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To make Austin like D.C. would be disastrous - The Galveston County Daily News: Guest Columns

July 4, 2015

Guest column To make Austin like D.C. would be disastrous

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Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 12:15 am

In an earlier guest column, a local Republican accused Texas Democrats of wanting Austin to be like Washington, D.C.

His assumption was completely inaccurate. In the past, our nation has experienced Republican presidents and members of Congress who were wrong on most issues but when tested with a national crisis were willing to put partisan politics aside and do what was necessary to fix the problem.

These men were true American patriots who put the needs of our nation first.

Even George W., on occasion, demonstrated a conscience. To his credit he appropriated funds to attack the AIDS crisis in Africa, supported needed comprehensive immigration reform and signed legislation guaranteeing due process for children who were refugees from dangerous countries.

Not so today. A hard core extremist group in that party now controls congressional action. They view a national crisis as an opportunity to make inflammatory partisan accusations.

The U.S. House of Representatives is where the problem exists. Republican Speaker John Boehner presides over a “do nothing” Congress where all needed legislation is declared “dead on arrival.”

No Democrat supports this “gridlock.”

Now let’s take a view of Austin.

During a regular Texas legislative session, some 4,000 bills are introduced. The vast majority, the bills that impact the lives of constituents, are nonpartisan. The party of the bill’s author is not an issue.

Good legislators base their service on how the issues benefit their constituents. Others, those who are in it for themselves, tend to represent the lobby and the special interests.

In the 1980s I served in the Texas House of Representatives. During six terms, I passed in excess of 100 Texas laws. All enjoyed bipartisan support. In turn I voted for multiple good legislation sponsored by Republican colleagues.

Hardcore extremists have not yet brought “gridlock” to Austin.

Joe Straus of San Antonio is the Speaker. He is a conservative and a loyal Republican. The Texas House currently operates in a manner where individual merit prevails.

Several Democrats in the Texas House have emerged as effective and outstanding legislators. Three in this group are Craig Eiland, Sylvester Turner and Senfronia Thompson.

Speaker Straus recognized the value of these legislators and has utilized their talents to benefit Texas. Eiland and Turner have served as Speaker Pro Tem, and Thompson chairs the very important Local and Consent Calendar Committee.

Straus has also been good to Galveston County, supporting Eiland’s efforts to save jobs at UTMB and fund local education.

Texas government has always been frugal. State taxes are low, and the Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget. These are good. But Texas government, as I stated earlier, can still improve on quality of life issues.

No Democrat or sane Texan benefits by making Austin more like Washington, D.C. It would be disastrous to our state.

It is the Straus critics in the hard right faction in the Republican Party who strive to make Austin like Washington, D.C., not the Democrats.