Tag Archives: Texas Legislature

Sen. Seliger takes aim at veto power

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Kel Seliger already has antagonized Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Now he has drawn a bead (so to speak) on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The Amarillo Republican state senator has filed a bill that seeks to overrule the governor’s line-item veto power.

According to Amarillo Matters, a political action committee based in the Texas Panhandle: Senator Kel Seliger filed a bill to remove Governor Greg Abbott’s line-item veto power. The move comes after Abbott used his Executive Power to veto Article X of the State’s budget, which includes funding for House and Senate lawmakers, their staffers, and those working in nonpartisan legislative agencies. In a tweet, Seliger said, “Out of frustration, the Governor vetoed all funding for the Legislative Branch because Democrats broke quorum. But, vetoing this funding doesn’t punish legislators who left. It punishes regular, hard-working folks who have nothing to do with voting for or against bills.”  

My hunch is that Seliger isn’t going to align with legislative Democrats in their dispute with the GOP over voting restrictions proposed in legislation. Democrats bolted the Legislature to deny the quorum required to enact legislation.

However, Seliger is correct in identifying Abbott’s motives and his hideous overreaction to what Texas legislative Democrats did. He isn’t punishing Democratic politicians. Abbott is taking his anger out on the hard-working staffers who have done nothing to incur the governor’s wrath.

GOP duplicity: simply stunning

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The duplicity and hypocrisy being shown by congressional Republicans is an astonishing sight to those of us who believe in fairness and good government.

The GOP caucus in Congress is hell bent on supporting Republican-controlled state legislatures — such as in Texas — for their effort to curb “widespread voter fraud” that doesn’t exist. The GOP caucus is resisting efforts to approve the John Lewis Voting Rights Act named after the late civil rights icon. Why? They suggest that legislatures have the answer to how to ensure free and fair elections while preventing vote fraud that — I state again — does not exist.

Meanwhile, the same GOP caucus turns its back on the impact of the Jan. 6 insurrection incited by the former Seditionist in Chief. People were killed. They were injured. A mob comprising thousands of domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol Building that day to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

The GOP response? Nothing, man! They have been delivered tangible, visible, visceral proof of extreme malice among the rioters who wanted to “hang” Vice President Pence that day. Meanwhile, the former POTUS did nothing to stop the riot. He reportedly cheered them on from the safety of the White House.

And this doesn’t seem to bother most members of the GOP caucus in Congress? My goodness. I am ashamed of them all.

Where’s the fraud … Dan?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

So help me, I cannot get my noggin past that idiotic offer Texas Lt. Gov.  Dan Patrick made some months ago to his fellow Texans.

He offered to pay anyone a million bucks if they produced evidence of widespread vote fraud in Texas during the 2020 presidential election. The offer has become part of the Republican legislative mantra as legislators seek to make it more difficult for Texans to vote.

The link between the offer and the GOP legislative effort is clear: Republicans insist there was fraud; no one has produced a shred of proof of fraud in Texas or anywhere else for that matter.

Patrick — who came into this world with the name of Dannie Scott Goeb (and I don’t know why I mentioned that, other than perhaps to illustrate this clown’s phoniness) — has made vote fraud an issue as he pushes the Texas Senate over which he presides to enact these restrictions.

Why, though, hasn’t Patrick produced proof? Why is he relying on some unknown Texan to provide the Legislature with proof — where none exists — of vote fraud?

The reason the lieutenant governor hasn’t delivered the goods is because there are no goods to deliver. It’s also why he hasn’t been forced to shell out the dough to anyone else who has proof of vote fraud.

It is another version of The Big Lie.

Lt. Gov. Patrick’s offer remains on the table. I do not expect anyone to come forward with proof of vote fraud. Which begs the question: Has the Texas lieutenant governor committed an act of treason — along with the former Nitwit in Chief — by challenging a free and fair election?

Hang tough, Texas Dems

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Here we go … again.

Texas Democratic legislators are fleeing the state to deny a quorum from being present to enact a law they find onerous … so much so that they are willing to watch state government grind to a halt.

To which I say: More power to em!

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session to deal with some unresolved issues left by the regular legislative session. One of them is this goofy notion of protecting the Texas electoral system against a phantom known as “widespread voter fraud.”

Read my lips: There is no such fraud in Texas!

Texas Democrats attempt to block voting bill by fleeing state | The Texas Tribune

Yet the Texas Republican legislative caucus insists on throwing up barriers to voter access to prevent the kind of fraud some of them suggest occurred during the 2020 election that President Biden won bigly over the Republican incumbent who masqueraded as POTUS for four years.

Texas Democrats managed to stymie this rush toward voter suppression at the end of the Legislature’s regular session in late May. Republicans made a few changes to the proposed legislation in an effort to make it more palatable to Democrats when they convened for their special session.

A lot of clunkers remain in the amended version embraced by the Texas GOP. They still want to ban 24-hour mail-in voting; they still insist on having partisan poll watchers on duty while Texans cast their ballots.

