'Hey, Perry, Veto This!'
With deadline looming, forces mobilize to push governor's red pen
By Richard Whittaker,
8:26AM, Fri. Jun. 19, 2009
There could be some grim surprises for some legislators come Father's Day: That's the deadline for Gov. Rick Perry to put a big, thick line through the legislation he doesn't like. That said, it could come even sooner: Last session, he ruined the weekend for community colleges by slashing their funding on the Friday.
So far, two bills seem to be drawing the biggest veto controversy, with forces marshaling on both sides to encourage/discourage Perry's hand on the legislation.
First up is House Bill 4294, which gives school districts the option to buy electronic versions of learning materials, instead of hard copy text books. In passage, it had pretty broad support. Only the Textbook Coordinators' Association of Texas opposed it, on the basis that the state still doesn't have a coherent and unified approach to integrating technology into the classroom.
But now conservatives on the State Board of Education like Terri Leo are complaining that it undermines their power over textbook selection. However, bill supporters argue this won't change those powers one jot. What it does is give school districts a little more pull in their complicated and long-running dance with textbook publishers over some more cut-throat practices. So with the Texas Association of Business calling for Perry to sign, this is now fiscal conservatives versus the religious right.
Possibly more controversial for Perry may be Senate Bill 1440.
This is a complicated bit of law about what Child Protective Services needs to do to get an order to aid an investigation in a suspected child abuse case. The controversial section was originally SB 1064, which died in the chub after passing through the Senate and the House Human Services Committee. However, it was salvaged post-chub by Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, as an amendment.
This one is getting mean. On one side are a host of conservative groups like the Eagle Forum of Texas and the Free Market Foundation, plus the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (who go to great lengths to argue this isn't a conservative issue): Their argument is that this basically allows CPS to grab kids, ask questions later, and violates the "unreasonable search and seizure" terms of the Fourth Amendment.
On the other side are an equally hefty bunch of acronym-worthy bodies, including the Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, Texans Care for Children, and the Texas Pediatric Society. They argue that the bill is built on legal oversight, does not expand CPS powers, and simply clarifies and expedites existing procedures (as Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director Scott McCown pointed out in a Star-Telegram editorial, currently CPS "cannot ask for an order to aid an investigation on a Sunday").
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State Board of Education, Center for Public Policy Priorities, 81st Legislature, Courts, HB 4294, SB 1440, Eagle Forum of Texas, Free Market Foundation, National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, Texans Care for Children, Texas Pediatric Society, eBooks