Sunday, April 08, 2007

On electricity debates and Robert Talton

Last week, I was pretty disappointed all around during the debates on SB 482 and 483. The background story, in case you've been living under a rock, is that TXU has had some high rates, Sen. Fraser got mad and passed these bills out quickly, and now Wednesday was King's turn. All King really had to do was pass them out unchanged, and any flak from KKR lobbyists could be directed at Fraser.

But that's just not King's way. He wants anything he carries to be tailored to the industry because, after all he did say in committee, that he wants to be "holding hands" with them again. Look, please do that on your own time.

I'm sour because the debate over two good bills boiled down to politics as usual, with Rep. Turner making some impassioned speeches and King espousing his hatred of socialists. Rep. Oliveira carried a weak amendment that everyone and their mother signed on to; many D's did so in order to get their own amendments tacked on later in the debate.

Enter Rep. Turner. He gets up to oppose this amendment to correctly state that it would do nothing. Seemingly, it would provide PUC with the authority to review the price of electric rates and reduce it accordingly. Well, it would with the exception of one word: may. Without a shall or must, the PUC will sit on its hands, which is how King wants it.

Enter Robert Talton. Not that he had anything intelligent to add to the conversation (though I'm sure we would've liked to take a swipe at socialists), just another point of order. I understand his reasons for doing so: he probably doesn't like the bills or even the concept of slightest regulation of energy rates, and raising these points of order may be with the intention to drive a wedge between Turner and the Speaker. OK, I get that. Turner is increasingly alienated from the Speaker with each point of order.

What I don't understand is why Craddick upholding these. Obviously, Craddick and Talton agree on many issues ideologically, but Craddick also understands the political consequences of doing so. I'll speculate to say that this session may turn out to be a do-nothing session (well, not to slight the Senate but....) Turner isn't going to stand by the Speaker for too much longer if every bill (minus the slight expansion of CHIP) or issue he cares about gets swept away. There's a chance that he'll go wingnut, since he's getting no love from the Speaker nor from non-Craddick D's, and he may start killing debates as well.

I guess there are worse sessions to be do-nothing sessions, but there's still some pretty big issues on the table: TYC still ain't over; TXU does need some real, not perceived, oversight; TTC is still threatening rural Texans. Get those taken care of, then you can hold hands with KKR lobbyists all you want.


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