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Dan Patrick Kills the Two-Thirds Rule

State Sen. Kevin Eltife answers questions from State Sen. Rodney Ellis, while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listens intently.
When death came for the two-thirds rule, the 68-year-old dictate of the Texas Senate that requires 21 of the chamber’s 31 senators to agree to vote on a bill, it wasn’t exactly swift, but it was a gentler demise than some might have expected. For years, then-Sen. Dan Patrick had fulminated against the rule, which he saw as an unnecessary restraint on the power of Senate Republicans.

In 2007, on Patrick’s first day on the floor, he proposed changing to the rule to a simple majority—and he was voted down 30 to 1. But as the years have passed, Patrick’s critique of the rule has gained traction, and a number of the chamber’s new GOP senators were elected having pledged to junk it. Patrick’s election made it a virtual certainty that the rule would be killed.

But when senators voted on the rules they’ll use for the 84th legislative session today, as part of a package authored by state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), it wasn’t Patrick’s simple majority that made it through—his original idea, and one he’d mentioned from time to time during his primary campaign—but a slightly reduced supermajority barrier. Instead of two-thirds, the Senate will now require three-fifths of the Senate, or 19 senators, to bring a bill to a vote.

There are 20 Republicans in the Senate, so the small change means quite a bit. Eltife’s floor speech in defense of the measure made a few simple points: Keeping a supermajority requirement would address some of the arguments made by backers of the two-thirds rule, namely that its disappearance would precipitate a split between urban and rural senators, who could find themselves competing for tight resources.

Winning 19 votes is a difficult thing, Eltife said, and wouldn’t be so different in practice from getting 21. He hoped that the change would bring more decorum to the Senate, not less. It wasn’t about partisanship, he said, but about good government.

The Democrats in the chamber, who will have less leverage than ever as a result of the rule change, had a hard time swallowing that. For nearly two hours, they took turns interrogating Eltife and attempting to poke holes in his reasoning. Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) argued that the rule changes as a whole would make it easier for Senate leadership to sneak through bills and rule changes later in the session. Many others argued from principle, saying that scrapping the two-thirds tradition would make the Senate a less bipartisan place, which was certainly the point.

Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) quoted from former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby’s memoirs, in which he called a 1979 attempt to circumvent the two-thirds rule the “biggest mistake I made as president of the Texas Senate.” Hobby added that “anything that doesn’t have the support of two-thirds of the Senate is seldom a good idea.” Ellis said he hoped those in the chamber today would have enough foresight to agree with Hobby by the time they wrote their books. “I think it’s a sad day for the Senate,” Ellis said, “and one we will look back on with regret.”

Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) was more pointed. The three-fifths standard, he reminded the room, was the same one used by the U.S. Senate, the world’s least effective deliberative body. “Members, I hate to say it,” he said, “but I think we’re going the way of Congress.”

“I have been an advocate of the two-thirds rule since…….read more here.

by Christopher Hooks

45 Democrats Back Speaker Joe Straus, Drive Tea Party Mad

Photo: burntorangereport.com

Texas Tea Partiers are up in arms after 45 Democrats joined 73 of their Republican colleagues in support of Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) being elected to another term as Speaker of the House. Missing from the count are a few Democrats including the Democratic Caucus leader Yvonne Davis, the House’s most right-wing stalwarts, and a few other seats yet to be filled by recent vacancies. The letter sent by Democrats lauded Straus for his “proven record of promoting bipartisanship whenever possible.”

For months grassroots conservatives have been trying to “#oustStraus” as Speaker because they believe he is too liberal. That sentiment hit a fever pitch with one of Straus’ most articulate conservative backers, Jason Villalba, used the word “progressive” to describe the upcoming session. “Speaker Straus — I know you don’t believe this, I know you don’t agree with this — but he’s gonna be there to provide progressive and forward-looking solutions… That’s something that’s important for Texas. I don’t know why progressive is a bad word.”

The liberty-loving groups would prefer a strict mandate of conservativism instead of allowing members to represent and vote their districts as Straus has. Villalba had to have known exactly why the crowd didn’t want to hear the “P” word, but he has done an excellent job of describing what conservative house members have been able to accomplish under Straus’ tenure including among the most conservative Voter ID and abortion bills in the country.

