Bill filings are time for posturing, not policy


Yesterday, the newly elected and re-elected members of the Texas Legislature were given their first chance to propose legislation that will be considered in the State Capitol starting next January. All in all, legislators submitted about 350 pieces of proposed bills and constitutional amendments. Sadly, most all of these looked to settle ideological scores or make purely political points. Seldom was an idea submitted that actually looked to solve a serious problem facing the state.

Three Republican state representatives, Dan Flynn, Jonathan Stickland and James White, figuratively fell over themselves proposing the so-called "open carry" bill, which would allow holders of concealed carry permits to openly tote their deadly weaponry in public. Stickland also made waves in conservative media for proposing an end to the "Texas Dream Act," which ensures in-state tuition to this university and others for undocumented immigrants brought into this country as minor children.

On the Democratic side, however, the ideological posturing was similarly evident. State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, a fairly obvious up-and-comer in the Democratic Party, proposed significantly hiking the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and providing free Pre-K for the schoolchildren of Texas. Now, I personally agree with Martinez Fischer on all these policy positions, but they are obviously dead on arrival in the State Legislature this upcoming session.

Democrat and Republican, few made a point of proposing realistic legislation designed to improve the lives of everyday Texans, free of partisan point-scoring, except for relatively minor, commonsensical tweaks to existing laws (Patricia Harless, R-Spring, for example, proposed reducing fishing license fees for seniors).

The notable exception was the new chair of the Senate Education Committee, Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who proposed about $3 billion in new construction projects for needed university improvements around the state. Unfortunately, Seliger, one of the last moderate Republicans left in the state Senate, was the exception and not the rule.