Konni Burton and other legislators attend energy briefing with quacks

10922581_215067605334889_3678561947259798580_oThere’s no need to bring your pitchforks and white hoods when you become a freshman in the Texas Lege. There are other people you meet down there who will bring all that — and a tin foil hat too.

Take, for instance, the photo to the right. It was posted on Senator Konni Burton’s Facebook page, from which I haven’t been blocked yet.

Yesterday morning (Wednesday, Jan. 21) she and other legislators attended an Energy Infrastructure Security Breakfast Briefing sponsored by fellow North Texas Republican legislators Rep. Tan Parker and Sen. Kelly Hancock. The guests of honor were, as you see, Frank Gaffney and Dr. Peter Vincent Fry.

Gaffney and Fry make Ted Cruz look like a kind and gentle grandmother.

Gaffney’s one helluva sweetheart. He’s a border-closing, right-wing warmongering Islamophobe who clings to his Bullion as much as his convictions. A champion of our 2003 march into Iraq (get the energy connection now?), he later threw around accusations that everybody and anybody was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Most notably he alleged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin was a conspirator in the Brotherhood, a claim also supported by former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Gaffney set up a legitimate-sounding front shop for his whackodom called the Center for Security Policy. You can read more about him here.

Fry is concerned about the nuclear arsenal as executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, according to his Family Security Matters profile. He predicts the world is going to end a lot. He’s so concerned about our families’ security matters he formed The Noah Project, which is “dedicated to the civil defense and survival of American families and their communities in the event of a nuclear or solar EMP or any other catastrophic event that would affect societal change in America.”

They’ve formed two compounds — one already sold out — where you can live off their products and proven method. Funny enough, the website didn’t even mention the word “militia.”

Later that day, Sen. Burton voted with 19 other senators (including one Democrat) to gut the Senate’s two-thirds rule, which required 21 senators to even debate legislation. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick actively campaigned against the rule on the campaign trail.

He got what he asked for. The chamber voted to replace it with a three-fifths rule, requiring only 19 senators instead. Many observers say the two-thirds rule worked in the Democrats’ favor, and propelled Burton’s predecessor Wendy Davis to international fame by allowing her to filibuster legislation. (Incidentally, the rule propelled Burton into her current career as well.)

Folks, these are the people who represent you, whether you voted for them or not. They are taking advice from folks like Gaffney and Fry. They listen to the Eagle Forum’s virulently anti-LGBT Cathie Adams and take big checks from archconservative Republican millionaires. They are recruited and polished by fringe groups like Gaffney’s. And they run Texas.

After the briefing, legislators could ask questions. I wonder what they asked.

—  James Russell

Bought and sold: Lt. Gov-elect Patrick packs advisory boards with donors

Dan-Patrick

Republican Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick announced yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 15) he has appointed 56 state business leaders to six new citizen advisory panels who will advise him on a variety of policy areas, including water, taxes, economic development and forecasting, transportation and energy.

Texans for Public Justice, a liberal ethics watchdog group, noted 77 percent of the advisory members financially backed his campaign for lieutenant governor. Other members have backed Patrick since his first campaign for state senate in 2006, a position he held until his election as lieutenant governor this past November.

Nearly half of the advisory members live in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. Many are also among the Patrick campaign’s donors.

Dallas’ Roy Bailey will chair the advisory board’s committees.

Advisory group meetings would not be open to the public but Patrick said he will acknowledge legislation brought by the groups, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He also anticipates advisory board members to testify before committees.

“Endowing a handful of corporate titans with the power to write laws behind closed doors is the ultimate form of government privatization,” said Craig McDonald, the group’s director. “If you thought cronyism and corruption were out of hand under the [outgoing Gov.] Perry regime, just hang on!  The worst is yet to come.”

Major Patrick contributors and advisory board members:

Asterisk indicates Dallas/Fort Worth area resident 

*Roy Bailey, Chairman of Advisory Committees

Economic & Workforce Development:

Gene Powell, Chairman

*Barry Andrews

*Monty Bennett

Alonzo Cantu

*Dick Collins

*Doug Deason

Windi Grimes

*Mike Gruber

Bill Holmes

Michael Plank

Kyle Stallings

Massey Villareal

Economic Forecast:

Hon. Kent Hance

Tilman Fertitta

*Gerald Ford

Woody Hunt

Jodie L. Jiles

*Bob Rowling

Paul Sarvadi

*Shelly Stein

*Ardon Moore

Energy/Oil and Gas:

*T. Boone Pickens, Chairman

S. Javaid Anwar

John Connally

Tim Dunn

Kirk Edwards

Wil VanLoh, Jr.

