The Big Conversation:
A seemingly benign piece of legislation, up for debate in the House today, has exposed an unlikely rift among lawmakers.
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson's so-called puppy mill bill, which would impose new regulations on dog and cat breeding operations, last week sparked a fight among House members after Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, used parliamentary tactics to knock the bill — as well as two others — off a fast-track vote.
As the Tribune's Becca Aaronson reported last week, Simpson broke no official House rules, but the freshman lawmaker peeved some colleagues — and incited some threats of political retaliation — with his breach of established decorum.
"If he doesn’t want to have a relationship with anybody around, or if he thinks not going up and talking to authors before he knocks a bill off is the right way to go, that’s his business, not mine," said Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, who defended Thompson's bill.
Simpson has argued that the legislation — which would require breeders to pay fees and follow strict rules on the animals' living conditions and health care — would create unnecessary bureaucracy and hurt responsible breeders. "We should leave them alone if they haven't broken the law," he tells the Austin American-Statesman.
Thompson, D-Houston, has fought to expose mistreatment of animals at such operations and noted that a report from the Legislative Budget Board said the bill would cost the state nothing.
This isn't the first time the bill has stirred controversy, either: Earlier this month, the Trib's Brandi Grissom reported on claims from the bill's opponents that an attorney for the state’s regulating agency had infiltrated their operations.
- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is set to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee today. Paul, who'd also been toying with a U.S. Senate run, said Monday night on Fox News that he'd make the announcement in Iowa (and later followed that up with an appearance on The Colbert Report).
- A little perspective on what the swing of the budget ax may bring: Nearly 60 percent of state workers eligible for retirement will leave the workforce if lawmakers approved propose pay cuts and other reductions for state employees, according to a new survey conducted by the Texas Public Employees Association.
- Texas City's BP refinery and a nearby plant lost power late Monday night, causing shut-downs and putting residents on alert. No emissions were reported, but a small fire broke out at the refinery after the outage.
"My life is a series of Forrest Gump appearances. No telling what would have happened if the election had gone differently." — Tom Schieffer, who made a play for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last year, on his newly announced gig as a trustee to oversee the financially troubled Los Angeles Dodgers
- Fired bus driver gets $21,000 settlement after refusing ride to Planned Parenthood, Austin American-Statesman
- Rand and Ron Paul: The libertarian Kennedys, Politico
- What $7.8 Billion Less Means for Your School District, The Texas Tribune