in Houston, Texas
Newspaper notice law ‘horse and buggy’ thinking, Rep. Jonathan Stickland wants governments in Texas to post online
Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013, 04:49PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
horse and buggy

You can already hear a distant drumbeat, the pounding of 40-gallon drums holding printer’s ink.

Freshman state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, who rode into the Texas House on a surge of small-government austerity, has filed a bill he says will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Stickland’s House Bill 335 would rescind laws that require all government bodies to pay newspapers to advertise their public notices. Instead, they would be free to post these notices on their taxpayer underwritten government websites.

Be forewarned, the following will include allusions to and even overt references to government transparency and accountability, an informed public, the commonweal and all that.

But really, when you get down to it, as we must when it comes to government, it’s going to be all about the money. And make no mistake, it’s a lot of money.

In the age of the Internet, the government tether to expensive ads in newspapers people increasingly aren’t reading is horse and buggy thinking, Stickland says. Most government bodies, even tiny municipal utility districts (MUDs), have their own websites.

Posting notices of upcoming public meetings and important actions, even soliciting public input, could be done as effectively at little or no cost on those websites, Stickland says.

Just how much taxpayers could save is a little hard to figure. When contacted by Texas Watchdog, neither the Texas Press Association nor the National Newspaper Association could provide estimates of how much newspapers earn from taxpayer-funded advertising.

Anecdotal evidence - like the $25 million a year Pennsylvania is likely spending, according to an Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy study, or the $4 million annually that school districts alone in Texas spend, a state Comptroller study found - hint at an enormous market.

Or in figures from around the country provided by legal-notice.org, a nonprofit clearinghouse for, believe it or not, news concerning public notice law.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley told Stickland’s staff moving to website notices would save county taxpayers $50,000 per year.

The National Newspaper Association back in 2000 estimated 5 to 10 percent of a newspaper’s revenue came from public notice advertising, the Annenberg Center report said. The figure today is as much as but no more than 5 percent in Texas, Donnis Baggett, executive vice-president of the Texas Press Association, says.

And while classified advertising revenue dropped 29 percent during the period the Annenberg Center looked at, public notice revenues were off by 4.3 percent.

Jonathan SticklandJonathan Stickland

In short, according to Stickland, the current welter of public notice law “amounts to nothing but a taxpayer subsidy for the companies that own newspapers, and it needs to go the way of the horse and buggy.”

Cue an incessant ink drum beat getting louder.

The editorial board for The Eagle in Bryan-College Station wrote that newspapers make a pittance on public notices and offer a tremendous public service.

“While at first glance, the bill seems innocuous, it is, in fact, dangerous – and, it won't save much money, either,” the editorial said.

Mark Engebretson, editor of the Lake County Sun, called on readers to take action.

“Call legislators, let them know,” he wrote. “It’s a bad idea, forget it. Don’t know who the legislators are? They’re listed on the Internet.”

At the top of the list of bad reasons, Baggett says, is leaving the legal responsibility of public notice in the hands of public officials. As even a casual reader of Texas Watchdog can tell you, despite the endless rhetoric, public officials have an unrelievedly awful record of making sure the people know what they’re up to.

“The fact is, most officials see this as a bother and an unnecessary expense,” Baggett says. “They would rather not deal with it.”

But if it were to come to pass, Baggett says citizens would be left to search each and every website for each and every notice from each and every government body. Providing the government body has a website.

And providing the citizen has a computer. Relying on new technology threatens to disenfranchise the poor and minorities, something the Texas Press Association has written extensively about.

Not in print but on its website, Keep Texas Notified.

If Keep Texas Notified can keep Texas notified, why couldn’t websites operated independently of government compete for the advertising monopolized by newspapers? The laws themselves, for one thing.

Legal-notice.org shows no record of any change other than that at the local level. In 2008, 153 bills, amendments and proposals like Stickland’s were proposed, the Annenberg Center study said. Few got a hearing, and none at the state level passed.

Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, a St. Petersburg, Fla., journalism think tank, says newspapers have so far protected their turf.

“Seems to show that the old media has some clout still, slapping down these proposals as they come up,” Edmonds wrote in an e-mail to Texas Watchdog.

Expect Stickland’s bill to get slapped around by the old media some more before the session is over.

“We believe his bill might be unconstitutional,” Baggett says. “We’re looking into that.”

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of horse and buggy by flickr user K.B. Ansari, used via a Creative Commons license.

