Apr 30, 2005
Oops! Texas doesn't have one either!
Maybe I'll be a good neighbor and send them a copy of the one I proposed for Texas, since that bill seems not to be moving.
Post script: For those paying close attention, I realize that this reporter is not being asked to reveal her source. I just wanted to poke fun and compare where Texas is as compared to China on what I call "modern thought."
Now your on national TV honey! You got some "esplaining" to do now!
Check out the AP story for a full account.
Apr 29, 2005
The plan would give teachers an immediate pay raise and would increase funding for students who are learning English and bilingual training for teachers.
Click here for the Los Angeles Times story.
I of course support the bill because our voters deserve to have trust and confidence in every ballot cast in the state of Texas. We need to be leaders and show foresight and require that counties use systems that have an auditable paper trail.
The federal government has appropriated money for states to comply with the mandates set forth by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). United State Senator John Cornyn recently announced the release of $74.7 million to Texas for the purchase of HAVA compliant voting systems. Over $100 million in federal funding was set aside more than a year ago for Texas. States have a January 1, 2006 deadline for implementing the new systems.
Texas needs to spend this money now and these machines need a paper back-up. We can not guarantee that the federal government will ever allocate another amount of funds for the purchase of voting machines.
Representative Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Representative Todd Baxter (R-Austin) also had similar bills pending in the committee. The representatives joined as joint authors on our bill, choosing to use our legislation as a vehicle to get a law passed. Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Marshall) and Representative Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) are also joint-authors of HB 166.
This bill has broad bi-partisan support. It is important that voters know that the systems they use have integrity. The testimony that we heard in the committee bears witness to that.
Testimony on the legislation lasted over three hours with an overwhelming number of people testifying in favor of the bill.
The following individuals were shown to be in favor: Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County Clerk; Ken Bailey, Texas Democratic Party; Robert Howard, Libertarian Party of Texas; Deece Eckstein, People for the American Way; Hanna Rittering, Texas - National Organization for Women; Professor Dan Wallach, Rice University; Adina Levin, American Civil Liberties Union; Pat Carleson, Tarrant County Republican Party; Paula Littles, AFL-CIO; Theresa Van Dusen, self; John Berryman, Harris County Work Group, Stan Merriman, Progressive Caucus - Texas Democratic Party; Edna Bogal, Denton County Democratic Party; Charles Schotz, AccuPol; Mary Finch, League of Women Voters; Suzy Wooford, Common Cause; Sonia Santana, self; Luis Figueroa, MALDEF; Tom "Smitty" Smth, Public Citizen; Karen Haden, self; William Brown, AARP; Anna Correa, LULAC.
Apr 28, 2005
The bill has 89 sponsors. The bill clarified the prohibitions on corporate and union dollars in state elections.The bill has 89 sponsors. The bill clarified the prohibitions on corporate and union dollars in state elections.
The debate got a bit testy with some members believing that this was a political maneuver to embarrass the Speaker of the House.
Terry Keel spoke against. Jim Dunham spoke later via a "personal priviledge speech."
In the end the vote was 95 (Ayes) to 36 (Nays), well short of the four-fifths needed.
The AP gives its take on the events.
The SA Express Newspaper gives its take.
The Austin American Statesman gives its take.
Click here to read about Brown's new blog.
Apr 27, 2005
The filing Tuesday allows Lampson, a Beaumont Democrat, to start raising money for his campaign. Lampson lost his 2004 re-election bid after GOP-led congressional redistricting absorbed some of his district into DeLay's newly formed one.
Lampson announced Friday he would seek the Democratic nomination and said he plans to move into the district to make the bid.
This legislation would require that any electronic voting machine that is used in Texas elections have a voter verifiable auditable paper trail.
This bill gives Texas has an tremendous opportunity to be at the forefront of establishing an efficient and accountable electronic voting system. Our voters deserve to have trust and confidence in the ballots that they cast. Requiring that these new systems have an auditable paper trail reinforces our commitment to the integrity of the vote.
