The 82nd Texas Legislature has adjourned sine die, “indefinitely,” 1631, from L., lit. “without (fixed) day.”1
And the post-mortem examinations are well under way. Since most of those are geared to persuade the reader to a particular pre-determined conclusion, it might be advisable to refer to them only as a means of developing your own objective assessment of your legislator’s performance. Our earlier post offering a word of caution when reviewing those scorecards can be viewed here. We Texans rates the session mediocre at best and given the Republican super-majority, that means we still have lots of work to do, particularly to restore private property ownership and state sovereignty.
On the private property front, Gov. Perry signed SB 18 into law on May 19, 2011. The bill will take effect on Sept. 1, 2011. It is hailed as major eminent domain reform and was supported by numerous property rights groups from across the state. While the bill does indeed provide some new protections for property owners, it certainly can’t be viewed as a “giant step”. Read for example, Eminent Domain, Set to Sell Us Down the Road or Eminent Domain “Reform” Bill is Trans-Texas Corridor on Steroids or our own, Iron Man vs. Straw Man – the Eminent Domain Dilemma in Texas for concerns about language in the bill.
The abusive property tax structure got nary a glance during the session. While 572 bills mentioned the words “property tax,” none offered a solution for its elimination. As with all things political, however, a lot of work is being accomplished behind the scenes. We have continued the work began during the Medina for Texas gubernatorial campaign. We’ve built upon the Texas Public Policy Foundations study addressing tax reform in Texas, and worked in conjunction with Richard Cunningham to publish a detailed fiscal analysis of the property tax in Texas. From that study and with the assistance of Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) we’ve drafted a property tax elimination bill. Though the bill was not filed during the 82nd legislative session, it will serve as the basis for our continuing work during the interim.
We are working closely with Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerville), chairman of the House Ways & Means committee to prepare to take up the issue as a critical part of the committee’s work beginning this fall. We will utilize this interim period to develope a sound proposal for consideration during the 83rd legislative session which will convene in January 2013.
On this front too, a number of bills were introduced during the session. To date, we count only one signed into law: Rep. Lavender’s (R-Texarkana) HB 2510, “relating to exempting the intrastate manufacture of certain incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation” was signed into law by the Governor on June 17, 2011 and will take effect on January 1, 2012.
Other more significant bills, Rep. Leo Berman’s (R-Tyler) HB 298 pertaining to gun ownership and HB 297 nullifying Obamacare, the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” were left pending in committee. Rep. David Simpson’s (R-Longview) HB 1937 relating to prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression by the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation; providing penalties, the anti-groping TSA bill which failed to make it to final passage during the regular session died (as HB 41/SB 29) after a heroic effort by Rep. Simpson and grass-roots activists during the closing minutes of the special session on Wednesday of this week.
Rep. Simpson shared his views on its demise, “Politics has a lot in common with fairy tales, in both arenas you have to suspend rational faculties in order to comprehend what is going on. Rarely in the history of this Legislature has, to my knowledge, the state’s leadership so masterly worked against the will of its members and the people they represent. Leadership arranged it so that every member could cast a vote in support of a bill they would ensure would not pass.”
And so it ends. Few in state leadership have yet to grasp the concepts of nullification and interposition and fewer still display any courage in the face of the federal Goliath. Where are our David’s? Perhaps they are living among us? Perhaps they will enter the battle in 2013? But decide quickly, those decisions must be made quickly. The filing deadline is December 12, 2011.
1sine die. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sine die (accessed: July 01, 2011).