Chad’s Morning Brief: Campus Carry Bill to be Voted On But It’s Not Perfect, Senator Ted Cruz Continues to Not Care About Tradition, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of April 30, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.
1. Campus Carry is Alive… Sorta (link)
In a session where bills have died and then come back to life, it should surprise anyone that campus carry will be voted on by the House on Saturday. When I saw the news I was very happy that this would be up for a vote. After reading some of the details though, I was again disappointed with our lawmakers.
Yes, campus carry will be voted on and it looks like it could pass. However, the bill is weak and in my opinion garbage. Why? Because public universities can opt out if they first meet with students and faculty to get their input according to the Houston Chronicle.
One of the top pro-gun bills before Texas lawmakers this session was green-lighted Monday for a House floor vote this weekend, and a top backer predicted approval there for the plan to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their handguns into college classrooms.
The Calendars Committee scheduled the floor vote for Saturday in the House. Getting the bill even that far is a significant development for supporters of an issue that erupted into one of the most contentious of the session two years ago. In 2011, the issue died without a vote in the House despite a majority of member signing on in support.
This year, the House version of the bill would eliminate the current ban on concealed weapons at colleges and universities, but it still allows public schools to ban weapons if they first meet with students, faculty and staff to consider their input. Private schools would be allowed to opt in.
Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, one of the primary authors of the bill, said the opt-out language has softened opposition from higher education officials who worry that allowing guns on campus will increase campus violence and suicide. He said he expects the House will approve it but declined to discuss its prospects in the Senate.
“I think it will pass,” in the House, Flynn said Monday. “Texas is a rural state … Most of the opposition has been in Austin.”
The Senate version of the bill has not been scheduled for a vote, and its prospects in the final month of the session in that chamber are uncertain. The Senate passed a similar version of the bill in 2011 after a vigorous debate, but only after it was added to another bill as an amendment. Doing that allowed supporters to bypass a Senate rule that requires at least 21 of 31 senators to agree to vote on a bill.
Are you kidding me? The major universities in Texas are against campus carry. I will predict right now that campus carry won’t happen at Texas Tech or the University of Texas. I don’t even think Texas A&M will allow it.
This is a weak bill and I don’t believe in passing weak bills just to send a statement. I won’t blame lawmakers for voting for this, but this will do nothing to protect our classrooms or people.
2. Cruz Breaks With Tradition (link)
The national media is still shocked that Senator Ted Cruz hasn’t learned his place in Senate. In fact, the NY Times is reporting the Senator Cruz broke with tradition when he criticized his colleagues. Because John McCain hasn’t done that before.
In his short time at the Capitol, Senator Ted Cruz, a freshman Republican from Texas, has shown little regard for long-standing rules of decorum. But on Friday, he publicly discussed the closed-door dealings of the Senate Republican Conference — and trashed his colleagues in the process.
Stopping by a Texas meeting of the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks, Mr. Cruz called many of his colleagues “squishes,” forced to stand on conservative principles by the uncompromising stands of a triumphant trio of Republican “constitutionalists”: himself and Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
At stake was the gun control legislation that the Senate dragged down this month. At issue for Mr. Cruz might be his exposure of a series of closed-door luncheons in which fellow Republicans took the three to task for announcing in advance that they would filibuster every single vote on the gun measure, including the simple motion to take up and begin debating the bill. Such meetings are expressly off the record.
“We’ve had probably five or six lunches with a bunch of Republican senators standing up and looking at Rand and Mike and me and yelling at the top of their lungs — I mean really upset,” he told the group to laughter and titters, according to a video posted by a Tea Party blogger and promoted by the liberal group People for the American Way. “And they said: ‘Why did you do this? As a result of what you did, when I go home, my constituents are yelling at me that I’ve got to stand on principle.’ I’m not making that up. I don’t even bother to argue with them. I just sort of let them yell.”
The cause for criticism was a letter the trio of Tea Party-backed senators had written announcing their intention to filibuster gun safety legislation that was making its way through the Senate, meaning that even the motion to proceed to the gun legislation would take 60 votes. That gave President Obama an invitation to publicly demand fair consideration of the bill and proposed amendments — and a refrain, “they deserve a vote.” In the end, the filibuster on that motion was easily broken, on a 68-to-31 vote, with 16 Republicans joining joining the Democrats. That proved to be the bill’s high-water mark. No other significant gun control amendment could muster 60 votes, and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, pulled it from the floor rather than press forward to a final filibuster vote that it could not overcome.
By Mr. Cruz’s account, the procedural vote to take up the bill had deeply divided the Republican conference, split between those who were prepared to keep gun control from even reaching the Senate floor and those who said the issue should be openly debated.
“Here was their argument,” Mr. Cruz said of his adversaries in the Republican Conference. “They said: ‘Listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. The Democrats were the bad guys. The Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.’”
“Well,” he said he responded, “there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes.”
Personally, I have no problem with this. I don’t believe that Texans elected Senator Cruz to go to Washington to play nice with everyone. They elected Cruz to fight for our freedoms and to be outspoken.
3. Domestic Partner Benefits Violate Constitution (link)
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday wrote a nonbinding opinion about domestic partnerships and insurance benefits.
The state Constitution prohibits government entities from recognizing domestic partnerships and offering insurance benefits to those couples, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in an opinion on Monday.
In the nonbinding opinion, Abbott determined that local jurisdictions that offer such benefits “have created and recognized something” — domestic partnerships — “not established by Texas law.”
“A court is likely to conclude that the domestic partnership legal status about which you inquire is ‘similar to marriage’ and therefore barred” by the state Constitution, he wrote.
The opinion was a response to a question asked by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who had raised concerns about the Pflugerville school district, as well as the cities of El Paso, Austin and Fort Worth, extending such benefits to domestic partners.
“The voters of the state of Texas decided overwhelmingly that marriage is between one man and one woman in 2005,” Patrick said in a statement responding to Abbott’s opinion. “This opinion clearly outlines that cities, counties and school districts cannot subvert the will of Texans.”
House Bill 1568 — Muenster Republican Rep. Drew Springer’s bill to revoke the accreditation and withhold funding from Texas school districts that allow employees to add a domestic partner to their health care plan — has made it through a House committee and is awaiting a vote in the full chamber.
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