I would expect that some county's may claim that they simply do not have the money. The reality is that the federal government has appropriated money for the states. Senator Cornyn recently announced the release of $74.7 million so Texas, facing a January 1st deadline, could begin meeting new federal election requirements. More than $100 (M) million in federal funding was set aside more than a year ago for the state.
This state should spend this money wisely on voting machines that have a paper trail. In states where this is used the sky has not fallen as opponents would have you believe. Will keep you posted.
Apr 26, 2005
Click here to read the New York Times article.
Oh! the shame of it all!
Many of our good friends and must reads from the capitol are mentioned. Here is how some of our good bloggers are described:
" Burnt Orange Report -- Byron LaMasters of Dallas, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, and friends cover state politics. They support the Democratic party. http://www.burntorangereport.com/
Off the Kuff -- Charles Kuffner works in information technology in Houston and has written about politics from his blog since 2002. He describes himself as a "moderate Democrat." OffTheKuff.com/mt
In the Pink Texas -- Former journalist and legislative aide Eileen Smith covers the legislature. She describes herself as nonpartisan. http://www.inthepinktexas.com/
Pink Dome -- Anonymous Austin businessman and a friend cover the Legislature from a progressive point of view. http://www.pinkdome.com/
Grits For Breakfast -- Scott Henson, a researcher for the American Civil Liberties Union in Austin, looks at how the Texas Legislature is addressing civil liberties. gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com
Gaining a Following: Rick Perry vs. the World -- A blog tracking the 2006 race for governor, written by a Houston Republican. http://www.perryvsworld.blogspot.com/"
For those new to this medium, I recommend these and other sites for good, informative, funny and timely information related to the capitol and Texas politics.
A Capitol Blog and Lone Star Rising were both mentioned in the story.
I continue to believe that the internet has made a paradigm shift that has shifted power to the average citizen. Rather than the linear, top down one-way communication comming from the elites to their subordinates, the internet now allows two way and vertical communication to each other.
Many citizens are just now awakening to their new found potential. Like many who are over 40 years of age (45), if it were not for the prodding of my son, I too would find the internet to be intimidating. People who want their government to be more responsive to the interests of the average citizen need to embrace this medium.
I may not be a blog evangelist, but I do believe in that founding principle of our government, that government does best when it serves the interests of the governed, rather than the governed serving the interests of the government.
Apr 25, 2005
Apr 24, 2005
Had a good week. Got the Tejano Heritage Day bill out of commitee. Visited with the Rio Grande Academy of General Dentistry as well as the board of the Texas Academy of General Dentistry as we recognized their successes over the past year. Dr. Joey Cazares held a nice pachanga in his backyard as we welcomed the visiting dignitaries. Helped some other bills out of the floor. Ribbed Rep. Strauss on the successful passage of his first bill out of the House. Lone Star Rising seems to be picking up. More and more other Reps. want to join in.
Despite these memorable events, the most touching moment for me was another encounter with other souls, touched by fire, as they continue on their life's journey.
Rep. Zedler had a bill that attempted to deal with the punishment of individuals who kill children by way of what we have now come to call "Shaken Baby Syndrome."
That night showed true acts of courage from the parents who came forward to testify in memory of their lost child. It took a considerable amount of self control to listen to the torment and pain these parents have seen since the loss of their children.
I did my best to suggest how the bill could be improved and possibly passed out onto the floor. I pray that no one was offended by my questions.
I want to commend these parents as they were beacons of courage and love. I kept a photo of one of the little angels here by my computer. It and the actions of these brave souls will serve as inspiration in the coming days.
To my fellow journeymen who passed in the night, I offer a beautiful bit of prose that continues to bring me comfort :
"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
Apr 23, 2005
Apr 22, 2005
Apr 21, 2005
The survey of 18-to-34-year-old finds, for instance, that just 19% read a newspaper daily, 17% read it once a month or less -- and 12% said they "never" read a paper to get their news.By contrast, 44% of the young people visited a Web news portal every day, and 37% watch local TV news daily.Only 14% of respondents called the newspaper their "most important" source of news. Local TV newscasts were called the most important source for news by 31% of the young adults, while another 25% cited the Internet.ork.