Surplus refunded to taxpayers under Gov. Rick Perry’s plan
Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013, 03:03PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Texas state Capitol

Flush with an oil and gas-generated surplus of nearly $9 billion, Gov. Rick Perry has called for a change in the Texas Constitution to allow the state to refund unspent revenues directly to taxpayers.

Perry brought the audience for his biennial state of the state address to their feet Tuesday morning asking the Legislature and citizens to help find $1.8 billion in tax relief during this session.

Surprised at the duration of the ovation, Perry remarked, “I'm proud that in Texas, we're talking about the best way to give money back to the people who paid it.”

Perry, delivering his seventh state address to the joint meeting of the House and Senate, said Texas needed to take advantage of its role as a national economic leader and put its financial house in order.

To be able to return unspent tax money to citizens directly would require amending the state Constitution. Such an amendment would require approval by two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate and by a majority in a statewide referendum.

Last year, with a budget surplus of $2.1 billion, the state of Indiana granted state tax credits of $111 for every taxpaying individual and $222 for couples.

Rick PerryRick Perry


“We've never bought into the notion that if you collect more, you need to spend more,” Perry said.

The governor’s office established a website soliciting ideas for how to provide the $1.8 billion in tax tax relief. At the same time, he called for an even tighter, more streamlined budget and a constitutional limit on spending growth tied to the growth in population and inflation.

The franchise tax exemption for small business should be made permanent, he said.

In the future, state budgets would not rely on budget gimmickry like dedicating collections of taxes and fees tied to specific bills only to hold onto the funds or use them for another purpose.

“If we don't need taxpayer money for that purpose,” Perry said, “let's not collect it at all.”

Perry emphatically reiterated his longstanding position that Texas will not expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange under the terms dictated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Texas is not going to drive millions of dollars more into an unsustainable system, one that would drive Texas into bankruptcy,” Perry said.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Texas state Capitol by flickr user Matt Rife, used via a Creative Commons license.

Lawmaker promises less raiding of state’s dedicated funds - like those for utility bills of poor
Thursday, Jan 24, 2013, 01:25PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
dome

Imagine if you were to hold a fundraiser for terminally ill children from abusive homes, raised a potful of money and used it to pay your rent.

In the Texas Legislature, this is known as “dedicating,” passing laws that require setting aside an amount of taxation or fee to carry out their goals and sitting on it, instead, to plug holes in the state budget.

This practice, clearly lacking in dedication, has produced what the Legislature has come to think of as a slush fund of nearly $5 billion, all perfectly legal if you talk to the right kind of lawyer.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams tells the Dallas Morning News he’s willing to take a crack at ending the process of dedicated funding. But he isn’t exactly sure how and thinks it might take two or three legislative sessions.

Williams, R-The Woodlands, says lawmakers began leaning on locking in funding in the last decade when state sales tax collections were volatile. A volatile state sales tax, however, is the funding source for all that dedication, making budgeting itself an unstable business.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Williams said.

In the meantime, low-income utility customers, the dedicated fund the Legislature isn’t using to help you has grown to $850 million. Air quality awaits improvement while its fund is $798 million. Paramedic and hospital emergency services is short $388 million the Legislature promised.

May we suggest, while you are waiting, a fundraiser?

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of state Capitol dome by flickr user dziner, used via a Creative Commons license.

In these tough budget times, Austin ISD adds $100K-earning administrators
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013, 11:11AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
schoolbus

Before adding the $5.4 billion Democratic state Rep. Lon Burnam says was cruelly torn from the public education budget in the last session, the Legislature, among their many questions, might ask how much of that tax money will be used to pad the salaries of administrators.

While education advocates and some politicians, including Burnam, D-Fort Worth, waited for the sky to fall on Texas schoolchildren, the number of administrators making more than $100,000 increased by 63 percent in the Austin Independent School District, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

As Texas Watchdog reported last year, a remarkable number of school administrators managed to keep their jobs, while school districts in the wake of budget cuts eliminated thousands of vacant teaching positions.

Even as the last Legislature went into its session knowing it would have to cut the overall public education budget by several billion dollars, KXAN-TV in Austin reported on the comfortable salary and benefits packages for school superintendents in the Austin area.

This year, 70 of the 11,973 employees for AISD make annual salaries of more than $100,000, up from 56 just a year ago and from 43 at the end of the school year in 2008.

