First Impressions

House members huddle at dais on February 14th, 2013
House members huddle at dais on February 14th, 2013

The early spending bills offer up a peek into the ways of the current Legislature, with its big freshman class, its partisan balance and a weird set of issues that don’t generate the same amount of heat as what was on the table two years ago.

If this was food instead of politics, it would be a vegetarian kitchen to 2011’s red meat specialties.

The supplemental appropriations bills start next week with the Medicaid IOU bill that has to pass in a hurry to keep that program from missing payments to health care providers. Lawmakers balanced the budget two years ago by leaving several months out of the Medicaid budget; the bill is due.

Because it’s due and the measure must pass, this first supplemental is a potential vehicle for other spending requests, namely some sort of catch-up on the $5.4 billion carved out of public education two years ago. That’s not going to happen, but look at the other moving parts.

A working group of Democrats and Republicans that includes the speaker’s staff is putting together nearly $1 billion in restorations for those education cuts, and the Democrats are backing down from demands on the first bill.

They can always try later on two supplementals that will follow — one for genuinely unexpected spending on fires and prison healthcare and the other for deferred payments that pulled the budget into balance.

That first supplemental has another sharp edge. It’s an emergency measure and since the governor hasn’t declared it one, it needs 120 votes to get out of the House. That number will require a majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats. [Update: Because it's an appropriations bill, we're told, it requires only a simple majority. And because it's a general appropriations bill, it's exposed to amendments for any kind of spending ideas. The House adopted a rule in advance of the debate that caps the total amount that can be spent, so that any additions must be matched by subtractions of at least the same amounts.]

If they can pull all that off, and put some of the education money back in the budget, and keep members from trying to load up the first piece of legislation on the floor, it’ll tell you something about this particular band of 150.

If it comes to pieces, that’ll be instructive, too.

Seliger Starts Small With Higher Education Bills

State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, at Triblive on Dec. 6, 2012.
State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, at Triblive on Dec. 6, 2012.

Judging from his first batch of legislation, Kel Seliger — the new Senate Higher Education Committee chairman — has an agenda is focused primarily on buttoning up the state’s massive system of colleges and universities.

On the whole, they are wonkier than they are headline grabbing, which is somewhat different than his counterpart on the House Higher Education Committee, Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

“I wouldn’t put it that way, but I’ll concede it,” Seliger said. “I hope this will streamline things and make them more efficient.”

Branch’s slate of bills, meanwhile, checks off some of the sector’s highest-profile issues, including requiring institutions to offer four-year guaranteed tuition plans and pushing outcomes-based formula funding, both of which have been endorsed by Gov. Rick Perry. He also hopes to make boards of regents more transparent by requiring them to broadcast all of their meetings.

Of course, there are a few key differences between the two chairmen. Most notable, perhaps, is that Branch is considering a run for attorney general, an ambition he recently expressed in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.

It’s also Branch’s third session chairing a higher education committee, whereas it is Seliger’s first.

“We’ve been working on these bills for a while,” Seliger said, “but that’s months, not years. I think this is a product of talking to people about issues in higher ed and seeing what we can do to improve things.”

Seliger’s bills include moving the authority to approve campus construction projects from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to boards of regents, capping the number of credit hours required to earn an associates degree, and easing the process of “reverse transfers” — awarding associate’s degrees to students after they have already transferred to a university.

Branch has also filed a bill that he hopes will streamline the transfer process. He attempted to pass a similar bill last session, but it was significantly altered by the time it got through the process, and he has decided to take another shot at it.

Seliger's final higher ed bill filed this week would make a small tweak that he says will free up Tuition Equalization Grants, which help bring private university prices down to public university levels, for about 50 new students at no extra cost to the state.

But that’s not to say that some flashier pieces of legislation are not in the works. Seliger left the door open for more higher ed bills to be filed.

“We’re trying to be discerning,” he said. “But I’m not going to say we’re not going to pass anything else.”

One thing to watch out for: Seliger has been an outspoken critic of the state’s “top 10 percent rule,” which allows automatic admission to public universities for Texas at or very near the head of their high school class. 

