And they're back! Texas lawmakers returned to Austin on Tuesday to launch the 82nd Texas Legislature. In the House, they re-elected Republican HouseSpeaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, without the drama that has saddled them for months. In the staid Senate, they named Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, president pro tempore. Both chambers heard from Gov. Rick Perry, who announced his emergency legislative items: putting tougher limits on eminent domain and ending "sanctuary" cities in Texas. Our reporters were there and produced this live play-by-play. Also, because of a generous grant from the Open Society Institute, and thanks to the hard work of our friends at the court reporting firm Stratos Legal, we'll be providing daily transcripts of what transpires on the floor of both the House and Senate. We'll be posting the transcripts a few hours behind the real-time video; check here and here for opening day transcripts.
Nearly 30 people gathered in the 30-degree weather to listen to and pray with members of Texas Impact, a statewide interfaith advocacy group.
Imam Islam Mossad of the North Austin Muslim Community Center recited the Islamic call to prayer to start the group's interfaith worship service. Mossad asked legislators to act as responsible shepherds of the people of Texas.
“We want to let our legislators know that the faith communities of Texas are supporting them and the very difficult decisions they are going to have to be making,” said Reverend T. Randall Smith of the United Methodist Church and member of the Executive Committee of Texas Impact.
Some fortunate watchers, like Smith, were invited to watch in the comfort of legislators' offices. "I'm about ready for a Diet Coke and a chair," Smith said as he headed off to watch the events unfolding in the House.
The legislation was federal and died in the U.S. Senate, but that didn’t stop a handful of Texas students from gathering at the Capitol’s west steps to denounce proposed legislation filed by several Republicans, including HB 22. The legislation was one of several immigration bills filed in November by Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, and would require public school districts to report the residency status of their students.
“We will remember who supports us and who is against us,” said Adrian Reyna, a “dreamer” and sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin brought to the U.S. in 2003 when he was 11 years old. “We have set ourselves on the task to inform the public of what these laws mean.”
First, he wants tougher domain laws. He's been working with Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, and Rep. Charlie Geren, R-River Oaks, on that issue.
Second, he says, "We must abolish sanctuary cities in Texas." This line that gets him some applause and even a holler from the crowd.
Perry says: "These are just a few of the issues we'll address in the next 140 days, but they merit our closest attention as they relate to the safety and security of our citizens. But, most of all, they relate to our liberty."
“In the 21st Century we are met with these racist laws,” said Jaime Martinez, the founder and chairman of César Chávez Legacy and Education Foundation in San Antonio. Martinez said he testified in support of the legislation that honored Chavez in 1999. “We are not going to go back to the 1960s.”
She announced this upon request from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who needed to kill time after Gov. Rick Perry indicated his intention to stay in the chamber for a while shaking hands.
"It hasn't been this busy in a while," said a trooper manning the X-ray machine. "Today is the day."
The Capitol rotunda was abuzz with friends, family and politicos who came to see legislators
get sworn in and to watch the much-anticipated House Speaker vote.
"We're watching who's voting," said one visitor wearing an "Oust Strauss" T-shirt. "Their number is up."
- Born in September in 1950.
- Raised in Abilene.
- Married to Beverly for almost 38 years.
- He "towers over everybody." He is very tall.
- Served in the U.S. Navy.
- He is a nuclear propulsion engineer — so, more or less, a rocket scientist.
- When now-Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, was a House member, Ogden was his go-to guy in the Senate.
- Mostly, he works on the budget, which Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville says is "essentially a moral document."
- Lucio promised Ogden's wife that he would see to it that Ogden eats plenty of Mexican food during session and is able to speak Spanish by its end.
- Ogden requested that the number of speeches seconding his nomination — which usually runs quite high — be limited. There were only three.
The Tea Party demanded a Washington-style, behind the scenes vote by the House Republican Caucus. When that failed, and their anointed candidate could not peel away any House Democrats, they relented. We look forward to working with Speaker Straus on a session highlighted by honesty and accountability."
(Photo from Ross Ramsey) The vote board in the Texas House showing who supported Speaker Joe Straus R-San Antonio. Green lights indicate votes for Straus. Voting against were Van Taylor, Phil King, Dan Flynn, Jim Landtroop, Jodie Laubenberg, David Simpson, Tan Parker, Ken Paxton, James White, Bill Zedler, Charles Perry, Leo Berman, Cindy Burkett, Wayne Christian and Erwin Cain.
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