The operations budget during the same five years has dropped 16 percent, the district shed more than 1,100 education positions and overall district employment was flat, the paper reports.

The big-ticket earners are the 12 members of what the Statesman calls the “senior cabinet” of advisors to the sometimes secretive Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. How positively medieval of us to think that only U.S. presidents have cabinets.

The rest of those in the $100,000-plus club are executive directors and directors, and high and middle school principals. Always good to know public schools still have principals.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of schoolbus by flickr user sunchild_dd, used via a Creative Commons license.

Ethics bill would require disclosure of lawmakers’ contracts with state of Texas
Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013, 12:53PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
see-through raincoat

Look out, Linda Harper-Brown. If lawmakers aren’t careful people are going to start calling this the See-Through Legislature.

Blissfully aware of the animus they are supposed to have for one another’s politics, hardline conservative Rep. Giovanni Capriglione and hardline liberal Rep. Mary González are staging a veritable lovefest with a bill that would require all legislators to disclose if they or their family members do business with state or local government.

House Bill 524 would require lawmakers, many of whom are also lawyers, to waive any attorney-client privilege should they choose to represent a company doing business with a state agency, a public university or a water district, the Texas Tribune reports.

The bill comes less than a year after the Ethics Commission fined Harper-Brown, R-Irving, $2,000 for failing to reveal that a brand new Mercedes Benz she had been driving was a barter payment to her husband for accounting work he did for a company with state transportation contracts.

Giovanni CapriglioneGiovanni Capriglione

Harper-Brown sat on the House Transportation Committee at the time a complaint was filed against her with the Ethics Commission.

Capriglione, in his second week on the job, is daring his colleagues to ignore their bill.  “I want to see who doesn’t vote for this,” he tells the Tribune. “It gets to the crux of the distrust between the public and elected officials: Where there’s a lack of transparency, they assume the worst.”

The Southlake Republican has a little familiarity with the topic, having beaten former Rep. Vicki Truitt, another disclosure-challenged representative of the people, in the Republican primary in District 98 this past May.

Giving Capriglione a big rhetorical bearhug, the Democrat from Clint replied, “Transparency and ethics are bipartisan issues.”

Taking this sentiment to heart, state Sen. Wendy Davis on Tuesday filed Senate Bill 178, a companion bill with much the same disclosure language as HB 524.

Davis, D-Fort Worth, was able to research her bill firsthand as a partner of Brian Newby, former chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry. Newby Davis promotes on its website expertise representing every manner of government entity including the state’s public schools and a facility for assisting on bond financing.

Accused by her Republican opponent for state Senate, Mark Shelton, of criminal conflicts of interest, Davis this past fall insisted her practice did not interfere with her role as a representative. She declined, however, to identify her clients, telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to do so would violate attorney-client privilege.

At the time she was denying any conflict of interest, Davis decided to remain mum on Shelton’s contention that Newby Davis was being paid handsomely to represent the North Texas Tollway Authority at the same time Davis was voting to support SB469 assisting the authority in collecting unpaid tolls.

Davis told Texas Tribune yesterday afternoon she would be amending SB 178 just in case it wasn’t clear enough to everyone the disclosure requirement would include her.

Capitol visitors this session, don’t worry. Should the emperors speaking on the floor of the House or Senate be wearing no clothes, assume they have filed another transparency bill.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of clear raincoat via Allyn.com, the site documenting the work of artist Mark Allyn. Photo of Texas state Capitol by flickr user Frank Swift, used via a Creative Commons license.

Double dipping by elected officials targeted by Texas state Rep. Chris Turner
Thursday, Jan 10, 2013, 09:52AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money

Opening week of a new session of the Texas Legislature, vacant as it is of much substance, is the perfect time to send up flares for bills lawmakers hope won’t be talked about come May.

Take House Bill 413, a rather short and direct piece of lawmaking that would prohibit elected officials eligible for a state pension to collect it while drawing a state salary.

Those officials would not include Gov. Rick Perry and several others whose identities and pensions are kept confidential by a law passed by the legislative bodies to which they belong.

Late in 2011, at the time he was required by federal law to declare he was collecting a pension of more than $90,000 in addition to his $150,000 a year governor’s salary, Perry told the Texas Tribune,  “I think you would be rather foolish to not access what you’ve earned.”