Were it not for a current law that eases automatic admissions at the University of Texas at Austin — effectively making it a top 7 percent rule — the freshman class would be made up entirely of “top 10” students.

That cap is currently at risk because of a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on the consideration of race in admissions, but both Branch and Seliger have said they will try to make sure it is preserved.

While Seliger has not yet filed a bill dealing with automatic admission, which he would like to repeal, he did say, “We’re talking about that.”

Road Warriors Want Better PR

“Water” and “roads” were the big buzzwords leading up to this legislative session. State leaders from Gov. Rick Perry on down went on record touting the importance of finding funding for water infrastructure and highway projects.

One month in to the session, water is right on track. There is widespread agreement on tapping the Rainy Day Fund to create a revolving fund to implement the state’s water plan.

Meanwhile, transportation advocates are worried that road funding reform remains as stalled as ever. So much so that Texas Future, a transportation-focused group that launched late last year, began airing a TV ad in Austin this week.

“TEXAS BUILDS ROADS BY BORROWING MONEY” the text on the screen reads while an announcer says the same.

In the next shot, “2014” pops up in big, red letters, with “EVERYTHING WILL COME TO A SCREECHING HALT” below it in smaller, black text.

Scared yet?

David Polyansky, a consultant with Texas Future, said the ad is part of the group’s strategy for generating the urgency on the road funding issue that water already has.

“I think most Texans realize there is a water issue,” he said. “It’s been much easier for them to digest and frankly the solutions are much easier to grasp. The transportation issue, fewer people are aware of it.”

While the debate on water is mostly centered on how much to spend, the transportation debate is far more muddled. Most lawmakers agree that more money for roads is needed, but they are far apart on how much is needed, where to get it from or how to spend it.

Part of the problem for transportation advocates is that their crisis point is around the bend, while the recent drought has put the state’s water issues in clear focus.

The Texas Department of Transportation has said it needs $4 billion in extra funding annually to maintain the current level of services. The agency expects its bond funding to mostly run out over the next biennium, leading to a stark drop in highway projects by 2016. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, has described the situation as “a fiscal cliff of highway funding.”

Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, have filed bills that would dedicate sales tax revenue from vehicle purchases to the highway fund. Williams has expressed concern that that approach takes money out of the state’s general revenue, which will have to be replaced. He’s called for higher vehicle registration fees as part of a solution that includes tapping the Rainy Day Fund.

Texas Future is pushing for a hybrid approach that incorporates all these ideas and also allows Texans to approve a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that all new transportation revenue goes to transportation projects and nothing else.

With so many proposals competing for attention, it’s possible that nothing could win out.

Polyansky said his group has hopes that its focus on the $13 billion in debt that Texas has accrued to build more highways will get Tea Party-type activists to rally against the status quo.

“We feel that, obviously, you have to have buy-in from the conservative equation of the electorate to get anything done in Austin this session,” he said.

Newsreel: Appropriation Bills, Medicaid Expansion

In this edition of the Texas Weekly Newsreel: The House is off and running with the first of several supplemental appropriations bills. The state might opt out of Medicaid expansion, but counties might take part. And Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson talks about why he's running for office in 2014.

Inside Intelligence: About That Revolving Door...

A huge freshman class in the Legislature means there a large number of lawmakers have been set free — many of them to private-sector work around the Capitol, lobbying the people who used to be their colleagues. So we asked our insiders this week about how those transitions should work, and should be reported.

Keep in mind that many of the insiders are competing with the new battery of lobbyists and — as several of them pointed out in their own comments — they have a conflict of interest in answering the questions.

A strong majority — 71 percent — say there ought to be a cooling off period before an ex-officeholder can return as a lobbyist. Most suggested one or two years. And the insiders feel differently about legislative staffers, with 52 percent saying those workers ought to be able to drop their government jobs and go straight into the lobby; 44 percent said staffers should also have a revolving-door prohibition.

Legislators are currently allowed to use their leftover campaign funds to contribute to political campaigns, in effect giving them a fund to start up their lobby businesses. Not surprisingly, many of those already in the business think that should be curtailed.