For some that just isn’t enough. The conservative purity challenge has proven too much for generally any member with seniority and/or clout. Even Alliance for Life, one of the groups that pushed the controversial HB2 that led to Wendy Davis’ filibuster, seems to have lost some grassroots mojo after affirming Straus’ pro-life credentials.

The thing these groups just don’t seem to understand is that as long as you are throwing your friends under the bus, folks are more likely to get off than on at the next stop. Tuesday’s overwhelming reelection of Speaker Straus will show just how weak the extreme right is politically in the legislature even as some of their popular conservative legislation continues to make it to the floor for a vote……….read more here.

By Joe Deshotel

Potential Public Education Committee appointment raises conflict of interest against school choice

Photo: acahnman.blogspot.com

Despite strong public support, school choice will once more find vigorous opposition in the newly convened Texas Legislature. Conflicts over ideology, motivations–financial and professional–and even academic achievement are to be expected.

One relationship that could ruffle some feathers if Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, is again appointed chair of the House Public Education Committee is the one between him and his daughter, Michelle Smith, a prominent education lobbyist.

The public education industry presents formidable, often taxpayer-funded, opposition to many issues including school choice – and lobbyists are an important piece of that effort.

Since 2010, Michelle Smith has worked for Hillco Partners, a firm identified in a 2011 Texas Monthly article as “at the top of the lobby pyramid” since its 1998 launch. Up until this legislative session, Smith listed Raise Your Hand Texas among numerous other education establishment clients. Founded and well-funded by HEB’s Charles Butt, this education policy and advocacy organization is known as a staunch defender of public education and is specifically against school vouchers.

Smith is currently executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition, an organization whose stated mission is “to educate others about the impacts that rapidly expanding communities have on school districts.” FGSC wants more, not less, public dollars for its public school membership. School choice is seen to threaten not only existing, but also future funding.

Choice is sometimes claimed as already existing through public schools providing generous intra-district transfer options. But the masses don’t seem to be buying that, and full-force opposition is unleashed when reform measures dare to increase parental choice and potentially attract taxpayer dollars going outside a district–especially to non-public schools.

The public education industry includes school districts, numerous education-affiliated companies and organizations like Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).

Many of these entities exist largely–if not exclusively–because of a monopolistic flow of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Yet, those dollars are too often used to pursue actions that don’t coincide with taxpayer interests. Protectionist networks exist to ensure an uninterrupted flow of these funds and again, lobbyists are a critical part of the equation.

This isn’t a complicated situation; it’s not difficult to understand. Texas parents, students and other taxpayers increasingly support school choice. The 2012 Republican Primary saw voters weighing in on a school choice ballot measure calling for dollars to follow students to their desired (public or private) school instead of remaining mired in public school bureaucracies. Republican voters made up 71.1 percent of the total primary votes cast and statewide, 84 percent supported the measure.

A February 2013 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found Texans supporting school choice 63 percent to 36 percent. Republican support was predictable, but equal support by blacks and Hispanics suggested the issue’s growing popularity. A Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Texas Public Policy Foundation surveyyielded similar results with 66 percent of voters supporting school vouchers and strongest support (80 percent) among Latinos.

This session offers legislators the opportunity to pass some form of school choice, a move projected to also significantly boost the Texas economy. Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, has introduced a Taxpayer Savings Grant bill that offers more parental choice and portability of funding. Other reform bills are likely to follow, but a legislative ethics failure could derail their passage.

For Smith, being Aycock’s daughter or a known……..read more here.

By Lou Ann Anderson– WatchDog.org

Team RER: Gio Goes “Cacciatore”! Locks Capitol Office from Citizens

On the eve of the historic vote for Speaker of the Texas House (1/12/15), State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) was conspicuously elusive and unavailable.  His Capitol offices were locked when constituents decided to make a visit.

Capriglione has been the subject of intense scrutiny as of late.  He shocked the liberty movement back in November when he announced that he was supporting Speaker Joe Straus for a fourth term over fellow freshman state representative, Scott Turner.  The announcement set off a firestorm of emotions and controversy, and was the firing of the starting gun for a pro-Straus public relations campaign.  Only days later, other “heroes” of the Texas liberty movement began announcing their defections to the Straus camp, as well.

Sources in Tarrant County began reporting to RER that Capriglione essentially went “underground” or “hiding” after his shocking announcement.  Phone calls of previous grassroots allies were no longer being answered by Capriglione.  And, Capriglione was observed leaving the offices of Straus, only hours after making the crushing announcement at the November monthly meeting of the NE Tarrant Tea Party.

