The Austin Chronicle


By the News Staff, May 8, 2009, News

• About damned time: The Senate voted to change the obsolete name of the Texas Railroad Commission – which has nothing to do with railroads – to the more accurate Texas Energy Commission. Despite one senator's worry that San Antonio/Austin Sen. Jeff Wentworth's bill would make too many TECs (i.e., the Texas Ethics Commission), the moniker change now goes to the House.

Crunch time gets close: With several major deadlines looming, the House came in for five hours on Saturday – the first such weekend meeting of the session. The Senate, which seems to be feeling no rush, took the weekend off but then came in at 7am Tuesday. As the session deadline closes, everyone's pointing fingers about the lack of action. House members are wondering why the Senate isn't dealing with their bills; the Senate complains it's been moving bills, but the House just isn't sending enough over.

• No clucking around: House Bill 1320, which makes cockfighting a specific offense on a par with dogfighting, passed the House 109-30. The lone pro-cockfighting campaigner with a rooster outside the Capitol seemed unimpressed.

• Has no one seen Sons of Anarchy? The House voted out HB 1569, which prevents hotel and motel owners from discriminating against bikers or anyone wearing a bike club emblem.

• While the Senate isn't happy with a certain State Board of Education chair who doesn't believe in evolution (see "SBOE"), it's okay with a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality member who's not sold on global warming. After a fractious debate, the Senate confirmed Bryan Shaw's nomination to the commission on a vote of 22-7.

• The lion boogies down with the lamb: The House's most prominent liberal, Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was seen dancing with archconservative Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, when the Bad Precedents (featuring a rotating lineup of lawmaking musicians including Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, and Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville) played Shakespeare's Pub on April 30 as a fundraiser for Austin's SafePlace.

• Seems losing an election isn't the end: Juan Garcia, formerly the Democratic rep for Corpus Christi, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become assistant secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs).

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