Having been stung by the governor’s disclosure, state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, filed a corrective in HB 413, the Tribune reports today.  The bill, however, is carefully written so as not to cut off the governor or any of the anonymous elected officials currently - how shall we put this - double dipping.

“I just couldn’t believe it, and I think most Texans can’t believe elected officials can collect a salary, retire and still stay on the job and collect a pension all at the same time,” Turner told the Tribune.

Given current law, the public will never know how many elected officials might be stopped by HB 413, assuming the Legislature has the will to deny itself the pensions a past Legislature once determined it had so justly earned.

Such an unusual display of courage might serve as an example to Congress where a dozen or so Texas representatives are drawing federal pensions on top of their salaries.

Or the more than 6,200 state employees who draw salaries and pensions, 189 of them, including Perry, do so while earning annual salaries of $100,000 or more.

Not to mention the nearly 200 employees of the Fort Worth Independent School District and who knows how many other employees in how many other school districts across Texas.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of money by flickr user Tax Credits, used via a Creative Commons license.

Booming revenues have officials in Texas pondering pay raises, boosts to programs
Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013, 10:53AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
bar

Like the guy who finds a crumpled $20 bill on the floor on his way out of the tavern and heads right back to his favorite bar stool, Texas governments are all of a sudden flush.

Booming oil and gas industries have produced enough tax revenue to give the Legislature an estimated $8.8 billion more than they had to play with the last time they met in 2011.

(Please see the detailed revenue estimated for the 2014-15 biennium prepared by the Texas Comptroller here.)

And would you believe in Dallas County, commissioners found enough property value increases and spending cuts under the cushions to scrape together as much as $17 million to toss into the 2014 fiscal pickle jar?

To our deliberative heroes in Austin, according to the New York Times today, the surplus is very nearly as vexatious as an estimated $27 billion shortfall was coming into the last session.

For the titanium umbrella crowd who in 2011 predicted the Texas sky would unravel and drop, the surplus is an opportunity to atone for moral failures in public education, indigent health care, prisons and road infrastructure.

To those who see Tea Party freshmen taking their seats in an already conservative House there is, more than ever, pressure to appear in every spending measure austere.

Dallas County commissioners, too, are singing the ballad of fiscal surplus woe. Mike Cantrell, the only Republican on the court, reminded fellow commissioners how easy it is to spend a surplus, the Dallas Morning News reports.

“I’m hoping we move slowly,” Cantrell said.

But what of all the deprivation endured by Dallas County government since the economy began its atrophy in 2008? County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, suggested the county use its surplus to make up for lost time, giving raises to all department heads

There are, Jenkins said, “some real opportunities to improve the quality of life” in Dallas County, meaning, apparently, the lives of those running county departments.

State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, explained the current and perpetual dilemma to the Times this way:

“I think there’s going to be a group of people who think we’ve got the money, we need to spend it. I think there’s going to be a group of people who think we need to cut our budget more. The session could be very difficult because of those two groups of people pushing us.”

Check back with us in about 139 days. Having never in 33 years written a story about government returning a surplus to the taxpayers, we think we know which group of people will come out on top.

In the meantime, we plan to have a drink on the guy at the bar with the wrinkled twenty.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo by flickr user joelgoodman, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas schools want local control, state cash -- $1 billion in supplemental funding as Legislature convenes
Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013, 11:20AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
bus

Texas Watchdog last week celebrated with prolonged reverie one of the Internet’s several birthdays. I’m sure you remember the 30th, the day Network Control Protocol gave way to Transmission Control and Internet Protocols that changed everything.

What those protocols eventually gave us was the ability to gather news, not just from our mossback hometown newspaper, but from everywhere.

Take today, for example, the day the Texas Legislature convenes for its 83rd biennial time. On this day Texas teachers, administrators and school board members want the Legislature to know how they bridle for control of their school districts.

They struggle with their budgets and staffing, the imposition of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing, tailoring their curricula and setting their school calendars. As the Dallas Morning News headline reads today, “Texas School Districts Want State Off Their Backs.”

“We see this every session when we go through our biennial legislative agenda. Every time, it’s about local control,” Dax Gonzalez, with the Texas Association of School Boards, tells the Morning News.

Oh, and while you are liberating us, could you spare an extra $1 billion?

Without that infusion of state tax money, Shirley Beaulieu, chief financial officer at the Texas Education Agency, testified in an ongoing public school funding lawsuit, school districts won’t be able to pay their bills come summer, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Rick Gray, a lawyer for many of the more than 600 school districts that have since joined the lawsuit, reminded everyone just how far local control extends on school matters.

"This just magnifies the need for the Legislature to seriously get in and solve the problem once and for all," Gray says. "We're playing the robbing Peter to pay Paul year in and year out."

For his part, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the new chairman of the Senate Education Committee, tells the Morning News he fully intends to work on the issue of local control. From Austin.

“I’m willing to bend over backwards to help school districts be flexible and successful,” Patrick tells the Morning News. “But they have to be willing to be flexible as well.”

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of school bus by flickr user Whatknot, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas state legislature a minefield of potential conflicts of interest
Monday, Jan 07, 2013, 06:13PM CST
By Lee Ann O'Neal
Texas state Capitol

From House Speaker Joe Straus’ horse racing investments to Rep. Carol Alvarado’s work consulting to governments, Hearst Newspapers does a solid job explaining the myriad potential conflicts of interest for state lawmakers.

We’ve looked at some of those conflicts in detail here at Texas Watchdog. Take Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, whose company manages an economic development district in Houston. Like other management districts, Westchase District was created by the Legislature. and can be altered and regulated by laws created in Austin.

Murphy does the work via the company to avoid running afoul of an attorney general’s decision that managing it directly while serving in the House would be a conflict of interest.

The story also highlights Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, and Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, who both have served in powerful legislative positions overseeing the state’s insurer of last resort, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Eiland earned six-figure legal fees from a multimillion-dollar Hurricane Ike settlement between homeowners and the insurer. Taylor is an insurance agent whose bread gets buttered by selling policies including those issued by TWIA.

The story explains that for all the potential conflicts that are plain to see, there are many more that may be lurking behind broad disclosure rules and loopholes in reporting requirements. Listings like “consultant” on ethics forms and lawyers who can keep their clients confidential keep those disclosures opaque.

***
Contact Lee Ann O’Neal at 713-980-9777 or leeann@texaswatchdog.org.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Texas state Capitol by flickr user neohippie, used via a Creative Commons license.

Rep. Bill Callegari aims to curb state licensing; Texas regulates eyebrow hair removal, timekeeping for boxing matches
Friday, Dec 07, 2012, 10:10AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Texas state Capitol dome

Pay attention in this next legislative session to state Rep. Bill Callegari, chairman of the House Government Efficiency and Reform Committee.

The work of the committee will almost certainly be overshadowed, as it is every session, with the high decibel clamoring to spend your tax billions. But what this committee accomplishes by the end of next May is one important measure of how serious your elected officials are about curbing their worst impulses.

Texas, Callegari tells the Austin American-Statesman, is unnecessarily regulated and over-licensed. He has so far filed four bills and has plans to file more in a broad salvo against those regulations and licenses.

Bill CallegariBill Callegari

Callegari, R-Katy, has filed a bill to get rid of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR tests, for high school students and roll the public education system back to testing methods that have been around for decades, the Statesman reports.

Texas Watchdog has long reported on efforts to repeal state mandated training and fees for such arcane services as eyebrow hair removal and wig refurbishing. Callegari is nettled by licenses for court reporters who use shorthand, timekeepers for boxing matches and shellfish processors, the Statesman says.

Callegari filed two bills, one for reviewing and phasing out silly licensing and one to give leverage for challenges to silly licensing to individuals and non-profit groups like the Institute for Justice that give legal help to people with their regulatory fights.

“When you regulate an occupation, you are expanding government control on how that job is done,” Callegari says. “That’s where the rubber really hits the road as far as government control.”

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Texas state Capitol dome by flickr user victorfe places, used via a Creative Commons license.