NE Tarrant Tea Party president, Julie McCarty, told RER, “Gio has been told by Austin, ‘just weather the storm’”.

Anyone familiar with what days are like under the “Pink Dome” leading up to the opening of the legislative session, knows that the place is like a beehive.  Offices are rarely locked and vacant.  State reps are very well aware that not only can constituents pop by unannounced, but they certainly know they could get that valuable visit from a lobbyist.

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(Photo: Michael Berryman Smith via Facebook)

Therefore, when it was announced by grassroots activists that Capriglione’s office was locked and dark during the Speaker Showdown 3.0 event, it produced a roar of laughter and entertainment.  One activist captured a photo of the note that was left on the Capriglione office door.  The note contained the personal cell number of Capriglione.  It was made public, and dozens of activists initiated a spontaneous texting campaign directed toward Capriglione that provided amusement to the attendees.

(Click here to hear the full report)

Team RER

Copyright©2015 Raging Elephants Radio LLC

Man accused of paying young girls for sex found guilty

(Photo: KHOU)

Michael McIntosh, accused of setting up a private prostitution scheme with a group of suburban high-school girls, is set to be tried Monday.

GALVESTON, Texas – A jury has found a man accused of setting up a private prostitution scheme with a group of high-school girls guilty of sexual assault of a child.

Michael McIntosh, 63, was charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child as young as 14 years old. He was arrested in June 2013 under suspicion that he had enticed more than a dozen girls into sexual acts using payments of up to $1,000.

The girls attended two suburban high schools, Clear Creek and Clear Springs in League City, that were quickly filled….read more here.

KHOU.com Staff

ObamaCare Medical Codes Confirm: Execution by Beheading To Be Implemented in America…

Photo: Redflagnews.com

– A faithful reader sent me a code and asked me to investigate how it ties into the larger scale of things. The specific code sent to me will make any American’s hair stand up on the back of their neck. The code is ICD 9 E 978. After reading this code I decided that it was my duty to investigate further and get to the bottom of why we have a medical code in the United States for “Legal Execution.” Below are my results.

ICD 9 E 978 “Legal Execution
All executions performed at the behest of the judiciary or ruling authority [whether permanent or temporary] as:

  • asphyxiation by gas
  • beheading, decapitation (by guillotine)
  • capital punishment
  • electrocution
  • hanging
  • poisoning
  • shooting
  • other specified means
  • INJURY UNDETERMINED WHETHER ACCIDENTALLY OR PURPOSELY
  • INFLICTED

According to reports, more than 68,105 new medical codes are being……….read more here.

by Lorri Anderson, FREEDOM OUTPOST

Woman stabbed in face at DART train station near Dallas’ Arts District

Photo: dartdallas.dart.org

A Dallas police motorcycle sits on the platform at DART’s Pearl Station as a train pulls in shortly before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday as service resumes following a nearly three-hour closure as police investigated a stabbing.

Authorities are searching for a man they say stabbed a woman in the face Tuesday at a DART train station in downtown Dallas.

Surveillance footage shows the woman and the man getting off the same train around 5:30 a.m. at the Pearl Station near the Arts District. They crossed paths before the man stabbed her, then ran away, said Dallas Area Rapid Transit spokesman Mark Ball.

“We see on the video that they exit different doors, so the impression is that they don’t know each other,” he said.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, told police she planned to take the Green Line to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. It’s unclear why she was going to the hospital, Ball said.

She was taken to Baylor for treatment. Her condition was not released Tuesday afternoon. Her attacker remained at large.

After the stabbing, Pearl Station remained closed for three hours, creating headaches for commuters. DART deployed shuttles to take passengers to other stations.

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said…..read more here.

 

By Naheed Rajwani/Staff

CBO: Saving Unborn Babies From Abortion Will Increase the Budget Deficit

People hold signs as they attend an anti-abortion rally at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on Sunday. House Republicans will pass a bill prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a bill that the Congressional Budget Office says will increase the budget deficit.
Image: AP Photo/Danny Johnston

“Would it be too much for the CBO to score the saved babies as productive citizens, instead of automatically scoring them as leeches to the system?  This is chilling…disturbing.  What has become of us?” – Mary Huls, RER Team Member. 

The Congressional Budget Office says legislation the House will pass this week to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would lead to an increase in the budget deficit of at least $235 million over the next decade, and perhaps as much as half a billion dollars.

