Friday, May 27, 2011

Advocacy Update

David Lancaster
TSA Senior Manager of Advocacy

Since we’ve been posting a lot lately…because there has been a lot of action the past two weeks…the "news” portion of this will be only briefly bulleted. Here’s the status of our priority legislation as of 4 pm Friday, May 27:

• HB 2284, the A/E scope-of-practice “peace bill”—passed 5/25, headed to Governor
• HB 628, the Alternative Project Delivery consolidation bill—conference committee report written, awaiting placement on the Items Eligible list for approval in both chambers…its prospects are good
• HB 51, High Performance Building Standards bill—passed 5/27, headed to Governor
• HB 1728, Energy Performance Contracts bill—passed 5/26, headed to Governor
• HB 2093, the bill amended to include a prohibition against broad-form indemnification clauses—conference committee report written, awaiting placement on the Items Eligible list for approval in both chambers…its prospects are improving

(You can also read Yvonne Castillo's article in CheckSet next week for more detail about general categories of legislation we impacted, and we’ll follow up with a complete report shortly after this session adjourns Sine Die on Monday.)

Now…for the editorial part of this report. I have either reported on or been a lobbyist in every legislative session since 1977, and I’m here to tell you the 2011 edition was truly “unique”…to be euphemistic. (Think Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times”…and how that can mean anything.) Yesterday, I watched something unfold that I never expected to witness in my lobbying career—a direct hit on the “Go Along-Get-Along, Good Ol’ Boy” culture of the Texas House.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest serving female member of the House made a personal privilege speech that shook the House. (Want to watch it, check out this YouTube video, When it was over, she received supportive comments from a number of her House “sisters,” then the (male) head of the Democratic caucus announced the creation of a task force of male Ds to address Miss T’s concerns and invited the Republican caucus to identify several male members of that group to join the “D-men” in coming up with solutions…and quickly.

We’ve noted in previous posts that there has been more tension this year than in previous sessions, whether from the strain of a huge budget shortfall, more partisanship due to the Republican’s super-majority in the House (not to mention a 19-12 margin in the Senate and all the statewide offices), or trying to protect their electoral futures during re-districting. Gender politics wasn’t the radar screen, though, until yesterday…but it arrived in a big way. It was certainly bi-partisan, so it looks like it’s here to stay, if not all, at least in part.

I’ve seen many changes over the last 30+ years, most of them significant improvements. Now, I believe I’ve seen them all! Check out the video…you will, too.

(Despite the jokes we like to tell on ourselves to maintain our “wild and wooly ballot-box-packin’ reputation,” our government is arguably the most open, fair and transparent in the nation. And even with increases in partisanship over the past decade, I honestly believe we’re affected less by it than most others.)

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