There has to be a better way for Texas to make laws. Well meaning people who become legislators generally want to make things better. It is obvious that the Texas legislature is not functioning in a way that allows good intentioned people to make good law.
A blog post last night’s Austin Statesman, Some Real Strangeness in the Texas Senate, highlights the problems that occur when elected officials wait until the last minute to make laws:
"… Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst took the microphone to clarify what he said was apparent confusion about the Senate’s evening schedule.
“What I’m concerned about is that some people really don’t understand English,” Dewhurst said, emphasizing that the Senate planned to keep a clerk on duty until midnight to process conference committee reports.
“What I said was, and no one was paying attention … ” he said, appearing irritated, as his call phone rang.
Still speaking into the podium microphone, he answered it.
“Why don’t you just listen to what I’m saying and then call me back,” Dewhurst said, as senators mouths dropped open.
He then resumed his chagrined statement about how the Senate was working late to keep passing bills. And how he hoped the House would stretch its midnight deadline for final versions of bills, as the Senate had done earlier in the afternoon.
“There seems to be some people who don’t understand English,” he reiterated. “Is that clear? Do I repeat it again?”
Senators stood in amazement — at the speak-English crack, at the whole presentation.
A few minutes later, Dewhurst returned to the mic, telling senators that the House had adjourned. He suggested that senators keep working.
Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, asked if the Senate could restore its deadline at midnight tonight to file final versions of all bills — after the Senate earlier today rolled it to midnight Sunday.
Dewhurst told him to hold on a few, until he could confer with a few other senators.
Senators looked amazed again."
The public can try to keep up with the TWIA bill progress by looking on-line and in newspapers, however, I have found neither very helpful. The on-line history indicates that the House Conference Committee report was printed and distributed just before midnight Saturday, but the text is not available. I cannot determine whether they struck the existing consumer protection laws.
Most newspapers do not have reporters up late reading an eighty page bill for buried language that may harm consumers. Indeed, because of their financial plight, most newspapers no longer have reporters covering state legislatures.
We will try to keep you posted as we learn more about this significant TWIA legislation.