Donald was joined on the panel by CNN political analyst Jeff Greenfield and CBS Sunday Morning's Charles Osgood., both of whom were less pessimistic about network news' future.
During their talk the three reporters came out in favor of a federal shield law that would allow journalists to protect the identity of their sources without threat of jail.
All three declared that blogging was helpful to the mainstream media.
Apr 20, 2005
Amen, Gayle! I recommend it to my friends for their reading pleasure.
This bill provides an interesting case study in the political dynamics of the house and how a bill can die one moment (Dutton's amendment) by overwhelming odds only to come back and pass by overwhelming numbers.
My experience in passing this bill has taught me that one should never give up even when people around you are telling you there is no hope. It also causes me to appreciate the power of quiet negotiations. It should also be noted how lonely those negotiations can be when trying to find middle ground.
Whether this bill ultimately passes the Senate and is signed by the governor is still a question yet to be answered. I will keep you informed.
Apr 19, 2005
Tomorrow it should sail through the House on towards the Senate for consideration. Interesting though isn't it this is the same bill that failed by way of amendment. My sense regarding the polarization effect and how this bill could be passed through quite negotiations was correct.
My thanks for the work done by Mike Ward at the Austin Statesman and my fellow bloggers, more specifically Grits for Breakfast, for their alerting the public and other interested parties to the situation. Of course Senator Whitmire played a huge role in the passage of this bill.
I got beat up in some of my local press and by others (both from the left and the right) for trying to negotiate a more moderate resolution. They seemed to imply that I was naive to believe that I could pass my HB 1324 when the Republicans held such a strong majority.
Oh ye of little faith!
Apr 18, 2005
All in all, the bill is as the good law professor from U.T stated in a Houston Chronicle article:
"This bill is a moderate, sensible approach to the problem," said David Anderson, a University of Texas law professor. "It's not an absolute privilege, and it's the right way to go about defusing the crisis that has erupted over the last few years."
My friend Eileen from In The Pink-Texas was there being her typical muckraking self (Yes, being called a muckraker is definitely a compliment for a "journalist.").
I want to personally thank all the members of the journalistic community and all other that have shown so much support in the process.
The bill was left pending so that we can fashion a bill that satisfies some of the concerns. In the end my feeling is that sooner or later Texas is going to have a shield law. Senator Ellis and I are working hard to see that it happens this session.
Apr 16, 2005
Good work gentlemen!
Apr 15, 2005
The shield bill will help deal with the inconsistent nature of state laws on this subject. Many are demanding that Texas join the 31 other states that have a shield law. Delaware has a law that even protects "serious" bloggers. As it stands today Texas does not even recognize a common law, or court created, priviledge for "traditional" journalists.
The shield legislation has been endorsed by a number of newspapers: The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The San Antonio Express, The Corpus Christi Caller and The Austin American Statesman. Even small papers like the Midland paper and the Navasota Examiner endorse it.
Legislation proposing a shield bill has not always received unanimous endorsement from the journalistic or blogger communities. That all changed with a recent federal court ruling out of Washington, D.C. which continued to support a 1972 United States Supreme Court ruling in Branzburg vs. Hayes. That case found that the First Amendment does not afford a constitutional privilege for journalists.
Blogging provides an interesting twist to the definition of journalist, with many people finding bloggers to blur the distinction. Still others think that the shield should not extend to blogs.
Enough with the blogger/journalist debate.
The D.C. case brought print and broadcast media organizations together and for the first time in February of this year consensus was reached in these organizations to support a shield bill.
Senator Rodney Ellis has a companion bill, SB 604, whose original language was recently modified in committee. The Texas Association of Broadcasters has been educating the journalistic community on the bill's progression.
Prosecutors are the remaining opposition to such a bill. The prosecutors continue to monitor the legislation despite the fact that the senate version was watered down. I look forward to listening to their arguments as we continue to fashion some protection for journalists.
Apr 14, 2005
Pulled from a very dark and bleak place by faith and the desire to will good away from evil, I promised to commit the remainder of my life to helping others. I promised not to let his life and its loss be in vain.
This commitment is most especially true to others who like my family suffered from the loss of a loved one through crime.
This week (April 10-16) marks the 25th Annual National Crime Victims Rights Week. The efforts to recognize and fulfill the rights of crime victims has been a long one.
Today I took a small step to fulfilling my promise. For a variety of reasons the Crime Victims Compensation Fund in Texas is expected to be insolvent by 2006. Today I passed out of the House of Representatives HB 1751 which would require mandatory restitution to crime victims or to the Texas Crime Victims Compensation Fund. This bill is estimated to recapture an additional $10 million over five years to the crime victims fund.
Texas will now join 29 other states and the federal government in having mandatory restitution laws.
If this bill becomes law, the defendant responsible for the death of the victim may be ordered to pay for funeral expenses. If the defendant caused bodily injury, the court may order the offender to pay the victim's medical or rehabilitation costs and reimburse the victim for the lost income due to the offense.
I walked out of the front steps of the capitol, and on the South-East corner of the lawn, I participated with crime victims and others in a tree planting ceremony in memory of crime victims lost and living, as well as recognition of the special day.
It is a special day! I thank God for the brief time I shared with my son and today's opportunity to make a difference. I have not forgotten you son.
Apr 13, 2005
When I started this blog on the first day of this year as a way of communicating with my constituents in the Valley of South Texas it was a novel item. Although noted as the first Texas legislator to blog from the Texas Capitol, the trend is real and has been equaled by other legislators in other states and at the U.S. Capitol.
Many of my colleagues here want to participate but a real generational block, that stems from an inexperience with computers, stops them from speaking up.
I have for that reason created a new blog called: "Lone Star Rising." This blog will allow many of my legislative colleagues to be involved and available to many of you over the internet.
The first entry is from Rep. Joe Deshotel. The second post is from Rep. Veronica Gonzales. The third post is by Rep. Rafael Anchia. All respected and active participants of the legislature. It is their first posts as bloggers. For that matter, except for Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, it will be the first time for everyone that follows.
As far as I am aware, this is another first for Texas, in that this is the first group blog in the nation by legislators of which I am aware.
At some point, I would expect that many of these members will start their own blogs. Hopefully this will change, to some small degree, your access to some of these fine people.
Democracy unbound indeed!
Apr 12, 2005
As mayor of the Munchkin City
In the county of the land of Oz
I welcome you most regally
But we've got to verify it legally
Is morally, ethically
Undeniably and reliably dead
As Coroner, I thoroughly examined her
And she's not only merely dead
She's really most sincerely dead.
And so you have it, directly from the source - it's dead!
It's been a long day. Hope you enjoyed the humor! Must call it a night. We have another long day tomorrow. Until then.
Post script: Good people of Texas, this is simply a bit of humor. In a healthy democracy we, in general, rule by vote of the majority. The majority has spoken on this issue. It is important that we remember that we must continue to live with each other and move on to other issues. If you were and continue to support this issue which failed this go round, you are best served by fashioning good argument and by lining up your votes. I do wish you the best!
Using that same irreverent humor we have come to love from our other companions TLO observed that "oompa-loompas were escorted out of their cages this afternoon to shill for the chemical and mining industry in the Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing." At least seven bloggers will contribute to what should be a successful project.
They went on in their second post to note the death of constitutional amendment, HJR 35 which attempted to cap annual increases on home appraisals at 10 percent.
The third post was about Freshman David Leibowitz (D-San Antonio) fine speech.
Anyone unfamiliar with their work and history over the years will be impressed. Welcome gang. We look forward to your posts.
But before it even begins much has been said about this bill.
(1:10) Rep. Villarreal puts up an amendment to strike the enabling clause that will kill the bill. This may pass because there is strong dislike for the bill. Many Republican members and powerful interests oppose the bill. A flyer has been passed out on the house floor from Bill Hammond with the Texas Association of Business opposing the bill. I predict that Villareal amendment will pass and that this bill will die.
Rep. Howard is at back mike asking to fully debate the bill. He would like the amendments try to perfect the bill. I still suspect most members are opposed to the bill.
(1:20) Rep. Talton at back mike opposed to Rep. Villarreal's amendment.
(1:25) Nixon moves to table and it fails 69 Ayes and 73 Nays. A verification has been requested.
Verification is proceeding to make sure that representatives are present and voted right.
Regardless of outcome, the writing is on the wall-this bill looks mighty dead.
A number of members are missing from the floor.
(1:39) The final verified vote is 66 Ayes and 77 Nays. This bill is dead!
(1:45) Bohac is pretty upset at the front mike. Pleading to allow the process to proceed.
(1:47) Rep. Bonnen also pleads to allow the amendment process to proceed. Turner at the back mike asking that HJR 35 be recommitted to committee. Rep. Bonnen says that it is a reasonable request but wants a decision now. He states that it is a matter of mutual respect.
(1:50) STATEMENT OF THE DAY: Rep. Fred Hill speaks and says "the time to kill a snake is when you have a hoe in your hand."
(1:55) Rep. Carter Casteel brings a voice of experience to the debate. I think she has struck the right cord on the debate: Casteel: "This is bad public policy." "You can't fix this!"
(2:05) Rep. Leibowitz is giving a fine speech for continuing the debate. His trial lawyer training is beginning to show. Regardless of position, this is a fine debater.
(2:13) Rep. McReynolds is giving an impassioned speech saying that this bill has been debated for a considerable period of time. Another fine debater and fine gentleman.
(2:25) The last vote was on tabling the Villarreal amendment. Now the vote is on the amendment directly. The vote on the Villarreal amendment directly is 81 Ayes and 65 Nays. ITS OVER!
This bill has had the best debate I have seen this session.
(2:27) Rep. Bohac realizing the debate is over moves to recommit the bill to committee. His hope is to somehow resurrect the bill after committee debate and amendment.
(2:28) Rep. Fred Hill raises a point of order and it is sustained. That's it folks for this session.
In order to further the cause, postponed the item a second time till April 19 at 10:00 a.m.
On that day it is time to "fish or cut bait," "go or no go," "it rises or it falls."
I told Eileen that I have been a big fan for some time. Boy do I wish that the formality of the office did not restrict my ability to poke fun at a few people under the dome who take themselves a bit too seriously. This blog does it so well. The only irreverence I can dish out is the guy on the home page with the tight pants and the funny hat. Keep it up Eileen!
I must applaud my good friend Hollis Rutledge, the county's Republican Party chairman, who said he wanted the new machines to still produce a paper trail providing accurate backup information in the event of a power outage or machine malfunction. In the story he goes on to say, that the technology should continue to ensure the county does not have another situation like Florida encountered in 2000, with machine failures and irregular vote counts.
Unfortunately, here in Austin it appears the state leadership of the Republican party does not share the Hidalgo County Republican chairman's point of view. Both Senator Shapleigh and myself have two companion bills, HB 166 and SB 94, that would require a paper trail. To date, despite requests these bills have not been given a hearing.
Many citizens and newspapers have called the paper trail element essential to instill voter confidence in the process.
This office along with Senator Shapleigh's office have been working tirelessly on this issue. We examined all the machines. We have spoken to the experts. We even had Commissioner Ray Martinez of the United States Election Assistance Commission come down from Washington to discuss the matter with the working group. Time however is running out and people should understand that their wishes on this issue are being frustrated.
Today I again will request a hearing but I also would call on my Republican friend Hollis Rutledge or any like minded citizen to call Chairman Mary Denny's office and request that this matter be given a hearing.
No we don't need to cause the sort of stink we had at the capitol yesterday just a polite please will do at this point.
Apr 11, 2005
Many liked the bill, thinking we needed to address this serious problem immediately. Others thought that the bill was too costly at a time when prison bed space was in severe shortage.
I proposed as a less costly alternative, HB1324 bill, the "three strikes your out" bill.
Unexpectedly, chairman Dutton sponsored an amendment to Truitt's bill which basically mimicked mine. It was soundly voted down.