The essence of a thriving democratic system of government is to encourage more people — not fewer of them — to vote in our elections. Texas was among many states across the nation that enjoyed record voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election. The 45th POTUS carried the state’s vote by about 6 percentage points, yet the Republican Party of Texas has concocted this notion that Texas was infected by rampant voter fraud.

Indeed, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered any Texan a million bucks if he or she could produce fraud on a scale that GOP honchos insist occurred in 2020. So far no one has come forth. Imagine that, eh?

And so, Texas Democrats are playing hardball with their GOP colleagues, who in my view are using legislative procedure to make it more difficult for Texans to cast their ballots.

Shameful.

Solution needs a problem

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It is troubling to me in the extreme that Texas legislative Republicans keep yapping about their efforts to make elections “more secure.”

I keep asking: More secure against what? Precisely?

They are pondering how to limit people’s access to voting. They want to reduce voters’ ability to vote because, according to GOP legislators, they want to guard against vote fraud.

Good grief, man! There is hardly anything of the sort occurring in Texas. Or anywhere, for that matter!

What we have here is a solution in search of a problem. Texas GOP legislators are concocting a pretext to stymie voters along the way. They profess to be fearful of vote fraud. Some of the loonier among them suggest the 2020 presidential election was fraught with fraud.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who runs the state Senate, offered to pay someone $1 million if they could produce any evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas. To date, he hasn’t had to pay. Why? Because there isn’t any such fraud!

The Legislature is meeting in special session to enact a number of laws left undone during the regular session that concluded at the end of May. The so-called voter “reform” is little more than an effort to keep GOP politicians in power.

Legislative Republicans have sought to soften some of the harder edges on their overhaul plans. Yet they remain committed to certain provisions that appear to target minority communities and actually suppress voter turnout in upcoming elections.

Read the story here: Texas Republicans Have A New Voting Bill. Here’s What’s In It | 88.9 KETR

Texas legislative Democrats might try to bolt the state during the special session to prevent a quorum and, thus, stymie efforts to enact the legislation. I am one Texan who wants Democrats to do precisely that to end this blatant power grab.

Republicans who suggest they seek to end vote fraud are simply lying to those of us they serve.

Irony in special session

(Cooper Neill/The Dallas Morning News) 

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Surely I am not the only Texas observer who sees a certain irony in Gov. Greg Abbott summoning legislators back to Austin for a special session … given his veto of money to pay for legislative staffers’ salaries.

Think of this for just a moment.

Abbott became angry with Texas House Democrats because they walked off the House floor to prevent a voter suppression bill to become law during the regular legislative session. He vetoed legislators’ staff money to pay them back for failing to “do their job.”

Then he called them back from their home districts to do some more work. I don’t get it.

Abbott was prohibited from vetoing legislators’ salaries, as it is guaranteed by the Texas Constitution. Indeed, we don’t pay lawmakers very much money: $600 per month plus an expense stipend when they’re in session. Legislators will continue to get their measly amount despite the governor’s veto.

The House Appropriations Committee on Friday voted 21-0 to reinstate the money that Gov. Abbott vetoed.

As the Texas Tribune reported: The veto applies to the thousands of staffers who work directly for lawmakers and several state agencies. Those agencies include the Legislative Reference Library, which conducts research for the Legislature; the Legislative Budget Board, which develops policy and budget recommendations and provides fiscal analyses for legislation; the Legislative Council, which helps draft and analyze potential legislation; the State Auditor’s Office, which reviews the state’s finances; and the Sunset Advisory Commission, which reviews the efficiency of state agencies.

Texas lawmakers take first steps to restore Legislature’s funding after veto | The Texas Tribune

I just happen to believe the governor’s veto of this money and his quick action to summon everyone back to Austin drips with a certain irony that I cannot let go  unnoticed.

Play hardball, Democrats

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There are times when you have to go for broke if you intend to preserve what you believe are basic democratic tenets.

Texas legislative Democrats walked off the floor of the House of Representatives near the end of the Legislature’s regular session to prevent House Republicans from forcing a vote on restrictions to the state election laws.

Gov. Greg Abbott was so angry he decided to call a special legislative session that begins in a couple of days to enact those changes. The question now for Democrats is this: Do they hang tough or do they buckle? I urge them to maintain their unity in opposing these restrictions.

There needs to be a show of strength among those who say they cherish the right to grant all Americans the ability to vote. They say they favor greater, not lesser, voter participation. The 2020 presidential election produced a significant increase in voter turnout, which brought President Biden closer to carrying the state’s electoral votes than any time since the 1976 election, which Jimmy Carter carried the state en route to his presidential election victory.

GOP lawmakers want to limit early voting opportunities, they seek to ban people from delivering bottles of water to voters waiting in long lines to cast their ballots, and they want to make it easier for judges to overturn election results. And why? Because they have fallen for The Big Lie about “rampant vote fraud” where it doesn’t exist.

