Thursday, May 21, 2009

Texas Lege Crunch Time - voterID, gas tax

On the Voter ID bill, it needs to pass the House. Update from supporters:

We are in grave danger of running out of time for the Voter ID bill to pass. We expected it to be heard this Friday (May 22), but we now have word that it might not make it to the floor until after Monday. This would end any hope of passing Voter ID this session. We must not let this happen! If the Photo ID bill is not heard before the Texas Dept. of Insurance (“TDI”) Sunset Bill and the Texas Windstorm Insurance bill are heard, there is speculation that the Democrats will leave in order to shut down the House and prevent Voter ID from coming to a vote. Please tell Speaker Joe Straus the Voter ID Bill must be heard this Saturday.

What to do: Call Speaker Joe Straus’s office immediately. Ask him to please bring the Voter ID bill to the House floor no later than Saturday! 512-463-0686 on the gas-tax bill - Senate Bill 855 - wounded but not quite dead yet:

As you know, the Texas House was supposed to consider a series of massive gas-tax hike proposals today, but the legislation keeps bumping back in the calendar. According to the Austin American Statesman, that's because the votes aren't there to pass it!

The thousands of letters and phone calls we together generated over the last several days apparently paid off! We cannot be complacent, though. At any moment supporters of the House legislation could try a sneak-attack vote. Keep applying heat -- turn it up more! -- so your state representative will continue to see the light!

Let's not get cocky with a false sense of victory; State Sen. John Carona is telling the Statesman he is amending the Texas Department of Transportation sunset bill to implement his original version of the legislation (our video). In addition to letting counties hike the gas tax, it also provided a menu of other fees that could be imposed to fund "mobility projects" with an emphasis on light-rail and other boondoggles. Sound-off here!

This issue is obviously a moving target, so we must keep up the pressure. Carona's amendment, like the legislation before it, has no transparency and no accountability. But it does give government more ways to waste your hard-earned money.

If Carona succeeds in amending the TxDOT sunset bill in the Senate with his tax language, House members will have a harder time (but not impossible) taking it off. So we need to focus our efforts, again, on your state senator. Also make sure that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, knows where you stand on this issue.

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