Who would have thought that an otherwise-obscure bill about granting homestead exemptions to people who lost houses in Galveston to Hurricane Ike would become the most controversial bill of the first week post-sine die?
Open beaches advocacy groups sent out e-mails and posted Web messages Thursday asking voters to call Gov. Rick Perry’s office and urge him to veto a bill containing a provision exempting a legislator’s beach house from the Texas Open Beaches Act.
Phone calls poured into the governor’s office urging Perry to veto a bill with a provision that Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, helped write allowing him and others on the Bolivar Peninsula to rebuild on the public beach.
As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the tally was five for a signature and 249 for a veto, including phone calls and e-mails.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson scheduled a news conference for today to urge more phone calls to the governor asking for a veto of HB 770. General Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam said Patterson would wade into the Gulf waters off Galveston Island to show where houses could be built under the provision that protects Christian’s right to rebuild his beach house.
Christian denies that he did anything improper, saying the bill will allow other property owners to rebuild who otherwise would not be able to under Open Beach Act regulations administered by the General Land Office. He said the provision would keep property on the tax rolls that otherwise would be removed.
Christian, by the way, made it to the Texas Monthly Ten Worst list this session, and that was without any mention of this little debacle, presumably because the word of it came too late in the writing process. It was gilding the lily anyway, I suppose. Still no word from Governor Perry about this bill’s future, which as I said before is standard practice. We’ll know soon enough.