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June 20th, 2009:

Saturday video break: Who are you working for, Dwayne?

I know I’ve been using these for mostly silly and/or amusing music videos, but given recent developments, I figured this was a good fit for the day.

Now we just need someone to do something similar for Leo Vasquez.

More on Perry’s vetoes

Governor Perry’s veto of SB2468, the “revolving door” restrictions bill for Harris County, has puzzled its sponsor.

In his veto message, Perry said he rejected the ethics bill, authored by Sen. Mario Gallegos, because it addressed lobbying matters and related criminal penalties only in Harris County, not statewide, and thus characterized it unconstitutional.

Gallegos, a Houston Democrat, said he was surprised at the veto because the bill’s language had been revised to address constitutional issues and further because the governor’s office called him around noon Friday saying Perry was going to bless it.

But around 7:15 p.m., Gallegos said, the governor’s office called again and said the attorney general’s office had declared it unconstitutional.

“I was told several people from Harris County called him (the governor) and told him to the veto the bill. It was a good ethics bill,” Gallegos said.

The so-called “revolving door” restriction required former county employees to wait two years before lobbying.

You would think that a basic concept as a constitutional prohibition on criminal penalties that apply in one part of the state but not in other parts would have come up earlier in the process than this. Sen. Gallegos is suggesting that the people who would be affected by the bill’s restrictions managed to convince Perry to maintain the status quo. I have to say, that strikes me as a much more likely explanation than a sudden discovery that the bill was unconstitutional.

Speaking of bills tailored to specific counties, here’s the story on HB770, which became law by default.

Even though a provision allowing a lawmaker’s beach house — and those nearby — to be rebuilt in an exemption from the Texas Open Beaches Act was not vetoed by the governor, the measure is too flawed to be enforceable, the state land commissioner said Friday.

Commissioner Jerry Patterson said the provision won’t pave the way for the rebuilding of Rep. Wayne Christian’s home or any other one on public beaches.

“It will be the policy of the Texas General Land Office that notwithstanding the Christian amendment, no structure will be rebuilt if it will interfere with the public right to access Texas beaches,” said Patterson, who has railed against the provision but said he agreed with Gov. Rick Perry’s decision.

[…]

In a statement Friday, [Rep. Wayne] Christian said, “I am pleased Governor Perry has agreed with those of us in the Texas Legislature to expedite the post-Ike recovery of Texas families and respect their private property rights.

Patterson, who had urged a veto of the bill, said he had changed his thinking and supports Perry’s decision.

“Two weeks ago, that would have disappointed me. Today, I think the governor did the right thing,” Patterson said, adding that the Christian amendment will change nothing.

“Texas beaches will remain as they have always been, open to all Texans, not just a few,” Patterson said.

Too bad, I was kind of hoping Patterson would go rogue. So what happens if Christian starts rebuilding his house? Who’s going to stop him, and how?

One veto I hadn’t noted yesterday was of HB130, which was a pre-kindergarten bill. As with pretty much all of the vetoes here, this one caught supporters by surprise.

“It’s a bad day for public education and for Texas’ youngest and neediest children,” [bill author Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington] said.

House Bill 130 would have put in place new quality standards for pre-kindergarten classes, including teacher training and class size limits. The classes serve children who are homeless or in foster care, have a parent in the military, have limited English-speaking skills or whose families are low-income.

The original bill would have expanded pre-kindergarten classes from half-day to full-day for the children who now qualify for the program. But the initial $623 million price tag proved too much for the Legislature to swallow in a tight budget.

The final bill that cleared the Legislature, while keeping the quality standards, provided $25 million in grant money for districts that already have full-day pre-kindergarten but were slated to lose state funding.

UPDATE: Perry wrote in his veto statement that the money would be better used to expand the number of children served in the existing program.

“Under the funding formula for the existing grant program, $25 million would serve more than 27,000 students over the next biennium, which is 21,000 students more than the estimated 6,800 students that would have been served under the bill’s proposed program – or a 305 percent increase,” Perry wrote.

But Patrick noted that the $25 million does not provide the districts the full amount needed to offer full-day classes, so the districts will still bear significant costs.

Even with the veto, those districts will get the money but the quality standards will not take effect.

