Playlist: A Week in the Lege
A week in the life of reporters covering the state legislature is the theme for our playlist of the week's news, so we start off with “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies.
It was a big week in the Texas Legislature. The Senate passed its budget smoothly and harmoniously with just one nay vote — in sharp contrast to the at-times contentious 18-hour debate the House went through the week before. For their part, lawmakers in the House took up two hot-button issues this week: a bill ceding control of fracking regulations to the state and licensed open carry. Both passed.
But around those headlines, the Legislature was in classic past-the-midpoint form as things inevitably speed up approaching adjournment sine die, so our playlist of the week’s news starts off with “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies.
The easiest way to enjoy the playlist is to download Spotify, a free program. But even without it, you can still follow along. Here are the other selections for the week:
On Monday, Tribune columnist and executive Editor Ross Ramsey noted the return of a veteran lawmaker — and former House budget writer — to the Capitol, as lobbyist for an unexpected group. Here’s “The Stripper” played by David Rose and his Orchestra.
Former #txlege budget writer — whose wife was killed by drunk driver leaving strip club — is now repping strip clubs. http://t.co/If4HVG0hPL— Emily Ramshaw (@eramshaw) April 14, 2015
Tuesday was budget day for the state Senate. While some senators had reservations, the appropriations package passed with relative ease after just a couple of hours of debate. Before adjourning for the day, fellow lawmakers heaped praise on Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. We thought of “Easy Does It,” offered here by saxophonist Sonny Stitt.
The Tribune covers the state Legislature gavel-to-gavel, so you’ll always find at least one Trib reporter in both chambers, and of course at myriad committee hearings, where many bills live or (more often) die — and where remarkable testimony from citizens is often heard.
On Wednesday, reporter Eva Hershaw had the duty on the House side, and along the way that day offered a glimpse into the workings of the Legislature through a series of tweets. One young man, years away from being able to being able to vote himself, drafted legislation, convinced a lawmaker to take it up, and got it all the way to a committee, where it got some rough treatment before being left pending.
The education of Jacob Hale: Teen tries to change Confederate Heroes Day http://t.co/7d4tv6O1QR @beets4eva #txlege pic.twitter.com/5BdG4pwW2G— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) April 15, 2015
Successful or not, it was a remarkable demonstration of the democratic process, if a little exhausting for the kid, who said,
Teen leads charge to change Confederate Heroes Day | @beets4eva: http://t.co/7d4tv75CIp #txlege pic.twitter.com/znAXAgdnuw— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) April 15, 2015
We remembered Geoffrey Oryema’s “Hard Labour.”
Hershaw was keeping an eye on all sorts of hearings that day.
house comt on culture, tourism, rec talks #HB1979, related to #bigmouthbass and other bag limits for fishing tournaments in Texas. #txlege— Eva Hershaw (@beets4eva) April 14, 2015
We know it’s not the kind of bass they were discussing, but we thought of Stanley Clarke’s “If This Bass Could Only Talk.” The percussive accompaniment comes from tap dancer Gregory Hines.
Bees, so crucial to the ecosystem, were taken up in a hearing that day:
.@SenCreighton speaks for the bees. laying out bill that would exempt small honey producers from regulation. #txlege #SB1766 #bzzz— Eva Hershaw (@beets4eva) April 13, 2015
The bee queen herself was there to testify.
the central texas honey queen is in the house, testifying on #SB1766. really. #txlege— Eva Hershaw (@beets4eva) April 13, 2015
We couldn’t wait to share Taj Mahal’s “Queen Bee.”
To describe both lawmakers and the citizens who appear before them as “colorful” is an understatement — reporters can count on memorable sights and quotes being in steady supply in the Capitol.
.@loiskolkhorst and Blair Fitzsimons talk when they went horseback riding and thought they'd have to stab hogs with a knife. #txlege— Eva Hershaw (@beets4eva) April 13, 2015
Here’s “Hogs on the Highway” from Austin’s own Bad Livers.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Man dressed as Mexican granadero calls for monument to Mexican soldiers who fought at #Alamo. #txlege pic.twitter.com/2nigwb9D4G— Eva Hershaw (@beets4eva) April 15, 2015
This is “Colorful” by The Verve Pipe.
Singer and composer John Legend was in Austin this week — not for a concert, but to talk criminal justice reform. Alexa Ura sat down for an interview with the Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning musician to talk about mass incarceration rates and his just-launched Free America campaign.
That time I interviewed @johnlegend about Texas' incarceration rates and criminal justice reform: http://t.co/3NVinVyPpM— Alexa Ura (@alexazura) April 15, 2015
Here’s Legend, backed up by The Roots, singing, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.”
Ryan McCrimmon has been quietly capturing the headline-writing crown in the Tribune newsroom, this time on a story about the grim practice of chopping off shark fins, a treasured delicacy in some parts of the world, but tossing the still-living shark back into the water to die. Listen to Missy Higgins' "Shark Fin Blues."
Shark fin ban Back on the House menu | @RyanMcCrimmon reports: http://t.co/ybX8RdRu3e #txlege pic.twitter.com/IGUoYGj5qf— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) April 15, 2015
The Senate was out Friday, but the House was in session with two major pieces of legislation to consider: the so-called “Denton fracking bill,” designed to override municipal regulation of oil and gas activities and leave such matters to the state.
Texas House Approves "Denton Fracking Bill" - updated with interview with lone GOP dissenter http://t.co/lKy0p6nQAb #TXlege #TXenergy— Jim Malewitz (@Jmalewitz) April 17, 2015
The question of state vs. local control has been a continuing theme throughout this session. Here’s Pussy Riot revving it up on “State Control.”
Licensed open carry was also brought to first vote on Friday.
Texas House passes #opencarry w 96 to 35 vote. #txlege pic.twitter.com/ioeXh67r3H— Morgan Smith (@MorganSmith) April 17, 2015
With over half of House members signed on as co-sponsors, there wasn’t much suspense about whether the bill would pass — it did, easily, as it likely will on second reading, which could happen as soon as Monday. Here’s “Handguns,” by Greensky Bluegrass.
If there was any suspense at, it was around whether Democrats would be able to derail passage on procedural questions, as they had with the open carry bill earlier in the week. As Ross Ramsey explained, the devil’s in the details when it comes to House and Senate rules, and using those points of order, or POO, as lege aficionados know them, is a potent weapon for slowing or even stopping legislation, so we close this week’s playlist with a pair of tunes: “Procedural,” from Trent Reznor’s soundtrack for the film Gone Girl, and Greezy Wheels’ “The Devil’s In the Details.” Enjoy!
Photo says it all MT @bobphoto: @TexasHouse mbrs react to @TMFtx Point of Order #txlege @TexasTribune pic.twitter.com/fl9EjXVb5e— Emily Ramshaw (@eramshaw) April 17, 2015
Information about the authors
Quality journalism doesn't come free
Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue across the country are declining, The Texas Tribune remains committed to sustaining our mission: creating a more engaged and informed Texas with every story we cover, every event we convene and every newsletter we send. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on members to help keep our stories free and our events open to the public. Do you value our journalism? Show us with your support.Yes, I'll donate today