Tag Archives: Texas Legislature

Trump might ‘primary’ Texas speaker? Huh?

 REUTERS/Octavio Jones

Did I hear this correctly … that the 45th president of the U.S. might want to “primary” Texas House speaker Dade Phelan because of the way he is running the state House of Representatives?

Phelan is a Beaumont Republican serving his first term as the Man of the House. He succeeded another GOP speaker, Dennis Bonnen, who got himself into a jam after he lied about whether he would sacrifice fellow GOP lawmakers in the 2020 legislative campaign.

Donald Trump just needs to butt the hell out of Texas politics. We’ve got more than our fair share of nut jobs, fruit cakes and yahoos. We don’t need the former Yahoo in Chief meddling in our state’s business.

Phelan isn’t my kind of pol, but he is working under extreme pressure, given Democrats’ willingness and ability to stop the Legislature from doing its business, which they did already this year … and deservedly so.

I am just weary in the extreme of seeing the 45th POTUS’s name attached to this and/or that political skirmish.

He annoys me in the extreme.


Government applies medical pressure?

Ron Paul, a former member of Congress from Texas — and one-time Republican presidential candidate — has made an intriguing and likely unintended case against a hideous Texas law that essentially outlaws abortion.

Paul is a physician and is the father of a sitting U.S. senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky. This item showed up on my Facebook news feed.

I’ll venture a presumption that the statement is intended to refer to President Biden’s mandates to require vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus. Think, though, about the overarching message contained in the statement attributed to Dr. Paul.

“Freedom over one’s physical person is the most basic freedom of all and people in a free society should be sovereign over their own bodies.”

Therein lies the most essential argument possible against that Texas law that has become the subject of lawsuits seeking to overturn it. The Legislature passed the law that Gov. Greg Abbott signed that prohibits women from obtaining an abortion after being pregnant for six weeks. Many women — arguably most women — don’t even know they are pregnant six weeks after conception. The law’s intent is to take the teeth out of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in January 1973.

Let’s be clear about something. This law will not prevent abortion. Women will continue to terminate pregnancies. Many of them might seek “back-alley” procedures that could do them terrible physical harm. The law is ghastly and it is the product of ham-handed legislative tyrants who seek to exert control over women and the decisions they make regarding their own bodies.

Ultraconservative legislators have seized the moment in Texas with this legislation. They have gotten their way, at least for the time being. The state, however, does not “own our bodies.”


Gerrymandering to commence

A now-deceased Republican state senator from Amarillo, Teel Bivins, once told me why he allegedly hated the once-every-decade chore that fell to the Legislature: redistricting.

He said it provided “Republicans the chance to eat their young.”

I am not not at all sure what Bivins by that quip. I wish now I had asked him in the moment to explain himself. But … whatever.

The next redistricting effort is about to commence in Austin. Texas is going to get two more U.S. House seats, thanks to rapid population growth, particularly among those of Hispanic descent.

What happens over the course of the next 30 days or so is anyone’s guess. Texas Republicans run the Legislature. They’re going to draw those districts in a way that enables them to keep a firm grip on power. Hey, it’s part of the process. Democrats did the same thing when they ran the Legislature.

The GOP lawmakers are going to gerrymander the living daylights out of these districts. They’ll bob and weave along streets in order to keep as many GOP-leaning voters as possible within certain legislative or congressional jurisdictions.

Bivins once talked about the need to seek “community of interest” districts. He once told me of his disliking the gerrymander process. He didn’t do anything to stop it, as near as I can recall.

You may count me as one American patriot who thinks that gerrymandering stinks to high heaven. I also believe the Legislature ought to give this task up to an independent, non-political body. That’s just me talking.

As lawmakers said in a lengthy article in the Sunday Dallas Morning News, this process is as “bare-knuckled as it gets” in Austin.

The Dallas Morning News (dallasnews.com)

Bring plenty of bandages, legislators.


In search of a community identity

My wife and I live in a growing North Texas community that, as near as I can tell, is searching to create an identity for itself.

Princeton doesn’t seem to have a community ID. I don’t hear much talk about finding one. Having lived there for more than two years — and we intend for it to be our “forever home” — it’s just a feeling I get when I venture around the city to run errands or to do whatever it is semi-retired guys do.

The city will have an election in November to take a baby step toward establishing an identity. Princeton will ask voters to approve the establishment of a citizens committee to draft a home-rule charter. The aim is to reel in the reins of power to City Hall and to set the governing rules right here at home. Princeton, which now is home to more than 18,000 residents (and counting!) is governed under “general law,” meaning that the Legislature sets the rules for how this exploding community governs itself.

City Makes Another Run At Home-Rule Charter (ketr.org)

Princeton has tried four times to establish a home rule charter ever since it crossed the 5,000-resident threshold established by the Texas Constitution. Residents who don’t even live in the city have spearheaded efforts to defeat the measure all four times; the anti-charter cabal lives in what is called the city’s “extraterritorial jurisdiction.”

Princeton needs to establish the identity I sense is missing. There is no bustling downtown district. City Hall is going to move from its paltry location along U.S. 380 just west of Second Avenue to a shiny new complex just east of Princeton High School. The municipal complex is going to be a thing of beauty.

Princeton To Welcome New Government Complex (ketr.org)

I don’t have the precise answer as to how Princeton establishes its community ID or how it defines it. I do believe, though, that a thriving community must be more than a sea of rooftops under which families live after working all day. Bedroom communities are fine. I just want more for the city where my wife and I plan to live for the proverbial duration.

Is the home rule charter election set for November a small step toward that end? I do hope so. I want to see take the next step in the spring when it asks voters to decide on the future of a home rule charter for Princeton.



Pro-choice and pro-life? Yep!

The debate over the hideous Texas anti-abortion law has me tied in knots. Sort of.