One-hundred House members had signed on to the bill, which had the strong backing of House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts.

“More Republicans supported the bill than not,” Patrick said. “Clearly, many Republicans as well as Democrats understand that pre-k education is an investment for which there is a great return.”

Penny-wise and pound-foolish, which is about what you’d expect from our Governor. Other views on the vetoes: from Grits, who agreed with some but as I expected disliked the rejection of HB3148; and from Eye on Williamson.

Your Texas Republican delegation in action

David Weigel tells us what some of our Republican Congressfolk have been up to.

Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), who has introduced a bill that would require future presidential candidates to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, has collected four more co-sponsors — Reps. John R. Carter, John Culberson and Randy Neugebauer, all Republicans from Texas, and Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.). Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) became the first co-sponsor last month.

Via WorldNetDaily’s Andrea Shea King, who transcribes a stunning interview Posey gave her on her Internet radio show. Posey, who referred to the story as the “eligibility dilemma” and said King brought it to his attention, outright accused the president of hiding something: “The only people that I know who are afraid to take drug tests are the people who use drugs.” He also admitted speaking with “high-ranking members of our judiciary committee” about the chances of Obama “being removed from office,” but said there was “zero chance” of success there.

On how he got the co-sponsors:

I was talking to Neugebauer about it, and my good friend John Culberson was listening to the conversation and so Randy said, “Yeah, I told my staff I wanted to sign up on that already.” And having heard the conversation, Culberson says, “Yeah, sign me up.” And the judge (Carter) was sitting in the next row listening to the conversation and he said, “By God, sign me up!” So you know, we might start getting a little bit of steam here pretty soon. I didn’t strong arm these people. I haven’t begged anybody to sign on this thing, I haven’t asked anybody, really. The people that come up and slap me on the back and say, “Good luck to you!” I say, “Hey, there’s room for you on here!” And of course, they start doing the moonwalk, you know? “Oh no, no, no, congressman!” But you know, times change and time wounds all heels.

Makes you proud, doesn’t it? I think the saddest part is that as the last link in that first paragraph notes, the bill merely requires “a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate”, which President Obama has already made public. Perhaps Rep. Culberson should have followed his own advice and read the bill before he agreed to co-sponsor it. EoW piles on his own Congressman over this. Thanks to Steve Benen for the link.

Planting vegetation against the tide

I suppose there’s more than one way to try to save your beachfront property.

In Texas, a thin green line in the sand separates private property from public beach. And that line of vegetation is drawn by Mother Nature.

Some property owners, however, are taking a more proactive approach by planting grass and shrubs along the edge of a dune on Bolivar Peninsula to keep their homes off the public beach.

These owners are trying to create an artificial vegetation line, marking where their property ends and the public beach begins.

Under the Texas Open Beaches Act, as administered by the General Land Office, houses cannot be built seaward of the vegetation line, which was scoured away by Hurricane Ike.

Between 20 and 30 property owners on the peninsula, however, have planted their own vegetation line, said Angela Sunley, leader for the General Land Office’s beach and dune team. Land office officials can easily spot man-made vegetation versus the real thing.

Silly homeowners. They should have just called Wayne Christian.

Calorie counts

Honestly, this is long overdue.

Restaurant groups, nutrition and disease-prevention advocates and Washington lawmakers from both sides of the partisan divide on Wednesday announced they have hammered out an agreement that will put calorie contents on the menus of chain restaurants and other nutritional information within easy reach of consumers.

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)*, Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that a draft compromise would oblige any establishment that is part of a chain of 20 or more restaurants operating under the same name to post the calorie content of all of its regular offerings and, upon request, to provide written information about menu items’ fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, sugars, dietary fiber and protein.

The draft language is to be included in an omnibus health reform bill under assembly on Capitol Hill. It would create a single national standard for nutritional disclosure by chain restaurants and eateries, preempting provisions adopted by some localities that have been stricter.

It would be better if the stricter local provisions could be left in place, but I can live with this. Honestly, I don’t even know what the argument against this is. People can’t make fully-informed choices without full information. Here are a few examples of what we’d learn if this information were readily available today. Maybe you felt better not knowing, but I daresay there won’t be such egregious choices out there once this is out there. Doonesbury was on this all last week.