The Senate has approved the proposed constitutional amendment restricting eminent domain, but not without some grumbling.
"While most people, including me, think they knew what public use was, the Supreme Court said that public use could include things like economic development," said Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, the bill's author.
"The ownership of land is precious to the people of this state," Janek said. "I think people value those investments as much as they do anything else, perhaps maybe more than we do our pickup trucks."
Janek said he agreed to an amendment exempting a proposed $650 million stadium in Arlington for the Dallas Cowboys because he thought it was necessary to move the bill forward.
However, he successfully fought off attempts by Houston Republican Sen. Jon Lindsay, who wanted to subject the bill to required review in two to four years.
Houston Democrat Sen. John Whitmire and Janek engaged in a heated debate as Whitmire repeatedly urged lawmakers to slow down and study the issue more, pointing out that local officials wanting to pursue economic development projects are elected officials.
I guess what I'm saying here is that this session was supposed to be about school finance. Even putting aside the fact that there still isn't an actual agreement on that yet, squeezing issues like this and the telecom bill into the last ten days pretty much guarantees that they'll be underscrutinized. Besides, as The Red State pointed out previously, none of these other agenda items really qualify as "extraordinary occasions". School finance is the reason they're there. Until that's signed, sealed, and delivered, anything else feels like a distraction.
(Oh, and speaking of the main attraction, it got another editorial thumbs down today.)
UPDATE: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst agrees with me.
Dewhurst told reporters and a handful of tourists who caught him in a Capitol hallway this afternoon that the Senate would not vote on conference committee bills that deal with any other issues until a final school finance plan is passed.
“We’re not going to pass out and agree to other conference committee reports until we pass school finance,” Dewhurst said. “That’s why we’re here. The sooner we pass school finance, the sooner I’m going to let the Senate take up other pieces of legislation.”