The insiders overwhelming said lobbyists should be required to report the names of officeholders for whom they have done paid political work, and also any family relationships they have with legislators and other officeholders.

As always, we’ve attached a full set of verbatim responses to the survey; a sampling follows.

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Should Texas officeholders be prohibited from lobbying legislators for some period of time after they leave office?

• "The whole point of 'lobbying' is to use one's contacts and business relationships to help a client get what he/she needs from the state government. Prohibiting a former officeholder from lobbying right after leaving office won't make it any less dishonest; all that does is put off the inevitable for a specific period of time."

• "A two-year hiatus would be reasonable. It would let some time and distance grow between current and former members and would require former members to get a real job rather than slip immediately into a set of lucrative lobbying contracts."

• "1 year"

• "Needs to be 2 years. If it’s just a year, some kind of limbo status will be created with red-shirted ex-legislators waiting to get into the game. 2 years would reduce that."

• "Are you really asking a bunch of lobbyists this?:)"

• "Of course my answer is yes--I'm currently a lobbyist! Keep out the competition!"

• "As a registered lobbyists I think 10 years is a nice round number"

• "How would they feed themselves?"

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Should legislative staffers be prohibited from lobbying legislators for some period of time after they leave government employment?

• "They are already underpaid, so if you take that away from them, then how will you get quality people to run the legislature?"

• "Where would the high paid lobbyists come from...?"

• "This is what attracts many talented people to take low paying jobs in the Legislature."

• "What about agency staffers who truly develop mastery-level knowledge of various policy areas?"

• "A legislative staffer's influence on legislators is not the same as a former member's. Also, a legislative staffer does not leave state employment with a built-in campaign account to make donations to legislators. So, the limitations on lobbying for legislative staffers should not be as strict."

• "I would say they could not lobby their former boss"

• "One year prohibition for Chief of Staff/Clerk level"

• "No one elected staff. They don’t vote on the floor of the legislature and they don’t represent a district. Their position is not constitutional. Staff has to feed their families and should not be prohibited from making a living as a lobbyist."

• "Great staffers make great lobbyists, bad staffers go work on campaigns."

• "Should apply to all government employees..."

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Should lawmakers who become lobbyists be allowed to contribute leftover balances from their political accounts to legislators?

• "Subject to disclosure...why not?"

• "Better there than to put it into their pockets."

• "Excess campaign funds should be returned to contributors, donated to their political party or donated to charity."

• "Seen that bad movie many times. Most real lobbyists don't like getting sandbagged and their $ helping a competitor or covering their overhead"

• "Absolutely not. To request campaign contributions for the express purpose of election/re-election and then use them to potentially advocate against the interests of the contributors is disingenuous at best."

• "A contribution is a contribution. Report it and let the people decide."

• "This issue seems to be generating from some lobbyist who star is fading in an attempt to preserve their influence. Sort of pulling the latter up behind themselves. . In addition few of these members have that punt of money that would make any difference"

• "Send the money to charity. The 501(c)(3) kind that can't lobby."

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Should lobbyists be required to report the names of officeholders for whom they have done paid political consulting work?

• "It is already being done. All one has to do is to look at the campaign finance reports."

• "Transparency demands that business relationships between officeholders and lobbyists be disclosed."

• "Let the sun shine in, and so too should state staff be required to file names and amount of payments for political work."

• "Sure thing. This practice is much more palatable with full disclosure."

• "What a racket. Can't believe TX allows political campaign consultants to 'lobby' in their off season. They should follow the same rules as campaigns. Turn it off during session."

• "The names of lobbyists that work for political campaigns are already reported. Those reports are called campaign finance reports."

• "The disclosure is already there through the C&E report, so this really is a red herring. Why limit the reporting to just 'paid' political work by a lobbyist for a campaign? Any lobbyist worth their salt is out helping with the campaigns of those candidates/officeholders they support and who have helped their issues. That contribution of time and talent (strategy, intel, PAC fundraising, etc.) is currently not recording ANYWHERE, but it is significant. Further evidence can be found in lobbyist organizing Austin fundraisers for no cost and organizing neighborhood walks in near and far locations across Texas."

