El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for May 2009

NPT Capitol: Will Truitt kill TxDoT sunset in the House?

NPT just tried to get state Rep Truitt to talk to us about HB 300, the TxDoT sunset bill. NPT asked her if she planned to speak on the bill tonight. She answered, “yes.”

That is important because the bill is not eligible for consideration until 11:40 tonight. As such, it would only need to be talked about for twenty minutes – two speeches, – for it be chubbed to death.

Truitt is upset, along with Sen John Carona, because local option language has been left out of the bill. Carona has said he will kill the bill in the Senate. If one more person spoke about the bill in addition to Truitt it would effectively die, one state Rep said.

When NPT tried to further question Truitt she declined to comment, saying that she had to prepare for to lay out a bill.

In order to insulate the bill from death-by-chub, Isett and Pickett would need to suspend the rules to bring it up out of order. It has been done for several bills today already. But HB 300 has been “tagged” meaning that someone has said they would object to it being brought up out of order. Getting around the tag would require one hundred votes. One state Rep said the votes aren’t there. (Though, the bill would probably pass easily on a straight vote.)

Pickett said the other possibility is for the House to concur with the Senate amendments (an earlier version of the bill with local option language) – that would be call Carona’s hand – does he have the 81 votes in the House he said he did earlier in the day? Or will his bluff be called?

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm

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NPT Capitol: Hegar: Proud of the work, disappointed in the attacks

State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, issued a statement in response to the threat of state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, to filibuster HB 300, the TxDOT sunset bill. Read Carona’s commentary here:

Statement of Senator Glenn Hegar concerning Senator John Carona’s threatened filibuster

Austin, Texas—Today, State Senator Glenn Hegar issued the following statement:

“I am extremely proud of the work of the conference committee on HB 300—the Texas Department of Transportation Sunset legislation—and I am very disappointed by the unfair attacks made by Senator Carona against the committee, the process that we employed to seek a committee report that would pass both the Texas House and Senate and his extremely unfair and harsh attacks against me personally. Senator Carona’s distortions sadden me because not only are they patently false, but because he is also attempting to reinvent history.

Throughout the entire sunset process, I have strived to make the process open and fully transparent and I am proud of the comments that have been made by my colleagues when I presented a new committee substitute to HB 300 on Monday, May 18 before the Senate Transportation Committee and then again on Monday, May 25 when the bill was presented on the Senate floor. I was specifically proud that Senators Nichols, Watson, Shapleigh, and Carona all played a very large role in crafted a strong senate version of the bill. My proudest moment in four sessions as a State legislator was during this hearing when Senators Carona, Nichols, Watson and Shapleigh all took turns complementing my efforts to have a very transparent, open, and deliberative process among the Senate members. One Senator even noted that the process was the most impressive in all of his years of the legislature.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 31, 2009 at 9:05 pm

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NPT Capitol: Marquez passes bill targetting colonia building codes

From the office of St Rep. Marisa Marquez:

“Today, all of Texas wins. Border counties finally get some authority to regulate building and the rest of the state avoids the problems we have lived with in El Paso,” said Marquez.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 31, 2009 at 8:58 pm

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NPT UPDATED: Pickett picks local option tax out of TxDoT bill. But will it pass?

Update: Carona claimed in an email today he will filibuster the TxDoT sunset bill. [link]

HB 300, the TxDoT sunset bill, is set for a final vote today. The final version of the bill stripped out language that wold have authorized County commissioners to call elections asking the public to tax themselves to pay for local transportation projects. Compromises were made in other areas of the bill – the number of TxDoT commissioners and formula funding (which aims to give localities more clout in statewide transportation policy).

The defeat of local option taxes language is much to the chagrin of Sen. John Carona who has threatened to kill the bill in retaliation. Along with state Rep Vicky Truitt and many Senators including El Paso’s Eliot Shapleigh, Carona led a fierce push since Friday to keep the language in the final version of the bill.

Pickett has said that keeping the local option language in the bill would make it D.O.A in the House. Carona has said that without the language, the bill is D.O.A. is in the Senate.

We’ll know by the end of today…

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 31, 2009 at 10:38 am

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NPT Capitol: Marquez grabs a “best freshman” award

State Rep Marisa Marquez has been awarded the with the Best Freshman Award by the Texas
Criminal Justice Coalition.

The TCJC states its mission on its website as being”committed to identifying and working towards real solutions to the problems facing Texas’ juvenile and criminal justice systems.” Marquez sits on the House corrections committee and managed to pass a number of bills this session relating to criminal justice issues.