John Walker

*Kelcy Warren

Tax Policy:

*Brint Ryan

Nelda Blair

Alan Hassenflu

*Marcus Hiles

Victor Leal

Steve Mach

*Bob McNutt

Mike Reitmeier

Ben Streusand

Sherry Sylvester

Transportation:

Ned Holmes, Chairman

*Bob Albritton

Steve Alvis

Arch “Beaver”  Aplin

*Pamela Bailey-Campbell

*Carter Pate

*Brenda Pejovich

*Jere Thompson, Jr.

John Weisman

Water:

Jack Wood, Chairman

*Joe Colonnetta

*Ralph Ellis, Jr.

Joseph Fitzsimons

*Kenn George

Gaylord Hughey

Kevin Sparks

—  James Russell

Straus re-elected Speaker of Texas House

Speaker Joe Straus

Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio

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Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco

Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, was re-elected as Texas Speaker on Tuesday (Jan. 13), defeating Scott Turner, R-Frisco, who ran to Straus’ right. Straus won 127 to Turner’s 19. No members voted present. Two were absent.

Straus was expected to win re-election, having already clinched nearly the majority of the GOP and Democratic caucuses. While the speaker’s race was never seen as competitive, numerous hard right groups had previously criticized Straus for failing to advance conservative legislation in past sessions.

With both sides on the defense, Straus and Turner’s supporters called for an unprecedented record vote of the election as opposed to the typical voice vote. Members’ votes would be recorded.

Turner even fell short of his backers’ estimates, clinching only 19 members, many of whom ran on opposing Straus in their elections.

It remains to be seen, but don’t anticipate Straus to seek revenge against the 19 members. Unlike with current U.S, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who tossed multiple dissenters within his ranks off committees, Straus isn’t seen as likely to punish them with irrelevant committee selections (or worse).

Here’s the unofficial vote tally, per the Texas Legislative Office. Yeas indicate a vote for Turner, nays indicate a vote for Straus (or against Turner in this case):

Yeas – Anderson, R.; Burrows; Fallon; Hughes; Keough; Klick; Krause; Leach; Rinaldi; Sanford; Schaefer; Shaheen; Simpson; Spitzer; Stickland; Tinderholt; Turner, E.S.; White, M.; Zedler

Nays – Allen; Alonzo; Alvarado; Anchia; Anderson, C.; Ashby; Aycock; Bell; Blanco; Bohac; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Burkett; Burns; Button; Canales; Capriglione; Clardy; Coleman; Collier; Cook; Crownover; Dale; Darby; Davis, S.; Davis, Y.; Deshotel; Dutton; Elkins; Faircloth; Farias; Farney; Farrar; Fletcher; Flynn; Frank; Frullo; Galindo; Geren; Giddings; Goldman; Gonzales; González; Guerra; Guillen; Gutierrez; Harless; Hernandez; Herrero; Howard; Huberty; Hunter; Isaac; Israel; Johnson; Kacal; Keffer; King, K.; King, P.; King, S.; King, T.; Kleinschmidt; Koop; Kuempel; Landgraf; Larson; Laubenberg; Longoria; Lozano; Lucio; Márquez; Martinez; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; Menéndez; Metcalf; Meyer; Miles; Miller, D.; Miller, R.; Moody; Morrison; Mr. Speaker; Muñoz; Murphy; Murr; Naishtat; Nevárez; Oliveira; Otto; Paddie; Parker; Paul; Peña; Phelan; Phillips; Pickett; Price; Raney; Raymond; Reynolds; Riddle; Rodriguez, E.; Rodriguez, J.; Romero; Rose; Schofield; Sheets; Sheffield; Simmons; Smith; Smithee; Springer; Stephenson; Thompson, E.; Thompson, S.; Turner, C.; Turner, S.; VanDeaver; Villalba; Vo; Walle; White, J.; Workman; Wray; Wu; Zerwas

Absent – Craddick; Dukes

—  James Russell

An open letter to Sen.-elect Konni Burton, who blocked me on Twitter

house-of-cards-quotes-1Jan. 7, 2015

Dear Sen.-elect Konni Burton:

Next Tuesday, Jan. 13, you will be sworn into the Texas Senate. After more than a year of campaigning, you will become Senator Konni Burton, the conservative Republican representing Senate District 10 in the Lone Star State.