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Should lobbyists be required to report any family relationships they have with legislators and other officeholders?

• "Uh. Pretty sure The Lobby et al. knows about familial ties. It's kinda hard to keep a secret in our world, especially one like that. But, if we're going to require disclosure for family ties, it should include staffers and all state employees, not just elected officials and appointees."

• "Also, family relationships with legislative staff members."

• "Transparency is key. Familial relationships with staff are just as important. Lobbyists with family members behind the scene are pretty common."

• "Lobbyist should be required to report relationships with legislators only within reason. At some point we are all related to Kevin Bacon."

• "This reporting should included lobbyist who are dating members of either the House or Senate. It should also be required of members who get their wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends hired by the lobby. This is a particular area that has not been addressed by you or the rest of the press."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Jenny Aghamalian, Victor Alcorta, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, David Anthony, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Tom Banning, Eric Bearse, Dave Beckwith, Amy Beneski, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Hugh Brady, Chris Britton, Andy Brown, David Cabrales, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Janis Carter, William Chapman, Elizabeth Christian, Elna Christopher, James Clark, Rick Cofer, Harold Cook, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Denise Davis, Hector De Leon, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, Norman Garza, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, John Greytok, Michael Grimes, Jack Gullahorn, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Adam Haynes, Ken Hodges, Shanna Igo, Deborah Ingersoll, Richie Jackson, Cal Jillson, Jason Johnson, Bill Jones, Mark Jones, Robert Jones, Lisa Kaufman, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Ramey Ko, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Ruben Longoria, Matt Mackowiak, Luke Marchant, Dan McClung, Parker McCollough, Scott McCown, Mike McKinney, Robert Miller, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Keats Norfleet, Pat Nugent, Sylvia Nugent, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Kraege Polan, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Bill Ratliff, Karen Reagan, Tim Reeves, Patrick Reinhart, Kim Ross, Jeff Rotkoff, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Robert Scott, Bradford Shields, Christopher Shields, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Todd Smith, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, G. Sprinkle, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Jay Thompson, Russ Tidwell, Gerard Torres, Trent Townsend, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, Darren Whitehurst, Seth Winick, Lee Woods, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Monday, Feb. 18

  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II hearing (7:30 a.m.)
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III hearing (7:30 a.m.)
  • Senate Finance Committee hearing (9 a.m., 10 a.m., 3:30 p.m.)
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Articles I, IV and V hearing (10 a.m.)
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII and VIII hearing (10 a.m.)
  • House Pensions Committee hearing (10 a.m.)
  • Senate Nominations Committee hearing (11 a.m.)
  • House Elections Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Government Efficiency and Reform Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Investments and Financial Services Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Technology Committee hearing (2 p.m.)

Tuesday, Feb. 19

  • House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III hearing (7:30 a.m.)
  • House Natural Resources Committee hearing (7:30 a.m.)
  • House Transportation Committee hearing (8 a.m.)
  • Senate Government Organization Committee hearing (8 a.m.)
  • Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing (9 a.m.)
  • House Business and Industry Committee hearing (10:30 a.m.)
  • House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee hearing (10:30 a.m.)
  • House Human Services Committee hearing (10:30 a.m.)
  • Senate Jurisprudence Committee hearing (1:30 p.m.)
  • House Energy Resources Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Environmental Regulation Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Insurance Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Public Education Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Ways and Means Committee hearing (2 p.m.)

Wednesday, Feb. 20

  • House Agriculture and Livestock Committee hearing (8 a.m.)
  • Senate Transportation Committee hearing (8 a.m.)
  • House Corrections Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee hearing (1:30 p.m.)
  • House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee hearing (2 p.m.)
  • House Local and Consent Calendars Committee hearing (2 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 21

  • House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing (8 a.m.)
  • House Economic and Small Business Development Committee hearing (8 a.m.)

Guest Column: Why Texas Should Expand Medicaid

Medicaid expansion is the most important health care opportunity in a generation. The Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association, Interfaith Alliance and many others across the business, faith, and healthcare communities recognize this and are advocating for expansion. State leaders can improve public health and our economy by working collaboratively with others to create a Texas plan that will improve the Medicaid delivery system and bring expansion dollars to Texas.

Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured at 23 percent and yet it is poised to turn down federal Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion would provide eligibility to 1.5 million more Texans.

Opponents cite flaws in the current Medicaid system as a chief reason to turn down expansion. To be sure, Medicaid is a system in need of reform. In Dallas County, only 19 percent of primary care providers will take new Medicaid patients. Expansion without capacity is inadequate coverage. 

Flawed as it is, Medicaid is an essential component of public health and a safety net for the poor and elderly in nursing homes. It helps over 2.5 million Texas children, but covers only about 225,000 of their parents. Facilitating parents’ health coverage is one of the best things we can do to create productive workers and ensure the health and economic stability of Texas families. 

In Texas, Medicaid currently covers children, pregnant women and some adults up to 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Expansion will provide coverage to individuals up to 138 percent. The federal government will cover the entire cost of expanding Medicaid for the first three years, will pay 90 percent of the total thereafter, and from 2014-17, will bring around $24 billion in federal revenue to Texas.

The federal proposal allows Texas to accept expansion and withdraw at any time in the future.

Texas hospitals provide over $5 billion a year in uncompensated care. Texans pay for much of this care through local property taxes, increased premium cost, and higher medical costs. Dallas County citizens created a hospital district ­­­in 1954, and that district levies a property tax that currently generates approximately $425 million a year. Those taxes go, primarily, to paying for care for people who do not qualify under current Medicaid coverage. Local taxes cover the same population in other large counties with hospital districts.

Dallas County has 672,681 residents who are uninsured — 28.1 percent of the population. Expanding Medicaid would provide eligibility to an additional 133,000 citizens, add $580.5 million in annual Medicaid funds to Dallas County, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional economic activity, providing Dallas County and other large counties with the opportunity to cut local taxes while simultaneously dramatically improving coverage and economic competitiveness. Conversely, failure to participate will place our taxpayers in the position of covering other states’ expansion with our federal taxes while continuing to pay the full cost of our own expansion population with local taxes.

Medicaid expansion will allow new participants to receive preventative care, rather than relying on emergency rooms. This change saves both lives and money. Covering the uninsured means better premium value for Texans with private health insurance by lowering costs for everyone.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory expansion, giving states the option of non-participation, which in turn affords states a strengthened position from which to improve the Medicaid delivery system and take an active role in crafting plans for full expansion that suits their populations and reflects their values. 

Now is the time to seize the opportunity. The Texas Medicaid population represents a significant portion of the critical mass needed for national expansion to reach its objective. As other states opt in, critical mass grows without us. Since the first three years of expansion are covered by federal tax dollars, drawing down our fair share as soon as possible is only prudent.

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet with Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Deputy Director, Cindy Mann, the federal official tasked with Medicaid expansion. I came away from the meeting impressed with the willingness of CMS to work with Texas. As Dallas County Judge, I continue to advocate to the top federal, state, and county officials, encouraging all to work together with our doctors and hospitals to craft a collaborative Texas plan. There is nothing Texans can't do if we work together and this opportunity is too important, both to public health and our economy, to be lost.

Clay Jenkins is the Dallas County Judge. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Like a family with past due notices piling up at the door, the Texas Legislature has some current bills it needs to pay before it can plan the state's next two-year budget. Lawmakers are planning at least three bills to address the state’s supplemental needs: The first measure needs to be signed in March so the state can pay billions in upcoming health care bills on time; a second supplemental bill will address the state's costs from fighting wildfires and providing prisoner health care; and a third, also not a rush item, will reverse $1.75 billion in delayed funds to school districts. 

A small bipartisan group of House lawmakers is working on a plan to restore some of the money cut from public education in the 2011 legislative session to the state’s current two-year budget. House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said that lawmakers have just under $1 billion available to spend without hitting the constitutional spending limit on the current two-year budget. He and a group of lawmakers, which includes House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, are in talks to add some of that money to a supplemental spending bill expected to reach the full House next month.