Texas Democrats have learned how to play the same game of hardball that Republicans have perfected over many years in Texas.

My advice to Democrats? Stay the course.

Abbott inflicts needless pain

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gov. Greg Abbott is playing hardball, all right.

Except that he has aimed his “high hard fastball” at hundreds of legislative staffers who do not deserve to suffer from the governor’s anger.

Get a load of this: Abbott has vetoed funds appropriated by the 2021 Legislature to pay legislators’ salaries … such as they are. The veto also takes aim at staffers’ salaries, the folks who do the hard work on behalf of the elected members of the Texas House and Senate. Texas legislators earn $600 each month, plus a per diem expense amount when they’re in session. They all have day jobs back home in their legislative districts or are wealthy enough to take time to serve in the state House or Senate.

Abbott is angry with House Democrats who walked off the floor of the legislative assembly in its waning hours. They managed to deny the Legislature a quorum needed to enact a controversial voter overhaul bill that Abbott said he wanted to sign into law. Oh, the law happens to be a turkey that has drawn the unified wrath of the Texas Democratic legislative caucus. It seeks to empower judges to more easily overturn election results, it reduces early voting opportunities, it takes a hard line against mail-in voting. In short, the GOP proposal makes it more difficult for Texans to vote.

The Democratic caucus opposes the effort to restrict voting opportunities.

Abbott’s punishment is much too broad and inflicts far too many collateral casualties.

“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in a statement while vetoing the legislative funding measure. “Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”

But again, what about the hardworking legislative staffers who have been caught in this game of political football? They need not be punished along with their legislators.

This isn’t my idea of good government. It’s heavy-handed government dictated by a governor who is letting his petulance get in the way of sound policy.

Note: A version of this blog was published initially on KETR-FM’s website, ketr.org

‘Assault on democracy’ explained

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A critic of this blog wants to know how Texas’s efforts to restrict voting is an “assault on democracy,” as President Biden has described it.

I’ll take the bait and offer what I believe is an explanation for all to read.

It’s an assault because our form of representative democracy — as I have understood it — intends to make voting easier for all Americans. Thus, states and local governments have enacted early-voting laws; they have given citizens a chance to cast ballots in a variety of ways; they have sought to extend early-voting days and hours to enable citizens to have their voices heard.

Texas Republicans along with their GOP colleagues in several other states have determined that such voting initiatives also lead to corruption of the voting process. They have concocted the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election about “rampant vote fraud” where it did not exist and have projected it onto efforts to restrict access to those who wish to vote. The Texas GOP legislative caucus also wants to give judges more power to overturn election results.

One of the tragic consequences of this effort is that the GOP is  targeting minority voters who — get a load of this — tend to vote Democratic. Shocking, yes? Rather than seeking to compete head to head with Democrats over their ideas and policies, Republicans instead are seeking to restrict access to all eligible U.S. citizens.

Where I come from, I consider all of that taken together to be an assault on democracy. The Texas Democratic legislative caucus has stalled the GOP assault — if only temporarily. The Legislature likely will  reconvene soon in special session to figure out a new strategy to continue its attack on our democratic process. I hope Democrats hold firm.

This brief response likely won’t persuade my blog critic friend of anything. I just felt the need to clear the air.

Stand tall, Texas Democrats!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well now. Lo and behold there is some fight left in the Texas Democratic legislative caucus after all.

The House Democrats walked off the floor of their chamber Sunday night to deprive House Republicans of a quorum they needed to enact a restrictive voter law that many of us out here interpret as a form of voter suppression.

The law would limit voter access to millions of Texans, mainly those in minority communities, and would serve, as President Biden noted, to further the cause of “un-American” efforts to restrict voting access for Americans.

To be sure, the fight ain’t over. Gov. Greg Abbott is now likely to call a special legislative session to bring lawmakers back to seek to finish the job that Democrats prevented with their walkout.

“We’ve said for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems that’s not the case,” Democratic state Rep. Carl Sherman said.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “I am disappointed that some members decided to break quorum,” said Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who carried the bill in the House. “We all know what that meant. I understand why they were doing it, but we all took an oath to Texans that we would be here to do our jobs.”

Well, Rep. Cain, doing your job should not include acting on the Big Lie fomented by the former Liar in Chief, Donald Trump, about phony vote fraud. Yet that is what Cain and the Texas GOP caucus is trying to do. They seek to subvert access to the voting process by eliminating drive-through voting, restricting mail-in balloting, reducing early voting times all because they contend this activity is fraught with the potential for the vote fraud that Trump said occurred during the 2020 presidential election.

Texas Democrats Prevent Republicans From Passing Restrictive Voting Bill (msn.com)

If and when Abbott calls the special session, my strong hope is that Texas Democrats continue to stand as one body to prevent this kind of legislative chicanery from becoming law.