January 20 was inauguration day for Gov. Greg Abbott, successor to Rick Perry, who completed a recordsetting 14 years as governor. Abbott is the 48th governor of Texas. Abbott expressed gratitude to the people who elected him and promised
to “promote policies that limit the growth of government, not the size of your dreams.”To view more please log in or
“There are all kinds of conventions and everyone who attends one has stories to tell. We’ve all heard or read about conventions that are wild and woolly, some that are sedate and those of each kind that are filled with uplifting and informative programs. In my three-quarters of a century of living, I’ve been to some of both kinds. Probably the “wildest and woolliest” meetings were a couple of regional Jaycee conflabs. Originally, Jaycees were known as the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees for short) with membership restricted to young men ages 18-35. Ultimately, there was a name change to the short “nickname.”
Governor Rick Perry addressed a joint session of the House and Senate for the last time on Jan. 15, a couple of days after the opening of the 140- day regular session of the 84th Texas Legislature. Before recounting various aspects of the state’s performance during his record-breaking tenure as chief executive, Perry said, “I have come here to reflect on what we have done together, and to say farewell. But most of all, to tell you it has been the highest of honors to serve as your governor for the last 14 years.”
Signaling his intent to promote transparency and accountability in the 84th Texas Legislature, House Speaker Joe Straus announced on Jan. 9 that in the coming weeks the House would release a budget proposal designed to strengthen oversight of state agency contracts. The Legislature convenes today, Jan. 13.
When the 84th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13 and oaths of office are administered, the political party split will be 21 Republicans to 10 Democrats in the 31-member Senate, and 98 Republicans to 52 Democrats in the 150-member House. The composition and leadership of committees, the flow of legislation through those committees and control of floor debate will be according to the wishes of new Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Houston and House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio. Straus is subject to reelection by his peers. He is expected to retain the rostrum and gavel for a fourth consecutive term, even if challenged by a subgroup within the Republican party.
2014 has been a banner year for job creation in Texas, according to government assessments. Drawing on figures calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Workforce Commission on Dec. 19 reported employers added 34,800 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in November, for a total of 441,200 jobs added since last year.
State Sen. John Whitmire, DHouston, on Dec. 18 requested that the special prosecution unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office “begin a formal and thorough investigation” into transactions between the State of Texas and 21CT, a software intelligence firm with offices here and in Vienna, Virginia. Information about the transactions came to light via an ongoing investigation and stories published by the Austin American-Statesman.
Texas’ regional accents are a source of fascination. Trying to study them is difficult, probably even for an English professor. If you’ve read my missives more than occasionally, you know I love Texas, I love Texans and I love Texas lingo. When encountering a different sound than one you hear every day, it pays to listen. If you can identify it and reveal that to the speaker, it will often amaze them. It’s also a great door opener with a new acquaintance.
On Dec. 11, a Senate-House joint committee empaneled to adopt a sufficient balance for the state’s “rainy day fund” approved $7 billion as the floor for it. Properly titled the Economic Stabilization Fund, the oil and gas tax-fueled pool of money was created by constitutional amendment in 1988 when oil was selling as low as $10 a barrel, causing state coffers to run thin. Calculated at $6.7 billion last August, the fund previously had no required minimum. The maximum the fund may hold is capped at 10 percent of the state’s general revenue during the previous twoyear budget cycle.
Being raised in a small town where most people didn’t have much, forced many to scrape and scramble to make a living. Pride in supporting yourself and your family was a strong motivation for most folks I knew in my growing up years. Standing on your own two feet was the mantra of that period I am inclined to describe as “hard-scrabble” times.