Dallas County officials adopted a resolution urging Texas legislators to extend Medicaid benefits to impoverished adults under the Affordable Care Act. And advocates for Medicaid expansion hope the major urban county's decision will spur other counties to adopt similar measures and pressure lawmakers into taking action.

Defiant, angry and frustrated, former prosecutor Ken Anderson took the stand to defend himself, ending a week of dramatic testimony in an unusual court of inquiry that is examining whether the former district attorney committed criminal misconduct during the trial that led to the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton.

Texas is the most generous state when it comes to compensating exonerated prisoners, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The state paid $65 million to 89 wrongly convicted people since 1992.

Former House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler has taken on publishing and testing giant Pearson as a client, according to recent Ethics Commission filings. The Republican from The Woodlands, who lost his seat in the 2012 Republican primary, is now an Austin lobbyist whose clients include the Harris County Department of Education and the Barbers Hill Independent School District.

Texas cities continue to lag in an annual study of literacy rates. Only Austin at No. 23 cracked the top 25 in the 2012 study of literacy resources by John Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Fort Worth inched up two spots to No. 52 while Plano and Dallas climbed to Nos. 45 and 47.

Political People and their Moves

Rolando Pablos abruptly resigned from the Public Utility Commission this week, less than two years after his September 2011 appointment. His term would have been up in September of this year.

Vistasp Karbhari, currently the provost at the University of Alabama and a former professor of engineering at the University of California-San Diego, is the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Joe Krier of San Antonio is the new chairman of the board for the SH 130 Concession Co., which operates the southern section of that toll road.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed:

Katherine Cabaniss of Houston as judge of the 248th district court. She is executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston and a former assistant district attorney in Harris County.

David Alders of Nacogdoches, John “Bob” Garrett of Tyler, and Barry Nelson of Dallas to the board of regents at Stephen F. Austin State University. Alders is president of Carrizo Creek Corp. and manager of Caddo Farms LLC and Dagwood Timber LP. Garrett, a reappointee, is president and CEO of Fair Oil Co. and Fair Management Co. Nelson is president of Interra Partners LLC. Garrett and Nelson have degrees from SFASU.

John Esparza of Austin, Rick Francis of El Paso, and Tim Lancaster of Abilene as regents at the Texas Tech University System. Esparza, a former aide to Perry, is CEO of the Texas Motor Transportation Commission. Francis, a reappointee, heads Weststar Bank and Francis Properties. Lancaster is president and CEO of Hendrick Health System. All three have degrees from Tech.

Deaths: Kevin Kennedy, at various times a journalist, a political and campaign worker, a broadcaster, a government worker, an association employee and, for reasons of his own, a Chicago Cubs fan. He was 59.

Quotes of the Week

I'm not going to apologize when a major business or a small business says, ‘We are going to relocate from California to Texas.’ I didn't hear anyone from the Giants apologizing for winning the World Series.

Gov. Rick Perry, quoted in the Los Angeles Times during a recruiting trip

When you've been there a long time, you lose the ability to lead to inspire, to motivate and to sell.

Jerry Patterson, asked at TribLive why he would run against David Dewhurst for lieutenant governor

I like to run a tight meeting. I like to keep use focused. I don't mind banging the gavel. The press actually gets bored at our meetings now, which is wonderful.

Barbara Cargill, during Senate hearings to confirm her appointment as chairman of the State Board of Education

I'm using this word not in the negative connotation, but it's when you feel like a hustler. You feel like you are hustling your dollars, and you don’t have the confidence that the money is going to be there.

Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, on struggling to make a living while serving in the Legislature

One of the best things about not being in the Senate anymore is not having to sit in that room and either stand up and clap every 15 seconds, or sit on your hands for the whole thing. I just wish so much we would have a moratorium on standing, and let everybody listen.

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, on CNN’s State of the Union

He just enjoys making noise and having people look at him, and I think he’s got some talents at making that happen.

Democratic political consultant Matt Angle on Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman of Friendswood, who invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union address

God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, after reaching for a water bottle during his response to President Obama's State of the Union speech