NPT Capitol: Ethics bill moving, and players are making civil. But not so fast.
On the surface, it appears that the county’s ethics bill is moving along. State Rep. Norma Chavez, who had some strong objections, sent a letter to state Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano, who is chairman of the Calendars Committee, on which Chavez sits, asking that the bill be sent to the House floor.
State Rep. Marisa Marquez was carrying the legislation for El Paso, and apparently has taken some of Chavez’s suggestions regarding process. In Chavez’s letter to McCall, Chavez writes, “We have reviewed the changes Rep. Marquez has made and are satisfied with the legislation.” (See letter here:
5.7.09 Chavez to McCall)
Marquez, in turn, quickly sent a letter to the delegation. “Now that all the El Paso members have had ample time to review these changes … I will not be accepting any further amendments.” (see letter here: 5.7.09 Marquez to delegation)
So is this peace? Not quite yet. There is enough wiggle room in each letter to scuttle the bill. The final issue, and largely where the ethics bill first went off course, is how to handle discipline of Sheriff’s Department employees. While Marquez outlined three scenarios she said she’d write language around, the language itself has not been committed to by either party.
So Marquez has agreed in principle to assuage Chavez’s concerns, and Chavez has agreed in principle to support the bill. But until there’s final language from Marquez and an iron-clad, no-wiggle-room commitment is given by Chavez, well, not so fast. As well, there are statewide issues that could fracture the House and squash El Paso — particularly the Voter ID bill, which Democrats have made clear will touch off all-out war. Which means members start killing bills — for payback, to send a message, or for the hell of it, all things that happen in war. Nothing is safe.
As Chavez said today of the sheriff’s employees issue: “This section is not crystal clear. It could provoke a lawsuit.” And, she added: “Any bill behind the Senate Voter ID bill is dead in the House. That is my opinion. So the Ethics bill must be on a fast track. All the El Paso bills need to be on a fast track.”
— Sito Negron