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9Jun/150

The Exit Door

The Almanac is still a thing, but I figured the current round of legislative retirements deserves a dedicated working space. With that, here's who's moving on to better and brighter things:

Rep. Allen Fletcher (R - NW Harris County) - was hoping to get the appointed gig for Harris County Sheriff, but has made it known that he'd be running for it in 2016 regardless. He also gave his going-away speech toward the end of the legislative session. District is about as safe as it gets for GOP - no known names for the seat come to mind.

Rep. Sylvester Turner (D - NW Harris County) - running for Houston mayor for the third time. Also preached his going-away speech during the final days of the lege. Safe Dem seat and there will be a long line of potential replacements. Biggest name to date is HISD trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R - Bell County) - gave his going-away speech in the closing days of the Lege. No known names for the seat early on, but the district has potential for a Democratic pickup in 2016 (followed by an almost certain return to GOP control in a non-Presidential year).

Rep. Joe Farias (D - Bexar County) - gave his going-away speech in the closing days of the Lege. Like Aycock's seat, the district has some potential for swinging to the other party.

Sen. Troy Fraser (R - Central Texas) - announced via letter to Senators after the legislative session. Rep. Aycock was asked to consider running for the seat by Fraser's campaign manager, but declined. There shouldn't be a shortage of candidates for this seat, but the field could be thinned out by fundraising ability. Of some interest is that former Representative (and failed Comptroller nominee) Harvey Hilderbran represented the southern portion of the Senate District.

Rep. Patricia Harless (R - NW Harris County) - announced on June 8 that she would not run again. District is safe GOP. Two names to watch for may be Harless' husband (who toyed with a run for SD7 after Dan Patrick announced for Lt. Gov). Former HD126 candidate John Devine has since successfully run for state Supreme Court. The only semi-announced candidate thus far is attorney, Kevin Roberts.

And in other activity:

Thomas Ratliff (R - East Texas) - announced he would not run for re-election to the State Board of Education.

Sen. Kevin Eltife (R - East Texas) - hasn't announced whether or not he'll run for re-election. But State Rep. David Simpson is rumored to be running for the GOP nomination regardless. Outgoing State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff has said he would consider running if Eltife opted to retire.

Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R - North Central Texas) - Rep. Sheffield has a very visible voting record that allows him to be identified as a moderate in a GOP primary. But his speech against the Schaefer amendment that would ban abortions of fetuses with genetic abnormalities after 20 weeks gave even more ammunition to opponents. Rep. Jonathan Stickland announced via twitter that "[t]his could be Rep. Sheffields last speech on the #txlege floor." Stephenville realtor Brent Graves announced his intention to challenge Sheffield prior to the end of the legislative session.

Rep. Jim Keffer (R - North Texas) - Hasn't made an announcement. Michael Quinn Sullivan seems to believe he will retire rather than face another tough primary challenge (allegedly from RR Commish David Porter). That may be wishful thinking on Sullivan's part, however.

Rep. Charlie Geren (R - Tarrant County) - Hasn't made an announcement. Presumed to be running again. But already has a primary challenge. Given the growing strength of the Tea Party in Tarrant County and more relaxed campaign finance laws (not to mention Geren's pointed opposition to same), it could potentially be more entertaining than prior primary challenges against Geren.

Updates are a given ...

9Jun/150

The Joys of Bracketing

A minor tidbit of legislative work to share from the past five months:

Legislative Director typically entails reading a fair amount of legislation. That's about as exciting as it sounds. And even more mundane is that a good deal of legislation is "bracketed" so that it only applies to certain counties, cities, school districts, etc.... After a while, you pick up a lot of the easy-to-guess brackets, like Harris County being "a county of over 4 million." But some locations require more creativity. And when you factor in a fight over a pet project, the added spite makes that creativity a bit more comical.

With that, I offer my favorite bracket of all time - offered as an amendment to an amendment by Rep. Jason Isaac (R - Hays County) after taking offense to Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R - NW Dallas County) arguing against an economic incentive fund. The solution: don't allow it to be used in the bulk of Rinaldi's legislative district:

Amend amendment by Rinaldi to CSHB 1 (page 43, prefiled amendments packet) by adding the following appropriately numbered item and renumbering subsequent items accordingly:

(_) None of the funds appropriated above to Strategies C.1.1, Economic Development; and C.1.2, Tourism can be used for projects located in a city with a population under 750,000 people according to the 2010 census and located within a 5 mile radius of an international airport with three active flight towers.

It was the first time I've seen a bracket definition incorporate either a radius or airport flight towers. And in fairness to Rep. Isaac, he did seem to leave a good portion of HD115 eligible for economic development funds (blue blob = HD115; yellow line = 5 mile radius from DFW Airport):

fivemile

   

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