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No limits imposed on Governor’s powers in an emergency

So much for that.

The state Legislature won’t curtail Gov. Greg Abbott’s pandemic powers, after members of the House and the Senate failed to hash out their differences over it.

The measure, House Bill 3, was priority legislation in the lower chamber, and variations of the bill had passed both the House and the Senate. But representatives appointed to find a compromise missed a key deadline late Saturday to release new bill text, killing the measure.

It was not immediately clear why the bill died. Representatives for House Speaker Dade Phelan, and the two members who led negotiations, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

Phelan previously said the measure was “the House’s blueprint for pandemic response.” His office has also said the speaker believes the Legislature should have a “seat at the table” when determining how the state would handle future public health crises.

The bill’s failure was somewhat surprising given bipartisan support for scaling the governor’s powers during the pandemic. Abbott faced criticism from both sides of the aisle last year for his near-unilateral decision-making in the state’s COVID-19 response, as he issued monthly emergency declarations and changed rules at will.

The governor faced especially harsh pushback from right-wing members of his party, who called him “King Abbott” and lambasted his decision to implement business restrictions and mandate that Texans wear masks. Some challenged him, unsuccessfully, in court.

See here for the previous update. Conference committee negotiations are done in private, so we don’t know what the sticking points were, though perhaps we’ll hear something from one or more of the disgruntled parties. As you know, I was ambivalent about this, so I have no particular reason to mourn the demise of this proposal. Honestly, if we had just had a governor who made better decisions and was more collaborative we probably could have avoided a lot of the fuss. Not all of it by any means – the wingnut faction that completely lost their shit during lockdown was always going to seethe and try to do something in the session, but that would have been less likely to succeed. This has no chance of coming back in a special session because Abbott has no reason to put it on the agenda, so it’s a matter of what things look like in 2023 as to whether the issue comes up again. For now, barring anything unexpected, you can bury this one.

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16 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    This is disappointing. After seeing how Abbott wielded his power like a cudgel batter and strike down small businesses, and put Texans out of work, it’s clear that Texans need to be protected from this kind of persecution going forward. We need to be protected FROM our government at every level.

    “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

    ― Thomas Jefferson

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    *to batter and strike down

  3. Frederick says:

    As with all things related to the Texas GOP…

    …”Stupid Is As Stupid Does”

    – Forrest Gump

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    There needs to be a limit to the totalitarian madness. The same people who criticized Pres. Trump for being a wannabe autocrat ,are the same people who wanted him to seize the reins and shut down the entire country. With the myth of climate change refusing to die, we have to worry that the government will now see that it can easily cow the people, and might start having climate shutdowns.

  5. C.L. says:

    ‘The Myth of Climate Change’, Dr. Hochman ?

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    C.L.:

    While the West is hobbled with the self imposed chains of the mythic climate change boogieman, the rest of the world is steadily working to cut our nuts off, and they’re doing great at it, especially China.

    Have you never played this out in your head? Oh, this is so horrible, every country on the planet needs to do whatever the climate brigade is pushing this week, and if they don’t, surely we will all perish! Guess What? India isn’t going to participate. China isn’t going to participate. The whole of Africa isn’t going to participate. The Middle East isn’t going to participate. So whatever YOU do…..it won’t save the world. Whatever you push on the US to do won’t save the world. All you’ll do is contribute to the decline of America, and of our European brethren.

    Climate change goes in the same pot as sexual perversion, racial strife, indoctrinating our kids, and all the other things the communists are doing to destroy our country. It’s simply a tool in the toolbox to help crush America.

    This is the REAL inconvenient truth, C.L.

  7. C.L. says:

    ‘We shouldn’t be doing anything because no one else is doing anything.’

    That may have to be the most inane argument I’ve heard yet on the subject.

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    C.L.

    Wrong. Let’s say you live next to the Addicks or Barker reservoirs, and the water is about to overtop the levy, so you and some of your neighbors start sandbagging on top of the levy, to protect your houses….but some of your neighbors do not sandbag. Water will find a way, and your house will flood, no matter how well built your sandbag levy topper may be. Why bother? You wasted your time, and your house is flooded anyway.

    If the rest of the world is burning coal, oil and gas, then it doesn’t matter what you do here. I don’t understand how that’s not obvious to you. I don’t understand why you didn’t bother to read the ‘Paris Climate Accords’ and see that the only nations that are expected to wreck their economies are the US and Europe. China? Nope. India? Nope. E’erybody all up in Africa? Nope. The rest of the 3rd World? Nope. Just the stupid virtue signalling White countries, for the most part, are expected to commit economic hari kari. The most populous country in the world, China, doesn’t give a shit about global warming, except how they can use it to become the world’s only superpower.

    If they don’t care, why should you?

  9. Manny says:

    Bill’s theory on how the world works;

    They throw litter out the window. We should all throw litter out the window;

    They don’t mow the yard. We should not mow the yard;

    Don’t waste one’s time on stopping what can’t be stopped.

    It must be like death; one can’t stop it from coming.

  10. Jason Hochman says:

    Right, to stop crime, build less jails.

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    Manny,

    Wrong. People who don’t litter can move to a nice area, to a nice neighborhood, where people don’t litter, and, via a robust police force, can, for the most part, keep out undesirables who do litter. They can live in a gated community, because, guess what…..walls work. They can create their own litter free area, while the rest of the city or country looks like an open air trash dump.

    If you believe in global warming or the new ice age, climate change, or whatever we’re calling the weather these days, you can’t just move to a nice area or build a wall to stop it, like you can to get away from people who litter and illegally dump.

