May 16, 2005
Crunch time

It's T-minus two weeks for the Lege (barring overtime, of course, in the still-not-too-unlikely event that school finance and related tax work don't get finished), and that mostly means watch out for bad but sneaky legislation.

This is the crunch time of the 140-day session, which ends May 30. Days are long the Senate debated a tax overhaul until 2 a.m. last week and lawmakers on both sides of the rotunda are being asked to vote on hundreds of proposed laws that they don't have time to read, much less fully digest.


[Anthony] Haley, a former legislative staffer whose lobby clients also include the city of Houston and Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority, said he is primarily playing defense, guarding against a client being blindsided by an amendment slipped onto some obscure and otherwise harmless bill.

"This is when all the sneaky stuff happens," he said. "People are trying to sneak their dead stuff (bills) onto live stuff. You just have to watch, watch, watch."

For what it's worth, I feel like the appearance of several Lege-focused blogs this year has helped, at least a little, to keep an eye on this sort of thing. I'll give a tip of the hat now to PinkDome, In the Pink Texas, Rep. Aaron Pena, Grits for Breakfast, Inside the Texas Capitol, Latinos for Texas, the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby, Save Muni Wireless, Texas Civil Rights Review, Postcards from the Lege, A Little Pollyanna, and everyone else who's been paying attention. There may yet be a few stinkers to pass through without anyone realizing it until too late, but at least we can say we tried.

Just to put the scope of the problem into perspective:

More than 5,600 bills and proposed constitutional amendments were filed in the House and the Senate this session.

By the middle of last week, only 184 had reached the governor's office, although hundreds more will win final legislative approval during the final two weeks before adjournment.

If recent sessions are any indication, as many as 1,600 bills will become law.

In other words, between now and sine die on May 30, some 100 bills per day will get passed. If that doesn't scare you, nothing will.

Some good news today: Sen. Rodney Ellis put a 48-hour hold on HJR6 in the Senate, meaning that the last-second scramble for public testimony can wait until Thursday.

I am concerned that the late hour of that posting would prevent those Texans passionate about this issue from being able to get to the Capitol to weigh in, Ellis said.

Kudos to you, Sen. Ellis. In the Pink has more.

Last but not least, there's a new legislator/blogger on the scene: Rep. Joe Deshotel, whose initial offering appears to be a reprint of a constituent email. That's OK, though - the first post is always the hardest. Welcome to the world of blogging, Rep. Deshotel. Thanks to PinkDome for the tip.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 16, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack

Thanks for the shout out. We would like to say it's always been fun blogging Texas politics but that would be a lie. It has been interesting and exhausting and frustrating and sometimes encouraging.

Posted by: PinkDome on May 16, 2005 2:49 PM