I believe and still believe that the dynamics of the house and the at times polarized nature of the debate caused Dutton's amendment to fail.
I postponed consideration of HB 1324 until tomorrow, April 12 at 10:00 a.m. to permit some members in the House to digest the fact that the Senate and others are not going to permit HB151's passage.
Today, Senator John Whitmire made it clear that he would not accept Truitt's bill in it's current form. I received at my office an April 6, 2005 Dallas Morning News opinion piece that was distributed at the direction of the senator.
Earlier in the day I had spoke to Rep. Truitt to see if she, and presumably the majority, was prepared for another option, namely HB 1324.
She seemed ready to accept HB1324 as an alternative but wanted one last chance to speak to the senator.
Tomorrow I will continue my negotiations but again invite you my audience to share your opinion with me before I make my next move.
Apr 8, 2005
Later in the day I visited the television studios for the City of McAllen to participate in their show "Legislative Update" with Jim Darling. This show gives me a chance to use more traditional means (tv) to inform the good people of South Texas what is going on at their state capitol.
I sure hope people are watching because its hand to hand combat at the state capitol with regard to school financing, the state budget, gambling, election procedures and so on. You can always call my state office or e-mail me at email@example.com on any subject I discussed and I will do my best to respond.
With regards to the tv show, I just want to do my best in answering the questions correctly regarding the voluminous budget we passed out the other day. My wife on the other hand wants to make sure I don't look fat on tv. I think I answered most questions satisfactorily.
Sorry, dear one out of two ain't bad.
Apr 7, 2005
In life he fought to overcome early poverty, working himself out of the agricultural fields rising to the service as a state district judge. Judge Aparicio was a dedicated advocate for the disabled, the impoverished and the downtrodden.
His presence on this earth will surely be missed.
Happy to report that the House of Representatives passed my HB 258, the sports recreation and wellness center bill. This will permit UTPA University in Edinburg to build a $24 million dollar, 100,000 square foot project for our students back home.
I want to thank the student leaders who came up to testify on the bill in committee. They truly made a difference. Thanks to Nathan Schwarz, Eric K. De La Garza, and Karla Dreyer. They were joined by John Edwards, Vice Pres. for Enrollment and Student Services.
The passage of the bill was in great part because of their efforts.
Chairman Pitts has done a great job in bringing so many people together to work on this budget. This budget is certainly better than last session's. Many of us believe we could have done better. I certainly will continue fighting to make it better. Many a good amendment went down today.
I pray the conference committee can improve what so many of us worked on for so many hours.
We gave Chairman Pitts a well deserved standing ovation before the bill passed 2nd reading 105 to 41.
We then went on to vote it out on to final passage 102 to 41.
In the end despite my desire to assist my colleagues who worked so hard with me on Appropriations, I could not bring myself to support this bill on this reading.
Tomorrow is another day!
Apr 3, 2005
Most of you probably could think of a million better things to do, than driving the Texas highways for six hours. I actually like it. For a guy who is constantly having to have people interactions, six hours alone is like heaven.
I do some of my best thinking on these long trips. For that reason, I would like to introduce a new feature on this blog for those special Sundays when time permits a post on the thoughts of the drive. Maybe a reflection on the events of the week that passed or the week to come.
Today, because of daylight savings time I won't get to Austin until passed midnight. So until next week then.
You will be pleased to know that this freestanding blog is now directly linked to my personal website. So if www.aaronpena.org is easier to remember then your day has been made easier.
Speaking of uniting, young Aaron or "Ponch" as we call him married his beautiful bride last night. I am pleased to have another campaign worker, excuse me, I meant family member added to the family. Best wishes to both of them!
I could not help but notice that Mr. Cuellar seems quite worried about his job, as well as he should. What's revealing is that this first attack probably reveals more about the the attacker than its intended victim. I agree with the bloggers at Dos Centavos, this debate should be about policy and not politics.
The better man in this race is clearly the person who can best articulate a vision for the future, for the district he represents. Who bests reflects the needs and desires of this South and Central Texas district? Well that will ultimately be up to the voters.