Some of my more conservative friends and family members — yes, I have many of them on the other side of the great political divide — might be wondering why I would be so adamantly opposed to the law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

I am both pro-choice and pro-life on abortion.

No. I do not see any contradiction. I will explain.

I could never provide advice for a woman to get an abortion. I am not wired that way. The issue, for starters, is none of my damn business. The decision rests solely with the woman, her partner, her religious counselor and with God Almighty.

To that extent, I consider myself pro-life.

However, the bigger issue for me is the meddlesome nature of legislation that seeks to dictate to a woman how she can manage affairs of her body. Texas legislators have crossed far into territory where they should not tread.

The law in Texas prohibits a woman from obtaining an abortion any earlier than six weeks into her pregnancy. It doesn’t make any exceptions for rape or incest.

The ghastliest part of the law is that it allows total strangers to rat out a woman if he or she learns she is going to get an abortion. We have created a vigilante corps in Texas. It allows these strangers to meddle where they damn sure don’t belong.

A friend of mine in Amarillo once said he believed in the Biblical theory of Earth’s creation and in the theory of evolution.

What’s more, I once saw a sticker that asked: “Aren’t you glad that the Virgin Mary was pro-life?” Hmm. Well, she also was pro-choice because she “chose” to give birth to the baby who gave Christianity its name.


Roe v. Wade far from ‘settled’

If you thought the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States had become “settled law,” you had better think again.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is now under a full frontal assault by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature. Texas now has a law on the books that prohibits a woman from obtaining an abortion as early as six weeks into her pregnancy.

President Biden calls the law “unconstitutional.” The current Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to let the law take effect even though it is being contested by multiple lawsuits.

One of the four dissenting justices, Stephen Breyer, calls the SCOTUS decision “very, very, very wrong.”

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas law is novel for incentivizing private citizens to police abortions. It empowers anyone living in the state of Texas to sue an abortion provider or anyone else they suspect is “aiding and abetting” abortions after the six-week mark. Those opposing the law say this may be far-ranging and could include the abortion provider or anyone who provided transportation to a woman, or counseled or referred a woman for an abortion.

Stephen Breyer calls Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion law ‘wrong’ | The Texas Tribune

There’s a fascinating bit of irony at play here. Conservatives proclaim proudly that they oppose what they call “judicial activism.” They say they dislike court decisions that go beyond the Constitution’s strict adherence to original intent.

From my perch in North Texas, it appears that most of the court’s conservatives — except for Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the liberal wing — are engaging in a raw form of judicial activism by dismissing the lawsuits and declaring that a law that is being challenged should take effect.

Wouldn’t a “conservative” court just let the litigation play out and stay out of the way?

Settled law? Not when you have a group of judicial activists on the nation’s highest court.


Not so funny, eh?

Whoever photo-shopped this picture perhaps thought he or she was cracking wise.

In fact, it ain’t funny.

The Texas Legislature and the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, are turning the state into the butt of jokes that won’t make many of us laugh out loud.

The state has enacted three laws that took effect at the start of the month that give me the heebie-jeebies.

One of them is the so-called “constitutional carry law” that allows any Texas resident — with some exceptions — to pack heat openly without ever having to be tested to determine if they know how to handle a firearm. They can’t be convicted felons, or convicted of domestic abuse or be a dishonorably discharged military veteran. But … still.

Another of them sets strict voting restrictions aimed primarily at voters who live in heavily Democratic communities. It bans drive-in balloting, restricts vote by mail and gives partisan poll watchers more power to snoop at what voters are doing at polling places.

Then we have this law that effectively makes abortion illegal in Texas. It says women cannot terminate a pregnancy earlier than six weeks … when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant!

I suppose I should note that these laws are being driven by Texas Republican pols.

A couple we know well once moved out of Texas and settled in Virginia. Part of the reason they made the move — and this was years ago — was because of the wacky political climate that was developing in this state. The husband half of this couple, a retired journalist, told me bluntly that the state was going bonkers and he couldn’t stand to be anywhere near the state where he came of age as a young man. This couple was ahead of their time.

Accordingly, I get asked now and then, “Why do you live in that state?” Well, we live here because we came to Texas more than 37 years ago because I wanted to pursue my career as a print journalist. We are staying here because we love watching our granddaughter grow up.

As for the politics, I am going to compartmentalize all these political matters. I pledge to not let them get me down. It’ll be a tough task, but we do have a good life here … even if the politicians who write these laws are trying mightily to pi** me off.


Hoping DOJ can reverse abortion ban

You are welcome to count me as one American who hopes that the U.S. Department of Justice can find a way to circumvent the Texas law that all but eliminates abortion in this state.

Why? Because the law signed recently by Gov. Greg Abbott removes a woman’s right to make a determination on what to do about her own body; it places it in the hands of politicians — most of whom are male — who are seeking to appease constituencies with agendas that have nothing to do with women’s rights and freedom.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has declared DOJ’s intent to examine how to force Texas to back away from a law that makes it illegal for a woman to terminate a pregnancy later than six weeks after conception.

I haven’t ever discussed this matter with young women, but my understanding based on what I have learned over many years of life is that a minuscule number of women even know they are pregnant fewer than six weeks after conceiving a child.

This battle sets up a national state-by-state fight as legislatures elsewhere consider ways to do what the Texas Legislature has done.

The Texas Tribune reports:

Texas’ abortion ban faces potential Justice Department challenge | The Texas Tribune

It had been thought over many years that the Roe vs. Wade decision handed by the Supreme Court in 1973 had become “settled law.” I guess not, given the current SCOTUS’s decision not to hear a challenge to the Texas law.

I hope DOJ succeeds in finding a way to restore what should be a woman’s constitutional right to make the most difficult decision anyone should ever have to make.


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.