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June 19th, 2009:

And here are the vetoes

Here’s the full list, with links to statements about individual bills, here’s his press release, and here’s his budget statement. A few points of interest:

– Perry wimped out and allowed HB770, the Wayne Christian Homestead Bill, to become law without his signature. Way to lead, big guy. I can’t wait to get Jerry Patterson’s press release about this.

– As already noted, he axed SB488, the Safe Passing Bill. Bicyclists are pissed off.

“We are stunned because he’s our guy, and we feel disappointed, even betrayed by our guy,” said Robin Stallings, executive director of BikeTexas, the educational arm of the Texas Bicycle Coalition. “The bicycling community will never forgive Governor Perry.”

Perry had signed previous bills important for the cycling community, Stallings said.

Stallings said surveys show that 55 percent of the 30,000 active Texas cyclists who belong to a cyclist organization participate in GOP primaries. He said surveys also indicate an estimated 4 million Texans are, at least, casual bike riders.


The governor’s office never expressed any concern, much less opposition, Stallings said.

“The bill was well vetted and had support across the political spectrum. That he would do this and not talk to us (during the session), frankly, we are shocked.”

I’m not. Par for the course, if you ask me. I hope the bicyclists take out their frustrations about this in a big way.

– He vetoed HB3148, which would have allowed some minors who engaged in consensual sex to not have to register as sex offenders, which strikes me as petty and short-sighted. I’ll bet that will annoy Grits.

– Rep. Jerry Madden gets his wish, and SB1440 gets zapped.

– Two bills supported by environmentalists, HB821, which related to recycling TV sets; and SB2169, which would have established a smart growth policy work group and the development of a smart growth policy for Texas, got nixed.

– Perry signed HB4294, the electronic textbooks bill, over the objections of some social conservatives. Credit where it’s due – I thought this was a decent bill.

– He signed SB1410, thus negating West University Place’s ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in some new construction. Local control, schmocal control.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure there are other gems in there that are not immediately obvious to me, so leave a comment and let me know about them.

UPDATE: Naturally, after I hit publish, I get a couple of releases from Rep. Garnet Coleman about two of his bills that Perry rejected. Here they are, first about SB2468.

Statement by Rep. Garnet Coleman on Governor’s Veto of SB 2468, by Sen. Gallegos | Rep. Coleman

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Governor Perry would veto a bill that closed the revolving door of employees on the local level where individuals have rotated in and out of county government and the private sector. These actions send a bad message to Texans when it appears that their government works for the highest bidder instead of its own constituents.

It could be possible that Governor Perry does not want to draw attention to his own office’s revolving door. He calls the legislation a piecemeal approach to the issue of county lobbbying and claims he wants to avoid creating differing and confusing standards of ethical conduct. This leaves only the standard that his own office has set, which is that of a revolving door. Ethical behavior in one area of government shouldn’t have to wait for the rest of the state to catch up.

I think the Governor is well aware of these circumstances given the number of employees he has had that have rotated from the public sector, to the private sector and back again. He vetoed this bill on the same day he named a former lobbyist that was a former employee of his to his chief of staff position(1, 2).

At least 17 former Perry aides are now registered lobbyists according to a Dallas Morning News report (3). This includes a former state representative that formed a lobby firm, left to be Governor Perry’s chief of staff from 2002 – 2004, and then returned to his lobby practice (4). He was followed by another former state representative that had become a lobbyist and returned to serve as legislative director until returning to the private sector.(5)

1. Press Release: Gov. Perry Names Sullivan Chief of Staff,
2. Texas Ethics Commission Registration, Ray Sullivan,
3. Dallas Morning News, Jan 6, 2009

Here’s Perry’s statement about the veto. This was the “revolving door” bill aimed at restricting Harris County employees from doing county business after leaving government employ. So much for Ed Emmett’s ethics reform plan. Got anything to say about that, Judge?

Next, Coleman’s statement about HB3485:

Statement by Rep. Garnet Coleman on Governor’s Veto of HB 3485

“It is disappointing that Governor Perry vetoed this important piece of legislation. With the addition of the amendment allowing certain rural public hospitals to employ physicians, this bill would have ensured access to physician coverage across rural Texas. Rural public hospitals in Texas find it more and more difficult to attract physicians to their communities and retain them. Many physicians entering practice today prefer an employee relationship, rather than having the responsibility and burden of setting up and managing a small business. H.B. 3485 gave rural public hospitals and physicians who want to practice in rural Texas flexibility. Having the option to employ physicians would have helped rural hospitals improve and preserve access to physicians. Without physicians, these hospitals will not continue to exist.

