to question everything. A multitude of people with conflicting agendas have infiltrated these groups. They want third parties. They want a bit of the spotlight.
Thank you to the groups who continue to strive for the truth, when educating the masses. It isn’t important who gets the recognition with the masses or the media. It is important we get it right, and remove the people from office that sold us out. As for the misguided people spreading vicious gossip without substance, more credibility would be gained by telling the truth. Think about it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 20 so far )
Texas has moved into the special session now, primarily to focus on the budget completion. So many emails, blogs, articles have appeared with partial information and misinformation, an overview of the special session was in order. I’ve put together a few facts to help all of us as we monitor/engage with our state reps and state senators on specific bills.
The Governor of Texas issued a proclamation which announces the special session timeframe, and also defines the primary focus of this session. To add other bills outside of this focus, will require the agreement of the Governor. The legislature may ask for particular bills to be added that are outside the original scope of the proclamation. It is important to reach out to your state representatives and state senators to let them know if there is a specific bill of importance to you. The legislature (specifically Straus and Dewhurst as management) can make a request to the Governor for new agenda items for the special session. Further to this point, you can see the letter request from Dewhurst to the Governor here: http://americansforprosperity.org/053011-lt-gov-sends-letter-gov-perry-regarding-special-session-issues . The text of the proclamation can be found here: http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/scanned/govdocs/Rick%20Perry/2011/proc053011.pdf The Governor outlined the specifics he wanted dealt with in this session. The primary focus must be on the budget and budget related items. The schools, in particular, must see the approved budget as soon as possible, to prepare for the coming year.
The majority of the proposed bills fall within the purvue of the proclamation, or have been approved additions by the Governor. Other than fiscal related bills, the Healthcare Compact has been added to the tasklist, per the Governor’s request. Another one which is not yet approved for this session, but is filed, pertains to sanctuary cities. There are many great bills which could be added, but the time constraints and efficient use of taxpayer dollars is of utmost importance.
Several groups/individuals have urged Texans to barrage the governor and ask for specific bills to be filed. After reading some of these published lists, it was clear that many of the listed bills in the emails/articles were already filed for the special session. Because the bill offerings for consideration are growing, it is best to run the report yourself for the most accurate data. To view the filings to date, please go to the Texas State Legislative website http://www.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx . Select Bill Search. Be sure to select this session: 82 (1) -2011 from the drop down choices. On the right hand side of the page you will see a large box that says select action criteria. Click on this. Choose Filed (H001) . Click on the arrow pointing to the blank box directly opposite the list of actions. Repeat this process and choose Filed (S001). Now go to the bottom of the page and input a beginning date of 5/30/2011 (do this by clicking on the small calendar icon). Choose an end date of the current date. Go back to the top righthand side of the page and click search. This will give you a current list of proposed bills. It does not tell you which ones are approved by the Governor, but actions are posted immediately as they occur.
For further information about special sessions, go to this link: http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/whatsNew/client/index.cfm/2011/5/31/Special-Session-FAQs
What is clear about these massive efforts, is that many well meaning people are spinning cycles without complete information. If conservatives want to succeed, the time should be spent on solid research prior to “firing from the hip”. A plan with inadequate data will likely yield inadequate results. -Just an opinion.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Today was spent in Austin speaking with legislators. It was most discouraging to realize what is about to happen with the budget and rainy day (Economic Stabilization) fund. As many of you know, I originally thought we had a reasonable solution with deep cuts and a small portion of the rainy day fund to be used. This was based on the House making every available cut prior to using the rainy day fund. I am completely reversing my original view, based on the new data gained by speaking with numerous legislators and staff.
The House has passed the budget bill. Early next week they will vote on using 3.1B of the Rainy Day Fund (Economic Stabilization Fund) to facilitate a balanced budget. The House did not make enough cuts and want to use part of the Rainy Day Fund to achieve a balanced budget as required by Texas law. The next stop is the Senate.
Today we discovered the Senate will unveil a budget proposal of their own that makes fewer cuts to the budget. Why?
This is not a comfort to taxpayers who supply the revenue to the state . If legislators are unable to make difficult choices, perhaps they should not be on the finance committee. We have a 30B dollar price tag coming in the next session for Medicaid predicated on new federal rules increasing the number of eligible participants. The current bill for Medicaid is approximately 16B. It is imperative to cut discretionary spending and preserve the Rainy Day Fund. The next Biennium there will not be a safety net to help us, other than increasing state revenue possibly with additional taxation.
The hallways were crowded today with special interest groups including a lot of unions and community action groups. The throngs of people were inside the legislative offices and spilling out by the dozens into the hallways. Numerous buses were parked outside. It appeared there are many special interest groups who are definitely making their “votes” heard in the capitol, which will likely result in future burdens to Texans. Is this why the House and Senate are reluctant to make necessary budget cuts? WHY are we funding an arts commission when there is a large shortfall? Why do we still have dozens of other discretionary programs being funded? The Economic Stabilization Fund should not be used when there is so much waste remaining in the budget.
If the Senate passes their proposal, the bill will go to conference as a final step. This means Senate and House committee members will negotiate and arrive at a final budget. This changes everything. The current budget passed by the House, was not the strongest possible budget, but is better than what will be offered by the Senate.
What can we do, to ensure the Senate understands our expectations of making all the necessary budget cuts? The list of individuals below are the members of the finance committee. Call them and say you expect deeper budget cuts than the House bill and that we do not want them to touch the Rainy Day Fund. Ask them to remember Texans are on tight budgets due to rising prices of fuel and food. Texans are making necessary budget cuts in their finances, and we expect the legislature to reflect the same level of fiscal responsibility. There isn’t a good reason to risk the future of Texans by continuing to fund programs not critical to the running of the State. Let’s ensure we have a voice in the Senate plan.
Please call the following people from the Senate Finance Committee and say you want deeper cuts in the Senate Bill and not to touch the Economic Stabilization Fund:
Chairman: Steve Ogden 512-463-0105
Vice-Chair: Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa 512-463-0120
Bob Deuell 512-463-0102
Robert Duncan 512-463-0128
Kevin Eltife 512-463-0101
Craig Estes 512-463-0130
Eddie Lucio, Jr. 512-463-0127
Jane Nelson 512-463-0112
Dan Patrick 512-463-0107
Kel Seliger 512-463-0131
Florence Shapiro 512-463-0108
John Whitmire 512-463-0115
Tommy Williams 512-463-0104
Judith Zaffirini 512-463-0121Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )