Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Has time run out for eminent domain protection and veto override?

Last night, time may have run out on two important bills.
First, the Statesman’s Jason Embry reports on eminent domain legislation. SB 18 was passed by the Senate and was before the House when it shut down at midnight with many bills left on the calendar.

Embry says, “Many thought the chubbing might ease up enough Tuesday for some big non-voter ID bills to pass, such as the bill authorizing the state to get federal stimulus dollars for unemployment insurance and the eminent-domain legislation. But Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, had other ideas, launching his own talk-a-thon that ate up most of the day . . .

“So there are six days left in the session and some major Senate bills are (at best) in serious jeopardy because they did not pass the House: . . . eminent domain . . . If any of this is going to be salvaged, there is going to have to be major triage in the Senate . . . "

Let’s hope some “major triage” can save SB 18--stronger protection against eminent domain for landowners.

The second good bill in danger is HJR 29 that would allow the Legislature to come back after the regular session to override a governor’s veto. As reported by Christy Hoppe, Dallas Morning News, Sen. Jeff Wentworth says that Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst “are conspiring to kill” this constitutional amendment.

From Hoppe’s article: “Sen. Jeff Wentworth, speaking with unusual candor against powerhouses in the Capitol, said Dewhurst betrayed a trust as the Senate's presiding officer to deal fairly and address bills that have the support of two-thirds of the 31-member Senate. Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said he had collected the signatures of 26 Senate supporters for the constitutional proposal, but Dewhurst told him that at the behest of the governor, he would not call up the bill for debate."

Wentworth said, "[Dewhurst] made a deal with the governor and gave his word he'd kill the bill. He told me that the governor has talked to him 20 times about it." The veto override passed the House easily and has been sitting in the Senate since May 15—more than enough time for it to be debated and passed by the 26 Senators that have signed up for it.

To allow Texans to vote on this amendment is overwhelmingly favored by their representatives in the House and the Senate. It is being killed by Perry and Dewhurst. What does this tell us about the need for this amendment?

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