Posts Tagged ‘Joe Straus’

State Rep. Warren Chisum, a Republican from Pampa, Texas plans to seek a place on the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), either by gubernatorial appointment once Michael Williams resigns in April or by running for the seat expected to be vacated next year when Elizabeth Ames Jones declines to seek re-election because of her aspirations to the U.S. Senate.

The 72-year-old lawmaker has served in the House since 1989 and is an oil and natural gas producer and rancher who began his career on oil drilling rigs and in truck yards.  A key lieutenant of former Speaker Thomas Russell “Tom” Craddick, Sr., and an active candidate in the ill-fated attempt to unseat Speaker Joe Straus at the beginning of the current session, Chisum has not had a committee chairmanship since Tom Craddick was toppled in 2009.

Recent recommendations from the Sunset Advisory Commission call for changing the name of the agency to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission and restructuring it to be governed by a single statewide elected official who would serve a four-year term concurrent with the governor and the other major statewides.  Chisum disagrees with the move to change the RRC from a three member elected commission to a single elected commissioner.

If he does enter next year’s Railroad Commission primary, Chisum starts with a heavy “war chest.”   His current report on file with the Texas Ethics Commission shows him with more than $632,000 cash on hand.

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The Texas Legislature opened its 2011 session yesterday amid a great deal of fanfare, but little substance at this point.  However, we can expect more interesting things to happen starting today when the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission makes their legislative recommendations for such controvercial agencies as the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and even the Public Utility Commission, who have come under some scrutiny during the hearings that were held back in December of last year. 

Yesterday the Republican caucus gathered to hash out what turned into a fizzled leadership challenge.  Today the Texas House met and affirmed Speaker Joe Straus‘ leadership, so we will move forward.  We still expect some changes in committee membership and leadership (in part due to the vast numbers of freshmen legislators that came out of the backlash elections in November), but perhaps not so much as might have been expected from a change in the speakership.  Most interesting as we begin this session is the gigantic budget shortfall that could change state government as the people have come to know it.

Republicans, having amassed their largest House majority in Texas history, now dominate the Legislature. Most of them are promising to make deep cuts in spending, balance the budget without new taxes, re-visit ID requirements for voters, “crack down” on illegal immigration and require women to get a sonogram — and then look at it — before having an abortion.

In remarks to the Senate yesterday, Perry warned lawmakers it won’t be easy to balance a budget facing such a massive shortfall.  The official revenue estimate shows the state is short billions — as much as $27 billion — of the amount that would be required to maintain the current level of services when adjusted for inflation and caseload growth.  Proportionally, Texas’ budget shortfall is worse than that of California and it is likely that any new initiatives that have a fiscal impact on the state’s budget bill, will go down in flames.

Democrats blamed Republican leaders for creating the shortfall and posit that critical programs will be curtailed as a result.

In the inimitable words of Bette Davis in All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

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Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio (District 121) has released the names of 122 lawmakers who he says have pledged him their vote for speaker, giving him enough support for another term (of that number 79 of the 99 elected Republicans are included). 

Speaker Straus says he believes the race for speaker is over, but he is being challenged by Rep. Warren Chisum, a conservative Republican from Pampa, TX (District 88), who says the race is not over.

Texas Speaker races can be quite interesting.  We’ll keep you updated.

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And its off to the races!  The state legislative session has officially begun.  House representatives and state senators were officially sworn into office in formal ceremonies Tuesday.  The biggest news, of course, was the unanimous election of Joe Straus as Speaker of the House.joeanddaughters

Highlights from the House ceremonies:

  • Hope Andrade, Secretary of State, got choked up as she announced and congratulated Straus’s election.  I actually saw her wipe away a tear.  I like a little emotion from my politicians, and this just shows how high hopes run at the dome for a bipartisan, productive session.
  • Environmental folks got a hat tip from Speaker Straus during remarks.  As he listed the work to be done and Texas’ greatest challenges this session, Straus mentioned that “We must be better stewards of our natural resources and protect our environment.” Not too shabby, we’ll certainly take what we can get.

To read more exhaustive, who-said-what-congratulatory-comment type reporting on the Speaker’s election, check out Capitol Annex – Vince Leibowitz did an excellent job of covering the  event, and even “live-Twittered” the whole thing.  Check it out.

Also, try Greg Harmon’s post to the SA Current blog on how Energy efficiency could get greased with Speaker Straus.

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straus2Joe Straus (R- San Antonio) announced in a press conference this morning that he has enough pledged supporters to win the race for Speaker of the Texas House.

In holding with the national trend towards change and bipartisanship, Straus will replace the great and powerful Tom Craddick with a pledge to bring harmony back to the sharply divided Texas legislature.

Said Democratic strategist Harold Cook in an article in the Dallas Morning News,

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like the guy, and in the Legislature, that’s really saying something,” Cook said. “It’s easy to see why people looking for a new tone out of the Texas House are gravitating toward him.”

Other state Dems agreed,

“He is one of the most honest people that I know,” said Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio. “He’s going to be a fair speaker who will rule with an even hand and an open mind.”

We have seen such a bitterly divided legislature in recent years, these reactions sound almost too good to be true.  But it looks as though Straus may represent Texas’ brightest hope for a constructive, pragmatic legislative session.

What’s more, Straus has a positive history on ethics reform, open government, and has shown significant leadership on environmental issues.  As a member of the Regulated Industries Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Efficiency, Straus oversaw the passage of the most important energy efficiency bill since deregulation. Straus’ HB 3693 doubled utilities’ efficiency goals to 20% of load growth by 2010 and directed the Public Utility Commission to study whether increasing the program to 50% of load growth is technically possible.  This report, released by ITRON a month ago, found that Texas could not only meet but exceed that goal.

Straus has also received awards from both the Texas Public Power Association and the  Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club for his work in energy efficiency and contributions to public power.

Public Citizen congratulates Straus on being the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, and looks forward to working with him in the upcoming session.

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