Lege Lines: Elsewhere Under the Dome
The 85th Lege rolls on
Warren Buffett turned up last week to strong-arm lawmakers to allow his automotive dealerships to sell cars one of his other companies manufactures. Under current law, such direct sales are illegal, but SB 2279, nicknamed the Buffett Bill, would create an exemption just for the Omaha billionaire… Joe Basel, founder of the American Phoenix Foundation group, which tried to get secret film of Texas lawmakers last session, is headed to prison. Judge Karin Crump told Basel last week that he must report to jail every weekend for failure to hand over the shady organization's financial reports. Basel was also the subject of complaints to the Texas Ethics Commission last year as president of the Austin4All PAC that attempted a recall of CM Ann Kitchen… The Travis County District Attorney's Office is investigating who sent seemingly forged letters to lawmakers from people claiming to support school vouchers. Suspicions were raised when Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, received 500 questionable mailers, including one from someone claiming to be former state rep and voucher opponent Rick Hardcastle, who told Springer he never sent such a letter… In an effort to speed up passage of "sanctuary cities" bill SB 4, Republicans on Monday attempted unsuccessfully – not once but three times – to cut off the amendment deadline for this week's floor vote on the bill. A lengthy debate was still ongoing Wednesday over the Abbott-supported bill that would unfairly target cities that don't comply with all federal immigration policies. … Four days ahead of the floor vote on SB 4, Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, began a hunger strike to protest the bill. The issue is personal: Her father, now a U.S. citizen, entered the country as an undocumented immigrant… Will we soon see a Selena exhibit? The Senate passed SB 1147, which would prompt the creation of a Texas State Music Museum in Austin, funded by a private foundation. The bipartisan legislation, authored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, now moves to the House for consideration… Uber and Lyft can't stop making news in Texas. As rideshare bill HB 100 inches closer to passing (and therefore overriding local ordinances), the TNCs are playing the amendment game. Last week, Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, proposed an amendment to the bill that would define "sex" as the "physical condition of being male or female." Uber and Lyft said "Nope," but neither went so far as to include an amendment specifically protecting the LGBTQ community. According to reps from both companies, their own nondiscrimination policies cover sexual orientation and gender identity… In a 20-10 vote, the Senate voted to abolish a state refugee agency. SB 260 by Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, would shut down the Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs and the Governor's Advisory Committee on Immigration and Refugees. Gov. Greg Abbott withdrew Texas from the federal refugee resettlement assistance program last year, making the office, around since 1991, nonfunctional. (Nonprofits have since picked up the slack to help refugees.) The bill now moves to the House.