May 26, 2007
Grits on the death of HB13

It's official - HB13 is dead. Grits explains what that means in practical terms.

The Governor already had authority to accept federal homeland security grants, so that doesn't change (his homeland security director Steve McCraw is the agent who receives and distributes those funds), and he certainly has authority to delegate that task to DPS or whomever he chooses. But this does mean a couple of things offhand:

1. A provision in current law (which would have been deleted in the Senate version of HB 13) limits the Governor's authority over the TDEX database and he may have to pull his thumbs out of the criminal intelligence pie anyway.

2. The Governor will still not be accountable to anyone for how he spends the $100 million given him by legislative budget writers for border security. But then, HB 13 would have only ratified his authority, not restricted it. This is a wash - no change from the status quo.

3. Because there is no accountability or oversight, it will be up to the media and nonprofit watchdogs to use open records to study how the governor spends pork barrel money legislators gave him. This will be a labor intensive task, one I hope the MSM will undertake with the same zeal they've covered the border during the election season.

If the Governor wanted to avoid the rightful criticism he faced over ham-handed political appointees mismanaging law enforcement resources like TDEX, he should transfer grant making authority to DPS. They in turn should be charged with funding projects that implement the state's existing, overall border security strategy, not just dole out pork like candy to border politicians with little regard for improving public safety.

Sen. Carona could still revive the bill with a 4/5 vote by stripping off all the Senate amendments, but at this point I hope the thing just dies. Better for now to monitor what the Governor does with his new border pork and start anew to rein in the whole mess 18 months from now.

I join Grits in saluting Rep. Lon Burnam for driving the stake through this sucker.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 26, 2007 to That's our Lege