April 19, 2007
I remember being about 12-years-old and seeing the weird little film (not video in those days) called “How a Bill Becomes a Law.”In this classic movie, a stick figure tries to make it through not just the Senate or the House of Representatives, but both chambers, and then he tries to get signed by the Governor. This skinny little dude is so excited when he becomes a law that it’s touching. One character doesn’t make it. It’s pretty sad and emotional. This is the kind of educational experience that’s serving me so well today. Without this background, I might not know that all the efforts to pass one of my bills through a Senate committee and on the Senate floor aren’t the end of Little Billy’s journey. Well, I’m proud to say, my first bill has now made it through both the Senate and the House. Senate Bill 456, which clarifies a type of notice that needs to be sent to homesteads (and please, don’t embarrass yourself, try to contain your excitement), is on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. I’d like to tell you that Governor Perry has already agreed to sign everything I send his way. I’d like to tell you that he said, “Kirk, you pass ’em, I’ll sign ’em.” I’d like to tell you that, but it would be inaccurate. That’s what he ought to do, anyway.Regardless, I’m pleased that I’ve got my first bill on its way to be signed.
Another way to pass legislation is to attach your ideas to someone else’s bill. I’ve written about this previously when I noted that Senator Fraser accepted my proposal to create a statewide energy policy as an amendment to one of his bills. That bill is now out of the Senate. I’m also pleased to report that Senator Zaffirini, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education, has accepted an important amendment I offered to her Senate Bill 1234.I filed two big bills related to higher education. One covers a number of issues that need to be addressed to assure that Texas is doing what we need to be doing in higher education to prepare for the future. The other one deals with medical education in Texas.The guts of those bills are now in Chairwoman Zaffirini’s very good higher ed bill. As of yesterday morning, SB 1234 is out of committee and headed to the Senate floor.
I also had a very big bill pass through the Senate on Wednesday. I’m afraid that after the appraisal notices one, you might find it a little dull, but here goes:Imagine someone builds a highway.Now, imagine this highway is close to a big and growing city, and this road will open a huge amount of land to new development. But this highway is far enough out that there’s nothing out there yet – nothing but potential. Central Texas faces exactly this kind of situation on the east side of Travis and Williamson counties with the construction of State Highway 130. And, as some of you know, I think it’s a pretty big deal.On one hand, it’s a huge opportunity for this region to grow where – and in the way – we say we want to grow.But at the same time, there’s a huge risk that without some land-use protections, and without money for roads, sewers, and water lines that will support healthy growth, this golden opportunity could be tarnished pretty quickly with development that almost none of us really want to see.I’ve written before about SB 1688, which would create a one-of-a-kind transportation district to help the SH 130 corridor grow. On Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill.That vote reflected an unprecedented coalition of folks who came together to support this – everyone from the Austin City Council to Envision Central Texas to the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin. This is real innovation – a new tool that will help residents and landowners out there now, as well as future generations that will live in a better place because of it.I hope that decades from now, people will speak proudly when they tell folks they live or work out in this vital corridor. And I truly believe that, if SB 1688 becomes law, they will.
Tonight, the Austin High Maroons varsity lacrosse team plays the final game of the regular season. Austin High is 6-0 in district play and is hoping to keep that record perfect going into the playoffs.Last night, we hosted the team dinner. Liz spent a couple of days cooking meat to feed those boys.If they go after the other team the way they attacked that meal, we’re going to do really well tonight.