Chris Mahon


The Poor Man Cometh

Immediately after Bonnen was humiliated, Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) put up an amendment to SB 712, the energy efficiency bill, that would increase access that the poor and elderly have to a service that helps reduce their energy bills. Representatives of utilities come to their homes and identify and correct inefficiencies (a large gap under a door, for example) that cause higher energy bills. Turner asked his colleagues to "stand in representing the poor man's caucus."

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Liar Liar

There was an unusually ugly exchange this afternoon between Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) and Rep. Will Hartnett (R-Dallas). At the climax of an argument over Bonnen's amendment to SB 712 (on the lege's energy efficiency goals), Hartnett called Bonnen out for lying to the House members. "Rep. Bonnen has misrepresented [his amendment]," Hartnett said.

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Robbing The Poor To Give To The Poor

We all know that "everything's bigger in Texas," except, it seems, the amount jurors get paid. Currently, Texas jurors get a paltry minimum wage of $6 per day, the lowest in the country according to SB 1704's House sponsor, Will Hartnett (R-Dallas). This bill, which was on the House floor this afternoon, would raise that to $40 per day, after the first day of jury duty.

The jurors' pay hike will come from the pockets of freshly convicted criminals. Under Hartnett's proposed amendment to the bill, that fee would be $11, with leftover cash after jurors are paid going to indigent defense.

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Who Wants A Body Shampoo?

If Rep. Keffer (R-Eastland) wanted to learn more about bordellos, he should have been at the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services meeting this morning. Hearing testimony on Rep. Anchilla's (D-Dallas) HB 2696, relating to the regulation of massage therapy, senators heard that over 200 "massage parlors" in Houston and over 70 in Dallas, offer more than a backrub. Under the guise of massage therapy, these strip-mall bordellos set up shop offering Johns services with names like "body shampoo." Regulate massage parlors all you want, but my bet is that the world's oldest profession isn't going anywhere, even without the shampoo.

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Welcome to Mustang Ranch

When Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) isn't busy beating up on homosexuals (he co-authored the anti-gay constitutional amendment, HJR 6) he's cracking jokes about houses of ill repute.

At the Finance Conference Committee on HB 3, a witness was testifying on a portion of the school finance and property tax reduction bill that would collect revenue by various means, such as "civil penalties imposed on a red light."

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A Moment of Silence

There were tears on the House floor this morning as members stood to remember Rep. Joe Moreno (D-Houston), who died in a truck crash at around 2 a.m. today. Two vases of yellow roses and a single red rose adorned his desk. Rep. Raphael Anchia (D-Dallas) and the chief of staff to Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), Monica Lisa Pinon, were also in the truck and are recovering at Brakenridge Hospital. The House will stand adjourned until 8 a.m. Monday morning.

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Let's Fight Tomorrow

Looks like there won't be the exciting fracas on the House floor over the pay-day loan bill this afternoon. Representatives voted to put it off until tomorrow.

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Untitled

There will be a vote on the House floor this afternoon on HB 846, which would jack up permissible interest rates on a pay-day loan to a whopping 780 percent. Answering the question of why someone might get involved in such a scheme, Rep. Flynn (R-Van) had a simple answer: "These people made a choice to use a product. Nobody's forcing them to do this." Welcome to the Republicans' ownership society.

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Rep. Toureilles Takes Break, Reads The Onion

Everybody knows that surfing the Internet is the saving grace for worker bees in boring meetings when the boss is yammering on about meeting next month's sales targets.

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"They're Like Fire Ants"

The House Environmental Regulation Committee is meeting this morning, currently hearing HB 2886 by Rep. Jim Keffer (R - Eastland). His bill would regulate quarry operators in a 100-mile stretch of the Brazos River that currently operate without permits. Fly-by-night operators are able to lease land from a landowner or just on their own set up a quarry free from pesky government oversight. Witnesses testified that sediment loosened by these operators has severely damaged the environment, turning a once clear stream into the "Brazos Bayou."

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Industry Hacks

Sometimes I wonder how certain people can look at themselves in the mirror in the morning. Take for example, the oompa-loompas that were escorted out of their cages this afternoon to shill for the chemical and mining industry in the Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing.

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