Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Some House members are outraged at the imperious behavior of TxDOT and want to revisit the entire issue of toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor."

Lege tearing itself apart with two months left in session

4/2/2007 3:15 PM

By: Harvey Kronberg
News 8 Austin
Copyright 2007

Two months to go and this is proving to be the session of the rapidly shrinking leaders.

Gov. Rick Perry's 39 percent election win may prove to be a high water mark. It's a generalization, but the Legislature is seething at him. The rebellion started with the ill-advised executive order mandating HPV vaccines for 11-year-old girls and went downhill from there.

The House appropriations bill now specifically prohibits the use of any funds for the HPV program

The House has also started the constitutional amendment process, in this case, permitting the Legislature to return three weeks after it adjourns to consider overturning any post-session gubernatorial vetoes.

Some House members are outraged at the imperious behavior of TxDOT and want to revisit the entire issue of toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor. It's not that they object to the idea, they just can't believe that Perry's people are signing 50 year contracts in what lawmakers increasingly believe are sweetheart deals that give away the farm as well as local control for pennies.

Things are so bad in the Senate that governor Perry can't get key appointments confirmed so it appears he may be holding off on any more until the Legislature leaves town at the end of May.

Lege under pressure

The battle between legislative branches and the governors office is keeping this session rocky.

Meanwhile, if Speaker Tom Craddick's coalition hasn't disappeared, it is certainly fraying at the edges.

He was unable to prevent a full scale bipartisan revolt in the appropriations debate last week when the House overwhelmingly defunded one of Craddick and Perry's pet projects -- incentive pay for teachers. The House insurgents simply took away that money and voted to use it for an across the board teacher pay raise. Despite Craddick's best efforts, the House also put a knife in the heart of school vouchers this session by voting 124-9 to prohibit any public dollars be used for that purpose.

The Senate has debated so few bills that it's hard to evaluate how they view their leader, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. With the clock running out, the Senate is just now getting up a head of steam.

The good news is that after five years in control of the House and Senate, Republican lawmakers are finally realizing that they are not subservient to their leadership. Their first duty is to their voters. What a refreshing change.

© 2007 TWEAN News Channel of Austin, L.P. d.b.a. News 8 Austin: www.news8austin.com

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