You declared your candidacy in a video by slamming your predecessor, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, for her filibuster against anti-abortion legislation. By running in Texas’ only competitive Senate district, you knew you’d be in the national spotlight. Judging by your campaign finance records after declaring your candidacy, you certainly became a national sensation.

Over the next year, you clobbered your GOP opponents — deemed “Republicans in Name Only” by your supporters — in the primary and run-off elections. Finally, you bested your Democratic opponent in the general election. As expected in tight elections, both you and your opponents were critical of your each other in nasty television commercials, advertisements and mailers.

That was clear enough when mailers appeared in the mailboxes of voters across SD-10, slamming your Democratic opponent for everything from being anti-gun to advancing your own anti-LGBT issues. While your spokesman denied the connection to the anti-LGBT mailer sent by the NFC, my research revealed the all-too-cozy connections between your campaign network and the mailers.

Clearly you are willing to give criticism. But I’m concerned you may not be receptive to it, even if it’s rooted in fact.

That’s why I’m writing you. It may seem small, but I couldn’t help but wonder why you blocked me on Twitter. Because I’m a reporter who critically wrote about your campaign? (A sentiment not exclusive to you, I might add.) Because I culled through campaign finance and other records, leading to a story about the dark money and shady mailers surrounding your campaign operation? I knew journalism rankles feathers, but facts are facts.

I didn’t realize doing my job was such an ongoing threat. Of course, neither did Bethany Rodgers, a reporter with the Frederick, Md.’s News-Post, who was threatened with a lawsuit by Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter for using his name without his permission. #kirbydelauter

As of Jan. 13, you will be an elected official, #StateSenKonniBurton. That is exactly what you campaigned on. You got what you wanted. Hopefully you’ll also act like an elected official, too.

Sincerely,

James Russell

Dallas Voice

P.S.: You can follow me on Twitter @james4texas

—  James Russell

Gay Republican George Clayton formally announces bid for TX House

Clayton.George

George Clayton

It’s official: George Clayton, who served on the State Board of Education from 2010-12, formally announced his campaign for the Texas House District 102 seat this morning. Clayton, a Republican who was defeated in the 2012 SBOE primary after being outed as gay, works as an administrator for the Dallas Independent School District. Clayton first indicated he planned to run on Facebook last month. He will seek the seat held by Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, who is stepping down to run for Railroad Commission. Among those Clayton will face in the 2014 Republican Primary is former Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop. Clayton would be the first openly gay Republican elected to the Texas Legislature. Below is his full announcement:

—  John Wright

Dan Branch vows to defend state’s right to trample on rights of women, gays

branchdan

State Rep. Dan Branch speaks at a Log Cabin Republicans meeting in Dallas in 2008. But don’t expect Branch to address the gay GOP group again now that he’s running for statewide office. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Republican State Rep. Dan Branch, who represents much of Dallas’ Oak Lawn gayborhood in the Texas House, vowed to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as he kicked off his campaign for attorney general on Tuesday.

“Whether defending our First Amendment freedoms, the Second Amendment right to bear arms or the 10th Amendment’s reservation of power to the states, I will exhaust all available remedies to protect Texas from attacks on our freedoms,” Branch said. “When our federal government fails to protect our borders or fulfill its commitment of emergency relief to communities like West, I won’t stop until the federal bureaucrats are held accountable. And I will fight for our state’s right to protect the unborn and our right to define marriage as between one man and one woman.”

In other words, Branch wants to protect Texas’ “right” to trample on the freedoms of women and same-sex couples.

—  John Wright

WATCH LIVE: Texas Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters anti-abortion bill

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis

UPDATE: Led by Davis, and with the help of protesters in the Senate gallery, Democrats were ultimately able to run out the clock and defeat the bill, the Texas Tribune reports.

Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who happens to be an LGBT ally, is in the midst of a 13-hour filibuster aimed at killing sweeping GOP-backed abortion restrictions in Texas. Davis must remain standing throughout the filibuster, without leaning on anything, and cannot take a bathroom break. She has been warned twice for breaking the rules — most recently for getting help from a colleague adjusting her back brace. If Davis receives one more warning and it’s upheld, the Senate can vote on whether to end the filibuster, which must continue until the end of the special session at midnight to be successful. Davis’ filibuster is now a trending topic nationally on Twitter and has spawned accounts such as @WendysBackBrace. Watch Davis’ historic filibuster live below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Texas state legislators tell LGBT youth, ‘It Gets Better’

Picture 11

Several LGBT allies in the state Legislature have teamed up to make a two-part “It Gets Better” video to encourage queer youth that even in Texas, times are changing.

Lawmakers featured in the video are Rep. Mary Gonzalez, Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, Sen. Wendy Davis, Rep. Mark Strama, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Sen. Kirk Watson, Sen. Royce West, Rep. Chris Turner, Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Rep. Garnet Coleman, Sen. John Whitmire, Rep. Donna Howard, Rep. Justin Rodriguez, Rep. Gene Wu, and Sen. Sylvia Garcia.

The video was made in memory of Asher Brown, a gay Houston teen who committed suicide after being bullied. It was produced by Omar Araiza and Brianna Roberts, with filming and editing by Nathan Burkhart.

Araiza said coming out to his family at 16 was the hardest thing for him because many people in his life has homophobic beliefs. But things changed and he made it through the dark times when he wanted to end his life.

Now, he said he has hope because of the changing attitudes across the state, which was reflected by the strong support for LGBT issues in this year’s legislative session with a record number of pro-LGBT bills filed.

“This change in conversation needs to be made visible to LGBT youth who believe they are alone,” Araiza said. “Because they are supported and cared for by many. These videos are proof that in Texas, we have brave elected leaders willing to stand and support what many call today’s civil rights movement. While Texas may not be on the forefront of civil rights, change experienced here is a sign that full LGBT rights are inevitable.

“Things will continue to get better. We will all make it better.”

Watch the videos below.

—  Dallasvoice

Last anti-gay measure dies in TX Lege

State Rep. Matt Krause

State Rep. Matt Krause

As the session winded down last week, an anti-gay amendment by Fort Worth’s Matt Krause was still pending in SB 215 but was ultimately killed.

The amendment, which was originally filed as HB 360, passed the House in mid-May and would have allowed student organization at state-funded colleges to discriminate for membership. But Equality Texas reports that the Senate refused to agree with the amendments and formed a conference committee over the weekend.

The amendment was later removed on Friday before the session ended Monday.

Overall, LGBT advocates have called this session a success with several anti-gay measure defeated and the advancement of a few pro-equality bills.

However, there’s still a special session, which has been limited to redistricting so far. Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said it’s unlikely anti-LGBT measures would come up unless the special session is expanded to include education or other social issues.

“We’ll just have to wait and see if the call gets expanded beyond redistricting, and if it does, it could be problematic,” Smith said.

Read Equality Texas’ timeline of the Krause amendment below.

—  Dallasvoice

Anti-trans marriage license bill dies, but Krause amendment remains

State Sen. Donna Campbell

State Sen. Donna Campbell

Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell’s anti-transgender marriage license bill is officially dead.

SB 1218 passed the Senate last week, but failed to make it out of a House committee and onto the calendar for a vote this week. The bill would have prohibited anyone from obtaining a marriage license with a document that lacks a photo, including an affidavit of sex change.

Daniel Williams, field organizer with Equality Texas, said the organization worked with transgender activists to slow the bill’s progress throughout the session.

“That is absolutely a victory,” he said.

This is the third and last anti-gay bill that’s died this session. However, Fort Worth Republican Matt Krause turned his failed HB 360 into an amendment and tacked it onto a bill last week that passed. The amendment would allow student organizations at state-funded colleges to discriminate against people for membership.

Williams said the bill’s final version will come for a vote this week and the group will work to kill the amendment if it makes it into the bill.

—  Dallasvoice