The Governor alleges that an amendment was added in the final days of session that was neither debated nor discussed. However, prior to concurring with all of the Senate amendments I had multiple conversations with the Governor’s office, one of them with Sen. Ken Armbrister, the Governor’s Legislative Director, as well as another member of the Governor’s staff.

To be clear – I told the Governor’s staff that the amendment in question could be removed if it created any sort of problem or if it jeopardized the passage of this important legislation. Sen. Armbrister assured me that the Governor was fine with the amendment and therefore fine with the overall bill. Tort reform groups were also contacted to assuage any concerns, with their assurances that the groups were neutral on the bill. To Sen. Armbrister’s credit, he did call today to inform me of the governor reversing his position.

The worst part is, the only losers with this veto are the people of the state of Texas and the various counties, with no gain or loss to the tort reform movement.”

Here’s a letter from Rep. Coleman to Governor Perry thanking him for his assistance with the language of the bill; here’s a letter to Governor Perry from the Texas Conference of Urban Counties urging him to sign HB3485; and here’s Perry’s veto statement. How weaselly can you get?

Perry reportedly to veto Safe Passing bill

The veto deadline is fast approaching, and with it comes word of various potentially doomed bills – indeed, according to Rep. Garnet Coleman, Governor Perry has already nixed one of his bills, HB3485 – so expect to hear some urgent last-minute pleas to call the Governor and spare this bill or that. Here’s one that I hope you’ll heed, from BikeTexas.

Every cyclist in Texas must call Governor Perry today and insist that he allow SB 488 to pass!

The governor mistakenly thinks that the bill puts all of the responsibility on the motorist. There might be time to save the bill if you hurry and make the calls.

This is the most important call we have ever asked you to make. Our lives depend on it.

BikeTexas was notified at 12:30 pm CST that Governor Perry plans to veto the Safe Passing Bill. This veto can happen within the next couple of hours TODAY. We need every cyclist in Texas to call NOW and tell the Governor to pass SB 488. More than 1000 vulnerable road users in Texas die every year.  This bill will save lives!

You must give the bill number. (SB488)

CALL both phone NUMBERS
(512) 463-2000 Governor’s main switchboard until 5pm

Let’s Light Up The Grassroots.

Supporting Organizations include:

American Automobile Association (AAA)
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
Texas Motorcycle Rights Association (TMRA)
12 Senator and Representative Co-Authors

Bill Language

Robin Stallings
Executive Director

SB488 had already been watered down by Sen. Dan Patrick, so I’m not sure what the Governor’s concern is with it now. Be that as it may, if you care about this issue, now is the time to pick up the phone.

UPDATE: Texas Politics notes the broad bipartisan support – 142-0 in the House, 26-5 in the Senate – that SB488 had.

UPDATE: You can stop calling – he vetoed it.

Friday random ten: What’s the big idea?

It’s very simple, really: Ten songs that start with the word “Big”:

1. Big Bottom – Hayseed Dixie
2. Big Fellah – Black 47
3. Big Legs, Tight Skirt – John Lee Hooker
4. Big Noise – Eddie from Ohio
5. Big Rio Grande River – Austin Lounge Lizards
6. Big Rock Candy Mountain – Harry McClintock
7. Big Shot – Billy Joel
8. Big Sky Country – Chris Whitley
9. Big Time – Peter Gabriel
10. Big Trouble – Trout Fishing in America

I suppose I could have gotten some more variety if I’d gone for songs that had the word “Big” in the title somewhere (he says as he hums “In A Big Country”), but that also would have been a lot more work. This’ll do just fine, thanks. What’s big on your playlist this week?

Five for SBOE 10

I think it’s safe to say the State Board of Education elections aren’t going to be the obscure affairs they’ve historically been any more. We know that now-former SBOE Chair Don McLeroy has drawn a high-profile primary challenger, and one of his chief cohorts in Crazytown, Cynthia Dunbar, has collected a total of five opponents, three Democrats and two Republicans. I was aware of two of the Democrats back in February (one of whom, Lorenzo Sadun, has now made his entry official), and now they have more company. SBOE 10 is pretty close to a 50-50 district, so this one should be quite the skirmish. With any luck at all, we could have a vastly saner Board of Ed in 2011. I sure hope so.

Recycle thyself

I suppose I had assumed that the city of Houston was already collecting recyclables separately from trash. Apparently, that was not the case, but it will be now.

The Solid Waste Management Department has implemented programs at breakneck speed to allow residents to recycle tree waste and empty various recyclables — including paper, plastic, even glass — into a single, large bin. In recent years, the department has even threatened to cut off some neighborhoods from curbside recycling if they did not improve their participation.

