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

Archive for May 4th, 2009

NPT Capitol: Rockin Moody Minute

The Moody Minute may be late this week, but it’s worth it for the rocking soundtrack that accompanies it. Gone are somber strings and blaring brass – now we’ve got guitars and drums.

The minute talks about legislation representative Moody has been involved in passing or that he supports, such as HB 51 by Branch, which paves the way for more Tier One universities in Texas. Go Miners!

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 4, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Chavez passes bill, swipes the Guv

chavezState Rep Norma Chavez took a swing at the Governor today, by passing a bill that would increase legislative oversight of the Emerging Technology Fund.

The fund encountered controversy earlier in the session because of a $50m grant to present Governor Rick Perry’s alma mater, Texas A&M. “That money was supposed to be closing deals. It may be that we need to hold them more accountable,” State Rep Jim Pitts, a co-sponsor of Chavez’s bill, told the Dallas Morning News in March.

“When taxpayers are told that a taxpayer-funded program is going to be used for a specific purpose, they expect it to be used for that purpose,” Rep. Ch├ívez said in a press release today. “This bill will ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the Emerging Technology Fund, and that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately.”

Read the rest of the press release after the jump

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: TCEQ to appeal Shapleigh’s right to Asarco documents

According to State Senator Eliot Shapleigh’s office, the TCEQ have decided to appeal District Judge Scott H. Jenkins’ April 16th decision obliging them to release certain documents.

The documents, which Shapleigh requested though a statute that allows lawmakers to see otherwise confidential data, concern communications between the TCEQ and Asarco. Shapleigh has said he believes the documents will show dodgy dealing between Asarco and the TCEQ in the run up to a February 2008 decision to allow the El Paso copper smelter to re-open.

“Both the attorney general and the district court agree with us that the information we requested is public. When we get it, we will be very interested in why the TCEQ fought so hard to hide it,” Shapleigh told NPT.

One Austin source said that the decision might be a delaying tactic on the part of TCEQ, worried that the documents may well reveal ex parte communications between them and Asarco.

More to follow

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 4, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Open letter from Rep. Marquez re: Ethics bill

marquezOpen Letter to the community of El Paso, El Paso State Delegation and Local Elected Officials

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone that contributed and participated in the creation and development of HB 2301 and its companion SB 1368. The need for this legislation is clear and I am proud of the El Paso leaders who have been champions of this bill. There has been much discussion surrounding HB 2301 and its intent to create a stronger ethics commission, and the resulting debate and input have only served to strengthen and improve the bill.

My staff and I have diligently reviewed the genuine concerns of other parties. In evaluating the submitted suggestions, I accepted several of the changes, which will enhance the legislation while maintaining its integrity and its original intent.

In an effort to protect citizens, we were vigilant in defending one’s right to due process and safeguard against unfounded complaints. We strengthened checks and balances by limiting elected officials’ access to information brought before the commission. Furthermore, to ensure the cost for the county remains low, we created a rotating three person committee to review and weed out frivolous complaints.

I want to thank again the entire delegation: Senator Shapleigh, Chairman Pickett, Representative Chavez, Representative Quintanilla and Representative Moody for their contribution in making this bill better. Some of their changes include the following: changing the standards on appeal to trial de novo, which would allow for a new trial at district court level; eliminating all criminal penalties for those appearing before the commission; and providing that HB 2301 can not interfere with an employees collective bargaining or civil service agreement.

Furthermore, I would like to congratulate our local officials at the county commissioners court and the County Attorney for their perseverance and commitment to El Paso and the passage of HB 2301.

Please find the resulting committee substitute attached.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

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NPT Media: El Paso drug debate mentioned on Colbert Report

It comes during an interview with Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. The mention is brief, and comes around the 19 minute-mark. Click here to see the show.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 4, 2009 at 10:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized