House Speaker Tom Craddick had the tenacity to withstand a three-day siege at the end of the legislative session, but it cost him some of his own supporters in the House. The question now is whether the next elections will replace enough of the rebels for him to hold on for a fourth term.
House Speaker Tom Craddick had the tenacity to withstand a three-day siege at the end of the legislative session, but it cost him some of his own supporters in the House. The question now is whether the next elections will replace enough of the rebels for him to hold on for a fourth term.
The explosive last weekend of the 80th Legislature's regular session ended with a whimper and not with a bang. Craddick survived. The Senate's relatively mild set-tos healed over when the voter ID bill was declared dead and senators gave the gavel back to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. And Gov. Rick Perry, who ran the rapids earlier in the session, managed to dry out some, saving a big part of his soggy agenda.
The Senate closed the books at about 8 p.m. on Memorial Day. The House went until the midnight deadline — the first time in years it's gone past sunset — with Craddick gaveling out as his wife, Nadine, cheered behind him.
The governor, meanwhile, is entering the period of his greatest power. That's the time between now and June 17 — the 20 days following the session when he can veto bills without threat of a veto override. Early signals are that he'll go for a record (the previous record of 82 vetoes was set by Perry two sessions ago). Some of that could get into the budget, where lawmakers put some of their higher education spending in places where Perry can reach it with a veto pen. He's got a chance to make some noise with his veto pen.
Lawmakers — particularly in the House — packed their last two days with major bills, most of which passed. Bills that looked a little puny on Sunday came back to life on Monday.
Several major pieces of legislation didn't get passed until the last day. A water bill was voted down, then voted back to life, suffered through a procedural challenge and finally approved. Parks legislation made it through both the House and Senate after getting in trouble in both places. A homeland security bill that looked dramatic for a bit won House approval. Lawmakers didn't pass a Children's Health Insurance Program bill until the end was near.
Legislators who wanted to force a special session to keep Craddick on the grill for 30 more days didn't get their way. Both sides will now go out and regroup and start the machinery of the 2008 elections. One seat will certainly be in play; Rep. Anna Mowery, R-Fort Worth, doesn't plan to seek reelection. Rep. George "Buddy" West, R-Odessa, might not come back, and there are rumors — strong and weak — about the retirements of a handful of others. Craddick might be losing support. Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, Craddick's speaker pro tem, announced he'll run for speaker himself in 2009. Democrats who oppose Craddick doubt Turner's sincerity — they say he's creating a comfortable holding space for other Craddick backers. If they're wrong, Turner is another vote that got away from a speaker who can't afford to lose many votes.
Craddick survived the first open challenge to a sitting speaker in years. He displaced Democrat Pete Laney in 2003, after the 2002 elections produced the first GOP majority in the lower chamber since Reconstruction. The session opened with a challenge to Craddick. He won that election — his third — but new challenges emerged in the last two weeks of this session. The actual floor battles didn't erupt until the final weekend, but Craddick hung on. Barring a special session or Something New and Completely Different, he'll remain in his post until the next speaker election in January 2009.
It started innocently enough.
Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, says there was a debate among Craddick's detractors over the rules. One group argued that a "motion to vacate the chair" would have to be immediately recognized, while another said Craddick would have to recognize that privileged motion, but not right away. He could delay for up to a day or so.
Dunnam decided to ask. But the timing of the question and the answer he got threw the House into turmoil. On Friday afternoon, budget conferees who had already approved and signed their budget went back into session to make some changes. Among other things, they struck a rider affecting Texas Southern University. That was seen as a plum for Craddick's speaker pro tem, Houston Democrat Sylvester Turner, and a slap at Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman. Tempers were already high.
Craddick, who'd been feeling political temblors for several days, had been meeting with lawyers to explore his options. Among them were Austin Republican Terry Keel and Houston Democrat Ron Wilson, a couple of former representatives and rules mavens. They and others were making the argument that a speaker doesn't have to recognize a motion to vacate at all. It's not in the rulebook of the Texas House and they read another rule — Rule 5, Section 24 — to say that a member can't make a motion unless the speaker recognizes them to do so. That's true even with a privileged motion, like a motion to vacate or a motion to adjourn.
You can't challenge the speaker, in other words, without his permission.
Craddick's parliamentarian, Denise Davis, apparently took issue with that (she's not talking, so we're working with other accounts here). She had talked with Wilson and Keel about their version, but had advised other House members — part of her job — that the speaker had to recognize a motion to vacate.
After Craddick surprised Dunnam and nearly everyone else in the room with his answer, Davis and her deputy, Chris Griesel, handed their resignation letters — which had been prepared in advance — to his chief of staff, Nancy Fisher. Davis and Griesel asked to be reassigned to other jobs within the House, and didn't say anything particularly illuminating in their identically worded resignation letters.
When the parliamentary melee started, Craddick pulled a Richard Nixon move (though Craddick's was a Friday Night Massacre and Nixon's happened on a Saturday), appointing advisors who'd agree with him in place of the advisors who didn't. In this case, that meant accepting the resignations from Davis and Griesel and replacing them with Keel and Wilson. Craddick left the dais for more than two hours. When he returned, he announced that Keel was the new parliamentarian and that Wilson had been hired as his deputy.
Craddick's office issued a statement saying, if you read between the lines, that he got advice elsewhere that he preferred to that offered by the parliamentarians. It's attributed to his press secretary, Alexis DeLee: "In the last few weeks, the Speaker has received a number of informal inquiries on intricate and complicated constitutional issues. Consequently, he has canvassed a wide range of legal opinions, and in some cases has put a higher premium on that counsel. As a result, Denise has resigned and has asked to be transferred. The Speaker will be complying with her wishes."
Once they were in place, he announced his rulings that the chair has the unappealable power to recognize motions — or in this case, not to recognize them. You can't challenge the speaker, in other words, unless the speaker says you can challenge the speaker.
The official version of this — which Craddick entered into the House Journal — says no member of the House can be tossed out of office except by a two-thirds vote or a bribery conviction. And he said the House Rules don't include provisions for removing the speaker during session. And trying to add such a rule now would, he said, amount to an attempt to amend the state constitution.
The outside drumbeats began while the House was still in session. The Republican Party of Texas sent out a flight of emails urging people to "Please call your State Representatives RIGHT NOW and tell them to put principle first by getting back to the business of the House — debating legislation, not dishonoring the people of Texas and our legislative process! The move to vacate the chair at this time will cause anarchy in the House."
The Texas Eagle Forum noted the start of the "coup d'etat" and characterized it like this: "A handful of RINOs, Republicans in Name Only, and about 50 Democrats are trying to wrestle the leadership position away from the House from Speaker Craddick." They also urged calls to members, telling legislators to stick with Craddick.
Several times over the next hours and days, Craddick told various members that he wouldn't recognize them for a privileged motion to vacate the chair and that he would block any appeals of that decision. He repelled the mutiny by saying he has the power to ignore any motion questioning his rulings from the chair. The House quit at about 2 o'clock on Saturday morning.
Saturday's play from the insurgents was to try to get the votes together to block the budget. It's the only bill that has to pass, and the thinking was that Gov. Rick Perry would have to call the Legislature into special session to do repairs. Craddick wouldn't last for a full 30 days, his opponents thought, and they were working to blow up the budget.
A rule from basketball: If you can't play an inside game, you have to develop an outside game. That transfers to legislative politics. If you're thwarted inside the system, you have to go outside. Lawmakers trying to whack Craddick lost their inside game late Friday and early Saturday when Craddick ruled that, in effect, they can't remove him from office without his permission.
If he won't recognize them for a vote on whether he should stay, they see no other way, inside the system, for them to displace him with less than two days remaining in the regular session. A 30-day special session, they figured, would give the mutineers more time to work, trying to build outside public opposition to Craddick while looking for procedural ways to topple him.
The budget could be blocked in either House. Two senators talked seriously about filibusters if they don't get what they want (indigent care money for Galveston's state-owned hospital in one case, and that budget rider for Texas Southern University in the other). With so little time left, a filibuster could've killed the thing.
Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, took issue with missing money for indigent health care. It's complicated, but the simple version is that Galveston's teaching hospital isn't getting $13 million it needs to take care of patients who can't pay for their own health care.
Janek said he's worked on the issue for the entire session and didn't learn, finally, that the money wasn't in the budget until the final week. He's met with officials from the University of Texas System, which operates UT Medical Branch's John Sealy Hospital, and with folks from the Legislative Budget Board, to try to work something out. He didn't get anything into the budget, but got enough assurances to drop his opposition.
He put the budget into the fourth quarter, though. Without voting to suspend their rules, the Senate couldn't vote on the appropriations bill until Sunday evening, easily within the time frame to kill the budget by talking.
Janek wasn't the only senator talking about putting on comfortable shoes and talking the budget to death. Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said the late decision to kill a provision for Texas Southern University had him considering a filibuster. It would have provided $25 million in contingency funding for the troubled school, but was wiped at the request of the House, allegedly a pawn in the speaker race. The money might still be there, but other provisions died with the rider. Ellis, like Janek, backed off. But intentionally or not, they gave the House time to work.
A Non-Surprise Party
What did Craddick's foes do with the time? After a mild debate and a series of closing speeches that lasted more than two hours, the House easily passed a state budget for 2008-09.
The vote was 114-35, with Democrats split 39-30 in favor of the bill and Republicans voting 75-5 in favor of it. (That's no drama at all, and it's not particularly historic; in 2005, the House approved a budget with a 104-40 vote, with the Democrats going 33-29 and the Republicans going 71-11. In 2003, it was 105-41, with 86 Republicans on board and Democrats split 19-41 against it.)
The Senate waited to make sure the House passed a budget before taking it up for debate on Sunday night. A little after midnight, the Senate passed it 25-6, sending it to Gov. Rick Perry, who has about three weeks to peruse it and to use his line-item veto where he wants.
The Legislative Budget Board has a copy of the budget available online, as well as a summary of the conference committee report, if you prefer the Cliff Notes version.
Sunday night's anticlimax capped a weekend of intrigue in the House, with mutinous legislators trying to pry Midland Republican Tom Craddick out of the speaker's chair. Their last big chance was to derail the budget, force a special session of the Legislature and use that extra 30 days to unseat Craddick.
But the reality of voting against the state spending bill — one that would force a special session, to be sure, but a vote that would expose members seeking reelection to all sorts of uncomfortable questions at home — outweighed the desire to throw out the speaker.
At one point, lawmakers had a shot at a vote that would have tested their strength. Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, called a point of order on the bill saying it included general law provisions not allowed in budget bills. Craddick overruled him, and Talton asked for permission to challenge that ruling. Craddick agreed to that, but other members told Talton they weren't willing to make their stand on that issue. He withdrew the motion, and the mutiny never came together after that.
In the House, the budget started with a bump. The early attacks on the bill centered on pork handed out, allegedly, to members who support Craddick. Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, a former appropriations chairman who covets Craddick's job, complained that the new budget is too big and said members ought to vote it down and try again. And Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas, wondered why the state will be spending $1.6 million to do research on the Zebra Chip Disease that affects potatoes when other programs she thinks are more important were left wanting. Others questioned dramatic increases in spending at the University of Texas Permian Basin — general revenue funding for that institution will rise more than 90 percent, they said — and why projects in and around Craddick's Midland district did so well in the appropriations bill.
Closing speeches gobbled up more time as the clock rolled toward final legislative deadlines, but the tension around the budget vote ebbed as time went on. When it was over, Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, got his bill and with about the same margin that budgets have received in recent sessions.
One Last Bit of Drama
Some hours after the budget passed and dinner had been eaten and some drinks had been drunk, a third of the members of the House walked out to protest an ignored motion to adjourn. In response, the House adjourned.
Rep. Pat Haggerty, D-El Paso, turned a personal privilege speech into a roll call vote on House Speaker Tom Craddick. When he was cut off from calling members names one by one to ask where they stand on Craddick's future, he told members (at the suggestion of Beaumont Democrat Joe Deshotel, who had been a Craddick supporter) to take the keys to their voting machines and walk. Enough of them did so to stop business in its tracks. That didn't kill any bills, but it put a bunch of legislation in temporary jeopardy.
The list of things left on the gurney included a major water bill, the omnibus parks bill, the revived electric regulation bill (that later failed), the "safety net" bill to keep agencies from expiring because their sunset bills weren't considered, legislation which would require steroid testing of high school athletes; the revived homeland security bill, and the air quality bill. (After the drama, all of those bills won consideration, if not passage, on the last day of business.)
This round started with a motion to adjourn by Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown. In the House's rules, a motion to adjourn is the highest-ranking of all the privileged motions. Turner refused to recognize it, prompting a back and forth between him and Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco.
Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, made a personal privilege speech asking Craddick to reconsider his decision that he doesn't have to recognized members for privileged motions — like a motion to vacate the chair. He called it undemocratic and said the speaker should be accountable to the voters — lawmakers — who elected him.
Haggerty followed. Saying, "it's time to find out where we stand on this," he called off the names of members one by one and asked whether they wanted Craddick to remain in the chair.
Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, was in the chair at the time (though Craddick sat nearby on the dais) and interrupted Haggerty a couple of times before successfully getting him to stop calling the roll. Haggerty had made it to members whose last names begin with the letter D when Turner broke in for the last time.
"I would ask that you speak for yourself... respect the members for choosing to speak or not to speak," Turner said, as members who didn't want to vote scrambled into the hall behind the House Chamber. With that, Haggerty said members should take their keys and leave, and so they did. Turner called up a conference committee report and the record vote on that came up 94-0.
It takes 100 votes to make a quorum in the 150-member House, and Turner — rather than putting a call on the House and forcing everyone to come back — shut things down at that point. "The record vote shows the absence of a quorum. Therefore we will stand adjourned until tomorrow at two," he said.
Craddick's press secretary, Alexis DeLee, issued a statement: "Once again, some members chose to divert the House away from important matters and instead tried to drag the members into a Speaker's race while we are in session. Speaker Craddick made a promise to the members of the House that he would make sure their bills would be heard so their constituents concerns would be met. This evening a number of bills were put into jeopardy -- bills that would protect our water, fund our parks and historical sites, lower electric rates, enhance air quality, and require steroid testing in our public schools. It is his intention to take up and consider these and other pieces of legislation before the session ends tomorrow at midnight."
They had about 32 bills pending, and for a while, everyone was talking about 1997, when then-Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, killed 52 bills with a point of order in what became known as the Memorial Day Massacre.
By midnight Monday when the House quit "Sine Die," all those bills had come to a vote.
Brendel's List of Outcomes
The Legislature is gone and we cut Patrick Brendel loose to recap what they did for the last 20 weeks. This is in no way a full recounting of the session, which saw 953 House bills and 525 Senate bills win passage. But there's plenty here to talk about, ranked by their condition as we put this issue to bed:
PASSED, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
• Human Papillomavirus: House Bill 1098 by Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, reversed Gov. Rick Perry's executive order and prohibits mandatory immunization of Texas public schoolchildren against HPV. It contains specific text that "This subsection preempts any contrary executive order issued by the governor"... HB 1379 by Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, requires state health officials to disseminate information on HPV and the vaccine to the general public and to schools.
• Education: HB 566 by Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, R-Mauriceville, extends truancy laws to students over the age of 18... HB 2176 by Deshotel adds parenting and parenting awareness classes to the high school curriculum.
• Hollywood: HB 374 by Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, gives permission to filmmakers to shoot on state property.
• Katrina Fallout: SB 112 by Carona prohibits law enforcement from seizing guns and ammo during disasters.
• Guns: HB 991 by Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, makes information on concealed handgun permit holders "nonpublic."
PASSED, EFFECTIVE IN SEPTEMBER
• Guns: SB 378 by Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, the "castle doctrine bill," removes the obligation to retreat when killing an intruder in self-defense.
• Potpourri: SB 369 by Williams clarifies what constitutes an "obscured" license plate... SB 1287 by Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, mandates posting in bars of warning signs about human trafficking... SB 1315 by Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, institutes a "Silver Alert" for missing seniors, much like Amber Alerts for missing kids.
SENT TO THE GOVERNOR
• Trans Texas Corridor/Toll Roads: Senate Bill 792 by Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, puts a two-year moratorium on most Comprehensive Development Agreements, where the state contracts with the private sector to build roads, sometimes in exchange for toll receipts. Most CDAs in metro areas and populous counties on the Texas-Mexico border are exempt from the moratorium... SB 718 by Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, requires TxDOT to consider existing highways first when selecting routes for the Trans-Texas Corridor, and to explain their reasons in writing.
• Water: HBs 3 and 4 by Robert Puente, D-San Antonio, and SB 3 by Kip Averitt, R-Waco, comprise a comprehensive water policy. The bills are designed to protect environmental flows (from aquifers to rivers to bays) and encourage water conservation. The conference committee on SB 3 made a gambit by striking language naming 19 sites where reservoirs may or may not be built. They replaced it with a paragraph stating that unique reservoir sites are determined by the state water plan (which determined the 19 sites in the first place). The omnibus water legislation had several riders, the most noticeable hitchhiker being Edwards Aquifer amendments raising the pumping cap and establishing a consortium among aquifer pumpers, metro dwellers, people downstream and environmentalists.
• Air: SB 12 by Averitt aims to reduce engine emissions by getting old cars off the road and by retrofitting diesel engines. It encourages the use of high efficiency appliances and sets efficiency standards for public schools and agencies.