    In short, I can’t do anything about all the litter and illegal dumping in Sunnyside, or Denver Harbor, but I can choose to not live there, and avoid dealing with it. I can’t avoid the weather, no matter where I move. Hope this helps.

    Finally, you and I can’t stop people from illegal dumping and littering in Sunnyside any more than you and I can stop China and the rest of the world from building more coal plants and drilling for more oil. Do you get it now?

  12. Bill Daniels says:

    One final consideration for you, Manny……look at what your leaders are doing personally. If you really feel that the polar ice caps are going to melt, and the sea levels are going to rise dramatically, would you, like Obama, buy a waterfront mansion on Martha’s Vineyard? Surely the seas will rise and the mansion will flood, just like any typical home here in Houston, when it rains too much.

    Why would Obama risk his own money to purchase and enjoy a waterfront mansion, unless he knows something that you don’t know….that the whole global warming thing is bullshit, and his mansion is NOT going to flood.

    https://www.homesandgardens.com/news/president-obama-new-house-marthas-vineyard

    So these folks have YOU living in fear, have you accepting that your standard of living should go down via high energy prices (and thus high prices on everything), while they enjoy their lives.

  13. Política comparada says:

    NOT CARING

    Re: If they don’t care, why should you?

    Because you want to be better than them (hopefully), and set a good example for your kids. And for your generic fellow men too (including women) if you don’t have kids.

    That’s the short answer at the individual level, since we are discoursing in the 2nd person.

    But for people who aren’t community-minded, we have enforceable rules. Such as anti-littering and scoop-the-poop ordinances and deed restrictions, to stick with homely examples. Broadly speaking, we have exercises of the “police powers” of the states, plus federal statutes and regs in those areas of commerce and life that fall under federal jurisdiction, to restrain the behavior of individuals and business entities that would carelessly harm others, despoil the environment, or cause damage to the commonweal in other ways.

    Now, let’s look at the global arena

    At that level, too, we have collective action problems. The typical solution is for government, as agent of the community and its shared interests (public interest), to impose standards of desirable behavior (generally speaking, proscriptions and mandates). And enforce these standards of conduct to the extent compliance is not obtained otherwise.

    Since we don’t have a world government, that approach doesn’t work at the global level. Instead, sovereign nations have to agree to proceed jointly and cooperatively to deal with a particular problem of global dimensions that ultimately affects all of humanity.

    Enforcement in the inter-national sphere is always problematic because there is no central authority that can routinely take action to force nation-states to act in accordance with international law. So, co-operation and voluntary compliance is essential to the success of international regimes set up to deal with specific problem areas.

    And sovereign nation-states have to agree in the first instance to the set of rules, standards, or conventions they are to be bound by. That often involves a need for “horse” trading and mutual accommodations, and typically does not mean that all will make equal contributions or efforts. After all, some nation-states are much larger, richer, and much more powerful than others. All humans may be equal within narrow bounds of variation to the left and right of the mean. The same cannot be said of nation-states.

    And powerful nation-states cannot just be ordered around to make them do things they don’t want to do, or stopped from doing things they deem to be in their national interest.

  14. Bill Daniels says:

    Wolf,

    “Because you want to be better than them (hopefully), and set a good example for your kids.”

    Your White savior complex is showing itself again. You feel that you’re better, morally superior to those non White savages around the world who don’t believe in, or care about global warming like you do. Every year, Mexican farmers burn their fields, causing smoke filled skies in Houston for a week or so. What do you think their response will be, when you tell them to stop doing that, because “we’re all in this together?”

    Several thoughts….first, ALL cultures have value, Wolf. You are belittling the life experience and culture of the billions of non Whites around the world that don’t believe in, or don’t care about global warming. Who are you to do that? Why do you think your culture is superior to theirs? That’s racist thinking. And aren’t you Frankfurt School guys doing your best to destroy White culture? What gives?

    Then, you want to force your environmental views on those billions of non Whites. That’s colonialism, Wolf. That’s also wrong.

    Finally, there’s the issue of disparate impact. Trying to prevent China, India, the 3rd World, the Middle East, etc., to stop reaching for the fossil fuel powered 1st World lifestyle we enjoy here will have an adverse effect on billions of non White people. That’s racist, Wolf, even if your intentions are not to be racist. The practical impact is you’ll hurt people of color most of all.

    Note: I’m blaming temporary insanity for writing levee as levy, in a previous post. I know better.

  15. Manny says:

    Always with your racism, Bill. Early white farmers cleared their land a la slash and burn. They still do that here in this country Bill, your stupidity and racism won’t allow you to see it.

    Visit some of those rural towns in America, the ones that are dying, and look at them. They don’t look like Mayberry as pictured in the Andy Griffith show.

    If white people are so good, Bill? Explain yourself as a model of white.

    As to Obama, how in the world would you be able to understand someone five times smarter than you, Bill?

    Wonder which freeways and streets you use, Bill? I did not know they had streets for white racists only.

    Bill, when you die and live in hell, you will find that it is full of people just like you.

  16. Jason Hochman says:

    “Because you want to be better than them (hopefully), and set a good example for your kids. ”

    That about sums it up…the righteous and better than you crowd, and, of course, that is tinged with racism…the discussion was about India and 3rd World countries that want to enjoy the good life and quality of living that the US and western Europe have. So, here is the admission: we want to be better than the lower countries.

    I mean for what it’s worth, I live a greener newer life than any progressives. I do most of my commuting and errands on a bicycle. I ride about 4,000 miles a year, less last year, due to working from home a bit. I bought gasoline for the first time since Christmas just a few weeks ago in mid May. I haven’t turned on the AC at my house yet this year.

    But don’t get discouraged because I am better than you. You can always improve.