November 16, 2009
My friend, former Austin Mayor Roy Butler, passed away last week. He was the first Austin Mayor to be elected directly to the office by the people. Before him, the City Council selected a council member to serve as mayor.
I didn’t really know Mayor Butler until I was running for and serving as mayor in 1997, though of course I knew his history and the role he played shaping the place we live in today. But he was great to me. Always positive, never second-guessing, consistently willing to help.
I really had fun at those moments when the two of us were by ourselves at some big Austin event. A lot of times, we’d quietly tease each other about something or other. I enjoyed how he’d laugh – it was more of a giggle, really. Those times always left me with a warm, special connection to him. I have a bunch of Mayor Butler stories.
He guided Austin at a pivotal time in its history. I’m lucky to have been able to know him, and to have had the opportunity to spend time with Roy Butler.
The Capitol’s a little quiet right now, but there’s still a lot going on. Bills we passed last session have taken effect, and we’re starting to see some of them make a difference.
Earlier this year, the legislature unanimously passed a bill I filled calling for Texas to look at reducing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions on a large scale. Our state leads the nation in the amount of CO2 we put in the air.
My bill, called “No Regrets,” will get Texas on a path to reducing these emissions and the effects of climate change. It will result in a report of strategies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions – focusing on approaches that will save money or cost nothing.
I called it No Regrets because, regardless of your position on greenhouse gases and climate change, the report will identify ways for Texans to save money. So if CO2 is contributing to climate change, we won’t regret doing nothing. And if it’s not, well, we won’t regret taking these actions, because the worst thing to happen will be that we saved some money.
The bill is now taking effect. The first meeting for those who want to be involved in coming up with recommendations will be on Wednesday in the Capitol Extension, room E1.016. The meeting will also be broadcast over the Internet here.
Also, the state has created a website – www.TexasNoRegrets.org – that explains the process for implementing the bill and coming up with greenhouse gas-reducing strategies. Go there to learn about the process and sign up for alerts.
All of this follows the announcement last week of a new report about how Texas is already reducing its carbon emissions, primarily in the electricity sector through the development of wind energy in West Texas.
This report is a great example of how we can reduce greenhouse gases without hurting the economy. In fact, a lot of folks can prosper from the effort. Our work to identify No Regrets strategies will be a good additional step.
And last week, a friend sent me an email (titled “your work at work”) with a couple of pages from a 2009-10 school planner. They talked about a bill we passed last session – the Carson Starkey Alcohol Awareness and Education Act – which requires schools to teach teenagers about alcohol poisoning and its dangers, signs, and treatment.
I filed the bill this year and named it after a friend of our family’s. It’s gratifying to see it in place, and I hope it will make a difference keeping kids safe.
I’ll keep you posted on other pieces of successful legislation as they take effect.