All the while, the city was missing a major source of plastic and paper: itself.

The City Council changed that on Wednesday, approving a five-year, $1.6 million contract to collect recyclables from the city’s 300-plus buildings, an effort expected to save at least 30 percent of the millions of pounds of garbage that city employees send annually to landfills.

Sarah Mason, a senior environmental analyst for Mayor Bill White, said the city tried years ago to implement a comprehensive recycling program for municipal buildings, but companies were willing to bid only on paper recycling, which is in effect now.

I’m not sure what changed – my understanding is that the market for recyclable material isn’t very good right now – but I’m glad that this has been done. The key going forward is to make sure that employees know to throw trash in the trash bins, and recyclables in recycling bins. Based on my workplace experience, that’s going to take a fairly aggressive education effort – as far as I can tell, most people throw whatever they have into whatever is at hand. Without doing something to get people to change their habits, the city will not meet whatever goals it’s setting for itself on this.

Remaking “The Prisoner”

If you’ve ever seen The Prisoner, the trippy sci-fi British miniseries that starred Patrick McGoohan as a former British intelligence agent trapped in a bizarre remote village by his former employers who want to know why he quit, you will probably be excited to know that a remake is in the works and is scheduled to run on AMC starting in November. Here’s a really short trailer featuring Ian McKellan, who I’m guessing will be Number Two, or at least one of them. I watched this on A&E a few years ago and liked it, though I confess I didn’t understand a lot of it, especially the last episode, which may be the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen on television. Ever since then I’d been rooting for a modern reboot of the show, and I hope I won’t be disappointed by this effort. Anyone else out there looking forward to this?

Did Tom DeLay do us a favor on climate change?

Via Yglesias, I see that one of the biggest impediments to a real solution for climate change is Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson, who is the chair of the Agriculture Committee. This has Chris Bowers thinking outside the box.

Here is how you pressure Peterson if you are a non-partisan green group: overtly target the left-wing voters in his district during a general election. Run ads that highlight Peterson’s terrible record on climate change and the environment, with a goal of pushing left-wing voters to either stay home or vote third-party (the latter is particularly viable in Minnesota, which is one of the most pro-third party states in the entire country). Make it clear that not only don’t you care if this results in Peterson’s defeat by an even more anti-climate change candidate, but that having an even more anti-climate change candidate defeat Peterson is actually your goal.

From the perspective of a non-partisan climate change organization, a relatively powerless, more conservative anyone is preferable to a very powerful, conservative, committee-chairing Collin Peterson. This is even the case if Peterson is replaced with an even more anti-climate change member of Congress. Given the wide Democratic majority in Congress, and given the specific case of Collin Peterson, exchanging a ten-term committee chair with a freshman member of the minority party results in a net loss of conservative power over climate change legislation. Further, such a radically aggressive act of pressure would demonstrate to the new Agriculture Committee chair that environmental groups are willing to take out anyone who fraks with climate change legislation.

It’s certainly provocative, and given that Peterson’s likely successor as Ag chair is someone with a better record on environmental issues, it’s at least something to contemplate. I’m not saying I endorse this idea – there are some pretty good arguments in the comments for why this could backfire, and for why there may be better alternatives – but it does get one thinking.

What it made me think about is the alternate reality in which Tom DeLay’s redistricting scheme never happened, and Texas’ Charlie Stenholm had ascended to the Ag Committee chair after the Democratic takeover of 2006. Would Stenholm be any better on the issue than Peterson has been? One can’t say for sure, and whatever Stenholm did in the past it’s entirely possible he’d be less obstinate and in denial than Peterson has been, but his voting record doesn’t offer a whole lot of hope. Given how much ground had to be ceded to the relatively much more liberal Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez to get them to support Waxman-Markey, it’s not hard to imagine that Stenholm would have been a fairly large obstacle as well.

If that’s the case, then my alternate reality is a more hostile place for climate change legislation, in that two powerful members of the Ag Committee could stand in its way. To effect the kind of change Bowers advocates, you’d need to remove both of them, as simply removing Stenholm would leave Peterson in place. But DeLay’s re-redistricting power play has already done the trick of taking out Stenholm, which means that however formidable Peterson is, he’s the last impediment to a better Ag Committee, and thus the task at hand is that much easier. Kind of weird to think about it that way, isn’t it? Now I’m not going to send Tom DeLay a thank-you note – even if I were inclined to actually give him credit for this, he’d never accept it. But I think it does go to show how unintended some consequences can be. Just a thought.