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June 21st, 2005:

Special session begins

So the special session has started. Call me crazy, but the tone of this article shouldn’t give anyone much hope.

The initial focus of the new session will be on Republican Speaker Tom Craddick and the GOP majority in the House, which, under the state constitution, must act first on a tax bill.

And one Republican House member, Rep. Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, warned the new session was shaping up as “a mess.”

She said many GOP House members, who got elected campaigning against higher taxes, are worried they will lose their re-election bids next year if they vote again for higher state taxes, as they did in March, and then fail to reach a compromise with the Senate on property tax relief.

“It (the special session) is going to put the icing on the cake. The icing may taste good or a little sour,” Casteel added.

Some lawmakers, it was reported, were angry at being called back to Austin on short notice and having summer plans disrupted.

The tax bill passed the House in regular session by a margin of five votes, with more than a dozen Republicans voting against it. Craddick on Monday said he does not yet know whether he has the votes to pass a tax bill again.

“That concern is always there,” Craddick said. “We’re just going to have to get the bills put together and poll, as we’ve always done.”

Sounds compelling to me, no? I’m short on time for analysis here, so I’ll point you to BOR, In the Pink, and PinkDome, for starters. Also, the Dems got out in front of this by re-releasing their plan. See beneath the fold for more.


No muni Wi-Fi in Houston

Dwight reports that Houston has shelved for now a plan to install a bunch of Wi-Fi hotspots around town. No details as yet, so I can’t say why, but it is a shame. Hopefully this will get revived soon. I’ll post an update when there’s a story to link to.

New toll road plan

I’m not seeing anything in the news on this, but apparently the Harris County Commissioner’s Court has announced plans for five new toll road corriders. There’s a public hearing this morning (oops, sorry about that, well, these things always go more smoothly when they’re not well-attended anyway, right?). At the time I post this, Commissioner’s Court is supposed to be voting on the plan.

The Citizens’ Transportation Coalition and blogHOUSTON have more on this. I’ve reproduced a CTC press release beneath the fold. I really hope there will be more to be said on this.


Quan not running in CD22

Houston City Councilman Gordon Quan has announced that he will not run for the Democratic nomination in CD22. He also formally endorsed Nick Lampson for the race.

Quan, who had formed an exploratory committee for the 22nd Congressional District in April, said he wanted to avoid a “costly, divisive and lengthy” Democratic primary.

He said he conducted polling that showed DeLay has lost support among constituents and that he and Lampson had nearly equal support.


Quan must leave the council in six months because of city term limits.

Quan, who is of Chinese ancestry, made the announcement at Kim Son restaurant in Stafford, and said he plans to help bring out the Asian vote for Lampson. Asians make up about 10 percent of the district.

Lampson, who served four terms in the U.S. House from Beaumont before losing his seat following redistricting orchestrated by DeLay, attended the news conference and said he was pleased to have Quan’s endorsement.

I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear from Gordon Quan. He may yet run in CD07, and there’ll be countywide offices to consider (in 2008 if not next year) as well. But whatever he chooses, I wish him well and hope to be able to support him in a future campaign.