Capitol Cocktail Hour
The Texas legislative insider on texting ban (again!) and golf carts on the highway
There is no doubt it has been a tough week. But while our hearts are broken and spread from Boston to West, Texas, let us allow our minds to wander for a minute or two back toward the Capitol, where we’ve just passed the first 100 days of the session. And, yes, things are still ridiculous.
Gov. Perry: Texting and driving? Whatever!
Gov. Rick Perry has once again threatened to veto a bill that would make texting while driving a statewide ban, claiming it’s “government micromanagement.”
You know when I’m not okay with government micromanagement? When it comes to things like transvaginal ultrasounds. You know when I am okay with government micromanagement? When the person driving next to me is texting her BFF about the latest Taylor Swift gossip while hurtling down the freeway.
Bein’ a little gay in Texas
An anti-sodomy law that was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court over a decade ago may finally be stripped from the books. On April 17, the Senate Criminal Justice committee voted to repeal the law and sent it to the rest of the Senate for a vote.
The law, which makes homosexual conduct illegal, has been largely unenforced because, you know, it was declared unconstitutional. However it has caused confusion as recently as 2009 when two men in El Paso were arrested for kissing.
Is this what we spend our time and resources defending against? Are they going to start arresting fourth graders who kiss each other on dares? Gah!
Driving golf carts on the highway
Remember when you were a kid and you would go with your dad to the driving range only because you would get a Milky Way and maybe drive the golf cart? Well this bill is just as exciting, albeit about thousand times more dangerous.
A bill allowing golf carts on the highway passed the House this week. But, before you go trading in your fixed gear for the thrill of the open road, it comes with a bunch of provisions. First, you have to live in a county that borders the Red River or the Guadalupe, or contains a barrier island to the Gulf of Mexico. Second, the highway cannot have a speed limit greater than 35 mph.
An update on the Rainy Day Fund
A few weeks ago we discussed how the Senate had approved a plan to use some $6 billion (with a B!) of the Rainy Day Fund to pay for water infrastructure across the state. We made some puns about water: “The money flowed through!” “Lawmakers are making it rain!” “Waves of applause!” Fun was had by all.
Gov. Perry is urging lawmakers to cut a bit of that $6 billion so that the Rainy Day Fund has a reserve of at least $7 billion in the case of a natural disaster. He's also noting that it will help keep the state receiving favorable bond ratings from Wall Street.
Redistricting maps to be made permanent
In 2011, the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the maps that defined where people voted. You may recall that, because Texas is one of the states that must get all its redistricting maps approved by the U.S. Justice Department per the Voting Rights Act.
Well they did, and the Justice Department was all, “These new maps are hella racist.” Then Attorney General Greg Abbott got mad, and everyone else got mad, and Obama won anyway, and blah blah blah.
Well, a committee voted on April 18 to decide whether or not to make those interim maps permanent. Perhaps the last thing you want to do to prove to federal government that you’re not racist is defy the federal government while doing something racist.
Ridiculousness aside, this is one of those weeks where we need to hug our loved ones a little closer, smile to strangers and remember that no matter where we were born, we’re all Texans.