November 09, 2004
Silly season begins

The initial filing period for bills to be introduced in the 79th session of the Texas State Legislature has begun, and as always, it brings silliness.

Gay marriage was a heated issue during last week's national elections, with 11 states approving constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. At least five other states had previously passed similar constitutional amendments.

Texas already has a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, as well as a law passed in 2003 that prohibits the recognition of same-sex unions.

House Joint Resolution 6 would add a new section to the Texas Constitution that reads: "Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." It would have to be passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate before going to a vote of the people.

"I think it's very important that we get this issue out of statutes and into the constitution so that there's no question about how the people stand on this issue of marriage," said Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who introduced the joint resolution.

Does the phrase "belt and suspenders" mean anything to you, Warren? I suppose the good news here is that if this passes, he will have pretty much run out of ways to illegalize gay marriage. And for your amusement, here's a reminder of Rep. Chisum's long obsession with other people's sex lives, via Byron. This man desperately needs a hobby.

On to more serious things:

The school finance bill was filed by Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands. The measure would increase the state sales tax by 1 cent and add a 1 percent tax on business profits as a replacement for the current corporate franchise tax.

Eissler said his "one-plus-one" plan would raise $4 billion that could be used to reduce local school property taxes and provide funding for schools.

Eissler said a new federal law allowing Texans to deduct their sales tax on their federal income tax returns makes a sales tax increase viable. He said with only one out of six businesses paying the franchise tax, a small tax that reaches all businesses would be good for the state's economic climate.

I don't know enough about this to have an opinion on its merits, but it's at least a step in the right direction since it clearly recognizes that the state needs to raise more revenue to ease the burden on local school districts. For that, kudos to Rep. Eissler, even though I strongly suspect his bill will never see the light of day.

Sen. Kip Averitt, R-McGregor, filed a bill to fully restore the Children's Health Insurance Program. The proposed measure reverses legislative changes that have cut 159,000 children from the health insurance program.

"Texas families need health insurance, and CHIP helps working families afford the high cost of insuring their children," Averitt said.

Just so we're all clear here, Kip Averitt's Congressman is Chet Edwards. You know, the guy who defeated the person who wrote the bill that cut those 159,000 children off from their health insurance. I'm thinking Sen. Averitt learned from Arlene Wohlgemuth's failure here. Of course, we still have to figure out how to fund CHIP. I'll be very interested to see how that shakes out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 09, 2004 to That's our Lege | TrackBack

You know, all of these proposed amendments make me think that the right wing thinks that our constitutions allow for or require courts to find for gay marraige.

I was talking to a gay friend of mine in a very committed relationship tonight, and his response was "well, it's not like I'm losing anything. this is more their fight than mine. I'm going to be with my partner regardless of what the label is."

Posted by: 'stina on November 9, 2004 11:50 PM