• Texas Youth Commission: A handful of bills by Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and others, overhaul the troubled agency. TYC has new top brass, and investigations into the agency are ongoing. Kids won't go to TYC for misdemeanor offenses anymore... HB 1111 by Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, was signed in the Senate and keeps TYC inmates from participating in medical or psychiatric studies.
• Automated Traffic Cameras: HB 922 by Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, bars cities from issuing speeding tickets based upon a camera's testimony... HB 1052 by Bill Callegari, R-Katy, requires cities to post warnings about the traffic cameras at each intersection with a camera... SB 1119 by John Carona, R-Dallas, sets up a study of traffic cameras and attempts to make sure the cameras aren't simply a moneymaking scheme.
• Religion: HB 167 by Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, says Bibles can't be seized for debts (unless your Bible's a rental)... HB 1034 by Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, adds "Under God" to the Texas pledge.
• Schools: HB 323 by Hamilton requires seat belts in school buses... HB 1287 by Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, allows elective Bible courses in public high schools... HB 1418 by Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, prevents Texas State University regents from changing the name of Sam Houston State University... HB 3564 by Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, transfers Angelo State University to Texas Tech University... HB 3900 by Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, brings back the Texas Tomorrow Fund in a new form... SB 8 by Kyle Janek, R-Houston, institutes random steroid testing for high school athletes.
• Crime & Punishment: HB 8, also called Jessica's Law, by Riddle, toughens punishments for child molesters and prescribes capital punishment for serious repeat offenders... HB 530 by Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, expands drug courts to counties with more than 250,000 people... HB 586 Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, D-Alice, says you can't have a ticket dismissed for speeding if you were going over 95 mph... HB 1355 by Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, punishes owners of dogs who attack people... HB 1586 by Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, makes it a crime to aim a laser pointer at an airplane... HB 1766 by Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, makes theft of wire a state jail felony... SB453 by Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, mandates HIV testing of state prison inmates.
• Hollywood: HB 1634 by Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, offers financial incentives to encourage film production in Texas.
• Health: HB 109 by Turner eases eligibility requirements for the Children's Health Insurance Program in an attempt to re-add kids dropped from CHIPS in the past 5 years... HB 1082 by Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, creates a pilot program for the reporting and tracking of MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph) infections... HB 1297 by Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple, creates a wellness program for state employees... SB 760 okays telemedicine for Medicaid reimbursement... SB 994 by Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, allows a physician to prescribe controlled substances via fax or email.
• Katrina Fallout: SB 1658 by Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, extends to 30 days the time that pharmacists can refill unsigned prescriptions during disasters (it's currently three days).
• Public Information: SB 129 by Royce West, D-Dallas, requires lawmakers to report the actual value of gifts received... SB 255 by Carona requires TxDOT to post agency information on the Internet.
• Potpourri: HB 581 by Deshotel allows 16-year-olds to sell newspapers... HB 1248 by Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, allows mixed drinks to be sold on cruise ships... SB 791 by Williams declares that oysters are "an inherently unsafe product for personal consumption."
• Highways Named: The segment of I-20 from Arlington to Louisiana is now the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, pending a veto... A stretch of U.S. 287 in Tarrant County will become the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Freeway, on Sept. 1... SH 130 in Williamson, Travis, Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties is now called the Pickle Parkway, in honor of former U.S. Rep. J. J. "Jake" Pickle.
SENT TO THE POLLS
• Cancer Research: House Joint Resolution 90 and HB 14 by Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, would authorize $3 billion in bonds for cancer research.
• Record Votes: HJR 19 by Dan Branch, R-Dallas, would require the Legislature to keep track of their final votes for the public's eyes.
• Top 10 Percent: SB 101 by Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, would have capped automatic admissions to Texas colleges, letting them fill 40 percent of their openings with students who didn't finish in the top 10 percent in their high school class.
• Voter Identification: HB 218 by Betty Brown, R-Terrell, would have required voters to present photo identification at the polls.
• Gambling: Bills to legalize casino gambling and slot machines at racetracks all failed... Gov. Perry's proposal to sell or lease the Texas Lottery died. The estimated $14 billion in proceeds would have gone toward a cancer education, prevention and health insurance program.
• Journalist Shield Law: Several bills would have provided protections for journalists who do not wish to reveal their sources in court.
• Health: Funding for stem-cell research.
• Potpourri: Electronic fingerprint identification systems for of age verification or monetary transactions.
— by Patrick Brendel
San Antonio trial lawyer Mikal Watts is readying exploratory papers for the U.S. Senate race in 2008. Watts, a Democrat, has been maneuvering to get other Democrats out of the way so he can spend his time challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a San Antonio Republican.
