The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

Beyond City Limits

Edited By Mike Clark-Madison, February 14, 2003, News

Gov. Rick Perry delivered his State of the State address to the Legislature Tuesday, and there were no surprises. Perry described the state of the state as "strong" but said he is concerned by "the state of the government" -- because it has not set clear spending priorities. His are "education, security, and fiscal responsibility." Perry said government should follow the example of Texas families in hard times, and that may mean "no cable TV, more meals at home, or bringing lunch to work." The governor insisted the budget can be balanced without raising taxes, although he did propose closing the "Delaware loophole" for corporate partnerships and requiring businesses to fully render their property to taxing districts (currently there is no penalty for failing to do so). He also endorsed limits on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and proposed to "allow parents of children stuck in substandard schools to choose the best school for their child ... public, private, or religious," although he coyly refrained from mentioning the word "vouchers." -- M.K.

On Feb. 10 state Rep. Terry Keel, R-Austin, filed a bill that would prohibit the governor from giving state grant money to multijurisdictional drug task-force operations like the now-defunct Capital Area Narcotics Task Force. These operations have come under increasing fire for their lack of training and supervision -- among other allegations. In Central Texas alone, the CANTF was at the center of two ill-planned warrant raids that ended in killings, along with an embarrassing raid in Spicewood where task-force members mistook a stand of ragweed for marijuana. Similar snafus are common throughout the state; the Panhandle-area task force and one of its rogue freelance cops brought you the controversial 1999 drug sting in Tulia that saw 10% of the town's black population thrown behind bars. -- J.S.

Earlier this week, Texans for Peace publicly invited Texans in the U.S. Congress on a five-day trip to Iraq to visit with doctors, business owners, and elected officials and gain firsthand knowledge of the next country the U.S. government intends to destroy. Several of Texas' 32 House members have already responded to the offer, says TFP founder Charlie Jackson, though he wouldn't say who seems most likely to accept. Among reps who have expressed interest are those who have already shown opposition to the war, he said. Today (Thursday) Jackson is in Washington to visit delegation members and discuss the proposed trip, among other things. -- Lauri Apple

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