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The Brief: April 26, 2011

A seemingly benign piece of legislation, up for debate in the House today, has exposed an unlikely rift among lawmakers.

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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.

Culled:

  • 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

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