April 12, 2011
Some weeks are just good. Who knows why. Sometimes it’s hard work that starts bearing fruit. Sometimes it’s that the stars align or karma decides to give a little lift or you just get lucky.
I sort of had one of those weeks. Yeah, a bunch of my legislation is moving forward. But the best part of the week, without question, was the discovery of my new favorite career . . .
Junior varsity lacrosse announcer.
See, it might surprise you to know that most JV games don’t have an announcer, which is one of the few things the game is missing. But this past Saturday, the dream was realized. We played at a field with a sound system, they gave me a microphone, and they let me talk.
Austin High JV lacrosse played Plano West. This was significant for a few reasons. Austin High is having a killer season. I was announcing. And, depending on how goofy things get with redistricting this session, Plano just might be in my Senate district next time.
Number 17 for the Austin High Maroons, Cooper Watson, had a goal off a rebound. And Austin High came back to win the game after being behind with less than 30 seconds left to go in the game.
It’s truly amazing the difference a good announcer can make for a team.
The biggest news at Watson Central this past week was probably my announcement with Comptroller Susan Combs Tuesday of several initiatives to make the state more open about its finances.
After my working with her and her staff, the Comptroller said she’ll proactively implement reporting measures I’ve called for as part of my Honesty Agenda to reform the state’s budget process and create new openness and accountability for the state’s finances.
This is a big step. It’ll give Texans an unprecedented look at the state’s books every month – and given how difficult upcoming budgets are likely to be over the next few years, we’re going to need it.
I also endorsed the Comptroller’s effort to have legislators do a comprehensive review of the state’s revenue and budget picture (similar to the budget commission I’ve pressed for). And she endorsed my omnibus bill that contains many of the initiatives I’ve outlined in the Honesty Agenda.
Finally, she pledged to explore new reporting standards regarding fees and federal funds that I’ve called for in the Honesty Agenda.
Oh, and that big transparency bill that the Comptroller and the newspaper endorsed? It got a hearing in the Finance Committee on Thursday.
Since “budget transparency omnibus legislation” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I think I’ll follow the Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s lead and call it my Kumbaya bill.
On Wednesday, thousands of folks gathered at the Capitol to protest the misplaced priorities and lack of accountability that are combining to undermine our state’s schoolkids, nursing homes, and economy.
I delivered a few remarks welcoming everyone to their Capitol. You can read them here or check out the video:
The same day as the speech, the Senate passed a couple of my bills – which are now over in the House, halfway down the How-a-Bill-Becomes-a-Law trail.
One would encourage electric utilities to inform their customers about proven energy efficiency and conservation methods. Another is the part of my Honesty Agenda that would encourage state agencies to put more of the data they already collect online.
Also last week, the Senate passed my bill allowing the state to create (and pay for) a “telehealth” system that will help Texans get healthcare they need in a much more efficient and affordable way.
And there should be some more good stuff on the Senate Floor this week.
The Senate Finance Committee signed off unanimously on my bill to create an incentive for private landowners to conserve water and improve water quality at no cost to the state.
The Business and Commerce Committee also approved my insurance reform bill to make sure customers know more about what they’re being charged – and what they’re getting for that money. And it would create a long-overdue, very comprehensive study of the insurance market in Texas and what we can do to bring down rates in a sustainable way.
And the Education Committee passed a bill building on my effort from last session to make sure Texas students know all they need to about the dangers and signs of alcohol poisoning.
Stay tuned. I seem to be finding my voice. I’ll announce good stuff as it happens.