Thursday, April 14, 2005

His shining hour

"The idea has been there ... The administration has never really liked it. But, I have always felt it has been a revenue stream for money. It does not matter if it's mine or not or has my name, as long as it is the idea and the concept that helps the state of Texas."
- Rep. Kino Flores, quoted in the McAllen Monitor, April 27, 2004

Last special session, Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) proposed the first gambling plan in the House to get attention. Though Rep. Kino Flores (D-Mission) had pushed for slots at racetracks for years, his bills waited in committee while Pitts put a 177-page amendment before the House Select Committee on Public School Finance. Things were different in yesterday's House Ways and Means hearing. Flores laid out his House Bill 9 with a flourish, then strutted in and out through the night. He sat sometimes next to Rep. Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) on the dias, putting on and removing his gold-rimmed glasses and wearing a slight grin. Near midnight, the racetrack lobbyists who spoke for hours thinned out. Suzii Paynter of the Baptist General Convention of Texas was giving some of the first testimony opposed to HB 9 that the committee had heard all night. Flores swaggered through the room and whispered loudly, "She has a hard time making her point."