In my opinion that will be best revealed by positive policy discussions and an examination of the voting history of the various candidates and matching that up with the district interests. I believe I have an idea of who that candidate is, but that is for another day.
For the moment, I for one would like to see a more serious discussion of the issues rather than what we have seen thus far. The people of the district aren't stupid so don't treat them that way. Yes, the representative had a fundraiser. As did Mr. Cuellar on the day of his first attack. Now that that is out of our system. Back to the issues please. The people of Texas deserve better.
Apr 2, 2005
May God Bless his soul.
Apr 1, 2005
This fund and the Emerging Technology Fund are up for consideration by the legislature. I will try to participate in each of the regular meetings so that I can assess whether or not these funds benefit my South Texas district and Texas as a whole. While these funds are available I will certainly encourage and assist U.T.-Pan American and South Texas College in the application process.
This post is simply to invite feedback regarding these two funds and to inform you of my participation. What I have seen so far is encouraging. There appears to be a deliberative process and capable individuals in the process.
My initial concerns are in having geographical fairness in any distribution, ensuring the fairness of the process, the ultimate success of the efforts and some yet unresolved philosophical concerns.
At this time I simply want to start the dialogue with my constituents. Please feel free to comment on the blog or reach me at the capitol office.
I am and always have been an admirer of good writing and good journalism and past events unfortunately made things a little tough. The good publisher and the addition of "professional" journalists have improved things of late.
And what a friend I have tried to be to the traditional press. After all I introduced and assisted in bringing, at least amongst the traditional players, some relative consensus when there was previously little. As I will later note, I have a dinner meeting next week with Bob Schieffer of CBS News and the Texas Association of Broadcasters in order to solidify our work on the Journalistic Shield Bill, HB188.
Those good relations may continue to improve because of the good comments made towards my new found friends. What a pleasure it was to see my hometown newspaper come out today to take a position in favor of blogging and bloggers. Are some of your actions, good bloggers, comparable to those of our revolutionary fathers? Below is the editorial from The Monitor Newspaper headquartered out of McAllen, Texas. After reading it I can only say bravo, well said.
To quote a line out of my son's favorite Disney movies, "Finding Nemo" one shark says to another at a recovery 12 steps meeting - "Fish are friends, not food." Or as is better said in this context: "Bloggers are friends not the enemy."
Enjoy the moment:
THE MONITOR VIEW
Freedom to Blog: FEC should not regulate computer speech
Can you imagine what fun Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Sam Adams, Patrick Henry and the other founders would have had with Internet blogs? OK, maybe George Washington would have preferred riding his horse. But the others certainly were chatty and prolific writers.
Blog, of course, is short for "WEB LOG," in which people, sometimes daily or even hourly, post their opinions in a kind of diary that anyone with an Internet connection can see.
Anyway, it looks as though the Federal Election Commission has decided to go easy on blogs, and thats a welcome development. Last week it released a memo indicating "that the six-member panel has not decided to impose, but is leaning against imposing, restrictions on independent bloggers or bloggers who work for political campaigns," according to the Washington Post.
"I think that we're trying to use this document as some sort of broad hint that, at least at this stage, we don't plan to regulate the vast majority of what individuals do (online) and the vast majority of what bloggers do," FEC Chairman Scott E. Thomas said.
Part of this may just be an acceptance of reality. PubSub, an Internet monitoring service, estimates there are 8 million blogs, with more added every day. How could the FEC ever keep up with them all? How could it tell whether a blog is advocating politics or just is a history of politics? How could it tell which blogs are created in this country and which elsewhere?
Its "the right decision to leave the blogs alone," said Deborah Pierce, executive director of Privacy Activism, a San Francisco-based group that protects privacy rights. "Obviously there is a very strong First Amendment issue there. Blogs are really like you and I having a conversation, but with a much larger audience. Where do you draw the line between talking with your friends and family about politics in a bar or restaurant and doing the same thing on a blog? Government should not be regulating that type of speech."
The FEC soon will hold hearings on the issue, then this summer or fall vote on it. We encourage the FEC to uphold the First Amendment and rule that freedom of speech includes freedom to blog.