The CBO released a report Tuesday for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.R. 36, which the House will consider on Thursday. That bill aims to ban abortions after 20 weeks, and is based on evidence that a fetus can feel pain once it reaches that age.

CBO’s report assumes that if the legislation were to become law, about three-quarters of the abortions that might normally happen after 20 weeks would happen earlier, in order to comply with the law.

But it also assumes that the remaining quarter of people who don’t get an earlier abortion would give birth. CBO said that means higher Medicaid costs related to childbirth over a ten-year period.

“Depending on the number of additional births under H.R. 36, such Medicaid costs could range from about $100 million over the next 10 years to nearly $500 million over that period,” CBO said.

CBO settled on an estimate of $235 million.

Republicans are know to be budget hawks, but a House aide said GOP leaders will not require Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the bill’s sponsor, to find a spending offset for the bill. The aide also dismissed the budget impact of the bill as a relatively small cost — $23 million per year on average — which is not as important as putting a limit on abortions.

“It’s essentially the cost of these babies living, which is the kind of expense we’re all right with,” the aide said.

Franks has proposed similar language in……..read more here.

By Pete Kasperowicz

A Sikh Principal, Too English for a Largely Muslim School

Balwant Bains says he faced relentless criticism from a Muslim-dominated school board. 

Photo: Andrew Testa for The New York Times

BIRMINGHAM, England — As a Sikh and second-generation Briton running a public school made up mostly of Muslim students, Balwant Bains was at the center of the issues facing multicultural Britain, including the perennial question of balancing religious precepts and cultural identity against assimilation.

But in January, Mr. Bains stepped down as the principal of the Saltley School and Specialist Science College, saying he could no longer do the job in the face of relentless criticism from the Muslim-dominated school board. It had pressed him, unsuccessfully, to replace some courses with Islamic and Arabic studies, segregate girls and boys and drop a citizenship class on tolerance and democracy in Britain.

“I suppose I was a threat, giving these children more British values, for them to be integrated into society,” Mr. Bains said in his first interview since the controversy over his departure.

His experience has helped bring to life the often deeply emotional and highly contentious conflicts unearthed by a British government investigation this year into whether organized groups of conservative Muslims were having undue influence on public schools.

The topic has become especially sensitive at a time when Britain is concerned about the radicalization of young Muslims in the country and their involvement with jihadis in Syria and Iraq. The investigation was prompted by an anonymous letter, sent last year to local officials in Birmingham, alleging an organized Islamic takeover of British schools in Muslim neighborhoods.

Conducted by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, or Ofsted, the inquiry found the allegations to be overstated. But the agency found much that was troubling about Muslim efforts to promote changes in secular public schools, and it has recently widened its investigation to 46 schools across the country.

The investigation found that five schools in Birmingham, including Mr. Bains’s, shared a pattern of behavior similar to what was described in the anonymous letter. The letter also cited Mr. Bains’s impending resignation, a month before it was made official and which only a few knew about, suggesting that the author was someone with detailed knowledge of the schools.

“The Sikh head running a Muslim school,” the letter said, “will soon be sacked and we will move in.”

The investigation found that some teachers and school board governors at the other schools were encouraging homophobia, anti-Semitism and support for Al Qaeda, sometimes inviting speakers who endorsed the establishment of a state run under Sharia law.

One school stopped music and drama lessons as well as Christmas and Diwali celebrations, and subsidized trips to Saudi Arabia for Muslim students.

In another school, the report found, girls and female teachers were discriminated against, and compulsory sex education, including discussions about forced marriage, was banned. Girls and boys seen……..read more here. 

By

This is the Woman who interrupted Muslim prayer at National Cathedral

Photo: Screenshot from youtube video

“The popular Facebook groupBreitbart One Silenced Millions Awakened” was the first to report on the name of the woman who interrupted the National Cathedral Muslim Prayer Service.

“This is not the first time Christine Weick took a stand for her faith. Whether or not one agrees with Weick, there is no doubt that she is fearless when it comes to her beliefs.

“In her own words:

“ ‘Worship Only Jesus Christ” The Testimony of the Woman Who Proclaimed Christ at the Washington National Cathedral”…….read more and see the video HERE.

By Wayne Dupree

(Story is from November 15, 2014. Christine Weick was a guest on Doc Greene’s show January 22, 2015.)