2017 Archives

Only 2 weeks left in the Texas Legislature reality show

Excerpt

The following is from the May 13, 2017, edition of Bud Kennedy's regular political column in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. SMU Political Science Professors Cal Jillson and Matthew Wilson contributed comments.

May 17, 2017

 By Bud Kennedy

 The Texas Legislature nearly made it legal for children of any age to carry a sword, saber or Bowie knife.

But almost nobody outside the Capitol was paying attention, because … Trump.

If you haven’t followed this year’s political reality show in Austin, you’ve missed more drama than in any “Real Housewives” episode.

Last Thursday, a resentful Freedom Caucus clique chewed up time just to kill other House Republicans’ bills. State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, was reduced to tears pleading with his own party to hear a bill on experimental stem cell treatments that might help his wife, Lydia.

From the general tone of House and Senate leaders, it’s probably a good thing the Lege didn’t fully legalize Bowie knives. In particular, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus have dickered over how to cover the budget shortfall, over a new government program sending money to private schools, and over whether Texas needs a new law to ensure orderly toilet use. . . . 

Gov. Greg Abbott wields Twitter like Trump. Only Abbott hasn’t bombed Syria or gladhanded with the Russians.

“With extraordinary news events breaking hourly, even an accomplished political showman like Dan Patrick has a tough time attracting any attention,” wrote Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson. . . . 

The Legislature has punished cities and counties that don’t lock up federal immigration detainees, chopped higher education budgets and put straight-ticket voting on the endangered list. . . . 

“People are missing the story of an increasingly bitter feud between establishment, ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Republicans and more conservative ideologues,” SMU’s Matthew Wilson wrote. “With Democrats as largely irrelevant bystanders, a battle is playing out for the soul of the Texas Republican Party, with Straus and Patrick embodying the competing visions.”

Read the full column.