• U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, won't run for the U.S. Senate, choosing instead to seek reelection to his CD-22 seat. He'll almost certainly get an opponent in that heavily Republican district (this is the one that used to belong to Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land), but it won't be Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace. Wallace said in a statement that he'll devote his time to his new company, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners. He had announced earlier that he wouldn't seek a fourth term as mayor.
• The number of bills filed in this legislative session was up, as was the number passed, as was the number not passed. Telicon, the outfit we use to track legislation and other information, put out an unofficial recap. By their count, 4,140 House bills were filed, up 15 percent from two years ago. Senate filings, at 2,058, were up 9 percent. If you're a "less government" person or a "not that kind of government" person, you'll like this stat: 77 percent of House bills and 75 percent of Senate bills didn't make it, at least in bill form. It was even worse for constitutional amendments: The House killed 91 percent of the changes proposed; the Senate killed 90 percent.
• Capitol Crowd, a networking site for government and political folk, is polling folks to see who their favorites and least favorites are among the Pink Building's denizens: Staffers, lobbyists, lawmakers, and the like. They're also asking people to make guesses at who'll be on Texas Monthly's 10 Best and 10 Worst lists. We'll report the results when they're in.
Every time a legislative session ends, Mark Dallas Loeffler pulls out his movie posters, grabs some themes from the session, steals some photographs, and goes to work. You can see the entire set (and the posters for five previous session) at his website.
Political People and Their Moves
Michael Behrens, the executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, will resign at the end of August. He's been the top guy at that agency for six years and has worked there for almost four decades.
Jay Kimbrough, who was dispatched to investigate the Texas Youth Commission during the legislative session, will become deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. He's currently the system's deputy general counsel.
James Bernsen, who's been flakking for the House's Republican Caucus, is going off to a real war. The Naval Reservist will be deployed to Baghdad this summer and says he'll be in training for three months and then in Iraq for 12 months. He'll blog from there, if the brass allows it.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice William Wayne Kilgarlin made "a major planned gift commitment" to endow conservation and preservation teaching at the University of Texas School of Information. He'd already made a $1 million donation to start the William and Margaret Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record.
Bob Kahn will be the new CEO at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), replacing Sam Jones, who's retiring. Kahn is the deputy general manager at Austin Energy and is a former ERCOT board member.
Appointments: Gov. Rick Perry reappointed Thomas Leeper of Huntsville and Jo Van Hovel of Temple to the board of the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation. Leeper is an attorney; Van Hovel is retired from the real estate business.
The governor named two new members to the Texas Medical Board and reappointed four members. Dr. Michael Arambula of San Antonio, Patricia Blackwell of Midland, Dr. Margaret McNeese of Houston, and Dr. Charles Oswalt III of Waco will get new terms. The new folks are Dr. Melinda McMichael, who practices at university health services at UT Austin; and Timothy Webb, a Houston attorney.
Kenneth Perkins, a Conroe chiropractor, is Perry's choice to head the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
Quotes of the Week
House Speaker Tom Craddick, denying Rep. Fred Hill's motion to vacate the chair, and his appeal of that ruling: "The Speaker of the House of Representatives has absolute discretion whether or not to recognize any member on any matter. There is no appeal to that."
Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, in The Dallas Morning News, on Craddick: "Obviously, he's damaged goods after this deal, in terms of leading a bipartisan Legislature."
Former House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, now a challenger to the speaker: "The budget has grown out of control. It's full of wasteful and unnecessary spending, much of it placed in the budget in the last two weeks in an effort to ensure support of Tom Craddick."
Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, during the Friday night rebellion against House Speaker Tom Craddick: "This is anarchy. This is America. This is not the way we do it."
Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, talking to the San Antonio Express-News after reviving a piece of legislation that had died a few hours earlier: "I think people were crazed out of their minds. They were not thinking about legislation. They were going after the speaker."
Rep. Jim McReynolds, D-Lufkin, during the last debate on a major water bill: "East Texans are not going to pay Houston a nickel for a drink of their own water."
Rep. Anna Mowery, R-Fort Worth, telling the House she won't seek a tenth full term: "Y'all have been a big barrel of fun the whole damn time."
Texas Weekly: Volume 23, Issue 48, 4 June 2007. Ross Ramsey, Editor. Copyright 2007 by Printing Production Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. One-year online subscription: $250. For information about your subscription, call (512) 302-5703 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For news, email email@example.com, or call (512) 288-6598.
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