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Sen. Joan Huffman to recap the 85th From the InBox: Join us THIS WEDNESDAY, June 14 (Flag Day!), for our meeting with State Sen. Joan Huffman, SD 17, who will be discussing...
Update:2 years 8 months
Big Jolly Politics
Gov. Abbott mistakes incarceration smell for "freedom" Governor Greg Abbott made a speech in Bell County recently declaring that, as one drove north out of Austin, one could notice a different...
Update:2 years 8 months
Grits for Breakfast
Unanswered questions about law-of-parties beyond death penalty In our podcast the other day, Texas Defender Service Executive Director Amanda Marzullo estimated that 10 percent of death-row defendants...
Update:2 years 8 months
Grits for Breakfast
Priorities The headline from the Victoria Advocate declaring that the Texas Legislature prioritized mental health treatment over incarceration is...
Update:2 years 8 months
Grits for Breakfast
Legislative Session The 85th Legislative Session was different in many ways. Two things changed the narrative this session. First, Empower Texans successfully...
Update:2 years 8 months
Big Jolly Politics
Court trends advise tempered enthusiasm for HB 34 eyewitness ID reforms Does this sound like a suggestive photo array to put before a witness?A witness described being robbed at gunpoint by a “[b]lack male,...
Update:2 years 8 months
Grits for Breakfast
MAY 22, 2917 / Theodore Dalrymple on secularization and transcendence THE SECULARIZATION of Europe is hardly any secret. Religion's long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no...
Update:2 years 9 months
Unca Darrell
MAY 10 / James B. Comey . . . . . . needed firing. Everything he did during the 2016 election was wrong. He was wrong . . . . . . back in July to release information...
Update:2 years 9 months
Unca Darrell
Droppin' F bombs, Beto O'Rourke style It's not often that a politician decides to start cursing repeatedly during speeches and interviews. But that hasn't stopped...
Update:2 years 11 months
Rick Perry vs The World
APRIL 5, 2017 / Weeding out the audience at the Alley is . . . . . . a feature, not a bug. Houston's Alley Theatre is running "An Act of God," a loosely dramatized collection of irreverent one-liners...
Update:2 years 11 months
Unca Darrell
Statewide primary rumors It's that stage of the election cycle where politicians are trying to figure out if they should run for something else or stay put. ...
Update:2 years 11 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Not really. Sure, he's not liked, Texans think Ted puts Ted first, his approval rating is upside down, etc...
Update:2 years 11 months
Rick Perry vs The World
MARCH 16, 2017 / Jim Webb on what it means to be a redneck, and . . . . . . why redneck culture matters. In 2004 Jim Webb wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Though the 2016 presidential...
Update:2 years 11 months
Unca Darrell
MARCH 3, 2017 -- Goodbye, and thanks, to Thomas Sowell THOMAS SOWELL, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of America's most important public intellectuals, retired from...
Update:3 years 1 week
Unca Darrell
March 2, 2017 / The poem our teachers got wrong TWO ROADS diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Generations of commencement...
Update:3 years 1 week
Unca Darrell
FEBRUARY 27 / Eric Hoffer on . . . . . . baby boomers and alienated intellectuals. "SCRATCH AN INTELLECTUAL, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the...
Update:3 years 1 week
Unca Darrell
2017 Project: January “Progress” There are two different ways to interpret my 2017 project: that it's a way more complicated New Years Resolution, or that it is essentially...
Update:3 years 1 month
Greg's Opinion
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell It...
Update:3 years 1 month
Rick Perry vs The World
Andrea Parquet-Taylor named KTVT CBS 11 news director Former KHOU 11 assistant news director Andrea Parquet-Taylor named Vice President, News Director for KTVT CBS 11 Andrea...
Update:3 years 1 month
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:3 years 1 month
Mike McGuff
Democrats actually thought Wendy Davis was a serious candidate? Hat tip to Willisms: VIDEO- Wendy Davis being Wendy Davis: https://t.co/SHq3ACGVDJ #txlege— Will Franklin (@WILLisms) January 24,...
Update:3 years 1 month
Rick Perry vs The World
Luke Bryan to sing National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI on FOX ​ Country music superstar LUKE BRYAN will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI pregame festivities at NRG Stadium in Houston...
Update:3 years 1 month
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 9 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 7 years 9 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 9 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 7 years 9 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 7 years 9 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 7 years 9 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
San Antonio Current | 7 years 9 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 7 years 9 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 7 years 9 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 7 years 9 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 7 years 9 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 7 years 9 months
Diigo: United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip - Business - http://t.co/kWY8gwPV http://t.co/bw25JP5R
News 4 WOAI | 7 years 9 months
If you see news in or around San Antonio 'SEND IT' to @NEWS4WOAI here: http://t.co/uMqbMXQv OR email us at: NEWSDESK@WOAITV.COM
swamplot | 7 years 9 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 7 years 9 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 7 years 9 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 7 years 9 months
Mental Health Awareness Week FREE Webinar:"Understanding Depression-How to Help You or a Loved One" Thurs,Oct 11@1pm-https://t.co/YUWi19WY
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