“It brings me great pride that I could, in any small way, contribute to the humane rehabilitation of inmates in our criminal justice system. I am honored and humbled to accept this award,” stated Marquez in a press release.

Read the full press release after the jump.

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 31, 2009 at 10:26 am

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NPT Capitol: Quintanilla passes bill for “massive industrial park” in East El Paso

State Rep Chente Quintanilla had a bill sent to the governor over the weekend which would create a “massive industrial park” in far east El Paso County near Tornillo near the U.S. Mexico border.

“This is a very important project that will create substantial job growth with a great potential for economic prosperity. The purpose of this management district is to manage and develop the Tornillo Business Park,” Quintanilla said in a press release. “With the natural opportunity for other business growth, Tornillo should see new restaurants and retail stores opening during the next decade.”

Read the full press release after the jump

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 31, 2009 at 10:19 am

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NPT Capitol: state budget passes the House 142-2

The state budget just passed the House as amended by the Senate.

According to the Speaker’s office, it includes a $1.9bn increase in public education funding, $1.2bn increase in Higher Education funding, $264m to boost HE financial aid and an increase in $208m for community service operations benefiting “our most vulnerable disabled populations.”

It also includes $2bn in new bonds for more highways and around $12bn in federal stimulus funds.

A few El Paso specific items after the jump

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm

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NPT Capitol: House (Pickett) and Senate (Carona) negotiations get down to TxDOT local option tax

As House and Senate conferees put the final touches on the jointly hashed out TxDoT sunset bill, one sticking point remains — and it’s getting heated.

That sticking point is language that would give metropolitan areas the ability to call elections in order to authorize raises in automobile fees and gas taxes — in order to pay for transportation projects.

State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, says he has a list of 77 House members who are willing to vote for the TxDOT bill if it has the local option language in it.

That’s surprising, considering the House took a vote on leaving the language in earlier this week. It went down 86-59.

State Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, with a wry smile, said that number was “ambitious.” State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, went further saying that the 77 names Carona has simply aren’t there and that something “close to deceit” has been going on.

According to Pickett, lobbyists have been rounding up state Reps and asking them to sign a petition that asks the conference committee to keep the debate open. Those numbers are what Carona is touting, said Pickett.

It’s all getting a bit heated now. Carona said that the only thing in the way of getting this bill passed is Pickett. Pickett went outside of the chamber about an hour ago and openly argued with the lobbyists who were shopping for signatures.

This morning, at a rally on the Capitol’s southern steps, a Tarrant County Judge called for those who oppose the local option language to “get out of the way” while supporters chanted “let us vote!,” reported the Fort Worth Star Telegram. (Carona spoke at the rally.) According to the Austin Chronicle they were complemented by a “radical anti-tax crowd.”

More to follow…

Update: Things might have calmed down a little now. Isset and Carona are sat on a windowsill in the House chatting rather amicably. Meanwhile, Pickett and House Republican Caucus leader Larry Taylor are deep in conversation.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

NPT Biz: Hunt Building ranked as a ‘Housing Giant’

News release sent to NPT:


Hunt Building Company, Ltd., an affiliate of Hunt Companies, Inc., headquartered in El Paso, Texas, was ranked 23rd largest among the nation’s top 350 builders of housing in the 2009 Annual Report on Housing’s Giants issue of Professional Builder Magazine.

The magazine ranks Housing Giants based on revenue, and the listing consists of builders of single-family attached, single-family detached, and rental housing. The Hunt ranking is up 22 places from the publication’s 2008 rank of 45th. Hunt Building’s 7,558 new residential units completed in 2008 are up 3,360 units, or 80%, from the 4,198 rental housing units Hunt completed in 2007.

The Professional Builder’s annual report also names the Top 10 Builders of rental housing in 2008, in which Hunt is ranked #2. Both rankings are the highest ever achieved by Hunt in the magazine’s annual report.

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

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NPT City: Castro and Robinson to debate Saturday


EL PASO – Voters will get one more chance to ask questions of the two candidates in the upcoming runoff election for Northeast city representative during a forum organized by the El Paso Press Club on Saturday.

Incumbent Melina Castro and challenger Carl Robinson have confirmed their attendance to the event, which is designed to give voters and members of the media access to the candidates.

The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 30 at the Northeast YMCA, 5509 Will Ruth.

Members of the media and the public are invited to attend and encouraged to ask questions of both candidates.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

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