Lobby disclosure of consulting ties passes the Senate
Mike Ward, Austin American-Statesman
A previously hidden aspect of lobbying — corporate lobbyists who also serve as campaign advisers to lawmakers and state officials — should become more apparent under legislation approved Thursday by the Texas Senate and sent to the governor.
State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, the Senate sponsor, said House Bill 1422 is designed to give the public more information about ties between lobbyists and elected officials — links that are now sometimes disclosed, but often not.
Lobbyist Transparency Bill Headed to Perry's Desk
Brandi Grissom and Maurice Chammah, Texas Tribune
This is one in a series of occasional storiesabout ethics and transparency in the part-time Texas Legislature.
A bill that would require lobbyists to disclose the names of lawmakers who pay them using campaign funds for services, including political consulting, is headed to Gov. Rick Perry for approval after the Senate passed the measure on Thursday.
Eltife said an increasing number of lobbyists also do campaign consulting work for lawmakers during the interim between legislative sessions. Lobbyists are already required to report the special interests for which they lobby at the Capitol.
Hospital District legislation for Hidalgo County would help provide for the poor, uninsured, and underinsured while helping secure creation of UT medical school in the Valley, says Rep. Canales
DAVID A. DÍAZ, My Harlingen News
Poor, underinsured, and uninsured residents in HidalgoCounty would have access to a better system of medical care under legislation approved on Wednesday, May 1 by the Texas House of Representatives, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, a Joint Author of the measure.
House Joint Resolution 147 by Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, would allow the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court, with local voter support, to create a hospital district, which is public body whose main responsibility is to provide medical and hospital care for needy residents.
“Under this legislation, and other measures we are working on, we would be able to more effectively serve our region, which has a high rate of uninsured residents,” Canales said. “Also, we would increase and improve the delivery of affordable health care, while strengthening our area’s ability to draw federal funds to pay for emergency care for the poor and uninsured.”
S. Texas Democrat Rep. owns more than 500 guns
Kolten Parker, Houston Chronicle
During a heated gun debate Saturday, state Rep. Terry Canales lobbed a wager from the dais that he owns more guns than any other state representative.
On Monday, the Edinburg Democrat who adamantly opposes campus carry backed the claim up in a brief interview, describing his large gun collection, which includes a .50 caliber rifle, a “large collection of assault rifles”, and accessories such as a magnifying scope sight equipped with night vision. He estimated a total of 580 guns, which he said “is a conservative number.”
“There is a time and a place for responsible gun ownership,” Canales said, noting his opposition to allowing firearms on college campuses. “My support of the Second Amendment is unwavering, but when it comes to our children’s safety and education, there are limits.”
House gives quick nod to gun bills
David Saleh Rauf and Kolten Parker, Houston Chronicle
AUSTIN - Texas House Republicans delivered several victories to gun-rights advocates Saturday, advancing proposals intended to place more guns in schools and to prevent the federal government from seizing a Texan's firearm or ammo.
As part the lower chamber's unofficial "gun day," lawmakers voted to tentatively approve a bevy of gun bills - from creating a program for so-called school marshals trained to thwart attacks to reducing the amount of classroom instruction needed for a concealed handgun permit.
The most controversial, however, is one designed to allow college students with a concealed handgun license to tote their pistols in the classroom. The bill tentatively passed on a voice vote but still needs to clear a final hurdle Monday.
State funding for Valley VA Hospital would have major economic benefit for Valley, Texas, says Rep. Martínez
David A. Díaz, La Feria News
Seeking to secure state funding for a full-service Veterans Administration Hospital in deep South Texas, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, on Wednesday, April 17, said that state financial support for the long sought-after medical facility would eventually help create thousands of jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic activity for the region and state.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates nine in-patient veterans’ hospitals in Texas – in Amarillo, Big Spring, Bonham, Dallas, Houston, Kerrville, San Antonio, Temple, and Waco – but none in the Rio Grande Valley.
Martínez, who is the lead author of House Bill 665, wants the Legislature to allow the Governor, the Lt. Governor, and the Speaker of the House to use money from the Texas Enterprise Fund – which currently has more than $141 million in its bank account – to help speed up the development of a VA Hospital for the Rio Grande Valley.
Rep. Canales’ legislation honoring Texas migrant farmworkers approved by the Texas House of Representatives
DAVID A. DÍAZ, My Harlingen News
Migrant farmworkers are so important to America that without them, the United States would no longer serve as the “breadbasket of the world”, helping alleviate hunger and famine here at home and throughout the world.
In recognition of the vital roles played by the estimated two million to three million seasonal and migrant farmworkers in the country – including more than 131,000 in the state – the Texas House of Representatives designated April 23, 2013 as Migrant Farmworker Day at the Capitol.
“Migrant farmworkers are the engine that drives the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy, a $28 billion industry. Here at home, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, migrant farmworkers contribute $432.2 million in long-term agricultural production in Texas,” said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. “The seasonal and labor-intensive work that migrant farmworkers perform is integral to the success of the agricultural economy of our country and our state, and it is indeed fitting to honor the men and women engaged in this honorable profession.”
Forecast: Votes for water will come
John Ingle, Times Record News
While some say House Bill 11 will face enough opposition Monday to derail the legislation that would finance water-related projects throughout the state, area lawmakers predicted Friday it would pass — one way or another.
House Bill 11, authored by Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, would allow the transfer of $2 billion from the economic stabilization fund, or Rainy Day Fund, to provide low-interest loans to water districts for projects.
The problem, however, is that a transfer from the Rainy Day Fund requires 100 votes. Republicans hold 95 seats in the House, meaning it will take bipartisan support to pass the bill.